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1955 Ford Part 12: Steering Column, Stripping Paint

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

(Note: You are reading the progress from a project that began in August of 2014. This information in this post was originally dated from May to June of 2016.)

Steering Column and Stripping Paint

Sometimes while working on this project I like to take some time out and do something to a sub-assembly or rebuild a few items to get some sense of "completion". This can be a carburetor, a set of rocker arms, oil pump, and the latest was just another rendition of a wall clock for the office.

This one was a little more challenging in setting the clock in the cavity because of the eyebrow trim, but it turned out nice and I like it. Ridiculous price on those new Chrome Headlight Eyebrows - I am embarrassed to even say.

Last night I did some "testing" with two forms of paint removal on the White Tutone where the crow's feet is all showing up. The first was a simple heat gun and razor blade scraper.

It took me over an hour to move that far along with that method, but it was a "no muss, no fuss" way - simply sweep up the chips on the floor. I was concerned over the idea of heating the paint being so close to the Red Tutone which is in excellent shape. Once I got through those layers you could see where the paint had followed this idea - FoMoCo primer, FoMoCo Sea Sprite Green, FoMoCo primer, and FoMoCo White, then aftermarket primer, aftermarket White. It looks like Ford did their bodies by painting them a solid color and then if doing a Tutone car the white was painted over afterwards. All of the FoMoCo paint is really on there and really stable - no problems except for the few small places I am going to deal with where there is rust pitting. Next was brushing on "Klean Strip" - it took me an hour and a half to get only this far.

A few items of observation:

1. It took THREE applications to get the paint removed from where you see the beginning photo to the ending photo, and even at the ending photo there was some sanding with 60 grit done just to clean it up. 2. The aftermarket White Tutone with the crows feet came up as fast as you please. With all of those cracks in the surface it took no time at all. Within 5 minutes it was bubbling up and peeling. 3. The original FoMoCo paint is some tough stuff. Even after following paint stripper manufacturer's directions to the letter it still did not remove all layers after THREE applications. 4. What I had feared about the seepage of paint stripper down to the Red Tutone was true. It eventually worked its way under the paint and ate into it a tick. 5. There is an obvious mess on the floor. Next up is get out the 7" disk electric sander and go to town. It will be interesting though to see how much dust I kick up here in my little "harry homeowner" garage that is not made for this type of work. I also have a DA I can try, but I think that will yield the same results as the electric sander. I do know this - it might be best to remove the white Tutone from the fenders (in storage right now) by using my sandblaster. Not sure of what it would take to get that done on the entire body - I really don't have a place to do that here and the fender will be fun enough as it is. I guess the neighborhood will have to deal with the black dust cloud coming out of the Hot Rod Reverend's house!!

Ummmmm, ok after a little more "testing" I think we have a winner, winner, chicken dinner! But check out that dust! It's everywhere. We will keep moving along here and see what we can do today. It did not take too long to get this done, but boy the mess! It looks like I am going to have to start pulling the car outside and take care of this mess in the driveway where I can hose down the dust. The surface on the sheet metal continues to look pretty good. Why the white tutone when "crow's feet" after all those years I am not sure...

I did strip the quarter panel of the old white paint and spray primer on it to do a test of appearance, mil thickness of the paint, etc. I am very happy with what I am seeing although i did reduce the topcoat a tick too much.

The test square of white paint looks yellow in the photo but it doesn't look that way in person. It is the Wimbledon White Ford paint code from the 60s Mustangs, kind of an off white I guess. The garage is going to be a mess for a while! And the garage is the way the entire family enters/exits the house each day. I think I am going to try to pull the car out side when I do the stripping, paint, and block sand inside, etc. We will see how that works with mama! Last night I did reinstall the steering column and dummy shaft - the shifter is on the floor but I didn't want a hole there where the old column shift was at and I didn't want to leave it on there either. First, I laid out all of the column parts and the two seals that need to go on the column before you place it on the steering gear assembly. I used some masking tape to keep from scuffing things up on the new paint, but I wasn't perfect I can tell you that. Note the orientation of the large rubber seal - it needs to be oriented correctly. The photo is showing the FIREWALL side of the seal. Obviously I will need to cut a hole for the clutch release rod - We will wait until it all mounted up to do that but it should be pretty straightforward.

Don't forget that felt oil baffle that goes inside the steering column. Here it is pictured up top but it needs to go down to the bottom where you will tighten the tube to the steering gear.

Before installing the steering wheel, make sure you place the white plastic bushing around the steering shaft - this bushing goes rests between the shaft and that bearing in the cup of the column tube. If you look closely in the photo above where the spring is shown in the cup you will find that small bushing in place. The part number is also shown on the package in case you need to order one. After working on that steering wheel for a loooooooong time would you believe it fell off of the paint rack? TWICE! It cracked again and of course is dinged up. I hate to say it but for now since I need to move the car in and out and start getting this body work done I just gave up and installed it. It looks good in the photo - but trust me - IT AIN'T! I will locate another one and have it ready for after the car is repainted.

(the next day...)

I got into the garage early this morning, cleaned it out, washed the car with dish detergent as well as I could (before tackling this body work), and took the 55 out on the street in front of the house a few hundred yards or so - it is has been a while since she moved out of the garage (not since I installed the Hurst shifter). The floor shifter works like a new one and I was reminded that the 292 with goodies has a lot of get up and go!

The fellas at the print shop where our church prints millions of Bibles a year gave me some leftovers of an industrial roll of high grade paper - this is excellent masking material! I mounted it above the workbench on 2x10's with conduit running through the middle to act as an axle. The weight of the roll is a little over 50 lbs. Probably more paper than I will use, but it's there and it is 36" wide.

On to the grinding when I get back next week!

I also had the chance to paint the inner fender sheet metal with Black Rustoleum.

With the paint getting dry AND the recent delivery of brand new front end sheet metal hardware it is just about time to start putting it all back together up front. One question I had was about the large pad underneath the "U" shaped radiator support. I am not sure exactly when I should tighten that down. That pad is pretty thick as new, but it was as flat as a pancake when I removed it. I do think I am going to wait until everything is installed for the front end sheet metal and then give it a final torque.

I assume everything begins in the reverse order of how it was all removed. Begin with the radiator support, attach both air dams and then attach both fenders I assume. I think someone could attach the inner and outer fenders together first but the hood comes into play and alignment and all. Plus I would need some help in getting that on the body, there's a stud that goes into the area behind each kick panel....makes removal and installation of the outer fender kind of difficult.

(to be continued...)

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