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You are here: Home Tech Articles & Tutorials Steering / Suspension / Brakes How to Install a Tilt Steering Column
Back to Technical Index

How to Install a Tilt Steering Column
into a '67-'72 Ford Pickup

NOTE: THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION!! Most of the information on this page was obtained through the discussion forums, and therefore is NOT to be taken as 100% accurate (yet). I spent a great deal of time searching for information on performing this swap, and when I came upon a discussion or tidbit of information that I felt was relevant, I added it where I could. The pictures were borrowed from E-bay listings for visual reference. I'm trying to get more detailed info and verify what has been discussed here. In some (but not all) cases I attributed the info to the contributor. I'm simply including this info as a method of personal research...and with some more discussion and research, I'll attempt to write a tutorial outlining the procedures. If you have any additions, corrections, or advice...or can answer any of the list of questions at the bottom of this page, please e-mail me. Feel free to check back periodically to see how this page is progressing.


'78-'79 steering columns are the same for 2WD and 4WD. The steering box end of the shaft is splined and there is a yoke for a rag joint on 2WD installations or the short shaft with U-joint for 4WD. The steering column in this picture has the 2WD adapter installed.

This is a 1978 column, correct for 1978 and 1979 (for dash-mounted ignition switches). Also shown is the dash trim piece and the special tilt-only rag joint.





Usually the tilt columns are found in the Camper Specials, Trailer Specials and other top-end models.

1973-1979 Ford pickup steering steering columns will bolt into a '67-'72 pickup with some wiring changes. Plus they came with a plastic shroud around the column to the dash. However, 1978 and 1979 are the only years from this era in which a tilt column was available, and mostly on pickups equipped with an automatic transmission and power steering. There is a tilt column for a floor-shift manual transmission truck...but they're extremely rare. If you ever find one in a salvage lot, GRAB IT!

Steering wheel fit:
Source1: the spline count and taper is the same on Ford columns from the 50's to the 90's so wheels will interchange just fine.
Source2: the '73-'78 steering wheel will not fit '79 column. Different spline at hub to shaft fit. 79's take '79 & later (the smaller wheels of 80's & 90's), while '78s take '78-earlier (back into 40's)

The horns don't work without modifications after '73. (the late model trucks ('78-newer) use a two-wire horn contact. Up to 1977 the horn was a single wire grounded in the wheel. On a '78-'79 they went to a two-wire through circuit. In order to make this work one of the wires needs to be grounded.)

The Ford part number for the tilt turn signal switch is D8TZ-13341-A with a list price of $100.87. They are identical to any 1970-1979 Ford car with a tilt except the car versions have different length wires and an extra wire for the key buzzer. Go get a switch for a Lincoln, it works fine. The Ford pickup tilt column shares the same bearings as the Ford van tilt columns (which are longer and do not work well in a truck...but the van columns are great for parts!)

To get the '78-'79 units to fit, you will have to do some wiring changes. The hazard lights are integrated into the column. You might also have to rewire the neutral safety switch...it changed in '78 from the column to the transmission.

The '78-'79 columns themselves are the same with auto tranny...the difference is how it hooks up at the end of the column. The 4WDs have a knuckle shaft & rag joint, whereas the 2WDs just have a rag joint. All automatic columns are the same and all standard columns are the same, each fitting F100 through F350. If you get a 4X4 column it will not have the 2WD coupler but you can use one from a '78-'79 van tilt.

To have the ignition switch in the column you can get parts from a van or a Lincoln. The tilt part is all the same. Just swap the top part of the column that tilts with the key to the other column. But if you want the wheel to lock you must use the wheel from the locking column, because it has holes drilled in it for the pin to lock the wheel. Also, the van and pickup tilt column turn-signal switches all the way to '86 (and possibly up through '88) will fit the '78-'79 tilt columns. The wires may not be the same, but it's not too hard to figure out.

Used tilt columns normally go for about $150 (plus shipping) on E-bay.

Some say the 1980-up steering columns would take more serious modification to work. However, others have reportedly used the tilt column from a '80-'86 Ford truck. They say it fits like the factory column. You will obviously have to rewire the blinkers and flashers, and wire in the ignition switch to it so you'll have a locking steering column.  (The forums have conflicting info in this department. Aside from the obvious wiring changes, some say that the columns are physically a bolt-in and others say they won't fit.)


CLICK TO ENLARGE
This is a '73-'79 non-tilt turn-signal cam for visual reference.

====================================

(by 67f100hd) I found an outfit that sells '65-'79 F-100 steering columns for either automatic (column shift only) or floor shift (manual or auto). They supposedly come primed for paint, brushed or polished. Also they TILT! Has signals and flashers. Try www.hotrodssuperstore.com According to the web site, this column sets you back about $600

Or if you want to spend $500 for a new column try this place: http://broncograveyard.com/products/cat/18/142


(by dablack00)  http://fordification.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21570

I finally finished wiring up my 79 tilt column in my 71 F100. The only reason I'm finished is because the inspection is up and my horn hasn't worked since I did the switch. Now all is working.

I saw the post on the 67 wiring, well the 71 wiring is even easier. My column doesn't have cruise. Just tilt.

79 white red is hazard switch. I didn't use this one. I kept the hazard switch on my dash. You could easily wire the 79 column switch in if you like.

79 Blue/red is the indicator light. I didn't hook it up. If you want to hook it up, just splice in to your dash lights. No big deal.

79 yellow = ground for the horn. The 78/79 horn has two wires. The yellow is the ground, so ground it out.

79 dark Blue to 71 Blue yellow
79 light green to 71 light green
79 orange blue to 71 orange blue
79 light blue to 71 light blue
79 green white to 71 green white
79 green orange to 71 green orange
79 white blue to 71 white blue

Thats it. No big deal. Just took me a while to figure out the horn thing. All the other wires match up color wise.


78/79 Tilt Column Wiring (taken from a forum thread)

LBell101: I'm putting a '79 tilt into my '67. I have the '67 wiring all figured out but I'm not sure of the original wiring placement on the '79 column. The column has cruise control that I plan on using at some point and I think that is what is throwing me off some. It has the curved connector with wires as follows:

First row:
Yellow with blue dots
White with red trapezoids
Green with red stripe
Orange with blue stripe
Blue
Green
Second row:
Blue with red stripe
Dark Blue
White with blue stripe
Green with white stripe

Does anyone know where each of these wires goes or what it operates? Also, I did do a search and found some info but nothing for a cruise tilt column. Thanks!

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The major change between the two era's of columns is the hazard light switch, which is on the column of the '78-79 column and on the dash or in the glovebox on the earlier trucks. The '78-'79 non-tilt column's wiring and harness is the same as the tilt version, except for the horn circuit. When you plug the column harness into the main harness, what was the horn circuit would now control the cruise control. The main control box for the cruise control is located inside the cab on the firewall.  The horn would then (still going through the cruise control circuits) be operated through a relay which is attached to a dash brace behind the instrument panel.

In addition to the cruise control's control box, there is one for the brakes.

To add cruise control to your truck, and utilize the cruise features built into the column, there are several parts required:

  • the main cruise control box and wiring, both of which are under the dash
  • the main underhood cruise control components, like the chain which links to the carburetor, vacuum pod and all necessary brackets
  • the horn relay and harness
  • the older-style brake light switch with the metal case, which mounts on the vacuum booster actuating rod
  • the special brake light switch wiring harness
  • the speedometer cable and speed sensor
  • brake pedal assembly
  • brake booster (FT-38 or FT-43)
  • the harness for the vacuum actuation device
  • the switch on the brake pedal which disconnects the cruise control (non-cruise trucks have the brake light switch mounted onto the side of the brake pedal, but will be substituted for the style that mounts on the vacuum booster pushrod. The cruise shutoff switch will then mount in it's place on the brake pedal)

------------------------------------------------------------------

LBell101: I've been gathering parts and I believe I have a cruise control system worked out. I could not find a '78-'79 donor for cruise control, so I took a system out of an '85. So, what I will have when done is a '79 tilt column with '85 cruise control in my '67 F-100.

After pouring over many schematics and cutting apart an '85 wiring harness, I think it will work just fine. I had to use the '85 button pad as it has the resume button. That fits perfectly in the '79 steering wheel. While at first look the '67, '79, and '85 circuits look vastly different, they are not. As a matter of fact, after you whittle down all the circuits it's surprisingly simple. Here's a diagram I made up:

Everything does work. It did bolt in directly with no extra switches. The only part that needed to be modified in my case was the plastic collar that fills the column down to the dash. You don't need it but it looks better with them.


According to the the '73 wiring diagrams:
  • red/black stripes to brake light switch
  • green/white stripes to LH front turn signal
  • white/orange stripes to emergency flasher
  • yellow/brown stripe (I could only find yellow/black stripe to LH rear turn signal)
  • white/blue stripe to RH front turn signal
  • blue to turn signal flasher
  • blue/red stripe to "PRNDL" lights (you wont need the wire to the "PRNDL" light since you have a manual shift.)
  • green to RH rear turn signal
  • yellow/blue to horn relay
78 Steering Column Pin-out:
  • White / Blue  to Front Right Turn Signal & Indicator Light
  • Green / White to Front Left Turn Signal & Indicator Light
  • Black / Red to Stop light switch
  • Yellow/Black to Rear Left Turn Signal Light & Brake Light
  • Light Green to Rear Right Turn Signal Light& Brake Light
  • Blue to Turn Signal Flasher
  • White/red stripe is for the Hazard lights
  • Blue/Red stripe - Gear selector courtesy Light
  • Lg.Yellow/green dots --Horn

    *Note. Wiring code changes if cruise control is used.

The above information is great as a starting point when researching a tilt-column swap, but there is a lot of misinformation and contradictions in the various discussion threads, so I'm trying to nail down the specifics on what will work. Using the information presented above, here is a list of questions I've come up with, and welcome any help or input anyone can offer. Please....anything you contribute must be based on personal experience so it can be verified, and not "well, I heard from Joe's mom's uncle's cousin that...."

Questions:

  1. It's been discussed in the '67-'72 forums that the '73-'79 columns will physically bolt in the earlier trucks with no modifications necessary, and it's been discussed in the '73-'79 forums that the NEXT generation of columns will also physically bolt in. (At this point I'm not concerned with wiring modifications necessary, just the physical mounting of the column assembly.) Therefore one would assume that any of these columns will also bolt into a '67-'72 pickup as well. So...what is the last year that will fit the '67-'72 pickups with no mods necessary to mounting points at the dash, firewall or steering box?
    ANSWER [
    LBell101]: It is possible that an '80 or newer column would bolt in. But they have the ignition switch built into the column. The switch itself is near the bottom of the column and the key is integral to it. That's why no one uses them for the swap. If it does bolt in, I'm sure you could use the new style switch after figuring out the wiring and blocking off the old dash switch hole.

  2. What years are the steering wheels interchangeable? One source says everything from the '50s through the '90s has the same shaft taper and spline count and another source says the spline count changed in '78, meaning there are two variations: '79-earlier and '80-later. Which is correct, verified by personal experience?

Answers to these questions will be posted here as they become available. Thanks for your help!

 

 
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