I pulled apart the new column, which came with the “new” dashboard and it was in pretty decent shape. The bearings were good and the old centering cone at the bottom was still there. It has a good deal of rust, however, and the bottom bushing was missing. Whatever car it came out of was experiencing sloppy shifting, of course, and someone had gotten into it to grind down the shift detente plate in what I’m sure was a futile effort.
I buffed the paint off two sections of the column and am working my way back up with self-etching primer and a color coat to match the interior. The primer, a Rustoleum product, has been easy to apply and appears to adhere well. (Got the tip on this paint from the welding discussion on the VTCI forum.)
The color coat, which is only on one part so far, looks great. The color is a good (-enough! The entire interior has faded unevenly over time) match and the sheen is excellent. The spray paint–the only color match to come in a spray can–is actually meant for plastic and vinyl, so I’m a little worried about adhesion. I applied three mist coats over the primer, and well, it didn’t slide off. So far, so good. I can probably handle it tomorrow and get a better sense for how durable it is. In the end, it is a spray paint, so it won’t be as hard and long-lasting as the original.
Christmas week is coming up. I need a welding mask, some rod and angle iron to make my first test welds–going to attempt to build up a little rolling welding cart as a start.
Hmmm. Where did I put that fire extinguisher?