Need the Ignition Actuator replacement Procedure (steering column)

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Mar 15, 2024
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Location
Austin
My Car
72 Fastback 351C M-Code 4v
Can someone post the replacement steps for replacing the actuator in the steering column Or tell me what the page is in the Ford workshop manual please ? My key will not spring back from START and I'm told the start gear tooth on the actuator is probably gone.

1972 Mustang w/ Standard column (not tilt wheel)


Here is where I'm at:

removed steering wheel
removed ignition cylinder
Dropped Steering column down (removed the four bolts)
Pulled the turn /horn switch assembly away from flange casting just enough to get to the two nuts
Removed the two nuts that hold the the flange casting on
Removed the Actuator rod to ignition switch from the actuator
pulled the Flange casting toward the rear of the vehicle about 1/2 inch I can see the top of the actuator

What am I missing ? How do you remove the bottom socket casting ? I will need to change out the actuator and reset the gear correctly. Thanks in advance.

actuator.jpg
 
the doc is made for ideal situation, in other words no play. In real world the nut securing the contact is the only thing that matters.
The easy way to set it right is (with battery disconnected so you do not crank) is to insert the key to crank position, and while there, move the rod and the switch assembly to the spring loaded position. Move a tad back (upwards the column) (because there is a play) tighten the nuts and try the key again. It will likely take you 2 or 3 attempts to get it right. The accessories position will tell you you are spot on as you will get that spot right only if the crank/loaded play position is set right.
 
the doc is made for ideal situation, in other words no play. In real world the nut securing the contact is the only thing that matters.
The easy way to set it right is (with battery disconnected so you do not crank) is to insert the key to crank position, and while there, move the rod and the switch assembly to the spring loaded position. Move a tad back (upwards the column) (because there is a play) tighten the nuts and try the key again. It will likely take you 2 or 3 attempts to get it right. The accessories position will tell you you are spot on as you will get that spot right only if the crank/loaded play position is set right.
Thanks Fabrice, this is after you set the gear back into the cylinder and it's correctly lined up to the last tooth of the actuator that you do these adjustments, correct ?
 
Got the actuator out. I find nothing wrong with the teeth on my actuator. Other than 50 year old grease jamming up the motion of the actuator in the slot, I see no reason why my key cylinder won't return from the start position.

teeth.jpg
 
Got the actuator out. I find nothing wrong with the teeth on my actuator. Other than 50 year old grease jamming up the motion of the actuator in the slot, I see no reason why my key cylinder won't return from the start position.
What does the drive gear look like? It is brass and softer than the actuator gear.

Hello Don, yes the gear is brass. The grease that was in the actuator teeth was hard like gum before I cleaned it, and also gummy in the slot where the actuator moves forward and backward. I am going to reinstall using lithium grease today and see if that was it.
 
I got everything back together, and cleaning up the actuator and re-lubing worked to fix my start position spring back.

This repair is not for a novice mechanic. The Ford shop manual is ok, but not perfect. This was for 1972 Fastback with non-tilt steering wheel and automatic transmission.

I will do a quick write up, and if you read this and still have questions let me know. There are really no good videos on Youtube for this procedure on the 71-73 that I could find. (removing the actuator)

Put car in PARK, and disconnect negative battery cable.
Remove Horn pad
Remove Steering wheel
Remove the entire mounting bracket where that holds the steering column up to the dash (so you can unplug the turn signal switch connector and pull it out) Unscrew the turn signal switch assembly (3 screws plus one up to the right on the key buzzer) and pull it up out of your way
Unscrew and remove the Turn signal lever
Pull the Actuator rod out where it attaches to the ignition switch (If you have original D0AZ actuator part, you can also remove the retaining pin with a small hex key or pick and the Actuator rod will also come free on the actuator side of the rod. If you have the newer D4AZ actuator, you can't do this, the curved part of the rod has to be fed through with the actuator out)
Remove the main Snap Ring on the steering rack (You will need snap ring pliers -internal setting)
Remove the Key cylinder. (press in the release pin while Key is turned to Accessories position and pull it out)
Remove the two spring clips inside the key cylinder hole
Remove the Snap ring inside the key cylinder (You will need snap ring pliers - external setting)
remove the washer, then remove the brass gear
Unbolt the two nuts holding the Flange casting T-bolts. reach up with a flexible magnet from below the socket casting coming up to the Tbolts and get them out safely

At this point the upper flange casting should have play. Pull if forward, and then jiggle it until you can turn the flange casting to the left roughly 70 degrees. you should now be able to press the actuator down and out through the space between the socket casting and column.
Once the actuator is out, use brake cleaner and paper towels, and try and get all the old built up grease on the part of the flange casting where the actuator sits. be sure and clean the larger and smaller cylindrical holes where the actuator and pin sit. Get as much old gunk out of there as you can.
Clean the actuator of all old dried grease, and regrease the teeth section.
If you're installing a new actuator, regrease the teeth section and put on the actuator rod now.

This is the difficult part, you have to feed the actuator up through the gap in the socket casting to the slot where the actuator sits on the flange casting. You have to jiggle the flange casting with one hand, and press up on the actuator from below. You're aiming to have the larger cylindrical section of the actuator to sit inside the rectangular channel on the flange casting (with actuator teeth facing downward). it should eventually slide up into place and the lock pin will go into the correct hole on the flange casting.
at this point, you will want to rotate the flange casting RIGHT around 70 degrees, back to original position, and the actuator can now be moved down and up with your fingers ,the actuator rod, or needle nose pliers from the bottom
A this point, I would push the actuator downward add grease to the actuator areas where it touches the flange casting. Work it downward and back up until you get the lubrication worked in.
Press the flange casting back into original place now, and Using a telescoping magnet from below, feed the Tbolts up, rotating the magnet until the bolts pop through the flange casting. Then install the nuts. This operation was absurdly difficult.

Now the next hardest part, you have to look inside the cylinder hole with a flashlight and slide the actuator back up with needle nose pliers until you can see the last tooth and gap on the actuator. I then used a small pipe brush just tight enough to fit the center of the gear, and then dropped the gear down into place so the last gear tooth married up the to last gap on the actuator. It helps to have a handsfree flashlight mounted to a hat or head gear for this operation. Just a side note, when I did this operation the lock pin was sticking out about 1/2 inch.
Now put the washer and the snap ring back into place inside the cylinder hole. This is not easy to be honest, but it helps to have a decent set of snap ring pliers.
Install the two spring clips inside the key cylinder hole
The next part is tricky but not too bad. You have to put the lock cylinder back in, and the actuator has to be adjusted downward so that the bottom tip of the lock cylinder marries the inside center of the gear correctly WHILE the key is turned to the ACC position. (the correct position necessary to remove and re-insert the cylinder)
Connect the actuator rod to the ignition switch

At this point you should be able to reconnect the negative battery cable and test the key positions to see if you installed it correctly.

View attachment IMG_4043.MOV

Disconnect the negative battery cable, and continue putting things back together in reverse order.
 

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