’32 Update: Installing the Steering Column (article 12, archived)

Marking the column location
steering column
We wanted the column to come out at the same line as the center of the steering wheel, which is also where we put the wiper. That way, everything will be in line. The only people that will probably notice it are those who are watching this buildup, but it’ll still be ambiguously appealing.

ididit steering column
Here is the ididit column we’re using. It’s a 28″ steel tilt unit, with a Lecarra Mark 9 steering wheel on there for now. I’ve wrapped giant Saran wrap around it so that the oil from my hands doesn’t make it rust.

steering column install
This is a tricky part. The firewall on the Bear body is about 2-1/2″ thick. In order to put the column through that behemoth firewall, the holes on either side need to be staggered vertically, and also they’re not round holes, they’re ellipses. We decided to use a 1-7/8″ hole saw to cut through, and then clean the rest out by hand. This should result in a very clean looking firewall – there won’t be the typical billet floor mount. Just a hole exactly the size as the column. If I’m good.
Column position is a crucial part of the comfort level of the car. If your column is in the wrong spot, it won’t tilt properly into position, and it won’t be in the optimal spot when you’re driving down the road. We established the position by sitting in the car, holding the column up at the bottom, and then marking the top of the output shaft on the tape. The left to right position was determined by dropping a plumb line from the wiper hole center, which is also the center of the steering wheel. It’s a bit tricky to get all this stuff lined up, so take your time. It will be worth it when you’re comfortable. Oh, and make sure you have THE SEAT THAT YOU’RE USING installed. NOT a milk crate, or a toilet, or whatever else you think might work.

steering column install
I drilled a very small hole on each side of the firewall, then used a welding rod to make sure I had the holes on the right angle going up to the steering wheel. Then I enlarged the hole to 1/4″. This allowed me to use a 1/4″ rod, with a flat ground on one end, as a sort of pilot guide in the middle of the hole saw. This will ensure I have the drill on the correct angle all the way through the firewall. I started from the engine side, and just broke through the outside surface of fiberglass. Doing this will protect the gel coat from chipping when I break through.

steering column install
Here’s the other side.

steering column install
Voila, the slug. We can use this material to insert riv-nuts into to mount the A/C evaporator, gas pedal, etc. without bolts going through to the other side.

steering column install
A 2″ exhaust tube was used as a guide so I knew when I had sanded enough without hoisting the column into position every time I wanted to check the hole. It was tricky, because the hole isn’t square to the firewall, and the fiberglass is about 1/8″ thick.

steering column install
I thought I was being really smart by cutting points into the end of the tube, to act as a 2″ hole saw. It didn’t really work too well. But this is what I came up with- looks pretty sharp, eh?

steering column install
On to the column drop

2 comments

  1. mike yancey says:

    former owner Mikes Classic muscle cars in Du Quoin Ill; I live in Tn now build my own drag cars and show cars / I have seen your parts and i like what i see please send me a catalog.Ineed alot of parts/think you.vegamike.

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