Using a stock steering column will also require a "Billet Steering Column Saver" from Classic Performance Products. They have these neat aluminum column ends that support the steering shaft. They are installed into the cutoff end of the steering column tube and the steering shaft runs through it. These run about $40 and are worth every penny.
You will end up with just a round ¾-inch shaft sticking out of the end of the steering column if you just use the old shaft. There are steering U-joints made for ¾-inch round attachments. In this case that would require drilling a ¼-inch hole through the steering U-joint and the steering shaft and using a grade-8 ¼-inch bolt and Nylock nut to secure the U-joint to the stock steering shaft. I'm not a big fan of this and think I will go a step better.
My new project truck came with a used GM tilt column installed. This gives me the correct steering U-joints to connect my GM tilt column to the Volare steering gear. I would like to convert the end of my steering shaft on my new stock column to a ¾-inch x 36-spline. That is the same as my tilt column U-joint. With a call to Classic Performance Products I confirmed that they sold a splined ¾-inch shaft and went to pick it up ($15 for the shaft).
I laid out my cuts and welds so they wouldn't interfere with the billet column saver pieces or its operation. They ended up above the column saver. When I finished I had the splined shaft end I wanted and I can reuse the U-joint I already have. My big cost was the reproduction steering wheel. I have about $300 in it after buying all the pieces it takes. But I do like the look of it and the truck drives nice with a big wheel. Plus the horn button choices are cool. A future swap meet will yield a cool brody knob I'm sure.
I also replaced the turn signal components and turn signal lever. After fitting it and getting it painted and reinstalled, it's going to cost me more than if I had stayed with the tilt I had and just painted it. But, I wanted to be a little bit different and the prepping labor for paint was my own so that didn't really cost me – and that's why we're here, right? Follow along to see how I reuse a stock steering column using Classic Performance Products's Billet Steering Column Saver and then making it functional with the finishing pieces from Mid Fifty F-100 Parts.
7. I cut a steering shaft off of an old donor steering box. I cut it close to the box although I'm not going to need the whole thing, but this way I have enough to use to make it as long as I need.
8. Although not shown, I put the steering wheel on the shaft and slipped the tube over the shaft. I slid it up to the bottom of the steering wheel and laid it on the table to figure out some cuts. At this point I hadn't really decided on how the U-joint was going to connect to the shaft. The easy way would be to drill the U-joint and shaft and run a 1/4-inch bolt through them to hold the U-joint. Or, since the U-joint from the old tilt column is 3/4-36, why not get a piece of splined shaft and weld it on? Then I can reuse the U-joint.
9. The Column Saver needs a 3/16-inch hole to secure the aluminum collar with a 10/32 screw. It is a 1/2 inch from the edge, so that's where I mark and drill my hole.
10. I decided to go with the splined shaft option and got a section of splined 3/4-inch shaft from Classic Performance Products. I trimmed the splined end down to fit the U-joint and cut a few inches back to weld to the shaft. I added an extra inch to the length needed on the splined shaft and machined a stud with the lathe to fit inside the hole of the steering shaft. That helps keep the two shafts aligned as they are welded.
11. I laid the shafts on a piece of 1-inch angle iron. With downward pressure as I tack them together, this keeps the shafts perfectly straight. Then I can weld them completely together.
12. After the shaft cooled, I assembled the steering wheel onto it, slid it into the tube, and slid the Column Saver onto the shaft and into the end of the tube. With it sitting straight up on the table, I marked where the end of the steering column tube was on the shaft. Then I removed the tube and started sliding on the Column Saver. I sanded the weld area down to allow the locking collar ring to slide over it and slipped the upper bearing plates onto the shaft, then the machined support, the lower bearing plate and its locking ring.