Shaving the Column- Custom Steering Column Mods

It's been a little while since we've had an update on Project Pile House, but I'm back on it and hopefully I can start posting more frequently.

I had previously covered in a few steps how I had come up with the steering setup on the truck. The cliff notes are that I'm using a Packard steering column housing, a custom column shaft, and a Ford steering wheel. To make all of this work together took a bit of work, but I've got it all bolted up and it should jive when I'm done. Now I need to finish up the small details that will make the column not only look good, but also work smoothly together. I'll be covering the latter in another post, but for now I decided to show you how I went about shaving the unneeded holes on the column housing.

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I pulled this column housing from my favorite local junkyard and although it's in great shape for its age, it had a lot of surface rust and I needed to get the column clean if I plan to powder coat or paint it. I decided to throw it in the blast cabinet and remove all the corrosion. Once I had the column down to bare metal I used the Eastwood 1/4" Angle Grinder with a two inch surface conditioning pad to clean the edges that I would be welding on.

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I then rough cut a piece of 18 gauge steel to work with (great reason to keep scraps around!) and began to slowly trim it to size using a set of offset left cut aviation snips. Once I had the size close I slowly sanded the part on the belt sander until I had the shape close to that of the opening I was shaving.

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I then installed the mini #9 TIG torch in the Eastwood TIG200DC and laid a few small tack welds to hold the filler panel in place. I then worked around the panel hammering the edges down and laying short welds.

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Once I had the panel fully welded I used the 1/4" angle grinder with a 50 grit sanding disc to sand down the welds and blend them into the surrounding metal. I then used the surface conditioning pads to take out any scratches the 50 grit left. I do have some imperfections and a couple low spots since I couldn't get a hammer/dolly into the column to work the weld seam, but a skim coat of filler will take care of those before paint.

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I have a few more small holes to shave, then I can do my skim coat of body filler over those areas and prime and paint the entire column. The final look will be a smooth, no frills column that will match the rest of the truck! We'll cover the rest of the process once we're ready to install the column in the truck for the last time.

-Matt/EW

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