Designing and building a steering wheel adapter

Discussion in 'DIY Projects' started by Mark S., Mar 29, 2017.

  1. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Starting a build thread for my Astro Van Project. This has been ongoing since 2011 with a 3 year hiatus from 2013 to 2016. Getting back into the project late last year I will pick it up here with some steering column work I am doing.
    I do all of my design work in NX as you will see if you follow along. I modeled up all of the steering components so I could design and build the adapters necessary to mount a grant steering wheel to a set of PCS Paddle Shifters. This is some back ground and the time line starts about 2 weeks ago.
    Working with Craig at Bowler we have the PCS Shift Controller and Paddles on their way. PCS has downloadable files available so I downloaded an IGES file of the paddles and added them into my Steering Wheel File.
    Getting the paddles to work will require a fabbed adapter to go thru the paddles to pick up the steering wheel bolts. No biggie, I have a lot of 2 1/2" alum bar stock to make it out of.
    [​IMG]
    With the 2" extension, the .81 thick paddle assembly and the 1/2" thick cover I am moving the steering wheel about 4" in the right direction. This should work well with the moderate set back of the driver seat.
    Looking down the column.
    [​IMG]
    here is the stack from the passenger side. The little silver part is the adapter I have to make. Everything else I will have.
    This remote shifter thing was a bit spendy but it was something I needed to do to get the engine cover cleaned off. Too much stuff going on in too small of an area.
    [​IMG]
    Hopefully the PCS stuff will get here in a timely manner.
    Mark
     
  2. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Contents of the boxes that came yesterday.
    The Paddle Shifter Box
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The Remote Shifter Box.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    As you can see, the paddles have a circuit board right where I was planning to mount my fabbed adapter. No biggie, The adapter will be a bit diferent, that's all.
    Mark
     
  3. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Worked on the steering wheel adapters this past week. I was doing a test fit Monday night and found the wheel adapter I had in my stash was to small to fit the Astro column. I ordered an adapter kit from Summit. While I was waiting for that I got to work making the upper adapter plate. This is the piece that will go between the steering wheel and the PCS paddle shifter unit. It will use 5 #10-32 x 1 1/2" long SHCS to bolt the PCS unit onto the extension. The extension will bolt to the new adapter when it comes in. (hopefully)...
    I dug out a chunk of 1/2" thick aluminum plate and laid out the bolt circles on it. One for the 5 bolts that go thru the PCS unit and one for the three bolts that hold on the steering wheel and horn button asm. After clamping the piece in the mill I drilled a center hole for "zero" for the next operation.
    [​IMG]
    Using the bolt pattern feature on the DRO made drilling both of the bolt patterns easy. This feature sure does save a lot of time over hand laying out all of these holes. With the piece clamped in and zeroed all I have to do is plug in the both circle diameter, the number of holes, the start and end angles (in this case 0 and 360) and hit enter. The first hole location is a dead straight move in the X out tot he radial position of the first hole. In the pic that would be the one to the right in the picture.
    [​IMG]
    Every consecutive hole after that is reached by simply pressing the down button to move the next hole and twisting the mill handles until both X and Y are zeroed out. It makes doing this a no brainer...
    Here the five outer holes have been drilled and I am starting on the three inners.
    [​IMG]
    Once all of the holes are drilled I re-zero the cutter, which has been changed out for a counter bore tool and re-run the program.
    [​IMG]
    With all of the holes done I could get the three inner holes tapped for 1/4-20's.

    Chunking off the excess material so I can get the adapter turned round in the lathe.
    [​IMG]
    After a few minutes of trimming. Using the hold downs from a clamping kit on the saw makes this kind of off hand cutting a whole lot easier. Sure beats doing it by hand on the vertical. This way I can do other things while the H/V is cutting.
    [​IMG]

    I made this mandrel years ago for another project. The small pilot is sized for the .422 dia. tap drill for a 1/2"-13 thread. I drilled the center hole out to that so I could use the mandrel to chuck the adapter in the lathe.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Spinning in the lathe. I use real light cuts here and take my time.
    [​IMG]
    After it was good and round I chamfered the edges and cleaned up the surfaces with some ScotchBrite while it still spinning.
    [​IMG]
    All cleaned up and ready for a test bolting. This will get painted satin black to match the rest of the column.
    [​IMG]

    With everything bolted together it all fits and looks pretty good. I know it looks tall but this will put it right about where it needs to be for the new seat placement.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Gotten a lot done so far this week... Thanks for following.
    Mark
     
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  4. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Worked in the shop and on the computer last night. The steering wheel interface to the paddle shifter is 4.75" in diameter. That's exactly an 1" bigger then the first plate I made. I remodeled the plate and added a big chamfer around the perimeter where it mates to the shifter unit.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The new, smooth shroud will be made out of an exhaust pipe reducer. 4" to 3 1/2" will work perfect. I'll be hitting the muffler shop tonight to see if they have any that size.
    That's it for now, thanks for looking.
    Mark
     
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  5. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Took the column parts in to Dave's Muffler Shop in Durand this afternoon. We grabbed a chunk of 3 1/2" pipe and worked with the expander to get it to fit the column parts. It took about 15 minutes to get the sizes right but this will work. It's bit rougher then I envisioned but it will smooth out with a bit of hammer and sander work.
    [​IMG]
    I will use the Astro column cover and spot weld it to the inside of the new shroud. This is the approximate depth required to fit the new shroud to the top of the column.
    [​IMG]
    We made it long so I can fit the bottom then trim the top to length.
    Just mocked up on the column I think once this is finished and sprayed satin black it will look very nice.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
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  6. OcalaWill

    OcalaWill Well-Known Member

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    Cool project. Automatic trans? I love the bolt pattern feature on my DRO. Very useful. But I try and use the hand wheels and formulas from time to time lest I forget. What kind of mill you running?
     
  7. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Thanks! Yes, TH400 with a gear vendors Overdrive unit behind it. The van will running a 509 BBC, about 550 horse w/ 600 or so lbft.
    The mill is an old one I picked up a few years ago. It's a Cincinnati horizontal mill base with a BP head unit adapted to it. It uses B&S #7 taper tooling. I call it the "FrankenMill". :)
    I put a TPAC Tools DRO on it and am very pleased.
    Mark
     
  8. OcalaWill

    OcalaWill Well-Known Member

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    I bet that BB Chevy is a tight squeeze in the van! Love to see pix of it done. It's funny you went that way with your mill as I planned on something similar. I was going to use a Hardinge UM and BP head, but when my mill arrived at the trucking depot the thing must have fallen off the truck as it was bent six ways to Sunday. So that ended that. But I got lucky and shortly thereafter found a Rockwell 21-100 here locally and have been using it since. I have an Easson ES8A 3-axis on mine I like a lot. Good luck with everything!
     
  9. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Actually a BBC will bolt right into a stock Astro. Mine is far from stock though. With a full frame, custom front and rear suspensions, lowered about 10" and the engine set back 18" and down 6" there is little left of the stock van other then the body.
    Click the link for a running build thread. There is 11 years of design and build thread here:
    http://www.pro-touring.com/threads/20086-The-BAD-AST-Project-Faze-II?highlight=
    Click that link and it will take you on a real trip. 37 pages and over 158,000 views. I started the design work for the van in '04. The real build starts in 2011 and I "hope" to have it drivable this year...
    Mark
     
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  10. OcalaWill

    OcalaWill Well-Known Member

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  11. nwaPLASMA

    nwaPLASMA Well-Known Member

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    Great build thread. Really like the work you put into the engine cover. Can't wait to see it on he ground.
     
  12. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Thanks guys! Jason, with the direction I am going now (shifterless) the dog house will get rebuilt. Hopefully with more aircleaner clearance and a bit lighter in the weight department. :)

    After some mock up work though I found the "shroud" to be pretty unusable. The expanding left it very unconcentric and trying to smooth it out was next to impossible with simple hand tools. 16ga is nothing to mess with when you can't get enough leverage to work it... I ordered a couple of 4 to 3 1/2" reducers from Speedway. I also bit the bullet and ordered a tubing expander kit from Lisle. This will come in handy for exhaust work anyway and it does have a role in this kind of fab work also.
    After dinking around with the shroud mess for a few hours I called it a lost cause. I set up the new, larger adapter plate in the mill and got some work done on that. Making the hole patterns, trimming out the blank and machining it round just like the previous one.
    [​IMG]
    Holes drilled and c'bored.
    [​IMG]
    I'll be milling an angle on the back side of the adapter to reduce the diameter to better match the shift unit.
    This is the back side I will be milling. The pencil line is the size of the shifter unit.
    [​IMG]
    Setting up the rotary table in the mill I needed an adapter to locate the plate concentric to the center of the rotary table. I machined this out of a piece of 1" diameter aluminum stock.
    [​IMG]
    The larger end pilots in the center bore of the table and the small end pilots into the center hole of the plate. I used a long bolt and a couple of spacers to mount the plate to the table.
    [​IMG]
    After getting the piece aligned in the mill I tipped the mill head so I could cut the 40 degree angle I needed. Sad to say I could only tip the head about 32 degrees because of the Frankenmills' questionable construction...
    [​IMG]
    I got both back angles milled. Not as steep as I was planning but I think they will work.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I mocked up the adapter plate and I think it will look better then the previous attempt.
    [​IMG]
    It should look great after some cleanup and satin black paint.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    A week ago Sunday morning I was in the shop at 9:00am. I worked out there for an hour or so and started not feeling well... Anyway, I got sick Sunday morning and was out of commission until Friday afternoon. You name the symptom and I had it. :( Stomach, chills, sweats, aches (even my hair hurt) and the dreaded I.C.B. (Irritable Colon Blow...). Wednesday thru Friday I couldn't keep anything in that went down. Literally, water would run right thru me. I think I lost about 10lbs. I started feeling better Friday morning and have been on the uptake ever since.
    I got out in the shop Saturday and got a lot of work done, trying to make up for the rest of the week I lost.
    Here are the reducers I got from Speedway. These look real nice, smooth with a clean, even transition. Compared to the "fabbed" one these will work very well.
    [​IMG]
    The two, side by side... No brainer, right?
    [​IMG]
    I also got the pipe expander kit I ordered off Amazon. This worked very well and was worth the coin. This will get a lot of use in the shop.
    [​IMG]
    Expanding the 4" end to slip over the cover bell that came in the adapter kit. This took about 5 minutes once I got the kit set up.
    [​IMG]
    I didn't have to go far, maybe an eighth of an inch.
    [​IMG]
    Once it was a nice slip fit I slipped it all together on the column. I think this will look much cleaner then that convoluted boot.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Thanks for looking!
    Mark
     
  14. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    I got out this morning and finished up the cover. Got it trimmed "almost" to length and mocked up the wheel and paddles.
    Cut to length I could expand the 3 1/2" end to slipover the top plate the bolts to the extension.
    [​IMG]
    With the paddles and steering wheel adapter attached.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    With the wheel bolted up.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I think I am going to paint the column and new cover with a satin black. I have to paint the column because there will be an open wound after I remove the shift lever lump...
    [​IMG]
    That's all for this week... Thanks for following!
    Mark
     
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  15. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Moving on to other things...
    I dug out the trans and Gear Vendor Overdrive unit tonight. I was curious to see how much of a tear up I would have on the K member in the frame. I designed and built the K member and trans cross member around a 700R4, not figuring on finding a gear vendor unit for as cheap as I did. I took some measurements off the mock-up 700R4, the TH400 trans and the GV unit.
    The 700 was 22.31 from the engine face to the trans mount bolts.
    The 400 WITH the GV unit measures 27.31 inches to the trans mount bolts.
    Subtracting the 22.31 from the 27.31 ='s 5.00 inches. That is how far I have to move the trans cross member rearward to pick up the trans mounting bolts in the gear vendor unit.
    I don't have 5 inches in the cross member tabs welded to the chassis BUT I can flip the cross member 180 degree to move the trans mounting tab to the rear. Doing that gets me 3.50 inches. (the tab WAS 1.75 inches in front of the cross member centerline so, flipping it 180 moves it 1.75 inches BEHIND the centerline. 1.75 plus 1.75 is 3.50. So now all I have to move the cross member is 1.50 inches... Easy. And the GV unit fits in the loop comfortably. No changes ! YA HOO!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Now, granted I had planned to use the loop as a driveshaft loop so I will have to think about that one. I may end up moving just the loop...
    Mark
     
  16. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Well, I got bit by the measure twice cut with an axe bug Saturday afternoon... Working on the front stab bar, I got it designed and detailed and started doing the bends. The tubing is 1.25" x .125 wall 4130 so it is not cheap... I had 6 bends to do and got the first 4 correct. The 5th bend I got out of position by 2.75 inches. I went to the wrong side of the tangent line by that amount so now I have a piece of useless spaghetti standing in the corner...

    Anyway I have another 100 dollar piece of tube standing next to the bender so tonight I will give it another shot. I did take the "opportunity" to redesign the bar a bit and make it simpler. Now it just needs 4 bends so, if I can keep my record going I should be able to do this... :)
    Pictures will be forthcoming, good AND bad.

    My local steel supplier can't get 4130 or 4140 in any tubing sizes smaller then 3 inches... I ordered this from Online Metals Monday morning and it was delivered Tuesday afternoon, not to bad in my book.
    Mark
     
  17. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Here are some pics of the ruined stab bar...
    Everything was looking good as I got these 3 bends completed.
    [​IMG]
    Even the forth bend came out in the right spot. BUT, if you look at the tube where it is exiting the bending die, you can see a silver line wrapping around the tube a couple of inches out from the bender. That is the tangent line where the bend I am doing in the pic NEEDS to be... Heavy sigh.
    [​IMG]
    The new design eliminates the two 90's at each end of the bar. I widened the bar about 2 inches and moved it forward a bit.

    I have made some progress though. I got the lower stab bar mounts made that weld to the lower control arm.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    This is a piece of 1" x 1/4 wall DOM that I beveled on one side to sit on the arm and provide a good welding surface.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    I also got the mounting plates done for the bushings. I made these out of some 1/4" plate trimmed to size and slotted for adjustment. These will weld vertically into the frame. I thought it looked a lot cleaner then big flat plates hanging off the side rails.
    [​IMG]

    Mounting to the angled down tubes. These will weld on once I get the paint cleaned off. The chassis is upside down on the rotisserie so this is the drivers side
    [​IMG]


    And this is the passenger side
    [​IMG]
    Thanks for watching.
    Mark
     
  19. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Yea, I consider myself pretty fortunate. I haven't really wasted a lot of material on goof ups like this. I have changed my mind on a few things as I am building them but I think this is the first I have ruined anything while making it...
    I took another "stab" at it this weekend... (you see what I did there? :) )
    [​IMG]
    The new bar bent up with no problems from the operator. I got it bent and trimmed. the end link plates made, the bushing brackets finished up and everything is ready to weld up.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I got side tracked before I got any welding done. We had a new freezer delivered this morning so I spent some time building a roller frame for it out of a Harbor Freight furniture dolly. Having it on casters makes it easy to move to clean under it, as with anything else in my shop. :)
    Mark
     
  20. Mark S.

    Mark S. Member

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    Okay, a few more steps closer to paint. I've been working on a new drive shaft loop since the one I was planning on using is now just decorative. I used the 24" long drop from the 8' piece of 4130 I used for the front bar. Bent it into a 180 and trimmed to length.
    [​IMG]
    I cut a couple of pieces of 1" x 1/4 wall DOM to use as mounting points. These will get welded to the cross member and the loop will plug on.
    [​IMG].
    [​IMG]
    Drilling the loop for two 5/16 bolts will let me bolt it on for removability. The two mounts will get drilled and tapped for 5/16 x 18.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    With the loop made I fired up the welder and did some tacking. Tacked on the loop mounts, the front bar bushing plates, the front lower control arm link mounts and I repositioned and tacked one of the steering stops on the drivers side spindle.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Here is the loop in it's finished positioned.
    [​IMG]
    With all of that done I can start pulling the suspensions apart to finish up the component and chassis welding and start prepping the frame for paint.... It is a good feeling to finally see some progress getting all of the little things done and moving forward.
    Mark
     

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