Replacing the steering column in our F-1 with a new powdercoated tilt unit from Flaming River not only improved the truck's appearance, the column-mounted shifter and dimmer switch at the end of the turn signal lever are much more conveniently located than before. Less obvious is that the steering wheel is now in a more comfortable position as the column has been moved away from the door with a new column drop and floor mount, also from Flaming River. All these changes make the truck much more comfortable to drive. Less obvious, but every bit as important from a safety standpoint, are the new U-joints and slip-shaft. Now every turn is a good turn with our F-1.

Here are tips from Flaming River on installing universal joints and shafts:

Universal Joint Installation
1) Measure and mark 7/8 inch in from the end of the steering shaft.
2) Position the yoke onto shaft up to the 7/8-inch mark. Tighten the set screws to mark the shaft.
3) Remove the yoke.
4) Using a 1/4-inch drill bit, countersink the marked position on the shaft.
5) Apply red thread locker to the threads of the set screws.
6) Reinstall the universal joint onto the shaft.
7) Using a torque wrench, tighten the set screws to no more than 25 ft-lb.
8) Tighten the jam nuts.

Shaft Installation
1) Measure and mark 7/8 inch in from each end of the DD-style shaft.
2) Slide the splined U-joint yoke over the pinion shaft of the steering gear
. 3) Insert the DD-style shaft onto opposite end of the U-joint.
4) Slide the DD U-joint over the shaft.
5) Apply red thread locker to the screws.
6) Insert the tongue into the end of the steering column shaft and install the through bolt. (Do not tighten the bolt at this time.)
7) Adjust each U-joint to align with the 7/8-inch mark on the shaft. This ensures proper phasing. Be certain the set screw on the steering gear end is set in the groove in the gear's shaft.
8) Snug each set screw so it will leave a mark on the DD shaft, to include the tongue.
9) Remove the shaft kit and dimple each set screw mark using a 1/4-inch drill bit.
10) Reassemble the shaft kit in the cab. Tighten each set screw with a torque wrench to 25 ft-lb. Tighten the jam nuts. (Note: Periodic inspection of the set screws is recommended to ensure that they stay tight.)

Flaming River FAQs
Common Steering Column Installation Errors Incorrect Column Angle-When the column angle going through the firewall or the floorboard is not taken into consideration it can affect the entire steering system.

The biggest effect will be in the U-joints and shafting. With the column being at angle it can cause an extreme angle in the U-joint causing a bind and turn a relatively easy two-U-joint system into a three- or possibly a complex four-U-joint arrangement.

Inside the vehicle the incorrect column angle can affect driver comfort by having to always adjust the tilt in the column or in extreme cases driving with their arms almost fully extended.

Incorrect Column Length
Getting the correct length steering column can make or break the way a truck feels. Having a column that is too long can affect driver comfort and make them feel cramped or crowded while driving. If it is too long and goes through the firewall too far it can cause a binding in the U-joints.

Having a column that is too short can also affect driver comfort inside the car. If a column-shift column is being installed and the column does not go through the firewall enough it can cause interference with the lower shift arm and you will not be able to change gears properly.

Column Wiring
One of the most common errors happens when someone is just replacing an OEM steering column. They will remove the factory original column without verifying the wire colors for the turn signals. A common assumption is that the truck is original and that the wiring hasn't been altered. Checking that the wiring is in good condition and verifying what color wire operates which turn signal can be a headache.