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Projects Anyone build a custom steering wheel?

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by 1951hudson, Apr 5, 2015.

  1. 1951hudson
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 87

    1951hudson
    Member

    I want to build a custom banjo style steering wheel that will be leather wrapped. The OD needs to be around 11.5 inches in order to fit comfortably. I am looking for any companies that can either sell just the outer ring that is usually used for steering wheels, or a company that sells tubular metal hoops that are in the 10 to 11 inch OD size, and probably 5/8 OD or 3/4 OD tubing that I can use as a starting point for this project. I would consider solid steel too. Any one ever try this? Anyone have any suggestions on where to go? I was thinking maybe a company that sells wrought iron fence parts..
     
  2. Yeah, I did this one. I worked at a metal fab place so I had a rim burned out of 3/16 stainless. Mine is for a bigger truck, so it is 18" diameter I used 3/16 stainless rod stock pressed into an aluminum hub. the ends were threaded 10-32 then bent. I originally made wooden circles and screwed them to the stainless rim, but growing and shrinking from humidity changes cracked them. I chose to just cover them up with paracord hitching, rather than try to redo the wood. The hitching is soaked with water based varnish, so it is cleanable.
    IMG_2304.JPG IMG_1367.JPG IMG_0236.JPG IMG_0233.JPG IMG_2295.JPG
    See if you can find a company locally that makes/bends hydraulic tubing, they should be able to make a hoop for you. Hydraulic tubing can be had in stainless, so welding the rods to the hoop should be easy
     
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  3. dreracecar
    Joined: Aug 27, 2009
    Posts: 2,335

    dreracecar
    Member
    from so-cal

    I have a place down here that has done them for me, problem is that making 1 is the same price as making 10. Hit the swapmeets for an old crusty grant or superiour and remove the cover and spokes for the rim
     
  4. I found a Studebaker banjo I liked the looks of and cut it down.
    [​IMG]
    from about 18" to about 16-1/2"
    [​IMG]
    I found a company near Seattle that is casting a new rim. Two layers of thin 'cord rope' on the pic above.
    The rim was 3/8 steel and I rolled a new ring of 3/8" steel and drilled it for the spokes to come through and welded them back on.
    [​IMG]

    If you want to use a larger diameter tubing for the rim, you might just get a boat wheel and cut the rim off and re weld it to your banjo center. marine supply stores carry a selection of various diameter wheels that are not all priced high and could do the job. Might be cheaper than having a ring made.
     
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  5. 1951hudson
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 87

    1951hudson
    Member

    Thanks for the suggestions. I thought about buying a cheap one off ebay then just cutting the center out and using the rim from it. It kind of looks like that might be the way to go. Guess I will wait till after the swap meet coming up before buying one.. Never know what might be there!
     
  6. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 7,674

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    11.5" is pretty small for a steering wheel. You will have a hard time steering with a wheel that small especially if it's manual steering.
    Even with power steering a wheel that small is not ideal.
    I like to keep steering wheels to 15", 14" at the smallest.
     
  7. verde742
    Joined: Aug 11, 2010
    Posts: 3,470

    verde742
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    would be awfully small,
    unless you were hand cuffed..:rolleyes:
     
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  8. paco
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,131

    paco
    Member
    from Atlanta

    Yes ... many times. About 600+ times to be exact. Used to do them for racing go carts. All aluminum construction/ 3 bar that were 14" & were EZ to set up with quick disconnects. Used them on drag cars too. I'm sure I have a pic or two ...
     
  9. 1951hudson
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 87

    1951hudson
    Member

    I know its small, Its just that I am over 6 Ft tall, and in my chopped Model A my left leg almost hits the steering wheel right now and its a 12 inch! The extra 1/2 inch clearance would be nice, and since I have power steering it seems like I would be okay with it.
     
  10. I've just grabbed a Morris Minor steering wheel, with this very idea in mind.
    @Davewp, has already done this for his 35 Ford. IMG_20150407_164911.jpg IMG_20150407_164922.jpg
     
  11. Martin Harris
    Joined: Aug 3, 2014
    Posts: 315

    Martin Harris

    I used to have a Pommie car mag (Street Machine I think) that had an article where they took a Morris Minor wheel like Jeff's, and an old 13 inch sports wheel, and used the centre and spokes of the Morry wheel cut down to fit the rim of the sporty car wheel. Probably still got the mag somewhere, but since I have thousands of car mags it might be hard to find!
     
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  12. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 7,674

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    I still think you should stick to a larger wheel. If you think you need more room you could always raise the column up into the bottom of the dash a little and use a steer clear unit to make it work.
    Search on here, there are a couple of threads on it.
    A slick unit that would solve your issues with space and still give you a proportionate steering wheel.
     
  13. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 6,423

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    Call Roger Adams @ The Wheel Shoppe, Portland Or. Great guy!!!
    Keep in mind that banjo's are one of his product lines, at the least he may be willing to give you some pointers.
     
  14. 1951hudson
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 87

    1951hudson
    Member

    Thanks DDDenny. Does he have a web site? I will consider all the comments for sure!
     
  15. 1951hudson
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 87

    1951hudson
    Member

    Found the web site through google, thanks!
     
  16. Shaggy
    Joined: Mar 6, 2003
    Posts: 5,208

    Shaggy
    Member
    from Sultan, WA

    I'm interested too, only I need about a 1/4" diameter SS hoop and I'm not doing a banjo, instead I want to fill around the hoop with clear plastic resin with TONS of metal flake!!!
     
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  17. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,185

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    I know a guy that can probably make you the hoop out of tubing. He does other commercial fab work, so this doesn't look like it'd be all that hard. Let me know if you want me to put you in touch.
     
  18. 1951hudson
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 87

    1951hudson
    Member

    That sounds awesome! I am going to build a 51 Hudson next and plan on doing some serious stuff to it. Its been patiently waiting for me to start lol. As far as the steering wheel goes I think It would be cheapest to either start with a old wheel like someone else said up a few, or I was thinking maybe find something the correct ID that I could use to bend around, and just heat up a solid piece of round bar with my torch and bend it into a circle.
     
  19. 1951hudson
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 87

    1951hudson
    Member

    David Gersic, that would be great! Please let me know.
     
  20. rdscotty
    Joined: Sep 24, 2008
    Posts: 124

    rdscotty
    Member
    from red deer

    bct likes this.
  21. 1951hudson
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 87

    1951hudson
    Member

    That thread is amazing! Thanks
     
  22. jegbflat
    Joined: Mar 5, 2011
    Posts: 28

    jegbflat
    Member

    Hi, a little late to the party :) but wondering if you know anything about The Wheel Shoppe now in 2017? I just found this thread and tried to contact him, but website no good and disconnect message on phone? Do you know if he's gone out of business? Thanks, Jerry G
     
  23. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 6,423

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    I haven't had contact with Roger for many years as I've been "out of the loop" so to speak as to the local car scene.
     
  24. Mo rust
    Joined: Mar 11, 2012
    Posts: 399

    Mo rust
    Member

    My father and I have made a few stainless rings 15 inch and smaller out of 7/8 stainless tubing and put them on 38 ford banjo centers. We wrap the tubing around a vented brake rotor to get it's shape then weld the ends together using stainless wire and dress it down so you can't tell where it's welded. Then we drill the holes for the banjo wires in the ring and then force the old banjo center and wires into place. The wires go into the holes and press tight against the inside of the outer wall so once it's put together it stays.

    coupe34i.jpg coupe33i.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
    kiwijeff likes this.
  25. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 14,960

    tfeverfred
    Member

  26. This popped up again, and I saw an in progress photo of my modified steering wheel which is now finished.
    [​IMG]
    I rolled a rim (now 16-1/2", was about 18") and Backwards Unlimited added the shape and color back on. Steering Wheels are important to me, as my hands are always on them, and I often look at them. So it is important that they look right and feel right.
     
  27. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,381

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    Many years ago I attended a car-club talk by someone who had recreated a steering wheel for a '40s Bristol. He'd taken off the old plastic from the rim, slit a suitable length of garden hose along the inner side of its curve, and taped that up with copious layers of masking tape so that it fit loosely over the metal hoop, leaving holes though which to pour polyester resin. After the resin had set and the hose was stripped off, the indentations on the back of the wheel were filed in by hand. Then patient sanding and a good thick layer of black enamel.
     
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  28. sloppy jalopies
    Joined: Jun 29, 2015
    Posts: 1,158

    sloppy jalopies
    Member

    I melted the plastic cover off a Ford sports car's SW ... an XPE ? or something like that... it had the right diameter and had an extruded X as the ring... I trimmed my '37 banjo spokes to be pryed into the concaves of the X ... welded it up... wrapped it with a layer of duct tape because it gets sticky on both sides with a little time, taped a strip of 10 GA. wire into the X's [4] concaves... then used a SW wrap over the duct tape...
    Had the boys in the tool room cut a '35 horn button to the size the banjo's would have been...
    '37 banjo, spacer, hub 010.JPG


    The parts; column, spacer / bushing between the column and SW's spline's hub, shaft with SW's spline...
    '37 banjo, spacer, hub 008.JPG
    x
    '37 banjo, spacer, hub 009.JPG


    x
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
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