There are a lot of parts we put into our projects that have become commonplace. Independent front suspensions, V-8 engines, and an automatic transmission have all generally become the norm when building any vehicle nowadays. When it comes to pointing them in the right direction, the tilt steering column is always at the top of the list. Then it is topped off with a billet steering wheel.
This is nice, but way overdone and too predictable. For me, I really like the trend of reusing the old stock stuff, but modified and reconditioned. Stuff like the steering column and steering wheel, stock heater, and crank windows can go a long way as well. Modified to work in my application, it gets the looks when you are sitting at a show.
I wish I could sit here and say it's cheaper to use the stock column over an aftermarket tilt column, but it's really too close to call. The tilt will usually set you back $100-$500 depending on what you buy, used or brand new. Then another $150 in U-joints and shaft, and $50-ish for a column drop – then getting it mounted and wired in.
With a stock column, you might have it left over from when you did the front suspension or you can pick one up at a swap meet at maybe $100 or $150 for the complete thing. You need the complete setup to start with: the steering column tube, column drop/mount, and the steering box and shaft. On our F-100s, the shaft is part of the steering box and has to be cut off right at the top of the box.
Normally the turn signal components are junk so those will need to be replaced as well – something a tilt column wouldn't need replacing. The upper bearing in the column tube could be bad also and need replacing. Not that these are terribly expensive or hard to find, they will just need attention. Mid Fifty F-100 Parts or any of the other big-name aftermarket suppliers can help with any of these needed parts.
1. Chopped down to fit my new lower seat mounting, my stock steering column is looking great. The tube and drop are painted red to match the interior and it is topped off with a new reproduction steering wheel and horn button. How is it posisble that I connected a stock steering column to my Volare steering box? BY using Classsic Performance Products Bullet Steering Column Saver, that's how.
2. If you are tired of tilt steering columns and want something a bit "different" to point your truck, give the stock steering column another look. With Classic Performance Products Billet Steering Column Saver kit you can adapt a stock steering column to any type of steering device you're using. I added a splined end to my shaft for a stronger connection and better overall look. Plus I could reuse the steering U-joints that had already been installed on the truck.
3. Here's what I started with. A column tube, a column drop mount for the dash, and the needed clamp pieces. I will order a new rubber piece from Mid Fifty.
4. I sat in the seat and held the steering wheel where I thought it should go and took a few measurements. I measured from the bottom of the steering wheel to the floor and then from the floor to the end of the column that is currently installed. I came up with 23 inches to the floor and 41/2 inches to the end of the column and shaft, roughly. So what this told me was that I needed to cut the steering column tube at 271/2 inches.
5. To support the steering shaft at the bottom of the column tube I am going to use a "Billet Column Saver" from Classic Performance Products. This kit locks the shaft in between two flat bearing plates, supports the end of the shaft, and has a great-looking machined end that caps off the end of the steering column nicely. The kit I used for my 11/2-inch-diameter steering column tube was the part number CP150BCS. It shows an application of '48-'64 Ford car and trucks with this sized tube.
6. When I bought the truck it already had a GM tilt column installed. Tilt is OK, but I really liked the stock column and steering wheel I used in my last '56 and I wanted this one to have the same thing.