Jim and Sabrina's
1959 Chevrolet Apache 32 Stepside Pickup
The Big Wheel - July 30, 2005

The day started early on this particular Saturday morning, as Sabrina had to take her mother down to Naval Medical Center, San Diego for routine medical tests. After they got loaded up in Sabrina’s Ford Freestar and headed south, I jumped into the Ford Expedition and headed over to our local Goodwill Industries Store. I went there to drop off some old items that we set aside from our garage cleaning project last weekend. After that detail was completed, I headed straight over to Auto Tek to check out the latest work on our truck.

Like most Saturdays, John met me as soon as I pulled up at Auto Tek. Right away he asked me to open the driver’s door of the truck. John already had the steering column installed. Here are the pictures of John’s excellent work!

I sat in the truck to check on the room between the seat and the steering wheel. While the height of the steering column and wheel is at the factory stock position, I will most likely need some more room to drive the truck comfortably on a regular basis. Since I am a big guy, I contemplated this being an issue for me. We will send another used original steering wheel over to Quality Restorations in Poway, CA to solve my issue. Dennis Crooks and his crew specialize in restoring classic steering wheels as well as fabricating new custom steering wheels.

One of the services they provide is steering wheel diameter reductions. Many people adding power steering to vintage cars and trucks find the older original 18” wheels less desirable after the power steering is in place. The reason is the new power steering can often cause a driver to over-steer with the larger wheel that was originally designed for manual steering. Dennis reduces the older 18” steering wheels to a smaller 15” diameter and then restores the new smaller steering wheel back to show condition.

While I wouldn’t have had this done due to the over-steering issues some dislike, I want to have Dennis and his folks at Quality Restorations reduce the size of the original steering wheel in order to give me the additional room I need. This modification will allow us to have a functional steering wheel that still retains the original look of a stock steering wheel. In the meantime, we will use the 18” reproduction steering wheel John installed this past week. After the new smaller wheel is installed, the 18" wheel will be boxed and put away with the rest of our extra parts.

The pictures below depict the steering column shaft as it passes through the firewall and connects to a steering coupling joint made by Borgenson Universal Co. in Torrington, CT. The steering coupling joint mates the column to the steering box very nicely. In order for the steering shaft to fit into the steering coupler joint, John had to mill the shaft to fit. This allowed for the steering column to be mated directly to the steering box without welding it. To keep from having to enlarge the hole in the firewall, Steve suggested that John cut a slot into the steering column jacket at the point it passes through the firewall. John did, and it fit like a champ! Next week, John will fabricate a small brace that will attach the bottom of the column to the floor to provide the necessary support to the column. The brace will be flat and under the mat to maintain the original look.

After checking out how the steering column mated to the steering box, I asked John if he needed any parts. He said that he was ready to install the windshield wipers if I wanted to make a parts run. Of course my answer was yes, so John started to write me up a small parts list. A few weeks ago, I also ordered a set door hinge access panels from American Classic Truck Parts located in Aubrey, TX. They came in this past week and I also gave them to John. John then gave me his parts list, I told him I would be back and I drove over to The Truck and Car Shop just down the street.

Like most Saturdays, The Truck and Car Shop was busy. I took my number and waited a few minutes before my number was called. The parts guy took my order and soon I headed back to Auto Tek with a bag that included a set of wiper arms, wiper blades, bezel nuts and washer spray nozzles. One of the cool details of this trip is that I was able to use my store credit for this purchase, which was really great. I dropped off the parts to John and said goodbye.

When I returned home, I ordered a rebuilt vacuum wiper motor and a used black dash wiper knob online from American Classic Truck Parts. None of the parts houses carry rebuild kits for the vacuum wiper motors or knobs for the vacuum wipers. Fortunately, if American Classic Truck Parts has the parts I ordered in stock, I will be set.

In the next couple of weeks the following items will be at the top of our list:

If all goes to plan, it might turn out that my first drive in the truck will be in two weeks. My destination will be to the local Automobile Club of Southern California office in Anaheim, CA to complete the DMV registration process. I can’t wait!

To check out the windsheild wiper installation,click on the "Next" button below.





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