One of the final things we had to do to Grandma before taking her out on her maiden voyage, was set up the steering. In an earlier blog we showed you how we mounted our steering rack, now we are going to finish the story and explain the rest of the steering system – starting with the column.
The OEM way of mounting the column used the standard two bolts just below the dash along with a rubber piece that filled a large hole in the firewall where the column passes though it.
To locate the column in the hole in the firewall, we choose to bolt in a steel plate and, by measuring off the stock rubber piece, we were able to come up with the spot to drill the hole for the column to pass though. No need to weld this in, it isn’t under any stress once the entire system is bolted up.
Not looking to completely reinvent the steering wheel here, we stuck with the two bolt system for mounting the column inside of the car. First off Mike Ryan welded a plate of steel to a piece of chrome molly tubing. From there he welded it to a long tube that would house the steering shaft. After drilling two holes in the steel plate for the bolts, we fitted in the car.
It is important when mounting your column, to make sure that it does not get in the way of the driver entering or exiting the car. In the event of a crash or emergency, you want the driver to be able to get out of the car as fast as possible. If he has to contort and bend around a steering shaft to get out of the car, that could be the difference between leaving in the truck or leaving in the ambulance.
To give our driver something to hold onto , we put in a call to the to the steering wheel gurus over at Grant Products. We wanted a lightweight steering wheel that already had the necessary provisions for a small button that we could wire our trans-brake to. They recommended one of their Performance GT Wheels. This also included an SFI Grant quick release for easy, quick, and safe wheel removal to make entering and exiting the car easier.
Grant offers this wheel in three different styles to best match the interior of your car, all in a 13 inch diameter size. We choose the black grip with anodized aluminum spokes and the yellow strip stitched in the twelve o’ clock position – to aid the driver in keeping the wheel in the right direction.
These wheels have two holes for you to mount buttons into if you have more than just one device you would like to control at the tip of your fingers. Not that you would want to take your hands off the wheel. The stitched black vinyl grip is surprisingly comfortable and very ‘grippy’ and keeping the driver comfortable and his hands on the wheel is a prime concern.
To mount our wheel to our home made column, as mentioned, we went to Grant again for their Pinless Quick Release Hub. These releases fit all of Grant racing wheels and meet the SFI 42.1 specification.
We picked up the one specifically made for mounting to a custom column, but they make versions designed for OEM column applications including most Ford and GM styles. Mike laid down a few quick welds, and we were able to steering Grandma for the first time in a long time!
That’s all for now, check back soon for more updates!