Monday, December 9, 2013

Houston, we have a problem!

It was too cold to do too much work this weekend in my unheated garage (my little space heater just couldn't keep up with temps in the single digits) but there were a few things I could do that wouldn't take much time and I could still feel like I accomplished something.

One of those things was to install the old bench seat in the car to make it easier for my assistant to depress the brake pedal when we bleed the brakes in the near future. The frame barely fit behind the shifter, but with a little wriggling I managed to get everything bolted down. Unfortunately, it was then that I discovered the steering column seemed unusually close to the top of my thighs.

Time to put the dash in place to see if I'm just imaging things.

That's a good 2 to 3 inches below where it should be.

Apparently, the mounting bracket on the GT Hawk steering box, which bolted right up to the frame, is clocked slightly different from the earlier box that came in my champion.

This leaves me with a few options:
  • I could go back to my original manual steering box and column. The ratio is the same as the existing box, but would require a modified pitman arm.
  • I could make adjustments to the frame to change the angle of the column. While this seems the easiest option, the fear here would be that this would weaken the frame. The mounting bracket on the box itself is integral, and is cast in such a way that it is not conducive to the necessary modifications.
  • I could modify the GT column, shortening the shaft and the column, terminating it at the firewall and adding a couple of u-joints in the shaft to join it to the steering box. This would require an addition of a plate and mounting bracket to hold the column in place at the firewall.
  • I could buy an aftermarket steering column and, as above, terminate it at the firewall. This would save time while adding the advantage of plug and play wiring for the turn signal switch. However, it would likely result in the inability to use an original Studebaker steering wheel--something I would prefer to retain.
So I have a few things to ponder, which is just fine for now--I'm not too anxious to return to that cold garage.

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