The steering column is the main connection between the car and driver. While most of the time we don't think about the column and what it does, there are times when it's all we can focus on. Like in our situation with a '66 Chevelle we picked up. This car was just a shell and was missing everything in the interior, including the column. The simple task of just moving the car around the shop was made more difficult because we had to do the kick-the-tire shuffle to get the thing moved around. It didn't take long for that to become a real pain, so now is the time to put some steering in the project.
At first we went on the swap-meet hunt for a factory tilt/floor-shift column, and let us tell you that is not something that's in abundance. Yes, there were some out there, but the owners were either way too proud of what they had or the columns were so trashed the restoration work out weighed the end result.
We were looking for an easier option on getting the steering right on this car so we looked to the aftermarket. Flaming River has been building columns for years and had exactly what we needed. As a matter of fact, it has just about anything your mind can dream up. Tilt, keyed, and column shift-they have it. Tilt, no key, and floor shift-they have that as well. Not only do they have the columns in three finish options, they also have all the other stuff needed to get those wheels a turnin' like steering shafts, U-joints, floor mounts, and even quick ration steering boxes.
The 304 grade stainless steel columns can be ordered in paintable, polished, or black powdercoat. The column from Flaming River is all new, made in the USA and features multiple improvements over an OE piece. Inside you will find upgraded wiring, a later-model turn signal canceling cam, and a GM 4 1/4-inch connector. Also, the tilt mechanism has been redesigned and now features a tapered, threaded shaft and pre-loaded bearing set up that minimizes deflection.
Installation of the column and hooking it to the steering box was pretty straightforward and didn't require any cutting of the car itself. We had the job done for the most part in an afternoon with fairly basic tools; OK, we used a chop saw to speed the shaft cutting process. So if you have been wondering how hard it is to install one of these aftermarket columns, wonder no more.
|Parts List and Price|
|30-inch paintable tilt column||FR20005-30||$345|
|30-inch slip and collapse shaft||FR1856||$115|
|Billet joint for steering box||FR1758||$69|