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Technical Ideas on Steering Columns

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Mike Colemire, Jan 23, 2020.

  1. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,210

    Mike Colemire

    I'm going to build my column, piece of pipe, 2 bearings and a solid 3/4 steel rod.I'd like to see some pics of what you all have done. Maybe some ideas on turn signals and dimmer switch. On my A sedan I used a GM dimmer switch and a 50 dodge gear shift lever. Wish I had a pic but I built a small box around it and you just pushed it forward to dim your lights. Everybody that asked about it, I told them it was over drive. They'd try to look under the car, some just shook their heads. On it I installed the old style turn signal assembly that clamps to the column but I was thinking of a 2 way toggle or something different, didn't really care for it, seemed like it was always in the way.
    dana barlow likes this.
  2. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 323


    Went to U-Pull-It and got a column out of a late 60's Chevy truck with a floor shift transmission. Took it apart, shortened it a ton and cut a double D on the end of the shaft to accept a universal joint. I later did away with the lower support as it is very stable with only the upper support. I ended up with self cancelling turn signals and 4 way flashers. 2015_01_16_0357.JPG 2015_02_27_0364.JPG 2015_01_16_0357.JPG 2015_02_27_0364.JPG
  3. alphabet soup
    Joined: Jan 8, 2011
    Posts: 1,386

    alphabet soup

    I used a Corvair column in my '40.
    The small diameter fit the cut out in the dash really nice. I put a bearing and a split lock in the bottom of the tube. And shortened the shaft.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  4. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 6,517

    Bandit Billy

    @DDDenny had a good take on this mounted to the gear lever. Oh Douglas!
    mad mikey likes this.
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  5. That's sort of what I did for my '36 Willys. The factory used a thin steel tube with composite bushings on the stepped steel shaft - small diameter on top, larger diameter on bottom. I didn't like the bushings so went to a bearing shop and found ball bearings with the proper IDs for the shaft and identical ODs. The OD was bigger than the bushings so I found a steel pipe (1 1/2" water pipe as I remember), and welded a bigger loop on the Willys column bracket. Chromed the whole mess. I used a chrome truck turn signal switch. Finally I use a Borgeson U-joint to connect to my Corvair steering gear. Made a Velcro Naugahyde boot to cover the joint. All looks period correct.

    IMG_0555.JPG IMG_0557.JPG IMG_0558.JPG
    Lil'Alb likes this.
  6. On my '53 Chevy pickup I adapted an 80s GM tilt column with stock '53 wheel and gearshift lever. Looks sort of period.

    I made a fiberglass shroud for the bottom of the column, adapted the column/brake master mount. The splines on the old wheel fit the new column shaft, just had to make the shape transition with a round sheet metal plate and Bondo. The shift lever slid over the modern shift lever rod that was ground to a taper shape. A long 'rivet' was made to hold the levers on the column shit lever boss as the factory.

    All adapted to a Toyota Land Cruiser power steering gear. with a Borgeson U-joint.
    IMG_0859.JPG IMG_0862.JPG P4020048.JPG P4020049.JPG

    PC010221.JPG PC010226.JPG P8020080 - Copy.JPG P8020090.JPG P8070018.JPG
    deathrowdave, Lil'Alb and barrnone50 like this.
  7. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,860


    Not a fan of those big bulky tilt columns and I'd have to believe that is what the OP is trying to get away from. I've seen way too many early rigs miss the mark with steering column clutter and the bought because it was cheap at the swapmeet steering wheel or the only one O"Reilly's had in stock in the right price range the day the car owner went steering wheel looking.
    Those late 60's early 70's 4 speed columns with nothing on them except the turn signal handle and the 4 way button. Super clean and scab free.
    Early 70's Ford full size cars have tilts that are actuated with the dimmer switch handle and unless you know what you are looking at you won't spot them as a tilt. I'm not sure if they had a lot of floor shift cars in those years either stick or automatic though if a guy doesn't want a column shift.
  8. Funny you should mention that but we converted a column shift tilt column to a floor shift on our '59 Elky resto. The factory made them of course but they are understandably rare. We did it by cutting off the shifter handle band Bondoing the hole. Also removed the ignition key boss the same way and used the '59 dash mounted ignition switch. Clean column that only had turn signal, steering wheel, and tilt lever.


    steering column small.jpg
    swade41 likes this.
  9. Lloyd's paint & glass
    Joined: Nov 16, 2019
    Posts: 2,223

    Lloyd's paint & glass

    F-1 steering column and box assembly. Speedway has the adapter for this column to use the 3 bolt steering wheels. This one stuck inside of the car further but it was a sedan. And i moved the box closer to the firewall. 20190228_185007.jpg
    Tall t 26 likes this.
  10. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,417

    from oregon

    Guilty as charged!
    Pretty sure this type of thing has a limited audience here though.


  11. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,210

    Mike Colemire

    I started off looking for an early GM column, I can't even find a column shift, so I decided to build my own. I did find some straight columns which I may go with just to have the cancel out turn signals. The ones I found were column shift and have the key but I was going to do like was said and use all metal to fill the holes. Some nice looking stuff on here, great ideas.
  12. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 4,678

    from Oregon

    Now I feel guilty with six columns like Mike started looking for hanging up in the rafters:(
  13. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 4,678

    from Oregon

    Okay, okay not really feeling guilty .:p
  14. blue 49
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 1,237

    blue 49
    from Iowa

    with gages.JPG
    This column started out as a '68 Chevy pickup with a shift lever. I thought I could just take the shift tube out and use it. Nothing to hold the lower collar, then. I used the turn signal switch head and the shaft and made the tube from 2" exhaust tube and hammer formed the lower cup.

    swade41 and RMR&C like this.
  15. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,473


    I wanted a CLEAN and simple column for my '37 Chevy. Started with a piece if 1 1/2" Stainless exhaust tubing. Made an aluminum bushing for each end with grease zerks. I may change these out for needle bearings if they prove to be sloppy.
    The trick for me was that I didn't want a turn signal mechanism or lever hanging off the column. But, I didn't want them dash mounted either.
    This is what I came up with:
    IMG_0936.JPG These are the components

    IMG_0939.JPG Steering wheel hub top

    IMG_0940.JPG Steering wheel hub bottom

    Column insulator - the small diameter goes into the top of the stainless tube

    Topside of the column insulator - this is 14 gauge solid copper wire stripped from Romex. Completely insulated from each other The feed wires come up the inner hole and split off to each ring.

    This is the mating piece. The contacts are 4-40 brass screws that are drilled through the center and crimped on the wire. The springs are from ball point pens free at the bank.:p

    This gets bolted together with counter sunk button heads

    One wire feeds the horn, the other two go to the individual turn signals. The buttons are located on the spokes of the steering wheel. I thought I had a picture of that but can't find it @ 3:30 AM.
    This uses a "Back Off" turn signal module. So the turn signals stay on for a predetermined length of time. Pretty trick set-up.

    Attached Files:

    DIYGUY, GordonC, williebill and 2 others like this.
  16. bschwoeble
    Joined: Oct 20, 2008
    Posts: 552


    I have to agree with Mr48chev, tilt columns in early cars look goony. I am not trying to upset anybody. Early cars are small, and a big tilt column just looks out of lace. Not to mention using that big factory 4 bolt bracket to hold it to the dash. OK, I'm done. Let the rebuttals begin.
    vtx1800 likes this.
  17. WB69
    Joined: Dec 7, 2008
    Posts: 1,223


    Used a GM tilt column from a manual shift. Mid 70's.
  18. Allmotor
    Joined: Jan 7, 2007
    Posts: 121


    DOM tubing with machined alum steering wheel mount, bearing at top and bottom. DSCN0576.JPG DSCN0580.JPG DSCN0581.JPG
    Hombre, vtx1800, RMR&C and 1 other person like this.
  19. mite try this for your turn signals, and mount it on the dash,...or under the dash, left is left, rite is rite...
    48 ford dirty 006.jpg
  20. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,392


    Took the easy way on my 37 Chevy p/u,since I was using a 41-6 box used a 41-6 column and wheel. The column came out of a big truck so it had to be shortened some.

    Attached Files:

    Lil'Alb likes this.
  21. butch27
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 2,824


    Great work-- sell to t bucket builders.
  22. Joel W
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 98

    Joel W

    Check out Dodge pickup columns 1962-73, if you can find them, same from D100 through the D600. Smooth column, with built in turn signals up top and no key switch. I have a couple from the big trucks for my cars.

    Sent from my XT1710-02 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  23. el Scotto
    Joined: Mar 3, 2004
    Posts: 4,320

    el Scotto
    from Tracy, CA

    I picked this up over the weekend at Turlock, it’s a ‘53 Ford F100 box with a factory turn signal option. I had the ‘56 Ford car wheel at home and it looks perfect for an early rod!

    94A593FD-C919-4403-A678-240BCDA261BF.jpeg 91DB83A3-0637-45C9-A2CA-8CEE6EF4AA21.jpeg
    dana barlow, nochop, -Brent- and 2 others like this.
  24. chevyfordman
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 817


    I did a 51 Ford column for a model A, built in turn signal lever, shorten the column and made a gate for an Olds auto trans. DSCN3145.JPG DSCN3146.JPG
  25. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 3,746


    If you don't want a turn signal stalk hanging off your column. Speedway sells a turn signal unit that uses buttons to activate. Used it on a couple of cars , works slick.
  26. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 5,691

    anthony myrick

    I found a small body column without a shifter and key in a gm motorhome.
    Box vans and other industrial vehicles had no key columns longer than civilian rides.
    Picked up a super small tilt column from a 60s Riviera, no shifter or key.
  27. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,210

    Mike Colemire

    Can't find the push button one from Speedway, I think Ron Francis has one of those. If the weather ever straightens up and some of this mud dries up, I'm going to make a trip to a friends junk yard. I know he has an old 69, 69 3/4 ton dodge truck, plus a couple of 71-72 chevy trucks.
    anthony myrick likes this.
  28. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 3,746


    I will see if I can get you a part number. For the electronic turn signal switch.
  29. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 3,746


    Speedway part numbers 91064070 for the deluxe module and 91064150 for the standard 4 bulb module.
    Really small and works great, gives you turn signals and 4 ways with just 2 buttons or momentary switches mounted where ever you would like them. I made a small panel by the key switch for mine between the seats. DSCF0950.JPG
  30. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,210

    Mike Colemire

    Thanks, I may consider that. A momentary switch would prevent driving down the road with your turn signal still on!

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