In the following blog article we are going to discuss about the most typical questions which we have received over the years related to Steering Columns (usually 3 speed columns for 1965,1966,1967,1968,1969. 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 through 1977 models). So here we go:
1. The gear shift is sloppy and gears are hanging up on my F-100 Ford Truck . Is that my transmission or my steering column? First of all, it's normally not just one area of the shifting system that is the culprit. It's most always a combination of a little bit of wear (due to the trucks age) in every moving part of the column that piles up to a LOT of wear totally.
Generally you don't have a lot of problems in this upper part of a column. The upper bearing is always a MUST when replacing suspected future problems, and the 2 thin, curvy pieces on the end of the white plastic turn signal cam (shown in the 1st photo) do tend to snap off with age, not allowing the turn signals to cancel OFF after making a turn. You'll know when that happens because most everybody you meet are honking their horn trying to get your attention to manually turn them off.
If you are the one who's always looking for a bargain and you're only going to change the turn signal cam, instead of the entire switch assembly, beware of what you're buying. Some people are Parts salesmen, and some of us are educated in the parts themselves. Lot's of salesmen try to sell you a cam identical to this one, BUT with no wires in it and they will try to convince you that it's the correct one. WHY....? Because some of the manufacturers of this part say so on their package, that it IS the right one. WRONG! Look at your old one and it has a Blue and Green wire on it if it's a 1965,1966,1967, 1968 and 1969, and a Red and Yellow wire if it's a 1970,1971 and 1972…Later years are a different switch. It doesn't matter what color wires are on the new one as long as you buy one WITH wires and splice it to the same ones that is going to that terminal.
Then again "time is money too", so I'd recommend replacing the whole switch and be done with it. It'll take 30 minutes or more to replace the cam and solder the wires, not to mention that it will probably cause you to say a few words that most people don't want to hear...... The Teflon shift arm spacer, and the 2 thin thrust washers (shown in the 1st photo below) generally need replacing as well.
In the (2nd photo below) showing the new lower bearing installed, is normally a disaster area, though this one is much better than most you'll see.
I've already replaced the old lower bearing, and here's a line up of how the bottom goes back together. First the bearing, then the tapered bearing sleeve, the dust cover, then the clamp that puts the tension on it when it's finished to keep everything where it's supposed to be. But keep in mind, most of them don't fit back in place this well due to the FRONT CAB MOUNTS.
2. "What's the cab mounts got to do with the steering column"?
Well...it's like this. From the factory, the steering gear box is fastened to the frame of the truck. The column itself it bolted to the firewall and d a s h o f t h e t r u c k c a b.
The1965,1966,1967,1968,1969,1970,1971,1972,1973,1974,1975,1976,1977,19 78,and 1979-Ford F-100 & F-250 trucks are notorious for rusted out cab mounts. And I just heard you say what most of them say, "my truck doesn't have any rust" because it came from the southern states.
In 37 years I've shipped cab mounts to nearly every state in the U. S., and I've rebuilt more than 960 steering columns from nearly all of them too. Cab mounts can rust out, letting the weight of the cab drop down on the steering shaft and people don't realize it until they drive it 3-4 more years and everything starts to bind up.
Here's a shaft where the column dropped down on it, and the owner continued to drive it until it got hard to steer, and we found that the steering shaft had a LITTLE BIT of wear on it. Then we have to fill it back in with WELD and cut it back down to the correct size so all the parts go back on and do the job they were meant to do. I hope you are paying attention , especially where I said this steering shaft had a LITTLE BIT of wear on it. I said a little bit because I have had columns sent to me that were smaller in diameter than the bolt that's in the bottom clamp of the photo.....pretty close to the point of breaking and making a huge mess all over the Interstate....
It's Ford's design, (not the state it's from) that gets them. When a cab mount rusts out, or just enough to get weak from the deteriorating metal, that's when the cab slowly starts to drop down over the rubber cab mount bushing, and allow the steering shaft itself to stick up higher out of the top of the column. Even when I look at trucks for sale on Craigslist, it's not the nice looking interior that I'm looking at when that's what they show you on an inside shot of the cab. I look for a WIDE gap between the bottom of the steering wheel, and the top of the column. When I say WIDE, I mean a 1/4" or so, It should only be a 1/16 to 1/8 inch gap. Also when you have a wide gap, your horn won’t work. The gap is too wide and the contacts under and above the steering wheel aren't making contact. Anything more than a 1/16 to 1/8 inch gap, that tells me the cab mounts will need to be replaced and to leave THAT truck to someone else.
You can see what I mean in the photo below..... so be careful what you buy.
Anyway, back to the Steering Column. We don't have much time to spend rebuilding columns anymore, and especially since they have discontinued the 3 speed shift tubes. Most columns I've ever worked on needed a shift tube if nothing else.
But, feel free to call RICK @ Carolina Classics F-100s with your questions and we'll try to talk you through it, or walk you through it, and get your ride back on the road. Unless you simply love that cheap MICKY MOUSE 3 speed shifter that the other guy put in the floor. Lol.... most of those jam up between 2 gears worse than the column shift did when it got worn
I hope this will somehow help educate you on some of the things to look out for. And remember this, we'll have most everything you need to build your column EXCEPT for the shift tube, or at least until someone starts to reproduce them again.