Swapping Steering Columns Page 2 of 2

Dash steering chrome mount

Dashboard steering column chrome mount

The dashboard steering column chrome mount was made for a 1 3/4" shaft while the new steering column is 2". There was no way that I could see that I could modify the original steering column mount to fit. So off it came.

Dash

Dash modified so that a 2" steering column would fit in the groove.

The dashboard metal was cut out and expanded so that the 2" column would fit and new metal welded into the enlarged holes. The van's dashboard column mount fit the 54's dash by elongating the mounting holes about 1/8" on both sides.

I have the 76 Camaro's steering wheel (see above pix) and will probably use it until I can get one of the older wheels fixed up. I have one wheel which is in pretty good shape and has a nice chrome horn ring. I believe it's a 58 Chev wheel. It's missing the center part which I figure I can throw something together that will look nice.

Old steering wheel

58 Chevy steering wheel with character needing work!

I tried the 58 steering and ran into problems. The first was that the horn mechanism has changed a lot and the second is that the diameter of the base of the steering wheel is different from the column. I put on the Camaro's steering wheel and realized that I was missing a piece. It is a plastic spacer that goes between the steering wheel and the column's upper bearing. It also provides the electrical path for the horn.

horn spacer

80 Van wheel spacer on top, mid 70s Camaro locking steering wheel mechanism on bottom

A quick trip to the wreckers and I picked up both a van's and a Camaro's spacer. The Camaro's is much more complicated as it incorporates the locking steering wheel mechanism that is operated by the column key lock. Regardless it didn't work with the van's column. The van's plastic spacer fitted perfectly with the Camaro's steering wheel.

Ididit column mount

Ididit basic steering column floor mount

Ididit has several nice steering column floor mounts for fair prices. Unfortunately, everyone is out of stock of it in my locale which tells you something about its popularity. The other models are swivel base units. Since this is the part of the car that is the top priority right now and I'll have to build something up myself. Shouldn't be too hard, a 2" inner diameter tube, slit down the side, bolt to tighten and floor plate to weld to.

I went to one of my favorite scounging places: Princess Auto (only in Canada - pity) for ideas. I came across a 2" flange mount bearing housing ($3.99) that is used for holding "pressed-in " bearings. They are basically a square mounting plate with 4 holes in each corner and a 2" dia hole in the middle for mounting the bearing. The bearings are swivel type so that the mount doesn't have to be perfectly aligned with the shaft.

Bearing flange

Ex-bearing flange - now steering column mount

They had 2" and 2 1/4" diameter flange mounts. After getting home and playing with the 2" flange, I figure that if I spent the time, I could find a bearing that when only the outside ring was used, it would give 2" dia plus swivel using a 2 1/4" flange. I had purchased the 2" at the time and realized that by the time I drove back to Princess Auto and found the right bearing for a 2 1/4" flange, drove back, hammered the bearing apart - I could grind the 2" flange to fit. I ground the 2" flange and it worked fine - its not the type of thing that I'm going to be pulling on and off often.

The bearing has a threaded hole for a grease nipple. I replaced the grease nipple with a standard allen screw and it will lock the bottom of the steering column in place.

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Copyright March 2011 Eugene Blanchard