After further researching the issue, every person who has ever tried this before says, "don't try it yourself." They go on to say, "buy a second hand column from a salvage yard."
We did go and look at a couple of salvage yard columns and they were mostly a mess. Rain, dirt, broken glass, damaged key cylinders, rusty, etc.
The salvage yard columns run $75-$100 depending on where you live and if a key is included.
What we didn't know and what others seem not to know is that there is a steering column rebuilder in just about every major town in the USA. Turns out these steering column rebuilders specialize in a unique industry of stolen car repair. You can imagine when a car is stolen the theif will break the lock on the steering column. So, these specialist know all about replacing door locks, steerling column cylinders, repairing steering columns, air bags and of course ... the ignitition actuator rod in the Ford Mustangs and Tarus.
One easy way to find these guys is to go to www.yahoo.com
, click the "yellow pages" icon, set it to your location, type in and search on the word "steering." For some reason these guys are not in the automotive repair section of the Yellow Pages, so don't look there.
We decided to buy the part (plastic actuator rod cost only $9 at the dealer) and pay a steering column specialist to install it. The installation was about $100 and included all labor (I.E. we didn't have to do anything but drive the car there).
Good luck and hope this helps everyone in your time of need!