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Hi All,

Getting my 356 ready for summer in Maine and noticed there is a reveal between the steering wheel hub and turning indicator hub (see pics). I had to go through some old pics to convince myself it wasn't like that prior. There's a set screw on the indicator hub, and Imm pretty sure that has not moved. Any thoughts on what happened here? Thank you!!

Scott

Portland, Maine

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Can you slide the steering wheel with column in and out?  If so check the black rubber rag joint that connects the column to the steering box piece.  Or the compression bit may have a crack in it.  BOTH are serious and need to be check before next drive.

Image result for vw bug rag jointImage result for vw bug steering collision column cracks

I suspect the turn signal piece just slipped down and needs tightening though.

Last edited by WOLFGANG

@SCM

First the warning:

DO NOT DRIVE YOUR CAR UNTIL YOU HAVE THIS FIGURED OUT!

OK, now that THAT is out of the way, let's see what's going on.  (You might want to start at the set of Asterix **)

Loosen the driver's side front lug nuts, then jack up the front of the car and get it on jack stands.

Remove the driver's side front wheel for easy access.

Get a bright light and stick your head into the wheel well and closely examine the crush cage in-line with the steering shaft.  Make absolutely sure that the cage (if there is one there) is completely intact and crack-free.  If you find ANY cracks or breaks, the crush cage needs to be strengthened with a pipe welded over the cage, OR the entire steering column must be replaced.

Next, examine the steering column rag joint for defects that might allow the shaft to extend towards the cockpit.  If it is defective (torn or cracked), replace it.

Examine the splined ends of the steering coupler - The clamping bolts may have loosened and allowed the steering shaft to loosen and slip out a bit, lengthening the shaft.  If so, loosen them, remove the horn button on the steering wheel and using a wood dowel, tap the steering shaft back down to where it belongs, then re-tighten the coupler splined shaft clamps.

The next is probably my favorite potential solution:

**The last place (or maybe the FIRST place) to look is the bolts holding the steering column to the underside of the dash.  If they loosen, then the column (which surrounds the steering shaft) can slip down towards the firewall leaving the shaft inside of it slightly exposed.  The fix is to loosen the two bolts, pull or tap the column back into place and re-tighten the bolts.

Follow Gordon’s first bit of advice without question.  One fellow on our last Tour de Smo’ had a chilling event happen after a VERY spirited drive in the mountains.  As he went to make the last turn into a parking space at the hotel his crush cage let go and he had no steering at all.  Five minutes earlier he would have had an accident.  30 minutes earlier and the outcome would have likely been even worse.

@SCM  I suspect the column did slip down or was installed that way , loosen the column tube and see if it will move back to the signal switch leaving 1 /16th inch space so it doesn't rub. If all is intact ( and you've done the other inspections as suggested) then you may be able to loosen the set screw on the signal switch and move that a bit toward the steering wheel to close the gap.  BTW I had two steering crush failures ( cracks)  on different speedsters , the cracks are difficult to see w/o sanding down to the bare steel keeping in mind most of the columns are 50 plus years old.

Last edited by Alan Merklin

Sorry for just getting back to this. Attached are a few more pics. I don't believe the column slipped given there are no marks. To me all looks good in and around the steering box. Thoughts?

Question, Is the steering rod one piece from the steering box to the steering wheel? Could something have slipped inside the steering column that I can't see? Thanks again for all your help!

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Yours appears to be the older "skewer" solid one piece steering column.  Newer ('70' up) have the open mesh collapsible piece.  The steering column doesn't get cut on the Speedster - so is full length.  Has your steering box maybe shifted where it is mounted on the H-beam --- there is a detent that lines up.  What is "crack" on the column where orange circle is? -- or is it the horn wire? I swear my steering column is not that big around and I can see some of the splines at the upper clamp (green line).  But mine is the one with collapsible piece so maybe you . Also check the lower green.  Get someone to turn steering wheel while you look at column bits.

See the source image

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