… occasioned by a serendipitous discovery is always something to be shared so, imagine my delight when I tripped over a right-hand drive Ford Model ‘B’ column and saw immediatly that this would banish all my steering anxieties at a stroke.
I’d always hankered after an early Ford and from the moment I started to do some remedial work on my Model ‘A’, I began to understand why Henry Ford’s designs had been so successful. Neat, functional and mechanic-friendly – a winning formula. The first thing I had to do was to change the sector in the steering box. I approached the job in trepidation because I anticipated having to dismantle all the fiddly cockpit controls and fight with the wiring harness which lives inside the column. Not a bit of it. Unclip the modular electrical box thingy on the bottom of the column – that’s the electrics sorted out; ping off a couple of ball sockets, that’s the ignition and throttle controls out of the way, then undo a few nuts and bolts, slap in a new sector – job done. Yup, Henry got it dead right.
Anyway, I was still casting about for a solution to the steering for the Hillman. You’ll remember that I was after an Austin 16 column, but that didn’t materialise and I began to think about the ‘A’. Maybe an ‘A’ RHD column would do the job? On my way to the butcher’s I popped into see the Local Ford Chaps and they sent me up into their loft to see what I could find. The ‘A’ column looked like a good idea until I saw that the main tube was not easily detachable – I want to retain the original Hillman throttle and ignition controls and need to use the Hillman outer tube – but what was this little beauty hiding in the corner whose tube was detachable?
It turned out to be a ‘B’. Sold!
I raced back to my workshop in triumph holding the prize aloft for all to see, (well, not exactly aloft). I showed it the spanners and dunked the lot in a bucket of diesel, all the time my mind racing through plans for the mounting and its extension using the old Hillman bits so that the original (and rather nice) steering wheel, as well as the hand controls, could be attached. Interestingly, the outer tube on the ‘B’ is exactly the same diameter and wall thickness as the Hillman tube – that saves a lot of grief. As soon as I’d cleaned and reassembled it, I slipped across the yard to offer it up to the chassis.
Of course the chassis’ not there, it’s gone to be painted.