Below is a 2002 crown victoria steering column, steering shafts, and steering gear

Here is the front of the steering wheel with the airbag removed

And the steering column with the steering wheel removed

Here is a closeup of the end of the steering column showing components including:
-steering column->midshaft u-joint
-steering wheel rotation speed sensor
-lower shaft bearing
-transmission shifter linkage
-brake-shift interlock

Here is the front part of a ford steering column seperated from the lower part at the tilt-column pivot junction

Here are the steering shafts which run through the steering column. The slightly longer shaft would fit in the 1990-1994 crownvics, the slightly shorter one in the 1995-2002 crownvics.

Other ford vehicles use similar shafts, but the clocking of the shaft where the steering wheel connects is often at a slightly different angle.

Sometimes, this pivot junction gets loose and causes lack of steering feel

Here's the middle bearing that the shaft spins on.

And the front upper bearing that would be located directly in front of the steering wheel.

Note that this particular steering column is from a mustang cobra convertible car that had a manual transmission. So there's an extra lever labelled "PUSH" that you have to press prior to removing the ignition key.

The key head is somewhat thick because it's equipped with the passive antitheft system (PATS) transponder.

Here are all of the steering shafts that would connect the steering wheel to the steering gear in 1995-2002 crown vics. Problems in anyone of these joints could cause poor steering feel or poor return to center after turns.

The black plastic bushing is where the midshaft passes through the firewall. In this particular case, the bearing in the firewall was worn and the plastic sleeve cracked.

Here are the parts layed side by side

Here's a steering rack for a 1996 ford taurus with the linkage that connects the steering column to the rack attached

And the same parts as above with the steering column from a mustang cobra added

Here's a closeup of the linkage from a wrecked 2004 ford taurus with 5k miles.

In this case, the assembly is fully extended to allow maxium movement of the vehicle's unibody in relation to the subframe.

In this case, the shaft is fully retracted

Here's a few shots of the steering rack itself

Note that the linkage which connects the steering column to the steering rack in 2003-2009 crown vics uses numerous u-joints rather than sliding parts like shown on the taurus column.