Aside from the Ecotec, coilover suspension and new frame the most anticipated improvement made on bowtie6 has been the new tilt steering mechanism. On the first iteration with the V6, the steering wheel just did not feel 100% perfect for me. It was very close, but it sure would have been nice to make it dead nuts accurate. Solution: tilt steering.
This one is going to be very hard to replicate using the factory steering. In our case, the entire steering column was replaced with a much simpler design (click here for more). This allowed freedom to pretty much do anything.
So basically what we have is a new aluminium tube with bearings on either end. Inside that is a shaft with a threaded end where the steering wheel gets bolted on. On the firewall is a fixed bearing that allows a pivot. The steering rod goes through it and that eventually ends up at the rack. Along the way are two stainless Borgeson “U” joints – one even has a built in shock absorbing element that keeps road vibration out. We used the u-joints, not the “rag” joints because the u-joints are more durable. This is what it looks like:
At first, I guess the question is “what is the big deal”. Well the aluminium tube I mentioned above can be seen going through the dash. It is fixed and the actual steering shaft is inside the tube. On the right side, behind the turn signal housing is a little lever. Pull down on the lever releases the mechanism and the steering shaft glides along the two tracks you can see in the opening in the dash. Here is a side view:
The wheel hub is on the left, you can see a brass spacer followed by a Nylatron spacer. These are made to allow a smooth movement and durability. Then is the turn signal housing and inside the dash opening the adjustment lever and the “tracks” where the steering shaft travels on. The tracks are bolted to the original dash mounting screws on the body. It is hard to describe but believe me it works!
My cousin Jim designed this entire steering shaft and built it from scratch. The idea here is for making this as simple as possible – however this has many challenges! Among them, how do you get a turn signal switch and have it operate as “original”? Well, here is the solution: inside the steering tube, on the steering shaft the factory TR6 turn signal activator ring was retained. This is a clamp-on affair with a little ridge that causes the turn signal leg to trip when it is in either the “left” or “right” direction. The switch itself is stock TR6 except that it has been modified to fit inside that little aluminium box. There are two screws that hold the switch in place. This is all wired up to my custom wiring harness and includes fully functional “left” and “right” turn signal indicator on the dash (you can see them at the top of the instruments above).
This is what the firewall side looks like, seen from the inside. You can see the Borgeson joint, just above the firewall bearing. The Borgeson joint is what enables the “bend” to happen when the steering shaft tilts up or down.
This shows the steering shaft under the hood:
This is the stainless shaft that resides inside of the aluminium tube on the inside of the cab looks like. All this eventually ties into the steering rack.
In the final analysis several concessions had to be made in order to have “tilt” steering. The most severe was cutting the dash as shown in the photos above. This really hurt because I have been very proud of just how nice it is. But, it has been a great tradeoff. Being able to adjust the steering has been priceless. Now, I have the 13″ leather Mountney steering wheel in the exact position I like.
Is this something that can be replicated? With the original steering it would be very difficult. I guess an option would be to somehow graft a donor car steering column but that not only takes up space but looks very cluttered. But, to each his own. I like the simplicity of mine, and it is very easy to service.
Hope this sparks some ideas…