To this writer's mind, nothing quite spoils the look of a period interior more than a modern column where there was once a "three-on-the-tree". Modern-day period rods and customs have long used solid (as opposed to tilt) columns, whether original or aftermarket, such as the popular LimeWorks hot rod columns, as well as old-style steering wheels and column shifters. But adapting an original column shifter to operate a modern automatic transmission has always proved awkward and difficult to engineer.

Not so any longer though, as, to complement their steering columns and reduced diameter '40 Ford steering wheels, LimeWorks now offers just such a shifter. Incorporating a neutral safety switch, so the car will only start with the shifter in Park, it'll fit TH350/400, 700-R4, and 200-4R transmissions, as well as the Ford C4. We were intrigued, not to mention interested, in installing one in a project car, so we followed along as LimeWorks' Steve Dennish fitted one to a customer's Model A roadster equipped with a small-block and TH350.

As it transpired, the Model A was a good choice. It's probably one of the most compact installations out there, with very little space around the lower firewall/cylinder head/transmission area, so if the shifter fits here it'll fit almost anything. The shifter is shipped disassembled, as each installation will require it to vary in length, or where the detent arm or gear selector arm mounts to the shift tube. However, it comes with detailed instructions for assembly, so we'll skip that part and move straight to the actual install. Incidentally, with the exception of the heim joints used on the gear selector rod and the aluminum upper and lower housings, every part of the shifter mechanism is manufactured from stainless steel, though some parts are unpolished. LimeWorks offers the column shifter as a kit to fit any 1 1/2- or 1 3/4-inch-diameter column, including its own, or as a retro kit to install a safety switch to a stock column. The trans arm and linkage can also be purchased separately, in 14- or 18-inch lengths.

The roadster arrived at LimeWorks with a long floor shifter, and a small dished steering wheel mounted to a solid column that used exhaust tube for its outer sleeve, hung from an angled billet column drop, was in turn spaced from the dash rail using C-section steel. Sure, it did the job, but it wasn't the prettiest of installs. Plus, with a Model A being so small, the shifter took up a lot of interior room to operate, and the steering wheel was a little too close to the seat base for comfort. The roadster's now a lot nicer to drive, and the redundant floor shifter location now allows for a cup holder!

SOURCE
Limeworks Speed Shop
7717 Greanleaf Ave
Whittier
CA  90602
562-698-1227
www.limeworkspeedshop.com