The brake pedal went hard on the Alfa, indicating that something with the brake booster (servo) wasn’t working. I removed the vacuum hose from the booster and there seemed to be enough suction.
I know there are some Alfa owners that drive without their boosters but it felt like I really had to stand on the pedal if I wanted to get close to locking up the brakes.
I replaced the brake master cylinder a few years ago when brake fluid started leaking into the booster, so I guess five more years was a pretty good deal. The brake fluid that leaks into the booster is sucked into the intake manifold and on deceleration, a smoke screen ensues that would make James Bond proud.
I called Alfa Parts in Berkeley and talked to Ruth Ann. The next day UPS delivered (non expedited!) my new rebuilt booster. It was painted silver and a little rust was already starting to show through. I had an open can of Eastwood Rust Encapsulator that I’ve been using on the BMW so I put on two coats.
The job went more easily than I thought. Drain the fluid out of the brake and clutch reservoirs; disconnect the brake and clutch lines; remove the steering column covers (so the column can be lowered out of the way), remove five bolts holding the pedal box and it all pulls out forward through the engine compartment.
Putting it back together wasn’t too difficult either. The Motive Power Bleeder I bought a few years ago was a good investment. I had tried Speed Bleeders but the Power Bleeder made it even easier.
In fact, the hardest thing was trying to get the two holes in the rear top half of the cheap plastic steering column cover line up with holes in the steering column and the bottom half of the cover. It took me 20 minutes. I guess something always has to be a pain in the ass.