After measuring very carefully and double checking, I made the final cut through the connecting rod as shown in the first photo.
The second photo shows the rod bolted in place on the column. Now I needed to make a bracket that would attach the rod securely to the dash support brace. I originally thought of using a heavy steel door hinge, cut to length. This would give me the swing adjustment that most column drops have. However I decided on just making an angled bracket to match the angle of the cut end of the rod.
The last photo shows the beginning layout for the bracket. In order to bend the steel to the exact angle I needed, I made a saw cut almost all of the way through the bracket, which then bent easily.
Once I got the correct angle I welded the cut back up on both sides and ground it smooth.
The generic column drop that I used for the mock-ups just wasn't cutting it looks-wise. I kinda liked the connecting rod style myself, so that is what I decided to use.
Not any connecting rod would do though, so I picked up an aluminum rod from a Top Fuel engine.
First pic shows the two styles of column drop. No choice in which one to use...
The second photo shows the steering column in place and set at the angle that I wanted. I temporarily supported it with wire and also added cork filler around the column to make up for the space between the column and the rod. The column is 2 1/4" in diameter, and the big end of the rod has an i.d. of 2 1/2". The cork was temporary until I came up with a better filler material.
I knew that I would need to make a preliminary cut through the rod just to get it into place for measurement, so I took an initial cut and lopped off the pin end of the rod.
Third photo shows the first cut through the rod. I don't have a band saw, and I wanted to make a better cut than with a sawzall, so I used my table saw. I put on a real fine tooth carbide blade and made very small successive cuts all the way through the aluminum. Came out very well, nice and square. Plus this was good practice for the final cut. I only had one of these rods and didn't want to cut it too short.
The first picture shows the finished support brace between the body and the dash support. It stiffened up the support considerably, and does not get in the way of the a/c unit or defrost and a/c ductwork.
The second photo shows the completed a/c unit installation. The center "duct" for the a/c is just a turn-down supplied by Vintage air. I have room to get the two end outlets fit up with flex ducting, but had nowhere to go with the center one. This turn-down will blow the cool air straight down towards the floor. I may be able to add some flex duct to the turn-down if I cut it back a bit, but am undecided at this point.
The third photo is another view of the completed under-dash area. In moving the dash support rearward by an inch, the dashboard itself will also move rearward by the same amount. This is okay as it will give me a little more room for the defrost ducting. It will also help the gauges in clearing the master cylinders. Also seen is my column drop and windshield wiper setup which I'll cover in separate journal entries.
I'm using a Vintage Air heat/air unit that will be mounted behind the dash in the more or less usual spot. Outlaw provides a 3/4" square steel support bar that runs horizontally across just behind the dashboard. It ties together the door posts side-to-side and is also has mounting brackets on each end where the dash attaches. This is also the only steel bracing that is available for the top steering column support.
In fitting up the a/c unit, the bar got in the way, so I cut it out and moved it rearward by an inch, giving enough room for the Vintage Air Unit.
The first pic shows the support bar being relocated prior to welding back in.
Once the bar was repositioned, I installed the a/c unit and fabricated two clips to support the front of the unit, which will be welded to the support bar. The back side of the a/c unit is supported by a vertical bracket that I welded to the previously made firewall framework.
Second pic shows the a/c unit fit into place with the new front brackets.
The third picture shows the rear support for the a/c unit. It also doubles as part of the bracketry for the wiper motor. Above that in the photo is another plywood support that I attached to the body just under the windshield frame area. With the weight of the a/c unit and also the stress of the steering column on it, the 3/4" steel support bar needed to be stiffened up. The picture shows the top mounting point for a brace that will run from the body to the top of the bar. It was epoxied and 'glassed in place.