In a '53 F-100
by John Niolon
Everyone that visits the FTE forums knows of my
tendency to redo portions of my truck
even before Ive finished it
! And, I get a fair amount of grief about it, but thats ok
as long as
its my money and not theirs, Ill pretty much do what I want.
We all know the Put the Volare in
take the Volare
Put the Mustang II in saga. The main reason for the swap was a
problem with header clearance. I couldnt make my headers fit with the Volare
clip in place. (The other reason was the M II unit was just so darned pretty)
Anyway ??? The Mustang II unit is in and in re-installing the steering linkage I
then had a clearance problem with the steering column.
I had installed a mid-80s Caddy tilt/slide column and it worked perfect with the steering box of the Volare but since the Mustang II steering box is lower and more centered . Well the headers were in the way.. Not a big deal, slide the column over a bit but then I messed up !! I started thinking !! I started thinking that I really didnt like the look of the caddy column kinda big and bulky and after a little more investigation, I could see where the innards were worn and could probably need replacing. I started looking through the magazines and catalogs. I found a rebuilt GM column for a few hundred bucks, but Id still have a used column, rebuilt or not. I turned a page and like a kid, something shiny caught my eye. It was a Flaming River Chrome Column displayed diagonally across the page and it was whispering my name.
A call to the toll free line got me all the details
needed the column with the shifter on the column and with tilt AND with a 1-48
spline shaft. My original set up had Borgeson U-joints and vibration dampeners
splined for a GM 48 spline shaft. Any of you that have priced Borgeson
stuff know it aint cheap and I didnt want to waste what I already
had. Flaming River said No Problem but its an extra hundred bucks
for a special order. I asked the rep why if they were building the
column anyway, couldnt they just put a 48 spline in ? seemed like a
and it was
for a hundred more bucks. This was already
an expensive item, running a few hundred bucks more than Id imagined. Time for
Plan B was a call to IDIDIT. We went through the same
specifications and again the response was No Problem. Then I mentioned
the 48 spline part ??? I tensed up waiting for the added charge. The rep
replied No Problem, weve got to build it anyway. Exactly what I
wanted to hear. They told me they had built columns for this model before and what I
needed was a 30 column and about a 3 drop at the dash. So, thats
what I ordered. Shiny chrome tilt job with column shift, and wiring built in for
(future) cruise control installed in the turn signal lever. A couple of weeks later,
as I pull in from work, I see a box is leaning up against my garage door ( an expensive
box that UPS left unattended.. made me a little apprehensive, but it did arrive).
I checked out the contents and everything was there and in
very well packaged and protected. It was so pretty you hardly
wanted to touch it and get fingerprints all over it
When I had originally installed the GM unit I had cut a large
opening in my new floorboards to make the install a little easier. I had made
a cover plate after it was complete. So, un-installing was easy. There was no
linkage to disconnect, just two bolts on the floor and two on the dash and the old column
was out. The first step was to determine how much to adjust the column left to clear
the headers and patch/redrill the floor.
The old GM column shift lever was fixed on the shaft so a larger hole was needed to get thru the floorboard. The IDIDIT has a removable shift lever so you can cut the floor hole just larger than the column diameter of 2.25. A 2.5 Greenlee punch made easy work of the hole.
But Im getting ahead of myself. As I said the hole in the floor was rather large about 6x4
Sooo, I cut a patch panel to match the hole,
welded it in and started over..
Now we have a clean semi-un-altered floor to start
the next step is deciding where it will enter/exit the floorboard. If your
floorboard is original and has the large opening already cut, you can probably fit it in
this hole with no problem. Many of the older trucks had a steering column angle that was
too steep for comfortable cruising. Experiment a little with your column angle. Choose an
angle that feels comfortable when youre sitting in your normal driving position.
Consider your seat position, distance to pedals and most importantly
. how your arm
hangs on the window frame. You have to have the proper "attitude" when cruising
and you cant do that without the proper stance.
Ive seen articles showing a broomstick or a piece of conduit and a pie pan mockup. Using the column itself is a little cumbersome.. its too long without the hole in the floor and its heavy and hard to handle.) It helps to have someone to assist you at this point. Move your dummy column around try different heights get comfortable. When it "feels" right have your helper take some measurements and mark the floor where the column will exit. Measure the distance from the floor up to your wheel measure the distance from the center of the column perpendicular to the column shaft up to the underside of the dash (for column drop length) (Remember, if your column has tilt also it will make your ride more comfortable). This measurement process should give you the probable vertical (up and down) center of the cut out in the floorboard.
You probably want the column to enter the floor perpendicular to the floor If it goes in at an odd angle ( angling to the left or right) it just doesnt look or feel right I then found the centerline between the column mounting holes under the dashboard and then using a framing square and a straight edge . Projected this line down to the floorboard. This should give you a good center horizontally (left to right). On the outside of the cab, I used the centerline of the steering shaft on the rack. A little ciphering and measuring showed these two lines to be within the operating limits of the universal joint. No problem linkage will handle that easily. To give me a better clearance on the header collector I moved my column 1 to the left. It didnt affect the feel and the column still looked centered (pretty much) in the dash. My original center line on the floor was moved 1 left and of course, this moved my mounting points to the left in the dash so new holes needed to be drilled.
Well, actually your next step is to wrap the column drop and
the column to protect them
ESPECIALLY if they are chrome or polished. I
covered the drop with 2 masking tape and the column with foam packing material.
I know, youre careful, but I can almost guarantee a nick or scratch just
where it will show
. Take the time
do it .
Now, bolt up the drop to the dash board. For 99% of the applications you find the center of the dash panel and attach the drop with two bolts thru the lower edge of the dash most times the original drop holes will work our for you. Since mine was offset slightly I had to adjust for that and drill new holes.
One thing we havent done is secure the column at the floor. I had used a fabricated floor mount before from a piece of angle and a u-bolt worked just fine.
As far as securing the column at the floor right now I would wait till I had all my linkage connected, column at the perfect height THEN tie it down at the floor just a personal preference you might think differently.
So now you got it in place its time to connect it to the steering box. At this point your install might differ from mine physically, but not in theory. You might have the stock suspension or a Volare clip or a Mustang II the only difference is the number of u-joints and length of shafts you need to make it work.
I had already purchased a Vibration dampener and universal
joints for the Caddy install and dropped a good bit of change. I wanted to reuse them. I was able to order the column with the 1-
48 spline shaft to match my vibration dampener so I thought I was ready
I just never learn to look ahead ??? After starting
to mock up the linkage I found that because the box on the rack set further to the right
than the Volare box did, it caused some linkage interference with the header collector..
Well, this isnt gonna work !! There were a couple of work-arounds but none were really feasible. One was a more complicated linkage with a bearing support (which I really didnt have room for) and another u-joint then a funky angle to the steering box. The other was to lengthen the steering column shaft. Ill interject here that ordering a 33 or even a 36 column would have cured the problem so heed my words look carefully at your linkage situation before ordering your column.
I talked to a master machinist at work... he's 80 years old and this guy can make anything! (Well, I found out..nearly anything). When we discussed making an extension with a 1" - 48 spline female end and a 1" - 48 spline male end ?? Well, he said he probably wouldn't live long enough to make it a perfect fit on the column end...half a tooth off and it won't fit.A bunch of calls and internet searches looking for 48 spline shafts left me with no solution finally I called Ididit back . I knew they had couplings and 1-48 spline shafts even if I had to buy a complete shaft it might be worth it. I told the tech guys my problem emailed them pictures and this is what we worked out (with my machinist buddys help). Borgeson offers a sleeve type coupling with 1-48 splines on one end and smooth bore on the other. Ididit has a 1 foot section of 1 shaft with 48 splines that they don't show in their ads... (what for, I wonder ?) anyway parts were shipped and after mocking up the coupling to the column and building up the other end from the steering box up to the vibration dampener, I calculated the length of the intermediate shaft and presto we knew how long to cut the shaft to fit. The shaft and coupling already had a good slip fit so my machinist buddy cut the shaft to the proper length and cross drilled the shaft and coupling for double roll pins. Since all my Borgeson parts were polished and pretty my machinist made a stainless sleeve that fits over the 1 shaft.. The coupling and the sleeve will be polished to match and everything will be shiny we like shiny
Here is a picture of the extension in place and an exploded shot of the parts. Ignore the tape on the sleeve in the first picture its holding the roll pins there so I dont lose them. I mocked up the extension with a cotter key holding things together.
SO, now we put all the extension parts together, added the vibration dampener, installed the shaft down to the universal joint on the steering box and tightened everything up. Next we turned the wheels and watched the linkage closely for binding and looseness and found none. When I was happy with the linkage, I tightened up the floor mount inside the cab and the column drop screws. This secured everything.
I sorta glossed over the linkage components but every install is different.. the U-joints and vibration dampeners can be bought in several different configurations.. smooth bore, Double-D shafts, splined in both ¾ and 1 diameters even collapsible columns in case youre concerned with your impact with the steering column. Borgesons catalog and web site http://www.borgeson.com/ have a wealth of information and list all their components.
My best recommendation is to buy the end connectors (u-joints) then figure out the middle some installations will be a simple shaft between the two ends, some will require a third u-joint in the middle. If this is the case, you will HAVE to install a bearing support to hold the middle joint in place, else it will wrap and lock up on you. Not a good thing when youre trying to steer. The techie guys can lead you to the proper components listen to them.
chosen a steering wheel yet
. That will come when I get more into the interior design
of the truck.. The stock Ididit column will
accept a gm wheel and other aftermarket units with the proper adapter. I had an old Chevy wheel that I used for mock up
purposes. Heres what the
almost complete install looks like, still have to hookup the turn signal lever
and steering wheel
but the column is complete.
The install would be the same on a Flaming River or salvage yard column with the
mounting being a little different but similar.
The column comes with a standard GM wiring harness plug and most of the wiring kits in the aftermarket come with the mating socket so the wiring of signals and horn and such is much simplified
Although the cost was significantly higher than the original Caddy column, Im much happier with this install. The steel columns start around 400 bucks and go up as you add tilt, chrome, special wiring, etc the column drops are around 40 bucks and up and the linkage pieces depending on finish could be 30 dollars up to 125 each. Its not a cheap addition but it adds a lot to the finished look If youre looking for practical just steering it is quite a bit cheaper with plain steel paintable columns and plain carbon steel linkage pieces. Your imagination (and your Visa balance) are your only limitations
Boilerplate denial of liability statement i.e. the fine print This installation is something I did to put parts of MY truck together. It is not patented, engineered or even perfect it is what it is, a home done install. Im sure there are alternatives to this design some even better/cheaper/easier, I just didnt think of them or warrant them necessary... there are several similar units on the internet waiting behind Google for you to see/copy/build (just like I did) This work was done by me and for me or by friends who were nice enough to help me out. I only ask that if you reproduce it give me credit for it and if you make money from it give me my percentage. Since I have no way of knowing your level of competence, welding or cutting skills, mechanical ability or estimated intelligence, there are no guaranties or warranties either verbal, written or implied with this article. Along with this article I am giving you absolutely free of charge thats right ! FREE !!...the liability, total and complete liability for the use or misuse of this contraption (and installation method) will be yours and yours alone. It belongs to you and keep that in mind I am in no way responsible for any damage, injury or embarrassment you may suffer from the use of my ideas or my methods. If it doesnt look like something youd be comfortable doing dont do/use it. If youre not intelligent enough to make that decision about your comfort level ask a family member or friend.. but heres a hint if you have to ask someone dont do it ! Pictures were made at different stages of construction and all assemblies in pictures may not be complete in each shot. I.e.. a picture showing some parts only means that it was not finished, but Ive tried to make the idea complete to the best of my ability. If you have questions or see mistakes or problems, let me know by e-mail and Ill make the corrections if possible.. Use these ideas at your own risk. Modify them at your discretion and to suit your purpose. Your mileage may vary, batteries not included, much assembly required... wait one hour after building to enter the water, additional charges may apply. not all applicants will qualify for advertised A.P.R., for ages 10 to adult side effects are comparable to placebos. Do not take drugs when building or operating machinery. JUST SAY NO. Copyright . 2012 John Niolon, All International Rights Reserved. This document may not be copied or published without prior written consent of the author- email@example.com