Recently, when I was out for a drive in my 64 Corvette, as I was making a turn, the turn signal lever fell off. I didnt think much about it at the time, until I discovered that I also had lost my brake lights! When I got back to the shop, I disconnected the battery and pulled the steering wheel to see what was going on, and found that the plastic switch that controls the turn signals and brake switch in the steering column had broken in half at the seam and the brass contacts that make these functions work were lying down inside my steering column.
After pulling the broken pieces out, I also discovered that not only was it not repairable, but it also had the steering column top bearing in it. It had to be replaced. Before going any further, I boxed up all of the parts and got out my factory Motors manuals. This is a C2 Vette and they ran from 1963-1967. During these years, there were constant changes. Engines went from 327s to 427s, the 64s dropped the rear window divider bar that made the split window, drum brakes changed to disk brakes and the motor manuals changed with the changes. For 64, you need the 63 manual and the 64 supplement and the 64 assembly manual. I have manuals on all of my cars, but I will have to say these Corvette manuals are not very detailedcertainly on the steering wheel removal and turn signal and brake light repair. The Assemblymanual looks like pencil drawings and sketches from the original designs. However, they do provide wiring diagrams, wire color coding and rough sketches of the areas I needed.
I went online to see if I could find a video of how to remove the turn signal switch and how it worked and where the wires went. After watching several, I felt that I was ready to go in. The videos showed wires coming from the column switch, down through the column, and being plugged into two plastic boxes under the dash. When I checked my steering column, it was too narrow to run the wires through; the switch wires come off of the switch, and run along the bottom of the column, then plug into two plastic connectors under the dash. I now had a game plan of what had to be done. Dont run the lines through the columnrun them under it. I ordered a new switch, part #622714 for 64-66 C2 Corvette without tilt or telescoping column. While I was waiting for the switch, I checked my other components: brake light fuse, located at the bottom of the fuse box (the tail lights fuse is right above itthey are on separate circuits). It was okay, and I checked the brake light switcha two-pronged switch mounted on the steering column above the brake pedal arm. It has a push button that when it is pushed in (when the pedal is up disconnects the circuit and the brake lights are off; when the button is out (when the brake pedal is depressed the brake lights come on I disconnected the two wires, one coming from the fuse box and one to the tail light/turn signal switch in the steering column. To test the switch, I set my multimeter on DC Volts, hooked the battery up and found I had current from the fuse box to the switch and coming out of the switch when the pedal was depressed. When the new turn signal switch arrived, I checked my wiring diagram and found that black is ground and the brake light wire is purple, the signals light wires were left hand black/light blue and right hand black/blue.
Robert Wiley, longtime fellow restorer helped with this job. He removed the 3 screws holding in my old switch and removed the steering column brace that holds the column up to the dash and holds the switch wires in place. This allowed the wires to be pulled upward. We compared the wire colors of the new switch to wires on the old switch and they matched. With the battery disconnected, Robert cut each wire on the old switch about 3down from the switch, staggering their lengths so they could be soldered, then cut the wires on the new switch, leaving about 3of wire from the switch and soldered them together, from the old to new switch, covering the joins with shrink wrap. Then the new switch was pulled back into its place in the steering column and the 3 screws put in to hold the switch in place. Cutting and soldering these wires turned out to be a lot easier than pulling all of the old wires out and running the new ones and pulling their plugs down the column and under the dash.
We now checked our wiring down to the plugs, wrapped them with electrical tape and tested the brake lightsthey worked! Then the turn signalsthey worked! Now it was time to put everything together. The switch wiring harness was pulled tight and the steering column bracket put back on. With the turn signal switch in, the lever was put on (this takes one screw) then the horn contact, the turn signal canceling cam to the back side of the steering wheel assembly, steering wheel (we put an assembly mark on before removal so it would be centered), washer, nut (I used an electric wrench set to 40 ft/lbs to take this off and put it on) and cap assembly.
With everything working, the Vette is ready to take back out. My feeling about this is: There is a lot of bad information out there. The manuals do help, but there is nothing like getting into it yourself and tracing each element from the fuse box to the tail lights, which is really the case on all of our old cars. I do think joining a Corvette club with good tech support would be a good idea.
Enjoy your cars, and keep em driving!
Special thanks to Robert Wiley!