I am overhauling my steering column to try to tighten up the slop and get rid of some steering shakes. It appears that the steering rod is slightly bent near the bottom end- should I heat it with an oxy-acetylene torch and then use a press to straighten it? I've never done anything like this so I want to get some advice as to a good technique.
You can straighten it with out heat. I would not heat it.
Make some hardwood blocks the shape of the shaft to use with the press; works better than just a flat piece against the shaft. (drill a hole the diameter of the shaft the long way through a piece of hardwood, like maple, then cut the wood in half and you have two blocks to use--but you'll need three!)