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Tilt Column Installation - Continued

The whole idea of a tilt column came to me after a stint out to the junkyard.  I found an old 67-8 power steering Mustang and noticed that the steering box looked exactly the same as my Falcon's box except for the use of a rag joint.  Marveling at this I continued to look around until I found an old 67 Lincoln; black on black with the suicide doors.  I noticed the tilt column, and a quick view of the column in the passenger compartment and under the hood had me thinking "This could work!"

So I grabbed the column and Mustang steering box, picked them both up for $40, and headed home to do some measurements/research.

Upon getting home I found that the column would need some work, but was almost exactly the same length as my stock Falcon column.  Unfortunately, the good news didn't carry onto the steering box, which turned out to have an ID number of SMBK.  Rats!  I had a box with the right steering ratio, but the sector shaft was too big!


(An example of how easy it is to misjudge sector shaft size. On the left is a 1 1/8 sector.  On right, a 1")

After a bit of research I found the a good idea when looking for a steering box with the right sector shaft is to either have the steering box codes on hand, or simply bring a 1 1/8" socket.  If the socket fits on the pitman arm nut, its 1", if its too small, the box has a 1 1/8" sector.

I ended up buying a rebuilt steering box from Classic Mustang Parts of Oklahoma.  Installation of this new box was very straightforward.  It shares the same mounting points as the stock Falcon box, so all the is needed is to remove the old box, and install the new.

On To The Tilt Column

With the new steering box in place, its time to turn attention to the tilt column.  There were a few issues that needed to be hashed out with the tilt column to make it work on my car:

Brackets:  The column had two brackets that needed to be removed.  A chisel and grinder made quick work of those.

Column Shifter:  This column had a column shifter for an automatic transmission (well it WAS a Lincoln column).  My car had a floor shifter, so not only does the column need to be removed, but replacement or original modified pieces will be needed to modify the column to look correct for my car.

 

After removing the brackets, I disassembled the column and wire wheeled all of the parts to remove all of the old original paint.  Some parts of the column I plain tossed out, like the transmission lever piece that actuates the transmission linkage.

To remove the rest of the transmission shifter components, two column pieces will need to be modified, the shifter column that housed the arm and rotated to allow a gear to be chosen, and the lower collar piece that joined the former piece to the tube part of the column.  I started by using a cutting wheel to remove the transmission lever pieces.

My original intention was to simply tack weld the shifter pieces together and then top top dress them with glazing putty, but ran into a problem: the column is made of pot metal!  Unless I wanted to try my hand at welding/brazing with an aluminum rod.  Double rats!

So off to the internet to find some answers, and a quick search found that epoxies are the way to go on pot metal.  So, I ran out to my local Home Depot and picked up some 5 minute epoxy and epoxy clay.

Using the clay on the large hole that once housed the shift lever, and the 5 minute epoxy to weld the loose parts together, I ended up with a single strong, but rather ugly column piece.


(Left: the lever housing with gear indicator ring below it, the long cylinder was cut from the trans linkage actuator.  I did this to create a closer tolerance between the lever housing and the steering shaft that runs through it.)

After waiting the proper cure time, a quick grinding wheel smoothes out the epoxied piece.  It came out rather smooth, but not smooth enough for glazing putty to fill in all the imperfections.  So the shade tree mechanic's best car body repair item is spread in a thin layer around the shift lever housing. 

After some sanding the shifter housing looks much better.  Now to get the column back together, and top dress the column and prepare it for paint.


(Right: The first piece is this plate - it helps support the upper column components)

 
(The collar that connects the upper column to the column tube.  This piece has a small plate that completes it, and will need to be smoothed and blended into the upper column/lever housing)


(Starting to look like a column again!)


(Notice how the steering shaft runs through the lever housing's center section)


(Ready for final sanding and paint!)

After sanding, top dressing with glazing putty, and finish sanding, a quick few coats of primer and satin black finished up the column.

Installation was also straight forward.  Using the original Falcon column steering column mounting hardware, I mocked up the steering column, drilled a small hole to allow the "tang" in the column collar mount to fit into the column itself, then fastened the mount and column to the underside of the dash.

After that 2 bolts with washers and lock washers attatched the column to the steering box's rag joint, coupling the column and steering box.

Mike in Chicago

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