September 12, 2004

Steering Wheel and Seat Removal

In this post, we were wondering about these strange bolts that were holding the steering column bracket. Mike put out and inquiry on Google Groups, and got an answer. They are called "breakaway bolts". Here's the response:

That column uses break-off bolts. Basically, when it was first
installed, it had a bolt head on it, with a thin shank. When the bolts
are tightened, the heads shear off, leaving a thief no easy way of
removing the column. Unfortunately, it also means that you can't
easily remove them either. You''ll have to drill them out to remove
them. Or, drill a hole in the head, then use an Ez-Out to remove them.

We also found out that this is non-stock for this year.

Anyway, Mike tried to drill out the bolts, but found that the seats were in the way. So, out they go. We decided to consult the Chilton's book on this. Here is what they said:

1. If the vehicle is a 1972 model with a seat belt warning buzzer, unplug the electrical connector.

Ours is a 1966, don't have to worry about that

2. Raise the adjustment lever and slide the seat forward until its runner contacts the leaf-spring stop.

We raised the lever, but the seat refused to budge

3. Depress the leaf-spring stop with a screwdriver, raise the adjustment lever and slide the seat forward about 1 1/2 inches.

The only thing getting depressed around here, is us, the seat is not budging.

4. Reach under the seat and detach the tension spring.

Even though we weren't at that stage yet, Mike decided to see if he could find a tension spring. There wasn't one.

5. Slide the seat forward, life it off the tracks and remove it.

Seat is still not budging.

Well, we figured these seats have been stuck in this position for awhile, so Mike thought that maybe he could brace himself against the back seat and push the drivers seat forward, until it contacts the leaf-spring stop mentioned in step 2. So, while I pushed the lever, Mike pushed the seat:

And, it didn't make contact with anything. In fact, it slid completely forward off the track. And, this was while my hand was still on the lever!

So, we decide to do the same with the passenger seat. This was a little bit more difficult for Mike, since he wasn't wearing shoes. Since I was, I got drafted for the job. I maneuvered my way into the rear and shoved the seat with my feet while Mike held the lever. It didn't move. So, I positioned myself to where my feet were resting on the metal part of the seat and shoved again. This one too, moved all the way forward:

I feel like that scene in Police Academy where Hightower took the back seat out of the Honda so he could drive it.

So, this is how it looks now, with the seats gone:

And, here are the ugly seats:

Now, Mike had enough room so he could drill holes into the bolts enough so he could use the E-Z out.

So, he places himself into an uncomfortable position and starts to drill out the bolts:

Once the holes are deep enough, he can now use the E-Z out to remove the bolts:

Fortunately, they came out without a hitch. The steering column dropped away from under the dash:

With the column free from the inside, we will now try to unfasten it from the outside, so it can be removed completely. I had been spraying the bolts in the linkage with WD-40.

When I went to put a socket on the bolt though, it wouldn't fit. There was a brace on the bolt. That is there to keep the bolt from vibrating off over time. (You can see if in the following image):

I used a screwdriver to pry it away on one side, and left it on the other side to keep the bolt from moving when I removed it:

This is how it looked after the bolt was removed:

So now, there was nothing holding the steering column, it should just pull right out. Fat chance! It took a lesson from the seats and wasn't moving. Probably since it's been in there for over 30 years. Looking at how it's set up, we decided to remove the bracket where it is connected to the gasket. Obviously, it will be too wide to fit through the hole in the dash, but we figured that we could pound out the piece with a hammer once it's clear of the bracket. I sprayed the end with WD-40. And, I also sprayed all the bolts on the assembly:

Oh, and fortunately for us, whoever removed the original bracket that held the steering wheel column to the dash didn't through it out. We found the original bracket and the gasket under the seats:

Posted by Valkyre at 11:13 PM