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Steering Column-something simple...then while you're at it sinks in.....

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  • Steering Column-something simple...then while you're at it sinks in.....

    My car hasn't had an official "State Inspection" since 2012. Never worried about it when living in Utah...and since I've been back in TX, I've just driven with the old sticker and no one has noticed. But since I've ordered some new "RUNS8S" license plates...I have to get it inspected to get them.

    So all I needed was the little $8 plastic piece on the turn signal switch. I broke the lever off a while back climbing over the side bar of the rollbar (climbing over with the top down instead of pulling the pin and raising it) when I kicked it with my foot. Luckily...the 'Vette places sell a repair piece instead of having to buy a whole switch. SWEET!

    BUT...I've also contemplated what it would take to move the steering wheel closer to the dash. I'm a big 'ole boy...but more importantly I like to drive with my arms nearly straight out. I installed a flat wheel 20 years ago and adjusted the column forward where it was near perfect. But a few years ago I installed a Borgeson P/S box and it requires you to shorten the steering shaft to accommodate the new box. Well, I shortened it as much as I could but when installed, I lost some of that room I had previously gained as it moved the wheel back away from the dash an inch or two. In addition, my recently recovered seats included new foam which puts you a little closer to the dash until they settle some in a few years. No biggee....but while I'm at it I might as well look into what else I can do right?

    So I pull the column out of the car (3 minute job in an old 'Vette). As I studied the column, my original plan was to take it to a machine shop and have them extend the splines up higher on the shaft. That didn't work out so well because trying to find a local machine shop that can cut splines was not happening. So then I finally decide I'm going to just cut the shaft, weld it back together and add a reinforcing sleeve over the weld and weld that too to make it incredibly stout. So I take it apart and measure everything three or four times and make the cuts and the welds. Lines up perfect. I go to putting it all together and found that 3 of the 4 "locating tabs" in the column tube are cracked/broken. One of them had already broken off and was laying in the tube...two more were cracked. The funky system in these old columns is a locating pate that you insert into the tabs and then the screws for the turn signal switch go through the tab into the "cone shaped housing" that the switch handle exits from. As you tighten the screws it pulls the plate up and locks the cone housing in place to the column tube. If those tabs are missing the cone wiggles around all over the place and doesn't hold the top bearing in place. Bummer.

    Well...the easy way would be to order a new tube for $75. But of course then I start researching tilt columns.

    Ididit and Flaming River make 'Vette columns. Naturally, old 'Vette's have a 1.5" tube vs a 2" tube that everything else uses. Hard to go larger since it goes through the instrument cluster. So I'm studying all the measurements trying to see if the tilt mechanism ends up moving wheel closer or further from you. Of course that all depends on what wheel you want to use. I had a bright idea of going all the way and installing a race style removable wheel to make it easier to climb out of the rollbar stuff with the top up. But couldn't find any that had a horn provision AND didn't move wheel a lot closer to you.

    The other thing is no matter what...even the Ididit ones that Borgeson sells have to be shortened just like I did on the stock one. I asked about building a custom one to what I wanted, but they said it would take 5-6 weeks. They said there is actually a lot of extra spline length on their column and I should be able to shorten it a lot.

    So I ended up ordering a column and then I got a 'thin" steering wheel adapter. Of course that one requires a 9 bolt wheel instead of the 6 bolt Corvette one or any of the very common 3 and 5 bolt wheels out there. I was even looking for one with a flat bottom on it and the thicker grip areas at 10 and 2 like new cars...but couldn't find that in a 9 bolt wheel. Heck of a mess!

    Just in case...I ordered a new "double D" steering u-joint. The Borgeson box has an 18MM Double D attachment and the stock column has a 36 spline one. My current joint fits that. But just in case I can't make it fit, I ordered a joint with a Double D 18MM on one end an a 3/4" Double D on the other and I'll make the end of the column fit that if needed.

    And the new wheel and the wiring harness to adapt it to stock wiring.

    I'll let everyone know how it turns out....but sure was an expensive project for what started as an $8 plastic piece in the original column!!

    Andy...does our Borgeson buddy want to do a story???


  • #2
    Can definitely check with the editor of the mag and see if there's something we could do. I'm pretty sure that the guys at Borgeson would be interested. What would you need from them? Got part numbers?


    • #3
      I ordered from Jeg's who said they had to get it from Ididit. But Borgeson sells them too. 1120770051 Powder coated Vette column.

      Jeg's sent me a Borgeson u-joint...actually think Borgeson drop shipped it. It's the Double D one in case I have to make it fit. 014950

      Ididit adapter-2201100040

      And then the Ididit adapter harness...3100037618

      Ended up with a Lecarra wheel-630-43201

      Maybe we can intercept? I can ship stuff back as needed! LOL.



      • #4
        Lemme do some checking today and see what's possible.


        • #5
          Looks like Borgeson gets them from Ididit. Maybe we can go through them. CHecking with the editor. Film at 11, as they say.


          • #6
            Just checking....

            Ididit says their column is NOT available for a '67 Corvette. Do you know why they say that, and what year is that portion of your car?