View Full Version : Steering column opportunities?

03-22-2017, 10:00 PM
Sometime in the next month or so I plan to swap my worn out steering box assembly for a rebuilt one (thanks to Partsetal !).

Here's my question: while I am in the process of doing this, are there any parts in the column area I should be replacing, while the opportunity is there?

The car has maybe 175K miles and none of that ever touched.

Any experiences or thoughts? Automatic transmission (COM), 352 motor.


03-22-2017, 10:51 PM
John, I understand there is a lower bearing in the column that gets sloppy and should be replaced. I think Ray had his done. - Dave

03-22-2017, 11:06 PM
meaning that the steering column rotates within this bearing
as it is turned??

I would think such a thing would be pretty worn by now.

03-22-2017, 11:34 PM
The only thing I can think of that was worked on in the steering column of Rose was the shift tube selector arm. Mine was pretty well worn inside the ring and the notch. Back then, I did not know you could get a new replacement for it, so my mechanic welded mine up, to take away the wear, smoothed it out and put it back in again, and it worked. Had I known then, what I know now, I would have bought a new one... This is one of several problem areas in the steering column that many have problems with in getting the shift lever to stay in park. It requires taking out the steering column, stripping it down, and replacing that unit.

03-23-2017, 12:21 AM
I don't think there is a "lower" bearing for the shift tube or column. The shift tube registers on a boss on the steering gear box, with a rubber oil seal, to keep the shift tube centered on the steering shaft. If you already have a new steering box, you know that the steering shaft is integral with the box, and the lower bearings are inside the steering gearbox.
There is a upper bearing with taper bushing located below the steering wheel.
As for parts to replace, there is a list if you want to rebuild the column. My first question is, how sloppy is your shift indicator? If you need to tighten this up, there are several parts that need to be replaced: Detent plate, shift tube selector arm and shift collar. It is also a good idea to pull the shift selector arm and look at the notches at the bottom of the arm. If they are rounded and worn, it is a good idea to replace the arm also. It will lock into place much better with the new detent plate. I already mentioned the rubber seal at the bottom of the steering column, and there is also a rubber gasket that goes on the plate that mounts to the firewall. This plate will need to be removed in order to remove the steering column.
The shift tube selector arm and lower rubber seal should be replaced, as these can only be replaced with the column out of the car. The other parts can be replaced later when the column is installed. Just depends on how much $$ and time you want to spend.

03-23-2017, 12:43 AM
I see that Nyles has posted some good pix of his steering column. I will give you a few more, including one of how that notch and the inner ring were badly worn. Other components were gone over by my mechanic, cleaned up, and re-installed after the shift tube selector arm was repaired. Here are some more pix.

03-23-2017, 01:00 AM
Great photos!!!

Are any of these parts available? either repro or NOS ? I am guessing they are unique to 58-60 like many other parts.


03-23-2017, 01:17 AM
John, the Shift Tube Selector Arm is available new from the Tbird Parts houses, like the Bird Nest. As for other components of the steering column, I would call the Bird Nest, as to speak to Don and he should be able to tell you what is available new. Or perhaps Carl ~ partsetal can. He may know, may have new parts, or used good parts from his Squarebirds parts cars..

03-23-2017, 02:32 AM
Most of the parts are available from any of the TBird parts vendors. I posted some part numbers and prices a while back.
Here is a link to the post: http://www.squarebirds.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=18486&highlight=steering+column
Also, check the TRL, as there are some great pictures and good info there.

03-23-2017, 09:46 AM
Thanks , guys! A terrific collection of information. Now I have
some studying to do.

My shifter assembly is definitely worn. About like the steering box (no surprise there).

Thanks again!


03-24-2017, 08:19 AM
When I did mine, I bought a new shift tube arm and it was
almost as loose on the shift tube and the old one. I mic'd
the flat on shift tube that arm meets up with on both
my current shift tube and another from a parts steer col.

I guess there is some chance that the edges of flats on both
tubes, wore exactly the same amount (only a couple thousands
difference), but more likely, the tube to arm looseness was
there from day one.

I dropped a small bead of weld on one edge of the
new arm and filed it down until it 'just" fit over the tube
flats. IMO, that is the only way it is going to be completely
free of play.

I should have done that on the upper end on shift tube,
to collar. I did not buy a new collar, as I thought the price
was ridiculous, but I should have built up my tube to
meet collar width. I still have 1/4-1/2 "digit" play in
the indicator and feel of the shift arm. Maybe someday
will tear it all back down.

I recommend you do whatever you have to make sure
there is ZERO play on both ends with shift tube. Even a hint
of play seems to translate quite a bit into the shifter
and indicator feel/look.

03-24-2017, 03:01 PM
My experience with the shift tube arm was that it had a pretty tight fight. I remember one that was so tight I had to slightly open it up the ID so the shift tube would slide freely. I did have a good fit in the notch however.
Now the shift collar is another story. I felt that they took a worn shift collar and cloned it. Since the shift collar is pot metal, you can't weld on it to build up the groove, so the only other option is to put a small bead on the shift tube and carefully file it down to match.

03-31-2017, 09:28 PM
I have a 1958.

I went through the list of parts posted, as well as Larry's website. (the list referenced a 1960).

1) The shift lever bushing for a 1958 is B7210D

2) I don't find an equivalent for a steering column upper bearing (B3517A on a 1960) Any information on what a '58 (or '59) owner uses here.



03-31-2017, 09:39 PM
The steering column upper bearing is the same from 1958-60.


03-31-2017, 10:35 PM
thanks, John!

03-31-2017, 10:52 PM
You're welcome John. Glad I could help.

04-01-2017, 09:52 AM
With some searching, all parts EXCEPT the shift tube are available. You might be able to find a NOS shift tube, but as mentioned earlier it would have to be custom fit to the shift arm. There may be some tweeking required to get a good fit with the repro shift collar.

04-01-2017, 12:00 PM
I ordered a Ford parts interchangeability book and wonder if that shift tube is T-Bird only.


01-05-2018, 04:09 PM
Hi. I just bought my bird. Is there anyone that I can contact to work on my bird in So Cal? I'm in Temecula right outside San Diego. 818-468-6124

01-06-2018, 10:36 AM
Hi. I just bought my bird. Is there anyone that I can contact to work on my bird in So Cal? I'm in Temecula right outside San Diego. 818-468-6124

You could try to get in touch with Ken Harkema . San Diego area .

01-06-2018, 11:49 AM
Ken Harkema is a member of this Forum, though not very active on it. Ken specializes in restoring old Tbirds and bringing them back to life, probably even better than when the left the production line so many years ago. I do not know if his shop does normal repair work, but you can find out by calling him. Here is the link to his website and how to contact him. On it, if you click on the Gallery link, you will see the quality of his work as he brings these old Birds back to life again. His restorations do very well in S&S events I hear. One of his personal Tbirds has graced the Squarebirds.org Calendar in past years.