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Old 02-09-2019, 01:48 PM
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67 LeMans steering column change

The column in my 67 LeMans is just dying. I had to replace the turn signal switch twice with an expensive (but poorly made) switch and it's dead again... won't cancel the turn signal when turning because the little plastic tabs broke off. The upper bearing and cup is also wasted and it is an unobtanium part these days.

I read that 67-68 are the only "bolt-in" swaps but I gotta think there is a way to do something from the 70s that would fit with an adapter or different rag joint, right?

Currently it's an automatic (powerglide) on the column, but eventually it will get a T56, so preferably I'd like to find a column that I can swap out the shifter collar later to eliminate the column shifter.

I was thinking maybe something from the 70s that will get me serviceable parts instead of the old-school columns that have expensive or unobtanium parts.

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Old 02-09-2019, 01:56 PM
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Aftermarket columns seem to be meeting the needs of most projects these days. Have you shopped around for non-OEM options at all?
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:05 PM
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Yes. The problem I'm coming up with is that they are either good brand names like Ididit or Flaming River with custom billet proprietary parts, or cheap Chinese knockoffs that I can't get answers about. Either way, the cheap Chinese ones are somewhere north of $200 and the higher quality ones are north of $500. I was hoping for a $75 junkyard unit that I know for sure I can get things like turn signal switches at any parts supplier.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:12 PM
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Later models will have a different floor pan "collar", the plate that covers the hole in the floor, but you can probably swap the one off your current column, as it is just a bolt on piece.

The only other major difference I know of is the keyswitch and actual ignition switch is in/on the column and not the dash, '68 was the last year GM cars had the switch in the dash, so some of the wiring for the ignition switch is going to be different. This also makes the shape of the upper half of the column different, no idea how this larger diameter might play nice with your dash opening.

Rag joints will be the same for the most part, manual box spline stayed the same, there are 2 or 3 different power box spline counts but the rag swaps columns easy enough.

'69-72 A body is going to be the closest, maybe followed by '69-72 full size and then the '73-77 A-body, all due to lower shaft length to get to a front steer box....'69 Camaro/'69-74 Nova are rear steer box location and column does not have a long lower shaft.

After that, maybe '70-81 Camaro/Firebird/'75-79 Nova are front steer, these get used in a lot of street rod swaps....Camaro/Firebird have the advantage of the fact nearly all are shifterless columns.
I'd probably look to go this route and buy a cheap or used automatic floor shifter until you make the T56 swap....tearing a column apart to swap out the collar for the shifter rotation section is a PITA, plus those floor shift collar sections are hard to find for the shifter type columns,,,,,thats why muscle car guys search the yards so hard for good floor shift columns for the '60's and '70's stuff..
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:39 PM
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The 69-72 A-body will fit, but obviously it has the lock cylinder on the column and the ignition switch at the base of the column. A good 69-72 A-body column won't be cheap, anyway. The aftermarket columns are all based on the 69-up GM design and while they can be bought without the lock cylinder, they are larger in diameter than the 67-68 columns so your steering wheel won't work.

There's nothing in your original column that can't be rebuilt. If the turn signal switch is your real problem, get an NOS GM part and not a Chinesium repro. The GM part number is 7803863. There are several GM originals on ebay right now, for around $100. That will be your least expensive path by far.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:40 PM
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That's great info, thanks.

Initial research suggests that my stock column is 32"... does that sound right?
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano View Post
The 69-72 A-body will fit, but obviously it has the lock cylinder on the column and the ignition switch at the base of the column. A good 69-72 A-body column won't be cheap, anyway. The aftermarket columns are all based on the 69-up GM design and while they can be bought without the lock cylinder, they are larger in diameter than the 67-68 columns so your steering wheel won't work.

There's nothing in your original column that can't be rebuilt. If the turn signal switch is your real problem, get an NOS GM part and not a Chinesium repro. The GM part number is 7803863. There are several GM originals on ebay right now, for around $100. That will be your least expensive path by far.
GM quit making them unfortunately. They outsourced them to China. The one that is in my column right now is a "GM original" and cast with "made in china." I ordered it through a GMC buick dealer a couple years ago. It lasted one month. Even came in GMGoodwrench blue and white plastic bag. Of course, I can warranty it, but I can't keep taking the column apart every month when I pull it out of the garage. From what I understand they are not available at all from GM anymore. I can check the ebay NOS, but in my experience electrical parts on ebay aren't returnable, and if it shows up with "made in china" on it I know I got duped.

The upper bearing and cup is no longer made by anyone. I searched for months. If you know where I can find one, I'd love to know.

I have modified the ignition switch on later GM columns before. It's not that tough to get rid of. I just cut/grind them off and tack in a filler piece and bondo/paint.

Last edited by curtis73; 02-09-2019 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 02-09-2019, 03:00 PM
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I was suggesting getting one of these old stock switches, not a new replacement one. The risk, of course, is that if the package is open, you don't know if the switch in it is really old or just the package is old.



Here's a source for internal parts, though most of their inventory is 69-up.

Most of the Chevy repro houses sell bearings and parts for the 67-68 columns. Some are NOS, some are new Chinesium. The NOS parts are priced accordingly. Once you get GM part numbers, search Ebay for NOS parts. You'll be surprised what's out there. Good luck.
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Old 02-09-2019, 03:15 PM
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Thanks for the link. Fortunately they have it, but unfortunately it is $137 for just that one little bearing. If I can buy a whole Chinese column for $200 new, or a junkyard column for $100, it doesn't seem like a viable option.

But at least someone has them. That's promising.
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Old 02-09-2019, 03:19 PM
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Before I write off an aftermarket column, how do I go about finding if they use GM-type guts or if I have to use their proprietary parts?
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Old 02-09-2019, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curtis73 View Post
Before I write off an aftermarket column, how do I go about finding if they use GM-type guts or if I have to use their proprietary parts?
I think the straightest answers would come from selecting potential choices then firing inquiries at that manufacturer's technical assistance person. Assuming what you want to know is if you can put good guts in it or if you'l need to, without a sales pitch. Like what I do with a Summit HEI. I have no personal experience to draw from as input but at work yes, they run don't walk from cheap columns, and use trusted brands like you mentioned without trouble when the situation calls for it. So my take on it is that you get what you pay for, with side notes of consideration toward how much usage is anticipated and how much concern for performance as expected in an accident is a factor.
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