DIY Speedster Steering Column Clamp
The other thing that I wanted to address was how the column sits under the dash. On original cars the column is not hard up under the dash, there's heaps of room as the column is mounted to a cross tube up behind the dash. This extra room allows the fitment of the steering column handbrake, which is something I'm thinking of making. The regular bug column mount is just a pressed steel bracket, which whilst it is fine, does mean that the column sits aup tight against the underside of the dash / bulkhead, in fact it is recessed into the underside of the panel, whereas the dash on original early cars is flat at the bottom. It's partially this chunky aluminium bracket that allows the steering column to sit much lower.
I searched for a bit of aluminium plate that I thought I had stashed away under my workbench with the intention of making one from scratch, but could not find it. I did however find an old offcut from the rear of an Eaton blower, which in part looked a little bit like I needed. So I chopped it up on the bandsaw and made something resembling the lower half of the 356 column bracket. I finished it off on the linisher, wire wheel and finally a bit of a polish on the mop to smooth everything out.
Next I added a closing plate to the top by carefully drilling and counterboring some holes to allow the two pieces to bolt together. This is a little different from the original which is cast in a U shape. I retained the mounting bolt spacing of the existing late column mounts so that it would bolt straight up to the existing mounting holes. I finished off the closing plate with the same sand /brush / mop process. The two parts now look nice ad weathered and whilst they are currently shiny, they will soon dull to a nice aged look. The new bracket has also dropped the column by about 30mm overall. This means that I now have 20mm between the column and underside of the dash - hopefully enough room for the handbrake. ide by side, it's easy to tell that it's not the proper part, but from an aesthetic perspective it's nearer to the original than the pressed-steel Beetle version.
All that's left to do for the bracket is to make up the rubber insert. I think I will probably use some cast-in-place rubber / urethane but will need to get some black as I only have natural. I will do this after I have the handbrake sorted as the actual column position can be tweaked a little so I will cast the insert to suit.
I also raided my stash of parts and found a nice early bug indicator stalk and a ratty looking gear shifter. The indicator stalk is a colour match for the column I have which may save painting it (would be a shame to ruin that lovely patina - however this really depends on what colour the car ends up) Not sure if the gear shifter is too long, but it's an easy job to shorten it.
Next job is to fabricate a bearing for the upper end of the column and sort out the lower section. I have to mix and match the parts from two steering columns to make up what I want. Essentially it will be a split steering column with a late crash-can bottom. Safety first as they say. (the crash-can is actually a requirement for ICVs so is a good idea). I also need to press a keyway into the steering wheel hub. The column I have is an early style taper and key fitment. Using this style of column allowed me to machine out the steering wheel to fit as the splines did not match.
So overall a productive couple of hours and one more job ticked off of the list.