Team Chevelle banner

Steering Column Swap

3166 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  dgwar

I am swapping from a non tilt column to a tilt column. Somewhere I have seen some info about this process. The docs I am thinking about ncluded a lot ofcool hard to find info abuout the subtile differences in the colums from year to year/ some info on wiring and other priceless tidbit. I know about Jim Sheas information but I believe there was something else floating around cyberspace. Jims info is more oriented toward rebuilding the entire column...this info I am seeking wasmore on the point of swapping the colums.

Since I have never worked with a tilt column and I think this one I have needs a new lock tumbler I was thinking I might put the tumbler from my car into the tilt unit? Anyone know if that works? If so what does it take to do the job? If it does not swap into the tilt where can I get a tumbler / tumbler mech that will work? If the original one from my non tilt will work great but if it takes a box full of specal tools to remove it from the non tilt column well then perhaps it would just be more efficient to just buy a new tumbler.

Any help is greatly appreciated.
1 - 3 of 12 Posts
You CANNOT use the same ignition switch between standard (non adjustable) steering columns and tilt columns. There are two kinds of ignition switches. One for standard columns the other for adjustable tilt and T&T columns. You CAN us the same lock cylinders!

When you install a tilt column with the correct tilt column ignition switch, you will need to twist the vehicle wiring harness 180 degrees in order to get it to snap into the tilt column ignition switch.

Before 1969 the lock cylinder and ignition switch were one part and mounted in the instrument panel. You removed the lock cylinder from the unit with the ignition key and by inserting the end of a paper clip into a small hole in the face of the lock cylinder. The ignition switch was part of this assembly but was hidden behind the instrument panel.

1969 marked the first year for the function locking steering column. Now the ignition lock cylinder and the ignition switch were separated. The lock cylinder was placed in the steering column head. The ignition switch was mounted down under the dash, on top of the steering column jacket. Also the switch tucked up into the brake support bracket and was quite inaccessable unless you dropped the steering column down from the instrument panel. (Difficult for a thief to hot wire; time consuming to service.)

Lock cylinders can be interchanged on all Saginaw columns made between 1969 and early 1979. Sometime in 1979 the lock cylinder retention method was changed. The first 10 years the lock cylinder had a metal wedge that snapped into the column housing head. Sometime in 1979 a seperate cross bolt was introduced to hold the cylinder in place. This made the ignition lock cylinder much more difficult for a thief to "slam" the cylinder out of the steering column. The 1979+ lock cylinders will not interchange back to the earlier columns.

There was one design ignition switch for standard (non-adjustable) steering columns and another switch for all adjustable (tilt as well as T&T) steering columns. Both switches operate by means of a rod the pushes and pulls on the switch through a linkage system connected to the lock cylinder. Because the linkage systems are different between standard and adjustable steering columns, the switches operate in opposite directions from each other. This also causes the electrical blades between the two ignition switches to be mirror images of each other.

Switches that are used with adjustable columns operate on a pull basis. (When you rotate your ignition key clockwise from ACC you are pulling the rod and the mechanism inside the switch up toward the driver: ACC, OFF-LOCK, OFF, RUN, START)

Standard columns operate on a push basis. (When you rotate your ignition key clockwise from ACC you are pushing the rod and the mechanism inside the switch down toward the engine.)

The vehicle wiring harness was the same regardless of the type of steering column. You mearly needed to twist the vehicle wiring harness connectors 180 degrees to make them snap into one or the other of the ignition switches.

See less See more
I have complete instructions on removing and replacing the lock cylinder. It is just a little different between the two types of steering columns (standard and tilt).

Go to
Click on Jim Shea's Steering Papers
Click on A & F-Car Steering Papers

Scroll down to the Standard (Non-Adjustable) Strg Column Section
Download the Std Strg Column 69-76 Disassembly & Repair Paper #1
Download the Std Strg Column 69-76 Disassembly & Repair Pic #1

Then scroll further down to the Tilt (Adjustable) Steering Column Section
Download the Tilt Strg Column 69-76 Disassembly & Repair Paper #1
Download the Tilt Strg Column 69-76 Disassembly & Repair Pic #1

See less See more
1 - 3 of 12 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.