Tilt/Telescope Lock Function-‘76 New Yorker


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Apr 23, 2021
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Little Rock, AR
Hi all. I hope I’ve posted this in the correct Forum. Am looking for for some insight from the experts here. I have a 1976 New Yorker w/the tilt/telescope option. Tilt works fine. However, I’ve been unable to get the telescope function to lock in any position. Was wondering if anyone else has had any fun (experience) with this. If so, please enlighten me.
I’ve referred to the service manual but no luck. Have removed the horn pad, locking screw, locking lever (enough to get to the nut) but despite trying to get torque settings to spec, no success. I did not actually remove the steering wheel & am wondering if the bumper below the horn contact assembly could be the cause, or is it something else. Thanks in advance - Gerry

I don't know if this applies for your year, but I suspect the basic design is the same.

On a 66 telescoping steering wheel lock, the "adjusting lock/unlock ring" that you turn to lock/unlock is actually screwed to a smaller bolt with a big head with multiple holes in it (which I'll call the Lock/Unlock bolt for now). It has only about 1/4 of a turn to lock/unlock, so if the big wheel is screwed to the lock/unlock bolt with it too far out, then it won't tighten. Check to see if this is the case in your car. Turn the lock/unlock bolt by hand to lock the wheel, then fasten the adjusting ring to the lock/unlock bolt so that the pointer marks LOCK. This should get you in the ballpark. If however it still doesn't lock, see below.

2nd possibility is that the lock/unlock bolt mentioned above when screwed in presses down on a long hardened steel rod that sits in the hole the big headed bolt screws into. This rod presses against clutch shoes deep inside the telecoping mechanism. If that rod falls out (which is easy to do if the column is removed with the wheel off, and turned upside down), then there's nothing for the lock/unlock bolt to press against, hence, no locking of the telescoping function.
Hi Ross-thanks for the feedback. I previously tried your first option with no luck. However, your 2nd option-seems more likely. When I bought the car, I was told it had been a project car from a vocational school. From what I noticed immediately, the steering column had been installed incorrectly as the steering wheel was upside down-confirmed by local mechanic; also had problems with steering box, so I had that addressed. Unfortunately I apparently have this issue corrected.
You shouldn't even have to remove the column - unless it's to ascertain whether that rod is in the shaft that the Lock/Unlock bolt threads into. The only real way that I've found to remove that rod is to turn the column upside down...

I found a blow up in the 1970 Parts Catalogue - and while it may not be exact to your column, again, it should show you the concept. Note that the picture starts at the upper left at the steering wheel, and the blow up changes direction for the bottom part of the picture, with the lower left being the end of the column closest to the floor. This is so that the centre line of the drawing only does a 180 degree turn (cut off in the pic) from the upper area when it continues to the lower area of the blowup. Clear as mud? Lol...

Regardless, the part I'm referring to is called ROD, and is found next to the part marked UPPER SHAFT. This is found in the lower section of the blowup. If that rod is not present in your column, you can probably make one by sacrificing an appropriate diametre screw driver shaft. However, I have absolutely no idea how long it would need to be.

The best bit would be to get one from a parts T&T column.

Great info Ross. Unless I’m losing my eyesight, I previously removed the lock lever, lock screw and wheel nut and shined a light into the shaft. I can see what looks like the end of that rod, but it doesn’t seem to have any play - maybe that’s not a bad thing. The rod & shaft all slide in & out together as one unit when I pull the steering wheel towards me so I was wondering how the lock bolt would lock & prevent the steering wheel and shaft from moving in a telescoping fashion. I’ll be studying those pics some more for sure. I also need to dig deeper in the service & parts catalog manuals-sometimes they have some good exploded views.
I’m also curious what purpose that lock serves (top right) and whether it’s related to the telescopic function. Something there has to “lock” the shaft from sliding in & out (stating the obvious).
If I was brave (not), I’d disassemble the column on my 4 door which works fine but I don’t want to end up with another broken assembly. It’s obvious the column in the 2 door was disassembled at some point, so no telling if parts are either missing or installed incorrectly. I’ll keep at it.
The rod sits in the shaft, and touches a mechanism that if pressed on by the rod, pushes out or expands a shoe or clutch that grips the sliding parts and prevents their movement.
I have a feeling you just nailed it. I think that’s where my problem lies. May require some disassembly, lol. I’ll try to post some pics when I get to that. May focus on other pressing issues for the time being. I have multiple projects going as we speak. Many thanks again Ross.
IF the steering wheel was upside down, that does not always mean the column is installed 180 degrees "out", BUT if they disassembled the tilt joint and put the upper shaft in 180 degrees out, the same thing would happen, given the "master spline" that should be at "Noon" with the wheels straight ahead. With the master spline at 6:00 o'clock, the cancelling cam for the turn signals is also out of sync, which means they will not cancel (in both directions) as they should.

Reason I know these things is that when my '77 Camaro's tilt column got "The Thunderbird Syndrome" (as I term it), where the steering wheel can be moved sideways a bit, i had a friend's shop replace the small pot metal housing at the bottom of it all. So they had to disassemble the tilt joint to do that. When I got it back, the 4-spoke steering wheel's center emblem was upside down and NO way to put it in any other way. So I knew what had happened. I thought "I'll get that fixed later" . . . until I turned a corner and the turn signals didn't cancel as they should. So I just got used to manually cancelling the turn signals myself. I also figured out how I could "notch" the steering wheel lock plate to accomodate the 180 degrees out turn signal cancelling cam.

Sorry for the detour and side issues,
Hello Gerry, I have a complete column in tan with the key. I tried to send you a PM, but it would not let me. If you are interested, I can send you pictures this afternoon. Bill.
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Wow… you’re correct-at my fingertips!!
Bill, thanks for letting me know that. I’ll keep you in mind as I move forward.
The lock at top right of the drawing is to lock the wheel when shut off. Nothing to do with T&T
Hi Gerry:

We have to
Hi Gerry:

We have to stick together......mine is a 1978

View attachment 557877
I love it. Aside from color combo, I love those wheel covers & front vent windows. Wish I had those on mine-almost bought those wheel covers but decided to keep mine original to the year offered. At the time, I was interested in the color & couldn’t find any 78s for sale like that. There was a 2 door at the time that sold for close to 16k @ the Mecum auction in Orlando. I almost went but in the end I wouldn’t have paid that much so I saw it on Rv instead - Lol. I love both of mine. I decided on a “set”. Both run great, both have leather, etc. Do you have leather or cloth interior? ATC 2 a/c system or standard? What about radio - 8 track or other?
I have some trouble finding qualified mechanic a to work on them where I live. I do as much as I can but I’ve had several back surgeries limits what I can do. I need paint touch ups on each and the 2 door needs a/c repaired (I pretty much replaced the interior parts), new leather on drivers seat and new vinyl for the st Regis roof. Both have 440s but with different setups (carbs & exhaust).
Would love to hear more about yours.. keep in touch-Gerry