Ergonomics plays a big role these days. How components work in sync in the vehicle is crucial to a comfortable ride not only for your underside but alsofor your eyes. And when you're talking about parts and components in the interior, it quickly becomes obvious that it's where most of your time will be spent. As such, getting everything in working order becomes a pretty big priority.
Originally our Camaro came with a column-mount shifter; however, the previous owner had converted to a floor-mount unit and never swapped the factory column, instead removing the handle by driving out the retaining pin. While it was a quick fix, it wasn't without its issues. At times the shifter would rotate, essentially getting stuck between gears, and wouldn't allow you to crank the motor over.
Since our five-speed conversion, it wasn't necessary to retain the factory steering column. We decided to go with a complete, non-tilt Flaming River Classic Bell system, which is a direct-fit kit that pops right in, and the factory wiring harness and looms are all plug-and-play. As you can see, we opted for the black powder coat version, but they're also available in a polished or chrome finish. We're talking minimal work required here. We also did away with the factory steering shaft and rag-joint setup in favor of Flaming River's EZ Fit steering shaft that features a spring-loaded assembly to provide a significant amount of header clearance, absorbs chassis flex, and, more importantly, collapses in case of an accident.
What did we get for our efforts? Considering it only took about four hours from start to finish, we made out pretty well. Plus, we didn't even need special tools. Read on as we outline what it takes to complete a column and steering shaft swap in an afternoon.
What we did
Flaming River Column and Steering Shaft swap
Plug-and-play availability with bolt-in ease
Be sure to point the wheels...
Be sure to point the wheels completely straight first. From there, we could go ahead removing parts in order to get the column out, starting with the Grant steering wheel.
Next, since the factory column...
Next, since the factory column and shaft is one piece, we got under the hood to unbolt the factory rag-joint from our steering box using a 1/2-inch, 12-point socket and ratchet.
Back in the cabin, we began...
Back in the cabin, we began to tear down the lower portion of the dashboard, removing anything that was going to prevent us from extracting the column and steering shaft. We unplugged the harnesses and made sure to label them for reference. Then we unbolted the main column bracket using a 9/16-inch socket.