1966 Ford Ranchero Steering Wheel Installation

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Installing a GT Performance Steering Wheel on a 1966 Ford Ranchero

One of the last things (or in some cases the very first thing) an enthusiast changes on their hobby car is the steering wheel. Such was the case of my 1966 Ford Ranchero. After 6 months of work restoring the body, engine and interior it was time to select a steering wheel. The car came to me with an aftermarket wheel that was much better suited to a sports car and not my Ranchero. After examining stock steering wheels and the myriad of aftermarket wheels I was no closer to a decision than when I had started looking.

At a recent SEMA Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) Media Trade conference, I met with the good folks at GT Performance Products from Burbank, CA. I must say I was impressed with their line of Classic, Retro, and Competition designed steering wheels. The quality of manufacture is superb and (most importantly for those who have done this before) the hub and horn fittings are billet aluminum and look great.

Talking with Tom Poteet, their President, and George Palmera, the VP of Operations about my Ranchero, they recommended their GT Retro Mustang-inspired 15″ wheel and billet hub. Available in either genuine wood or foam rim, I selected the foam rim model (# 35-5451) with the GT 3 billet hub (#10-6004) and Hi-Rise style billet horn button (Model II-1500).

The steering wheel and kit arrived shortly and on a warm (for California in February) Saturday afternoon, I did the install. The kit is totally complete with all the fasteners needed for the hub and even a small Allen wrench for the billet column sleeve. A complete set of easy to follow illustrated instructions round out the kit. The only tools needed are a bearing/wheel puller to remove the old wheel/hub, a 15/16″ socket for the steering wheel shaft nut, and a 7/16″ socket for the hub fasteners. That’s it – nothing else.

After unbolting the old steering wheel from its hub, the bearing puller was used to remove the hub from the steering shaft. Remember to place the shaft nut on the steering shaft to prevent galling of the threads and to prevent the hub from coming off after it “pops” free.

Once the hub is removed, you now have access to the standard Ford turn signal switch and inner assemblies. You do not need to modify any of these. After cleaning the inside of the shaft, the new GT Performance billet hub is lightly greased on the rear copper contact ring (grease is supplied in the kit) and it slides on the steering shaft spline. There are two small vertical “dimples” on the outer face of the hub. These indicate the “top” position of the hub on the steering shaft spline. The column sleeve simply slides over the hub and is not secured until the wheel is installed.

The steering wheel in placed on the hub with the two horn wires threaded through the “fourth hole” in the wheel face. Then the horn button base (shipped in the horn button kit) is placed over the wheel and the stock Ford steering shaft nut threaded on. Before tightening the nut, the three wheel mounting screws (supplied with the kit) are threaded on to the hub. The shaft nut is tightened to 25/30 ft.lbs. and the mounting screws tightened to 10/12 ft. lbs.

Next, the two horn wires are attached to the inside of the horn button. I used a touch of Formula 409 cleaner on my finger to wet the “O” ring on the horn button base and then pressed the horn button on the base. Looking good !! The final step is to position the column sleeve so as to leave a 1/16″ to 1/8″ gap between the stock column and the bottom of the sleeve. This makes the installation a perfect fit. No big gaps between the billet hub and the Ford steering collar.

All in all, I spent less than an hour to complete the installation. And this included time to take pictures. The result was dramatic. My Ranchero interior looks great. The GT Retro wheel compliments the dash, upholstery and carpeting. Most importantly, the foam rim on the wheel makes steering (my Ranchero has manual steering) a breeze. Grip is firm and control perfect. I can’t say enough of the quality and ease of installation of the GT Performance steering wheel and kit.

If you have an early non-airbag car, these wheels are just right for you. In addition to the Ford style wheel, GT Performance offers wheels inspired by the 60’s GM line of muscle cars and Cobra style wheels. Check them out when you are looking for a high quality steering wheel and hub at a great price. Visit them at: www.gtperformanceproducts.com.

Eric White Digital Library

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