Friday, March 15, 2013

SShortening the Steering Column

The assembled steering
column with the steering
wheel removed.
The steering column in this truck was thankfully changed when the previous owner installed the dump truck 360 with the floor shift 4 speed. This means that modifying the steering column to fit the new power steering box is much easier in that all I had to do is shorten the steering stem itself. The housing tube is already short enough. The steering stem needs to be shortened about 2-3/4” to 31-1.4”. The fordification website has a lot of good technical information for these trucks including a guide for converting a manual steering truck to power steering ( I need to note that contrary to their instruction, you don’t need to completely disassemble the column to do the mod .If you have a manual steering column from a 4 speed floor shift, all you need to do is shorten the stem then that can be done by removing the stem from the bottom after removing the nut from the top and you don’t need to take the turn signal mechanism out .another point is that the steering stem needs to be about 31-1/4” long. I actually found that on my truck it could have been about 7/8” shorter which would have moved the steering wheel away from the driver by that much which I would have liked. Where the steering column bolts under the dash there are slots in the bracket that would allow for this. One other issue that you can see in the photos, the brackets for the manual steering column are different than the power steering model. If you use them you will find that the column will be at a lower angle when put back together. I solved this by drilling the spot welds that hold the mounting bracket and adding ¼” spacers to lift the column up. This puts the steering wheel in a much better place and straightens the steering line thus reducing the stress on the rag joint. Two other points: First you should really have a lathe to true and bevel the cut ends of the steering shaft. The bevel is to give you more surface for welding  it back together (see point 2) and facing the cut ends helps align the 2 pieces co that they are concentric and don’t run eccentric when you weld them back together. Second, this is a critical piece of safety equipment. Have a qualified welder weld it back together. Do I have to tell you what it would be like if it broke going around a corner a 50mph with a load in the back?
Cutting the Steering Shaft
with the Cold Saw.

Held with a V block
for a square cut.

After blasting clean I drilled
the ends and Reamed for a
dowel pin fora precision
fit up
Perfectly straight and ready for

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