My 1/2 ton Dodge truck and the story of the pivot pin remover.
18 years ago in 2012, I owned a 1/2 ton dodge pick-up truck for about 6 years. It actually was my wife Grace’s idea to buy it. Six years ago we were living on an acreage and at that time I had a tractor that did much of the lifting and toting, so I questioned why we would also need a pick-up truck.
The Tractor occupied much of my time and attention back then. But she felt we needed a truck and she found one on TRadio a phone-in program on a local radio station where people advertised things for sale. Back then this 1/2 ton was quite a good deal, being only about 10 years old, recently re-painted it looked like it had been reasonably cared for. It was owned by some farmer who must have tired of it, but to us it was a treasure.
We hauled everything with it, especially lumber (we had a sawmill and sold a little now and then.) I would use it to pull my friend Walker’s converted boat trailer loaded down with lumber. When we sold the acreage, we kept the truck. Had to sell the tractor (see picture) with much regret and after some repairs on my part. It does not work well to keep a small farm tractor when you have moved to town. There is only so much that you can do with it. So with the tractor gone the truck became the object of my attention. We drove it everywhere, even to my parents in Manitoba and back (with a full load on the return trip of stuff.) When something would break on it, I would fix it. When the valves in the engine developed a leak I rebuilt the heads myself. We originally had a cover for the box. We sold that and purchased a canopy. When we went mountain biking, we loaded up and went. When we moved from the acreage, I used the truck to move everything. When someone in the family needed something moved, I was there with my old white dodge 1/2 ton. As it has aged, most of the family have given up on wanting to drive it and have decided it’s time to get rid of the truck. It was until the end a favorite of mine. We purchased a brand spanking new car two years ago and now it’s pretty much a consensus that it’s time for the Dodge to go. This past summer we purchased its replacement to boot. We have moved again, into the city in a condo-townhouse and the truck just barely fits into the garage.
The writing is indeed on the wall, but before we can sell it, there is one last bit of repairs to do. This story is about getting these repairs done. It’s a bittersweet thing for me as I have become attached to this old white Dodge, that has worked so hard to get me here and there. I want it to find a good home, so I want see it off looking its best. That is considering its now advancing age. With that in mind I have come up with a list of repairs that I can do, that will make it roadworthy in its finest form and I am working my way through this list.
One of the repairs is in the steering column. You see the turn signals have not worked right since when we bought the truck. I had a problem like this on a car I owned a number of years ago, so I know the nature of the problem. Someone had removed the steering wheel and did not install it correctly afterward. In addition to this though, a part called the “rack” although I did not know it was called that at first had broken. This broken rack was a more serious problem as the truck just would not start. So about two weeks ago, I, with foolish confidence, the Haynes book with the ‘Full tear down and rebuild” instructions I had used to re-built the heads on the motor, a worn out steering wheel puller (missing most of the bolts) set to work to tackle the problem. Little did I anticipate the ordeal ahead.
Day 1 The first task was to remove the steering wheel. After the removal of a few preliminary items you quickly get to the tricky step of removing the steering wheel. To do that you need a tool called a steering wheel puller. The steering wheel puller I had did not seem to have bolts of the size & thread I needed to make it work. Also there was hardly enough space for the ‘fork’ see illustration. I thought I had the right size bolt, but I could not make it thread in, so I assumed I did not have the correct thread count. I needed a finer thread perhaps and a longer bolt. I knew where I could get this, but I would have to go there on a bicycle in the rain. The place was one of Calgary’s coolest places for old hardware. Ribtor’s Warehouse here you can find any old hardware you want, from army surplus metal jerry cans to square, old fashioned intercom phones, to all manner and size of bolt and screw. There I was able to find some bolts that I thought would fit the bill. 75 cents later plus GST I was off home to try this insane effort. I get home set the puller up and the bolts are to long and worse still they don’t tread either. I had to give up until later when we could go the to the auto parts store. I resolved to buy another steering wheel puller. How expensive are they anyway? Later that night I do just this, I bought a new puller for about $10.00. I rented a lock plate depressor, if I return it in 3 days the rental is free, now the trick would be to get it done in 3 days! Day 2 Armed with my newly acquired puller I attempted to try again. This time I would not take no for an answer. I set the bolts in place and started to tighten. I got one site to thread in but the other side did not catch. Out comes the hammer. Two quick raps and I tighten the bolt, and what do you know it holds. Well those bolts from Ribtor’s were a waste of time. the bolts that worked were the ones I first tried; I gave up on them far to soon. I tighten in the center pin and what to you know off comes the steering wheel. Now for the Lock plate.
This lock place is what hold the steering wheel in a locked position when the key is removed from the ignition. It’s held firmly in place but a small steel ring snap ring that is set in a grove in the shaft that the steering wheel is mounted on to. The easiest way to remove it is with the help of the lock plate depressor I rented. I had that off in about 10 minutes. Now we are into the bread and butter. The switch that operates the turn signals is next. I took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to remove this. At this point I notice that a piece of soft metal had fallen out of the steering column. I also notice that this switch is broken. This is the part that operates the turn signal. I get it loose but that is as far as I get. I need to read the Haynes book, but I notice that the book is a little short on instructions. 1/2 tons with tilt steering is a little less common so the book is not as helpful as I had hoped. I do however manage to get the wiring harness out. The next day I was going to look for part at the auto wreckers, so I wanted something to compare to when I got there.
Day 3 Stripped off the next level of parts and I found the broken ignition part, still did not have a name for it. Also observed that to replace it I would have to remove the dreaded Steering Wheel Pivot Pin. At this point the Haynes manual proved to be useless. So I was working blind. Went to the library and found a book that had a schematic showing all the parts and their names. At least now I had an official name for all the little parts I did not know this yet, but I would soon learn this when I went searching for parts for the first time. Now I knew what I needed, and I had a name for it but the only source seemed to be from the Chrysler dealer (later I would find out this was not the case.) From them the part was $50.00
Day 4 Searched again for parts at a second place and also went the auto parts store. Looking for instructions on how to pull the entire steering column apart, and perhaps the name of the tool or some description of the tool that I would need to remove the pivot pin.
Day 6 The next thing that was stopping me was the pivot pin removal, and I now knew the name of the tool, but what did it look like? I used the internet, searched and obtained pictures. I took these to the auto parts store. They did not have the tool, but they did recommend two other places that might carry it. I went to one, they did not stock it. Then the other, they had it and guess what? It was only $5.00. To boot they had lock plate depression tools on sale for 6.00, so I bought one of those too. Now just to return the one I had rented and get my refund.
Day 7 – Well my original story ended there, but from my recollection, reassembly with all the correct tools and all the needed parts came next. Re-tracing my steps in disassembly, to reassemble the steering column. And it all worked. The truck now in working order, with the rust stains cleaned off using CLR (Grace did that) the truck was put up for sale and went to a good home. A couple of years later we purchased a Jeep with a trailer hitch. That became the replacement for the old dodge ½ ton. I still have some mementoes, like the valve lifters that were removed when the head was built.