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02-18-2012 11:14 AM '59 El Camino tilt steering column 1
Once we got the car pretty well finished it became painfully apparent we could not survive the fixed '59 steering column and big Impala wheel. Troy and I are both 6'3" and getting under that wheel with just a couple inches of clearance over the Caddy power seat was almost impossible.

We decided to go the junk yard route and install a Chevy tilt column. We did some research and discovered a 1979-1980 Silverado pickup column would be a good candidate. It had the features we wanted; clean shaft, no wiper or other junk on the turn signal and cheap!

Photo 1 shows what we got. Main drawbacks of this column are the ignition key is in it which we didn't want and it is a column shift and our car is a floor shift.

We started by disassembling the column. I highly recommend you download the photo essay


This is a superb how-to on the entire GM tilt column and is a must-have. Takes all the mystery out of it.

Photo 2 is a shot of the parts we didn't reuse; basically everything associated with the ignition and shifter.

Photo 3 shows where we cut off the shift arm at the bottom end of the column.

Now to modifications. We collapsed the double-D shaft that connects the column to the steering gear so it could be slid to the custom length needed. Photos 4 & 5.

Then we cut off the ignition and shift bosses on the column sleeves on a wood band saw. These are hard plastic and aluminum so saw easily. Photo 6.

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  [Entry #201]

11-23-2011 08:31 AM Final Fisher Body car restored
Here is the last car finished.

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  [Entry #200]

09-22-2011 02:25 PM '59 El Camino getting close!
After we get the heads back from the machine shop (bent the intake valves by not checking cam timing!!) should be ready to run. Get it registered, A/C charged, Wheels aligned, Troy gets his license and he will be driving it the rest of his senior year. Great HS ride!!

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  [Entry #199]

07-13-2011 09:13 PM '59 El Camino Front bumper problem
A piece of really dumb engineering for '59 Chevies is that blasted front bumper support bar. The only way to get it in or out is to deform the chrome bumper most of an inch which is next to impossible w/o scratching the chrome.

Here is my solution; just hack off one end of the bar! When putting it back in, simply run a bead of 7018 and good as new. That bolt doesn't add any strength to the protecting value of the bumper, just keeps the bumper end from bending into the sheet metal if bumped from the side. Welded end will do that just fine.

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  [Entry #198]

07-02-2011 08:10 PM '59 Elky spare tire mount 3
Photo 1 shows how I modified the socket end of the extension bar. I drilled a 3/32" hole with a Hansen HSS bit. Can't use the Harbor Freight bits here, need the good stuff. A little too hard for the HF. Went fine, just took my time and used lots of oil to lube the bit. Then I found a washer that fit the bar. Finally a cotter key is used to lock the whole thing together.

Photo 2 shows the bar in place, sticking through a hole drilled high in the frame rail so the bar clears the tire.

That finishes the installation. Now to activate the hoist I use the next longest extension bar in the set (20" I think) with a ratchet from the tool kit in the car and the tire goes up and down like a dream. And it is well hidden under the car. It is way up past any frame or sheet metal. Basically it is where the factory should have put it in the first place!

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  [Entry #197]

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