I started by stripping all of the factory finish off of the column and bracket and passing them through my blast cabinet to remove the rust scale that had accumulated over the years. Then I applied a urethane matte black powder coating to both parts to ensure years of trouble-free service and great appearance. And now for the “trick”:Almost everyone I talked to that has ever restored a Mustang has stumbled a bit when it came to restoring the shrink tube encasement at the bottom of the steering column. I’ve seen lots of Mustangs that have nasty looking original shrink tube sleeve still intact on otherwise nicely restored columns or, on the flip side, the owner has cut off the offending tube and left it off complete because they could not duplicate the process.
I was part of the “unlucky” group where this shrink tubing was concerns in that all manner of rodent had chewed up my original shrink tube jacket on my original column. After months of scouring the internet for hints on how to repair this area, I came up with almost nothing helpful. So, I started to think about a way I could recreate this detail on my own, and what I came up with worked better than I expected. So much so, that I thought it only prudent to pass it along here.In my research, I came across some very large heat shrink tubing for large industrial electrical cable that I thought might do the job. Unfortunately, most of these products didn’t have the proper shrink factor I would need to do the job. Then I stumbled upon some high shrink factor tube that would fit the bill from a company called Parts Express. The shrink tube I found is referred to as 3” high-shrink rate tube. It shrinks with a diametric factor of 2:1 and a linear factor of 1.07:1. The stuff is a bit expensive, but I decided to order enough material to do a few columns just in case I blew it on the first try.
I measure my original shrink tube that I cut off my column and determined the finished length I required. After taking the shrink factors into consideration, I cut a length of shrink tube and slipped it over the collapsible section of my refinished column tube and began gently warming it with my heat gun while rolling the column tube slowly, making sure to evenly shrink the tubing from end to end. After a few short minutes, I had a nicely finished detail that (I think anyway) replicates the original shrink tube nicely. Hope this might be useful!
|Steering column tube and dash bracket in the powder booth and ready to coat.|
|A nice coat of urethane matte black powder looks really nice.|
|I measured off a 10.75" section of shrink tube and cut it squarely with my razor knife.|
|Here is the new shrink tube placed on the collapsible column section before shrinking. The nasty original is shown next to it for reference.|
|about 30 seconds later, and the tube is pretty well secure on the column an shrinking nicely. Note the ends are not quite tight to the column yet.|
|Almost there. I have been heating the shrink tube about 90 seconds at this point.|
|And there it is. The tubing has shrunk to its maximum and the ends are nice and snug against the column tube.|
|Compared to the original shrink tube jacket, I think this will work just fine.|
|With the dash bracket in place, this restoration detail really sets off the column well.|