Made some really good progress today. The UPS truck showed up right on time, but then my buddy Jack asked me if I wanted to get an early lunch. Needless to say, I didn't get started until about 1:00PM. I keep forgetting that it will get dark around 5:00PM!
I mentioned before that the 1.5" bore collars have the same OD as the steering tube. So I attached a couple of them to the Prius motor assembly and mocked things up in the car. The motor ends up being clocked at about the 2:30 position. I wish I could move it up some more, but the wiper motor is right there. I thought about using some sort of smaller motor for the wipers, but given the time frame of this project, I will have to leave that for another day.
It looks like it will be in the way when viewed from a low angle, but in reality, when sitting behind the wheel, the motor is barely noticeable. It also doesn't get in the way of the feet. Oh, BTW, the new bearing pedals feel amazing
Super smooth and just solid.
Also, the steering ECU is going to live up against the firewall, over in the corner where the dimmer switch lives. You can sort of see the spot in the picture above.
With the Prius motor mounted, I was able to take some measurements. I had to take into account the collar that I machined yesterday, etc...etc...I expanded the slot a little so the set screw would slide in.
Here is the cut upper tube.
I needed it to be 14.5" total, with the turn signal portion of the column attached.
Then came the scary part. I knew that when I cut the column tube, it wasn't going to be perfectly square. I also knew that the collar "machine" job wasn't perfect either. With that said, I had to make sure that the collar was square to the tube. I actually messed up the first time. This was my second attempt and I think I got it good enough for what this is.
Rotated 90 degrees.
With the tube tacked to the collar, it was time to mock it up in the car, one more time. The length was perfect and the stock upper column support fits perfectly with the anti-rotation tab fitting in its slot.
Then came the paralysis by analysis. As I mentioned earlier, my plan was to make a shaft on the output side of the motor and pass it through a bearing that was to be mounted to a plate (I made this plate yesterday!) in the location where the stock lower column support attaches. As I was looking at the mounted motor and feeling how much it rocked up and down, I just wasn't comfortable with my original plan. I know people have done exactly that and the steering shaft will of course help to stabilize the upper column, but I just didn't feel comfortable with it.
The output shaft has a lot of torque on it already and then stressing it in other directions to stabilize the whole column seems like a big ask for a 3/4" shaft. I decided that I was going to build a lower tube. Having a lower tube that attaches to the motor will put the loads of holding the column rigid on the tubes, and allowing the shaft to take only the forces of steering the car.
I was at Tractor Supply yesterday, buying some hardware. However, I looked all around the store just to see what they have. I remembered seeing some bearing flanges so I went back today with some measurements in hand. I ended up buying these (came in a pack of two). The size was right and they are stamped out of 14 gauge material. Plenty sturdy for this project.
What I needed to do next was to get them concentric with the output shaft. I ended up using the bearing from the firewall mount and wrapping it in making tape to make up for the diameter difference. The ID of the bearing fit the output shaft of the steering motor perfectly and I kept it in place with a couple of set screws that are on the bearing collar.
If I was This Old Tony (from YouTube), I would have machined a perfect alignment tool for the job, but I am working in my kitchen FFS...
I then took the lower bearing from my old column. This part is obviously not stock but came from TCP as part of their rack and pinion kit. At this point, the lower tube is not cut to length.
You can also see that I have the steering shaft installed and it is attached to the coupler that matches the splines of the Toyota motor and transitions to 3/4" smooth bore. I then pushed the steering shaft and the tube up against the flange. The flange has a smooth tapper and the tube has the factory square cut. This forced the tube to be concentric and square.
Then I fired up the welder and made some tacks around the circumference of the tube. Yes, I forgot to grind the zinc platting off the flange. Yes, there were fumes...pray for me....please...
After tacking the tube to the flange, I mode holes in the flange for attaching hardware and installed the whole thing, passing the lower tube through the lower column support and into the engine bay. I don't have pictures of this because it was almost dark out. With the column installed, I mocked up the intermediate shaft from the rack, and laid out the right length for the lower column tube. Here is the final lower tube, cut to length.
There will be a total of 3 bolts that hold the lower tube to the motor assembly. That is all the holes that are driller and tapped in the motor casting. There is another hole that is marked, but not fully drilled or tapped. I thought about drilling and tapping this location, but I figured the 3 bolts are plenty, even though they are not symmetrically located.
And here we have it; the whole column, sans the upper portion. The upper shaft is the stock Toyota shaft. This needs to be cut and mated to the Cougar upper shaft.
Tomorrows task are:
1. Finalize the lower shaft.
2. Complete the upper shaft
3. Quick strip and paint the upper column in parchment color and lower column in black.
4. Install column for good.
5. Wiring and testing!
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