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OK guys, this trick works on the GEN II escorts... possibly all escorts but I own a GEN II.

Now let me say first that the only 'proper' and safe way to repair a steering column that has 'collapsed' is to replace it.. but these get pricey and used ones aren't guaranteed not to have the same issue, so if money is tight (or you're just a cheap bastard like me) then you gotta do what you gotta do.

Now, my scort has had in and out play (telescoping) to where I could literally push the steering wheel toward the dash and pull it out closer to me about an inch or so. It gets very annoying because as I drive it gets pushed in to where the plastic covers rub and I have to pull it back out. I also worried about damaging the clockspring and what not..

Anyways I had done a lot of research on the subject and I have learned that there is a plastic pin that prevents the column from moving in and out, and in the event of an accident the pin breaks to allow the column to 'collapse' to absorb some of the impact force. The problem is that over time the plastic pin gets brittle and breaks on its own.

Now being that my fix involves using a metal roll-pin (although you could probably use a plastic one if you were able to find one), it increases the chances of me being injured or killed in the event of an accident, so if you decide to follow this guide, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK.

OK... that being out of the way, lets get started. In all of my research I was unable to figure out exactly where this plastic 'pin' is located... and since I'm as lazy as I am cheap, I opted not to remove my steering column to try to find it... so here's what I did.

Look at this illustration:



Now you have your steering wheel, your outer shaft, your inner shaft, and the shaft housing. Rotating the steering wheel also rotates the outer shaft. The outer shaft is splined onto the inner shaft and can move in and out on these splines. The inner shaft is attached to a couple of u-joints and then connects to the steering rack.

Over all of this there is a housing which does not rotate.. it simply covers everything up so nothing gets damaged, and so no moving parts can injure you under there. Also attached to the housing is the bracket with four holes in it to bolt the column assembly to the dash support to hold everything in place.

What you need to do is drill a hole through the bottom of the outer housing, about 3/4 of an inch or so behind the mounting bracket. The hole I drilled was about oh I dunno... 3/8" or maybe 10mm? It doesn't really matter. Make sure this hole only goes through the housing at this time.

These images will help give you an idea what I'm talking about:







The hole right in the center of the bottom picture is the hole I drilled. It doesn't have to be perfectly straight or center.

Now THIS IS IMPORTANT... you need to pull your steering wheel back towards you... in the 'extended' and not in the 'collapsed' position. If your proceed with it collapsed, then it will stay like that for all of eternity!

OK Next... now you'll need to drill another hole through the outer shaft, the inner shaft, and through the other side of the outer shaft... but try not to drill through the opposite side of the housing... and you have to do this through the larger hole you just drilled through the housing.

The hole I drilled at this point was pretty small.. 3/32" if I remember correctly. Be patient and take your time, as this is solid metal. If you shine a light up there once you get through the outer shaft, you can have an assistant push/pull the steering wheel and through the small hole you drilled, you will witness the outer shaft sliding over the inner shaft... just make sure you reposition the steering wheel and line your holes back up before you continue drilling.

When your drill bit hits the opposite side of the outer shaft, you'll feel it get loose then a bit of resistance and then the bit will try to bind a bit and then it will break free... stop drilling at this point.. you do not want to drill through the other side of the housing, as it may damage wiring and all on the other side of it. Or maybe not.. but why take that chance?

OK next you need to find a roll-pin. Select one that's just a TAD bigger in diameter than the drill bit you used to drill through the shafts. As far as length, I put a small glob of grease on my drill bit and the pushed it up in the hole I drilled and then pulled it back out. Then I selected a pin the same length as the length of the drill bit that had grease smeared on it. It worked out just fine. If you need help imagining this, let me know and I'll be more than happy to draw another illustration for you!

Now use a hammer and a punch to drive the pin up into the hole. You want to leave just a tiny fraction of an inch of pin hanging out of the hole. Now rotate the steering wheel 180 degrees and look at the other side and adjust the location of the pin as needed. Like I said you want the pin to hang out just a tiny bit from the hole, but not so much that there is a chance that it might rub against the housing.

Likewise, you want a roll-pin that will fit very, very tight! You don't want a loose fitting one, as it might work its way out and get jammed between the shaft and the housing, and this can cause your steering to lock up while driving... that would be a bad idea, so make sure it fits very tight!

WOOT! Now try to move the steering wheel or headbang it or whatever... it should rotate with ease, but not move in or out at all! Congratulations!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Since it is impossible for me to take a picture up inside of the hole, I drew another illustration to show you how this will all fit together.

Keep in mind, if you were to cut the column and look down inside of the housing (tube), this illustration would be similar (albeit not to scale) to what you would see after performing this mod:

 

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Looks like I'm gonna have to take advantage of this awesome write-up. We bashed the crap out of my steering column trying to get the wheel off and ended up breaking that plastic pin. Now I have a telescoping column which moves maybe 1-2 cm.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well it's been almost two weeks now since I fixed my column, and it's still doing great!
 

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Thanks for the tip, HyBrad! But I'm going to use a length of plastic rod or wood dowel instead of the steel roll pin, to retain the original safety feature. Anybody know this won't work? Suggestions as to diameter? I haven't done any head-bash tests yet. :)

Dave
 

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I drilled and tapped the steering column all the way through, and inserted a 1-inch 10-32 nylon panhead machine screw. The screw cost less than $1 at a local hardware store. This repair passes the flail-like-a-madman test.

Dave
 

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Hi GrampaDave! I really like your solution to this, apparently, common problem. Are you still happy with the results? Also, did you find that keeping the shaft in the "full up" position allowed the steering lock to engage properly? I just pulled the loosie goosie ignition switch assembly out of my wifes '94 wagon and, being of less than average inteligence, I smacked the puller bolt and ended up with the dredded shaft slop. Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated!

Dave... too
 
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