Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

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Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by Dan Szwarc »

Follow this link for the wiring diagram for the harness. Read on for the gory details.

I was contacted by a new member about a project of his where he desired to add a tilt column to his original non-tilt 1966 Continental.

I love projects like this. As an engineer, I am drawn to what is technically an electrical challenge. The column should "drop right in". The wiring, unfortunately, will not.

I started this thread to document what the challenges are and how I will overcome them. Ultimately, the solution is a custom harness made from original parts.


The Saginaw tilt column uses a GM turn signal switch. I previously documented this 14 years ago in this thread:
Cross Reference: Turn Signal Switch

The switch is extenal to the column and mounted to the base.
Image

The non-tilt version has all turn signal functions inside the column. I think the switch plastics and wiring were used for many years before and after 1966.
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by frasern »

I tried, twice, to sell these on here for a hundred each, just enough to cover crating , got no interest.
DSCF5832 (2).JPG
The wiring on the green one, should almost make it "plug & play"
I sold the relay already, but if the under dash or hood wiring is different (unlikely), I have it.
Last edited by frasern on Sat Apr 22, 2023 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by frasern »

I also have '68 and '79 tilt columns available, E bay thinks they should be 3 times my price!
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by Dan Szwarc »

So here's what I found in my analysis looking at the schematics.

The tilt and non-tilt cars have slightly different vehicle harnesses ONLY where the car attaches to the column. Ford inverted the genders of the Six and two-way connectors so that the factory would not inadvertently put a non-tilt column on a tilt-ordered car or vice-versa.

This is visible in the below two schematics.
Tilt-Column Wiring Diagram from Shop Manual
Tilt-Column Wiring Diagram from Shop Manual
Non-Tilt Column Wiring Diagram from Shop Manual
Non-Tilt Column Wiring Diagram from Shop Manual
Tilt Connectors from an actual vehicle
Tilt Connectors from an actual vehicle
Non-Tilt Connectors from an actual vehicle
Non-Tilt Connectors from an actual vehicle
All the wiring colors and positions are actually identical between both vehicle harnesses.
So the easy solution is to make an adapter harness with the tilt-column 6-way and 2-way connectors that fits the non-tilt vehicle harness. This is easier said than done. Where does one source the connectors and terminals to make a harness?

From a parts car (easier said than done), of course! Cut the non-tilt connectors off a donor column and leave enough wire to splice to.

The second challenge is adapting the horn switch from a tilt column to work in a non-tilt car.

Looking at the two diagrams above, one can see that the horn wiring for non-tilt has two wires (an IN and an OUT, a switched side and a non-switched side, whatever you want to call it). Ford sent 12V into the column and the switch in the steering wheel connected and disconnected it from the horns (which are grounded) in the vehicle. It's the simplest circuit ever.

But the Saginaw column Ford used for tilt had no provision for the two wires. The horn switch only grounds the single horn wire. The solution is to add a relay. The relay gets a 12V Feed to its coil, the horn activates the coil. The relay also gets the 12V feed that would have gone to the non-tilt column and sends it out to the horns when the coil is activated. Done. Easy. Peasy. Covergirl.

So here's the wiring diagram for the patch harness.
Non-Tilt Vehicle to Tilt-Column Adapter Harness 1.0.2
Non-Tilt Vehicle to Tilt-Column Adapter Harness 1.0.2
Source the GM turn signal switch pigtail from ebay or another tilt-column 66 Lincoln, splice the wires to the scavanged column-side 6-way and 2-way connectors, and add the horn relay wiring (any good 30 amp relay will do). Mount the relay anywhere convenient.
GM TS Pigtail from eBay
GM TS Pigtail from eBay
Cut off the curved connectors.
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by Dan Szwarc »

frasern wrote: Sat Apr 22, 2023 2:20 pm I tried, twice, to sell these on here for a hundred each, just enough to cover crating , got no interest. The wiring on the green one, should almost make it "plug & play"
I sold the relay already, but if the under dash or hood wiring is different (unlikely), I have it.
Put them on eBay, but just wait. You might eventually sell them.
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by TonyC »

Those who know me know I took that challenge one step further. Although Frankenstein was fitted with a Saginaw tilt from the factory, I didn't care for its appearance; so I retrofitted a '67 tilt column, which has even more-different wiring configuration. It took me years to get the hook-up right, culminating just last year.

For those who may ask, "Why did you even do all that?!" the answer was aesthetics at first. The '67 looked smoother, more elegant, more modern than the Sag column used in '66. Later on, as I learned about the subtle differences in transmission valve-body designs between those two years, I realized that swap had a second purpose: Because the original transmission had been drowned, along with the engine, I swapped in replacements out of a '67. As a result of that, the shift arrangement on the newer column happened to sync up with the shifting design in the transmission. Had I kept one or the other of the original components, the shift indication would not have matched up, especially at the 2d-gear and "D" points.

The wiring, however, would prove to be a nightmare to deal with because I didn't exactly know what I was doing. It cost a good four T-S switches over about 12 years before I finally got it right.

---Tojy
"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet, just because there is a picture with a quote next to it." (Abraham Lincoln, 1866)
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by Dan Szwarc »

I only vaguely remember Tony mentioning the 67 column. I must not have been paying attention otherwise, I would have provided support. Wiring is my speciality.

I do have the 67 schematics and looked at them for the tilt column. Vehicle wiring was changed from 66. I think the 6-way became an 8-way connector for the hazard lights (now on the column instead of inside the glove box).
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by TonyC »

Yes, the new design of hazard was the eye of the storm for my problems; I only figured out how to work around it last year, with help from a '67 manual I actually got from donating to the Forum, as my old print was missing a few pages...to include the critical wiring schematics I needed to cross-reference.

Here was what I found out. There are actually eight wires in the '66 setup that are used, but two of them are not part of the harness; they hang separately, for the horn. Altogether there are 12 wires coming from the '67 T-S switch, four of which (Red, Brown, White/Red-Stripe, and Yellow/Black-Stripe) are routed to the built-in hazard flasher, and thus not used in my case. Six of those wires, which would mate to the T-S harness in the dash, have the same color-codings in both years; so matching colors will do it. The two wires that go to the horn will also match up; the trick is to ID and isolate the dash connections so they don't disappear while messing around down there. The remaining four, just tape off and leave out of the way. That was where I made a major mistake that was the cause of my haunting, recurring malfunction of the brake lights: I had spliced one of the hazard wires, the white with red stripe, into the terminal where the brake-light wire also went. As a consequence, the switch was feeding power back into itself whenever I applied the brakes, causing the terminal in the T-S switch to overheat and melt, causing a thin but critical glazing over the brass contacts. When I discovered that gaffe last year, I took that wire off and left it off. For several months after, I did not have any more loss of brake lighting. But...

Three weeks ago, in Killeen, TX, just two days after the "Killeen Welcome," while I was showing off my car to another customer waiting on tires at Discount Tire (OH! Yes, that reminds me, I need to find that thread on tires and update, because I have learned of a new brand of tire which may actually be better than the Hankook 724s), he noticed that one side lit up but the other didn't. That problem came back, but not in a total loss; the left side lit up, but not the right. It took me several more days of fiddling with the switch to fix that problem. It's still working now; but that switch was already worn out from before I found the wiring gaffe, the plastic around the terminals compromised, so it's bound to fail again. LincolnLand did not have any more switches on hand and no way to predict when their stock would be replenished; so I was forced to pay twice the price for one through one of our more notorious Usual Suspects: Classique Cars Unlimited, which had the only available stock anywhere. With the "old" switch still working, I'm not disturbing it anymore for now; but when it fails again at least I have a brand-new switch ready to go on...plus the knowledge of how to prevent the same problem from recurring. I even made a reference page while the knowledge was still fresh; so if I forget how to do it, it won't be totally lost knowledge (as long as I don't lose that page as well).

I've never figured how to retrofit the '67 hazard wires into the '66 wiring, and I doubt I ever will. I don't know how to route those four wires from the switch into the six-wire harness of the hazard flasher. As the OE button in the glove box works, and I have a spare should that fail, I don't see a point of trying any more cobbling. The vestigial button on the column serves well to hang a small wooden cross as a shield when traveling (granted, it didn't prevent that collision, but it did prevent catastrophic disabling that otherwise could have stranded me in Killeen).

---Tony

Update 1, 3 May: The old switch failed again yesterday, so today I've done the swap-in of the new switch. Altogether, it wasn't really all that difficult, having loosened the column so I could in turn loosen and slide back the sleeve to push the wires through. There is, however, one tricky thing: One of the screw holes that secure the switch to the column stripped its threads, so I'm trying to cobble a solution for that. No point replacing the whole column just for one stripped hole. (Edit: My fix involved lining the hole with JB Weld, not filling the hole, just lining it; after waiting four hours, I then put the screw back in, making sure it was fully seated. The four-hour wait was to keep the screw from getting welded to the hole while the compound was still fresh, but that the compound was still soft enough after that time to form new threads when I put the screw back in. It appears to have done the job, though I have not tried twisting that screw. At this point I don't need to remove the screw, so I'm leaving it be.)

Update 2, 30 May: This drama just refuses to die! Last week the problem came back again, with the left side lighting up and the right staying dark. Because the switch is new I didn't want to take the risk of damaging it, so I tried a different approach. With the tire iron jammed on the brake pedal, I stuck my test light into a hole in the cam that reveals the contact point between the right light and the hairpin bridge; at first it didn't light up, then a second poke made it light up. On a hunch, I backed off the screw that holds the cam in place, about half a turn, and the right light came on. I then fiddled with the tilt mechanism, moving it through its whole travel, and the light stayed on. I then turned the cam screw back in about a quarter-turn, and the light stayed on. At that point, I stopped, leaving it be. I don't know if having the cam fully tightened down may have been part of the problem, nor whether making that "adjustment" solved it; but it seems that way at this point. I've had no recurrence since that tweak job, but I am keeping vigil on it.
Last edited by TonyC on Tue May 30, 2023 3:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet, just because there is a picture with a quote next to it." (Abraham Lincoln, 1866)
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by Dan Szwarc »

Spotted a mistake in my harness drawing. I fixed it. I need to add some extra info, also, like pinout definitions.

Thankfully, the wire colors are correct and factory.
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by Lee »

TonyC wrote: Sun Apr 23, 2023 4:46 am I've never figured how to retrofit the '67 hazard wires into the '66 wiring, and I doubt I ever will.
Tony, there is one comparatively easy way to do it, even though it won’t work exactly like stock. Here’s the principle: find two wires on the hazard switch that complete a circuit when the button is depressed. Then use that switch and circuit to tie the left and right sides of the turn signal together. So that when you switch the turn signal to either left or right, and the hazard is depressed, both sides will be powered and blink (probably faster, unless you are using one of the newer solid state flasher modules).

By the way, by just adding an SPST toggle somewhere discreet, and wiring the sides together is an easy way to get 4 way hazards on ANY car that didn’t have them originally.
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by TonyC »

Good info there, especially for those who have cars that didn't have hazard flashers (maybe those with clap-door Lincolns before '65 can benefit).

Though I don't plan to replace the button in the glove box, I'm keeping that info as reference, should I end up having to do that in the future. It's almost similar to an early attempt I made to do that change, which I ended up ditching in the end...but there are differences here that I didn't think of back then.

---Tony
"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet, just because there is a picture with a quote next to it." (Abraham Lincoln, 1866)
"Question Authority!"

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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by Dan Szwarc »

I think I have finally completed the harness drawing. It is attached here and updated above.
Now, Steve just has to make it.
Attachments
Tilt_2_Non-Tilt Harness FULL.001.png
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Re: Installing a Tilt Column to a non-Tilt Car 1966 ONLY

Post by Dan Szwarc »

Well, all this work for an adapter and I got a message that it plugged right in without one.
I guess I didn’t see the connector gender swap in the schematics properly or ford didn’t implement it the way it was drawn.
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