Chevrolet C10 Column Shifter Conversion - Back on the Tree
’60-87 C10 Floor Shift to Column Shift Conversion
It's almost a guarantee that when you get an old C10 truck to play with, somewhere on it you will find an "upgrade" that just doesn't suit your plan for the project. One item that is often a point of contention with classic truck owners is the addition of a floor shifter for automatic transmissions. Originally, many C10 trucks had a three-on-the-tree manual transmission when new. Over the years, most of the '60-87 GM trucks were converted to automatic transmissions at some point. Because there was no way to convert the manual column to work with the automatic transmission, the options were to either replace the steering column or add a floor shifter.
These days there is a solution and it's only going to cost you about $50 and an hour of your time. We're going to convert to a column-shifted auto so it looks factory but you keep the original three-on-the-tree column. A shift linkage kit from CPP is the new component that allows you to use the factory column shifter with any Chevy auto trans. We headed to Ted's Rod Shop in Riverside, California, to let the C10 experts there get the job done the right way.
1. This is the aftermarket shifter found in our C10. This truck was converted from three- on-the-tree to a Turbo 350 automatic. We decided it was time to get rid of it and put the shifter back on the column for a more stock and out of the way look.
2. The first step is to get the truck in the air and get that floor shifter off the truck. The guys at Ted's Rod Shop do this kind of job daily so they had it off in minutes.
3. Here is the floor shifter out of the truck along with its linkage.
4. Compare that to the new parts we were about to install. This includes a shift linkage kit from CPP, which allows you to use the factory column shifter and any Chevy automatic transmission. We also opted for a brand-new shift arm from LMC Truck.
5. With the shifter out, we began the installation of the CPP linkage kit. We first installed the splined collar from the linkage kit and secured with the provided nut.
6. Next, we loosely installed the gear selector arm on the splined collar. We were told that it's best to install this arm in the 10 o'clock position to start with. It may need to be re adjusted if you can't select all gears once everything is connected.
7. Up on the bench, we then assembled the shift rod. The rod can be cut to any length but we did not need to modify it for this application. There is a rod end on each side and jamb nuts to allow for plenty of adjustability.
8. With the shift rod assembled we cut off the lower gear selector off of the steering column since it won't be used with this kit. For three-on-the-tree columns this is a good idea since the upper and lower selectors have been known to hang up on each other. Two minutes with a cutoff wheel gets the job done right.
9. Now we installed the new shift rod assembly with the supplied hardware and bolt centering spacers through the upper shift selector. Make sure the rod does not contact the firewall as you pass the shifter through the gears. Now is the time to make sure the shifter shifts all the way down to first gear without issue. If so, tighten up the shift arm on the transmission and remove the linkage. If not. Rotate the gear selector arm slightly in one direction and give it another shot.
10. With the linkage off, we drilled two indentions in the rods for the set screws to go into. This ensures that the linkage will not move or change position.
11. With that done, reinstall the linkage and tighten all the loose set screws. Again, check that you can get all your gears and that there is no binding of the linkage.
12. Finally we installed the new LMC factory shift handle back to the column using a new roll pin. It only took a few hours of time and about $50 to replace the floor shifter with a factory-appearing column.