OK, I know, you’re thinking “Duh- the steering wheel’s on the left.” And now you’re thinking “…unless you live in a country which requires you to drive on the left side of the road” (For a great site on which countries drive on what side, check out http://www.brianlucas.ca/roadside/), although this doesn’t absolutely determine which side the steering wheel is on.
While putting the steering wheel in the center of the vehicle may be a priority for some readers, this article deals specifically with making the top of the steering wheel point up when you’re driving straight.
Step 1: Unbolt the Pitman arm. You don’t need to completely take it off- just detach it from the steering box so when you turn the steering wheel, the wheels don’t turn.
Rotate the steering wheel all the way in one direction, then mark the top. I used masking tape so I didn’t have to write on the leather.
Then, rotate the wheel in the opposite direction and count the amount of rotations. When it stops, mark the top again.
Divide the amount of rotations in half, then backtrack that amount, and the ‘left’ and ‘right’ marks should be about horizontal. Mark the top, just so you don’t forget.
Your steering box is now centered (and centred too).
The Pitman arm should be pointed forward when the wheels are straight ahead. “Forward” is different than parallel to your frame rails, remember. It should be parallel to the centerline of your frame.
The tie rod ends on the drag link should be LH and RH threads, so it’s easy to just spin the bar to lengthen or shorten the center to center distance. Don’t attach the Pitman arm to the steering box before you have it pointed straight ahead – then you can adjust the bar until the splined hole in the arm is directly below the output shaft on the Pitman arm.
If you’re confident you’re Pitman arm is pointed straight ahead, there are ways to adjust the steering wheel rotation without affecting the Pitman arm.
1. Unbolt the steering wheel from the hub (if you have one), rotate the wheel, and bolt it back on. Since there are usually 5 or 9 bolts, this isn’t a very macro method.
2. Unbolt the hub from the steering column. It’s usually splined, so you can get a finer adjustment than unbolting the steering wheel. A combination of 1 and 2 may be required if your horn wire is interfering with the hub. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.
3. U-joints: If you have used splined steering shafts, you can rotate the shaft in a U-joint by a spline or two. This can cause some negative effects down the road though, if you ‘misalign’ the joints out of phase. You’ll know what I mean if it happens- you’ll have a few stiff spots as you rotate the steering wheel.
Mock the seat into position
Here, I’ve got the bottom of the custom Tack upholstered WiseGuys seat removed to show the blocks I put under the seat frame. This is how the seat is positioned to give the most support under the thighs, while still allowing my dad to be able to get out of the car without commissioning a bystander to pull him out. Now that the seat is in the correct position (front-to-back & side-to-side), we can move on to exactly how to attach the seat to the floor.
Choosing the mounting location
I believe the hole in the plate going from front to back is for the slider on the WiseGuys seat, which we won’t be using. We want the seat as close to the floor as possible, mainly for head room. I will be using the lower shaded circle for the mounting brackets.
Continue reading “’32 Update: Seat Risers (article 11, archived)” »
Marking the column location
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.
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.
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.
Continue reading “’32 Update: Installing the Steering Column (article 12, archived)” »
Paul gets comfortable with the column in its lowered position. After all, it is his car. We used a coat hanger to rig it into place. As long as you can secure it temporarily while you measure, you’ll be fine.
Next, it’s important to make sure you can actually get out of the car without knee pads. Looks like this will be just fine!
Continue reading “’32 Update: Column Drop (article 13, archived)” »
The Bear body has some neat compartments in the trunk with access panels attached with machine screws into metal inserts. We will be putting a lot of things in the trunk – sub, amp, CD player, CD changer, battery, air ride compressor, air ride tank, valves, and probably more things that I’m not thinking about. Also, we won’t be carrying a 2×3 hardwood beam to rod runs to hold up the deck lid – a support will be installed in the near future.
We got all Clarion sound equipment, and it arrived the day after we ordered it! (Clarion APX640.4 Amplifier, DCZ625 CD changer, DXZ655MP CD player, and a PXW1041 Sub). A sealed sub box was bought from an automotive stereo shop. It is designed to sit behind the seat in a truck, but I figured it would work great in this application too. The manual says not to mount anything to the box, but a friend in the know said it isn’t a big deal. So, because of limited space and the fact that The Testament on CD and Gordon Lightfoot will probably be the closest thing to heavy bass my dad will listen to, I’ll be mounting pretty much everything to the box. I cut a piece of plywood to the shape of the floor of the space and Vette Panel Bonded it to the floor. The LizardSkin insulation had to be removed in the areas I was slopping the panel bond. I also had to move the wire connection block from the center of the box to the lower corner because of the depth of the magnet and because I was putting the amp on the back of the box.
Here’s the plywood piece I put from the wheel well to the front of the compartment which holds the compressor, tank, and valves. Do not put the panel bond on any outside surface – it will eventually show through and you’ll never be able to get rid of it.
An Optima yellow-top battery will be used. I’m mounting it through the base of the battery with four bolts into special inserts threaded into the wood.
The CD player and changer will need to be accessible even when the back panel is installed, and there is luggage in the trunk. The changer won’t play mp3 files or wma, but the deck will. So, we will be able to listen to six regular CDs plus one assorted CD. The box is attached to the wood with the same inserts as the battery. If you’re wondering how we’re going to change tracks and adjust the volume, I’ll tell you. We’ll simply pull over under a bridge, open the trunk, unload the luggage, take out the six machine screws holding the back panel in place, then turn the knob or change to the next CD. Simple, eh? I have a better idea. There will be a hidden “eye” somewhere in the dash (see if you can find it before the car is done… it’ll be fun!) that will send a signal along a wire to an LED transmitter that will be pointed to the CD player. So we will be able to perform all the functions that we’ll need to perform minus changing sound levels and fade, etc. from a remote inside the car, without a CD player to look at all the time. The dash will be nice and clean. A removable access panel will be added right in front of the CD player and changer so that we can change settings and CDs easily. But I’m sure 7 CDs can outlast a 60 year old bladder.
These bulkheads from Air Ride Technologies will allow us to run the air through the trunk floor, keeping the lines between the floor and the access panel.
This is looking up at the bulkhead from under the car. It’s a good thing we got that Backyard Buddy lift – I would have had to actually crawl under the car to take this picture!
That’s all there is to it… run the lines from the solenoids to the bulkheads, and nobody will ever know.
I’ve got the solenoids mounted upside-down on the same piece of wood that the tank and compressor are on. It would have been wise to have mounted it before I installed the wood panel, but who doesn’t envy a contortionist once in a while? All six feet two inches of me that was twisted like a shamois (aka Shammy) doesn’t. That’s Vette Panel Adhesive holding the wood to the ‘glass. That stuff is amazing!
We’re finding more and more ways that this Bear body is set apart from the rest. We’ve always been looking for ways to remove as much as possible from the dash, without leaving it completely blank. CD player, A/C and heater controls, wiper switches, air ride switches, ignition, and finally, most of the gauges, would look better… somewhere else. Turning back to the body, it has a neat little compartment, complete with a removable face, over the windshield. “What a neat place to put all that stuff!” we thought. So we laid out where everything would go with masking tape, sat in the car for hours at a time, and, with our fair share of criticism (coming from within I might add) proceeded to cut some holes. Here’s how it turned out (so far).
I cut out the exact OUTER DIMENSION of the bezels of the instruments as well as the biggest dimension for all the other gadgets. It’s very important to calculate your space based on the bezel diameter, not the mounting hole size. See the big square on the right? That’s the wiper switch. There’s a big box on the back side that takes up space, so I couldn’t lay out the knobs right next to each other or there would be interference.
No, I’m not moving them to the top of the dash. Once again, I used some masking tape to lay out where the holes would be.
The paper layouts were oriented by hand, so I had to convert “eye” measurements to “measuring tape” measurements. I ran a strip of tape along the very bottom of my paper templates, so I knew where the bottoms where. At the bottom of one gauge, I marked the center. Now I have a home base.
This handy ruler was given to me by Zac at Classic Instruments. It has all the bezel dimensions as well as all the mounting hole sizes for all their instruments. I had to keep remembering that I was laying out the outer dimension of the bezel, not the mounting hole. I thought 5/16″ would be a good amount to put between the bezels. So, from the first centerline mark, I was able to go out half the bezel O.D. each way. Then, 5/16″ more and I could start the next dimension. Mark the center of the gauge so you know where to drill. If you’re wondering how I got the centerline level, then I must be pretty good. Write me an email if you still don’t get it.
Sha-WING! White Hot series, curved glass, radial bezel. There’s a tach too.
Oh No! Two extra holes! I hope my dad doesn’t see this!
Phew, good thing Classic makes a 2″ tach and a matching air ride pressure gauge.
Since the tach is a little deeper than the other gauges, I put it in the middle of the panel. The gauges come complete with senders and neat little aluminum mounting brackets with nuts. The other nice thing about the removable panel is that it’s removable, which has obvious advantages.
“ok, tower, request permission to land. over.” I like it.
Having all the tools at hand, I grabbed a bigger hole saw and cut out the hole for the speedometer. I laid out the hole location in the same way. We decided to place the heat/cool vents beside the speedo for consistency and they will be at the proper height for blowing cold air at your chest.
Hey! Look out for that ’40!
Please email with your comments – I think I’ve only got one email, from someone asking if I’m related to Tim, and if this is the Official DonutMobile.
This is the kit we’ll be using to protect the occupants: it’s the Rocky Hinge manual kit. They also have one that’s controlled with an actuator. It’s so easy to install, even if you lose their excellent instructions. What I like about it is all the dimensions are “major” fractions. You won’t have to worry about whether you’re counting 32nds or 64ths; all the dimensions you need to know are either 1/2″, 1-1/2″, etc. It comes with led lights and a built in switch that will tell you when the pin is either in or out.
I decided to put it in the middle of the door because I was afraid the latch would get kicked if it was down near the floor. This way, it’s in line with the door pin too. Just slab some masking tape on there, and drill some holes.
To find the location of the hole that needs to be in the door, I put some tape around where I thought it would be. I mounted the unit, closed the door, and drove the pin against the door a few times to mark the tape. I decided to put the main unit in the kick panel for one major reason: if it’s accidentally switched when the door is open, the pin won’t hit the outside of the car.
The knob comes in a brushed aluminum finish, but I painted it black to blend in. The stainless bolts are standard.
I ground a flat where the set screw in the knob tightens on the shaft so it was oriented to be pointing towards the door when it’s locked.
I installed our brake pedal pad bracket and thought I’d show the progress…
Here’s the kit – stainless brackets, stainless hardware, and instructions.
One bracket goes on the outside of the pedal, and the other bracket sandwiches the pedal on the inside. The masking tape is how far the pedal goes during full travel. As you can see, I’ll have to trim the leading edge of the pedal.
The two holes in the pedal let you set up the bracket to a comfortable angle for your foot.
The slots in the two brackets line up for your pedal pad to mount to.
Another feature of the slots is to let the pedal pad move up and down, effectively modifying your pedal ratio.
All gaps are not created equal. Having said that, once I decided which weatherstrip profile to use, the job itself was rather simple.
You’ll have to start with your doors hung and latched. To determine the size of the gap, I used what I’ve been telling people to use for years, but never had the opportunity to do it myself: playdough. Do I have to put a letter C in a circle after that word? Actually, I didn’t use playdough. I used Sticky Tack. Man, what’s the generic word for stuff that’s pliable and somewhat sticky and holds posters to the wall? From now on, it shall be called “Silly Putty”. Oh, never mind.
Roll the Nameless Wonder-Goop Door Gap Replicator (don’t worry, I don’t require a Registered Trademark symbol) into a ball, and set it in the place you want to measure.
Close the door all the way.
When you open the door, you’ll be left with a positive mold of the door gap that you can use to see which weatherstrip profile will work best.
I got one of Soffseal’s sample packs and compared each sample with my Nameless Wonder-Goop Door Gap Replicator.
It turns out I was able to use one of their smallest profiles on both the door and the body. I like this, because I have weatherstrip sealing against weatherstrip. This profile fit the edge around the door opening perfectly.
In this picture, you’re also able to see the courtesy light I installed in the bottom of the door. At night, it will illuminate the ground as you’re getting out of the car. You never know what will be waiting in the hotel parking lot.