by Dick Aslet
A recent upgrade to a Wurth-it Designs power rack and steering kit on my ’55 Customline, 272 with Fordomatic prompted me to install a new ididit® tilt/shifter steering column. This is a worthwhile upgrade project for those planning a swap to rack and pinion or a Saginaw power steering box swap, or for use with a stock box and modified steering shaft. Here is a recap of how I did it; hopefully the information will be of benefit to someone else.
The first order of business and the most difficult part of the swap is the removal of the stock steering column and steering box. You remove the wheel, column and shifter tubes from inside the car and the shaft with steering box from under the car. The shop manual does a good job of explaining the procedure in detail. Be sure to remove the oil filter first on V-8 cars for additional wiggle room.
The old column was supported at the dashboard by two bolts. I chose to duplicate this mounting arrangement with the new column in order to not have to drill or cut the original dash in any way. I used an ididit® aluminum swivel column drop bracket having a 3” drop that fit the new column (2-1/4” diameter). I removed the ¼” socket head mounting studs and discarded the swivel portion of the bracket entirely. I then measured up 2” from the hole center and scribed a line across and cut the bracket. The 2” drop dimension matches the original column’s position. For the cut, I used a hacksaw and after some minor passes with a flat file, everything was looking good. I then drilled and tapped two holes for the 1/4” studs previously removed. These holes should be centered 1-7/8” apart and be about 1” deep. You can now reinstall the studs with a little Loctite. The new column drop bracket can now be attached to the dash with a couple of flat washers, lock washers and nuts. The fit was almost perfect side to side on my car, but yours may require a little hammer finessing of the dash opening. The hard part is over.
To mount the column, I used an ididit® lower column mount which is essentially a band of steel retained by a pinch bolt and two swiveling “L” shaped brackets on each side. Slip the bracket onto the bottom of the column followed by the original firewall rubber seal that has had the hole opened up to 2-1/4” diameter (a sharp pair of scissors works fine for this operation). You can now position the column in the car and into the upper half of the dash bracket and affix the lower half loosely for now until your final column position is determined. Slip the rubber seal into proper position and screw the two original mating sheet metal hole covers into place. These covers require no modification as the hole is already 2-1/4” diameter. You can now slide the lower column mount into position, drill 2 holes and secure with sheet metal screws. You can now affix the shifter arm to the engine compartment side of the column and make your hook-up to the transmission and complete all final adjustments and then tighten upper and lower column mounts securely.
Adapting the ididit® wiring to the Ford completes the project. The new column is essentially a copy of a GM column and it even uses the factory Delco “harmonica” wiring connector. I obtained the mating half of the connector and crimp terminals from Painless Wiring and proceeded as follows.
The ididit® column connector will have eight wires emerging from the column assigned to the connector in the order below and providing the following functions: