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my whacked column rebuild

Discussion in 'Suspension, Steering & Brakes' started by Raider L, Jan 30, 2021.

  1. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    I took that whacked out column (see "whacked column" in this section to see the Before) out of my truck and have it in my shop to be rebuilt. I've cleaned everything up and inspected to see what damage was done to it when those guys tried to steal the truck years ago and beat the column to pieces. They destroyed the upper and lower housings and damaged the upper bearing support. There was this heavy cast piece of aluminum broken off that was part of the shifter housing I'm calling the "lower housing" that I could never figure out what it was. I drilled and tapped threads into it and put a 3/8th's bolt into it so I could shift the trans. Well, since I got it apart I see now that it is the inside of the shifter housing that fits around the shift tube, the part that goes down and moves the shift linkage.

    But I also found that the would be thieves broke off the end of the outter column tube, the "mast" tube whacking away at it probably with a hammer. I'll just have to weld it back probably by brazing the pieces back to the end of the tube. That won't be any problem since I'm an expert welder with over twenty years experience, seven of those years as a qualified aircraft welder in both airframe and powerplant. I also have years experience in a process called "pressure Brazing" taught to me by a engineer. It's a process used to put large high pressure cast iron pumps that exploded, back together by Brazing the pieces and then machining the pump back to factory. If your Brazing isn't any good the machining through it will show up. At 5,000 p.s.i. if a crack or a pin hole opens up, the escaping fluid at that pressure will kill you before you can move out of the way.

    In what I have to do with this column I'm thinking about silver soldering the pieces together instead of Brazing them since silver is a lot stronger than brass. You're asking, "Why don't you MIG or TIG it?" I don't own either one of those kinds of machines and the guy who does lives to far away for me to get there. Besides I don't have a car to use so I have to use what I've got. See, God knew I would be in this place one of these days and I would need to know how to do all kinds of welding so it won't matter. As long as I have access to a Lowe's to buy those little oxygen bottles like the Butane gas bottles used to fix plumbing, and the Mapp gas I can weld anything other than Aluminum.

    So I'll be taking photos as I go along so if anyone needs to see these tilt columns going together they'll be able to do it themselves.
     
    Madmacs likes this.
  2. HotRodPC

    HotRodPC Administrator Staff Member

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    Sounds like they broke it up pretty bad. With all the broken peices might it be better just to find a used column and replace the bearings in it before you install it in your truck? Just a suggestion.
     
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  3. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    By the way, does anyone have a truck "shift gate"? The factory book calls it a "shift plate". I got one many, many years ago and took my truck one out for some reason I can't remember for what now. So, I went to my local Chevy dealer and at that time they said they were out of p[roduction for my year truck. So they called the other GM dealers around town and the Oldsmobile dealer said they had one that was "pretty close". Well, you know the old saying, "pretty close is only good in hand grenades and horse shoes". All these years I've been driving around almost in gear. I don't even know what a truck one looks like.

    So if anyone has one maybe we can make arrangements so I could buy it from you or whatever.

    If you have one please take a photo of it and post it here on this topic page and maybe I can get an idea how to file mine down to make it like yours.
     
  4. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    Oh yeah, by the way it would be for a automatic, tilt column.
     
  5. HotRodPC

    HotRodPC Administrator Staff Member

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    Are you talking for the shift detent plate for gear selection? Do you need one for 3 speed auto or 4 speed auto? IIRC, they are different for the 700r4 trucks.
     
  6. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    HotRodPC,

    Thanks for responding. Yeah, that's right it's called the "detent plate", I use the word shift plate, same same. Yes, it's for a three speed TH350. I really don't know what it's supposed to look like. For some unknown reason I got rid of mine and in it's place I got one from the local Oldsmobile dealer that was "close". The Chevy dealer said mine was discontinued and didn't have one. If you could take a photo of one maybe I could file mine down to look like a real one. Or if you have one I'll buy it from you. Just make sure it's for a truck based on the fact the one I've got is from a late '80's Oldsmobile car.
     
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  7. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    Also, it never did "feel" like it was all the way in gear and may be the reason why I have the shifting problems I have had. It wasn't popping out of gear for all the years I used it, but I," knew" it wasn't right, you know?
     
  8. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    whacked column rebuild:
    Well, I got the upper housing in today. It sucked! It was another composite, plastic or whatever you call it. I'm sending it back and call this one place that may have a original aluminum piece I thought this part I got today was going to be. There wasn't anything in the way it was shown on Ebay to lead me to know it was metal. It just said what it was "...upper housing...". You know it really should have said it is a composite reproduction, instead it didn't say anything about what it was made out of. If I was selling something that the original was metal and I made a copy of it in plastic, I would have said it was plastic.

    The other day I got in the lower housing. It was plastic as well so I sent it back yesterday. So far I'm batting a thousand for parts. So I called these people i mentioned above and talked to the guy and got the right one. He's out of N. Mexico and just builds columns so I feel I'll be able to move on getting the column back together once those parts come in. Last night I ordered that alum. three holed adapter you attach your steering wheel to? Mine was drilled out retapped and generally messed up so I tossed it. The only thing is I had to get it in a kit which includes the steering wheel backing cup looking thing, and the fenolic plate with the little wire on it for the horn button. And I ordered a new rag joint to replace the one I didn't even think about replacing until the other night I was reading an old hot rod magazine and they were talking about taking out the slack in your steering by replacing the rag joint. The one I've had in there is the original 1974 one! Do you think I've got my money's worth out of it?
     
  9. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    HotRodPC,

    You haven't seen the pics of my column that I've been driving around with for years? After removing the few busted housing parts left from the column, I rigged it up so I could drive the truck. Look on this topic "Suspension, Steering, Brakes, go to page three and you'll see it. Did I have my hands on a perfect column at a wrecking yard a short time afterwards?? Hell yes! And for $55.00 no less! I just I knew how broke I would be at the end of the month had I spent that money. But would I have been glad I did?? Hell yes! I have no excuse.
     
  10. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    This afternoon I Brazed the broken ends back to the mast tube and here are a couple of pics. The second one where I'm pointing with a pencil is the break between this second piece I needed to Braze back on. I've already done the first piece. I'd include pics of the finished job but I got a bit to close and it's blurred some. I'll do better next time. You can see my old Hot Rod magazine down below, oh yeah that came in focus, damn. mast Brazing 001.jpg mast Brazing 008.jpg
     
  11. Bextreme04

    Bextreme04 Full Access Member

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    I'm switching from a TH400 to a 4L80E and will probably need to do something to modify or build a new detent plate. I think they would have been stock on a 91 1 ton Crew Cab only... maybe they are the same as the 700R4 plates? If I figure it out and end up replacing my TH400 detent plate, you are welcome to it.
     
  12. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    In the pic above there is a dark line to the right of the pencil point. That is the separation of the piece I'm Brazing up to that rectangular opening where one of the things the lock plate has on it that locks into the mast tube. After I finished Brazing it on this side I turned the whole crack down and Brazed it on the inside some. Most of the support is on the outside and just needs a little on the inside. Once I finished Brazing it I ground down any places that were sticking up a little higher than I wanted it to be. Then I took a high speed wire brush on a drill to clean all the dust and whatever off and spray painted it semi-gloss black.
     
  13. Raider L

    Raider L Full Access Member

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    Bextreme04,

    What year column do you have? Mine is original equipment on my '74 C10, auto, tilt, column shift. I found out the hard way that even the shift on the floor column inside is a lot different than mine. There isn't a shift tube in the column so it doesn't need a lock plate. I can't remember how the lower housing and the bearing support connect. I'm sitting at my desk. I'd have to go out to the shop and look.
     
  14. Galane

    Galane Full Access Member

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    I've been trying to persuade some aftermarket parts company to make the 4 speed detent plates to retrofit the 3 speed straight and tilt columns for the late 70's and 80's. They make them for the older trucks that never had 4 speed autos. Dunno why they all refuse to make them for the newer trucks. Original 4 speed columns are near impossible to find.
     
  15. HotRodPC

    HotRodPC Administrator Staff Member

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    Noone is going to make anything that they can't sell a million of in a year. A guy like you or me could probably make them, or at least find a 3 speed detent, modify it to work for a 4 speed by maybe grinding out a stop to be bigger. Not sure. At anyway, make 1 either in real steel or draw it out and then take it to a local machine shop and have 1000 made and sell them. I bet you could get something like that made for about $3 a piece in 1000 quantity and sell them for $24.95. Word would get around about "this one guy" has them with the use of forums and social media. You might just make a chunk of cash. I wouldn't tell your machine shop what it is either. I'd make up something stupid like it's for a tractor modification we do for the hydro valve body. Leave it at that.

    Reason I suggest this, I know a guy who did something similar back in the 70's. He's a friend that used to work with my dad. He started making a little part like this in his garage after work. It started selling, it was a tool part by the way, soon he had 3 machines in his garage, and soon after that he quit his job and opened up a fabricating shop and was a millionaire and lived real good in a few shorts years and died a millionaire some 40 years later then his son took over the biz. His son pretty much ran it the last 15 years anyway so he lived the life he wanted and didn't work. Just dropped in to visit his son and pick up them fat checks.
     

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