Even before the teardown of our project truck began, we knew we wanted a tilt column and swing pedal brake system. There were many changes in the concept of this project during the phase of rebuilding our project truck. One concept was to go top drawer and buy everything in the way of kits and just stick it in, but the cost of an aftermarket tilt column and swing pedal brake kit were just to high for our budget. The estimated cost would have been well over $1,000. This simply did not make sense for a non-show type truck.
So, we planned out an project that most any home garage mechanic could do with the proper shop tools. The cost for our project came in at a very low $115. This made the project cost very reasonable and allowed us to spend a little more on some other areas on the truck.
We headed out to the wrecking yard and picked up some real deals for our project. After picking over some 100 cars we found an tilt column out of 1979 Pontiac. The cars was in beautiful condition inside and under the hood. It looked like grandma's car, but was hit hard in the rear. We pulled the tilt column and steering linkage, then head over to the truck section and chopped out a brake swing pedal out of a 1969 Ford F-100. The total days catch came to $30.00, what a deal. In the photo you can see the parts we picked up at the wrecking yard with the exception of the new master cylinder. I picked up the master cylinder at the local brake supply shop here in Sacramento. The master cylinder is manufactured by Bendix, part number 11403, which has a 1" piston with no residual check valve. We are using this master cylinder in conjunction with a remote booster located under the cab on the frame rail. You could use any type of booster/master cylinder combination, but that's another story. See our earlier Disc Brake article for more information on the rest of brake system.
We start this project with a piece of 6"X 8"X 1/4" plate steel as the base for the pedal support. The piece will add strength to the firewall and support the master cylinder as well. You could move the plate around to best meet the needs of your project. We wanted our plate centered on the column and positioned in a way that would not place the master cylinder on any of the firewall bosses on the engine side of the firewall.
Next, we add the firewall to dash supports and cut in the holes that are need to mount the master cylinder to the fire wall. The firewall to dash supports are need to provide a structure that is strong enough to support the swing pedal assembly and the tilt column. These support are made from 1" square tube with light flat stock welded onto the ends to mate up with the original column support holes already in the dash. By the time this photo was taken these parts had been test fitted many times. If you are good enough to measure everything up and weld it up on the bench then you can stop reading here. The rest of you will need to test fit your brackets many times before you complete this project.
Moving right along, we welded on two pieces of 2" X 6" X 1/4" bar stock onto the dash supports. These two pieces allow for the mounting of the swing pedal via a pivot pin suspended between the two mounting plates. The pin is constructed from a piece of 3/4" round stock. The pedal was welded onto a piece of schedule 80 black steel pipe. Next an actuator arm for the master cylinder was added to the pedal shaft. The actuator was constructed from part of the old emergency brake pedal. Never throw away anything. As you can see in this photo we have really moved forward and even have the master cylinder test fitted. Still left to do is the pedal stop bolt and drilling the holes for the column support.
This photo shows the assembly in pretty much the completed stage. You can see the addition of the pedal stop and column support. The column support was constructed by cutting of the original mounting tabs and welding on 2 1/2" flat stock. The bracket was then placed between the the support and secured by bolting through the dash support and column support bracket. Notches where cut into the bracket to allow for positioning and room for the cover that will hide all this wonderful steel work. Later, we found that only one bolt was need on each side. This allowed the column to pivot, making the positioning through the firewall much easier. After the floor plate is added the column will be solidly mounted with no play what so ever. Next well move onto the finish work.
Again, you see a view of the hardware all bolted up and test fitted together. You also can see all the wiring and switches that are usually hidden in a stock application. This area will be covered later by carpet and trim covers. All that is left to do is the floor plate and some paint. The steering linkage is also on our list of thing to complete.
Next, we blasted all the under dash parts as well as the steering linkage. We wanted these parts to disappear under the dash, so black is the best color for this type of camouflage. Painting of parts also provide good rust prevention and makes your work look professional. Allow enough time for all your part to dry well before installing them. Since most do not have access to a blasting cabinet, a wire brush on a drill motor or bench grinder with a wire wheel will work just as well.
Next, we re-installed all the parts and began construction of the floor plate. We then constructed the floor plate out of 20 gauge sheet metal. The box was formed up on our shop vise. The box was then trimmed to fit the floor board contour. The upper part of the box was bent back flat so it could be slid up and under the brake bracket. Tightening down of the master cylinder bolts securely holds the top of the floor plate. Self-tapping screws were used to secure the bottom of the plate to the floor. Next, a hole 1/4" larger than the diameter of the column shaft is cut into the floor plate. The a piece of 1/8" hard rubber 1" wide is cut to go around the column shaft and fit between the floor plate and column shaft. A standard hose clamp is slipped down over the rubber and tighten down. The tightening of the clamp squeezes the rubber into the floor plate and secures the rubber to the shaft. Seal sealer is then applied to all seam to insure a good water tight seal.
Moving outside to the steering linkage, we simply put the linkage together to tie the column into the steering sector. The linkage is stock from the column shaft to were it connects with the damper. The damper to the rag joint parts were donated by a Ford Ranger. You can go with used parts as we did here to order the hole setup from Borgson. No matter how you do it, make sure it's SAFE. We drilled out the two plastic collapsing pins and peened in two steel pins. This was done to insure a safe connection. The column itself still provides a collapsing shaft inside for crash safety.
The finial step is to hook up the shift linkage and trim out the firewall penetration. To tie in the transmission we used a linkage kit from Kugel Komponents. The kit ran us $30.00 and was well worth it. I installed the shift linkage in less than 5 minutes. The firewall hole was seam sealed inside and a piece of hood insulation was cut a glued into the void. Next a strip of jam molding was cut and fitted around the firewall hole to finish off the rough edge. A little paint touch up was need and that finishes this project. Below are few more photos that we took of this project. - CTS