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Technical Half of my 1959 Steering Wheel Plastic is Missing

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by chstrumpetdude, Feb 25, 2022.

  1. chstrumpetdude
    Joined: Feb 25, 2022
    Posts: 9

    chstrumpetdude

    This is my first post, but long time lurker. I have scoured the webs a couple of hours (mostly this site and forwardlook.net.
    I have a 59 New Yorker that the entire bottom steering plastic/rubber is missing (see pic). I cannot afford (and do not think the cost is very justified for the value of the car) to send it out to be recast ($1200-1800ish). I would just clean out the cracks, fill, and repaint; however, the lack of original steering material makes that impossible.
    So, I currently have two options.

    Option 1: Somehow use modeling clay to "remake" the missing sections and fill imperfections in order to create a casting to recast myself and somehow get it smooth enough and *round*. Getting it round and even seems very difficult. Maybe I can get close enough with a the hose jerry riggin' from option 2.
    Option 2: I read that someone built up their wheel to cover in steering lace wrap to get by using fuel/heater hose that has been slit.

    Thoughts?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,586

    goldmountain

    Look for another wheel.
     
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  3. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 18,032

    alchemy
    Member

    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  4. chstrumpetdude
    Joined: Feb 25, 2022
    Posts: 9

    chstrumpetdude

    Almost like hens teeth. I tried Grants, but they changed their splines in 1961. I would have to cut up a wheel to make an adaptor.
     

  5. brigrat
    Joined: Nov 9, 2007
    Posts: 5,496

    brigrat
    Member
    from Wa.St.

  6. A hose and some wrap seems like it'd work well enough.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2022
    tomkelly88 likes this.
  7. chstrumpetdude
    Joined: Feb 25, 2022
    Posts: 9

    chstrumpetdude

    Yes. If it was just cracked, I would just fill and paint, but with the bottom half completely bare... I like the idea of trying to use a smooth hose on the bottom in order to have material to make a casting.

    The clay idea would be only to create a casting. From there I would have to remove all steering material to the metal ring.
     
  8. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 51,163

    squirrel
    Member

    I have a banjo wheel in an old OT car that is missing all it's plastic...I used 5/16" fuel line to cover the metal, then wrapped it with nylon parachute cord. It looks pretty bad, but works fine.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2022
    alanp561 likes this.
  9. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 23,286

    Moriarity
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

  10. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,954

    Squablow
    Member

    A long ass time ago I attempted this on a '60 Dodge steering wheel, using clear plastic tubing and glitter to make replacement clear inserts for a steering wheel. Here's a tech thread I did on it. The pics are all watermarked with Photobucket BS on them but they're still showing up.

    https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum...ch-clear-glitter-steering-wheel-resto.553352/

    It held up OK over time but if you put too much pressure on it you could pull the plastic loose, it was good for a car with power steering if you weren't picking at it. Looked really cool for sure.

    Another thing I saw done once, is someone found a steering wheel with the exact same diameter and intact plastic (from a totally different car, but didn't matter) then made two cuts along the diameter, one on the very inside edge and one on the very outside edge, and then popping the plastic off the metal ring in two big "smile" shaped chunks. They expoxied the chunks back onto the other wheel, clamping them down in a sandwich format onto the metal ring until the epoxy cured, then ground out the cracks left by the two cut seams and filled them in just like you'd do with a natural steering wheel crack.

    PC7 2 part epoxy I've found is the best stuff to do this with.

    If you've got the time, why not try? Take pictures of the process, so if it works, you can post a how-to thread here on how to do it, it could be very informative to others. If it doesn't work out, the wheel was kinda junk anyway, and it only cost you your experiment time and a few bucks for epoxy and supplies. It's just plastic and steel, no reason it should be impossible to fix.
     
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  11. chstrumpetdude
    Joined: Feb 25, 2022
    Posts: 9

    chstrumpetdude

    I sent them a message. That frenchlake website needs help.
     
    kevinrevin likes this.
  12. chstrumpetdude
    Joined: Feb 25, 2022
    Posts: 9

    chstrumpetdude

    That is an idea I like. I knew that anything on this car I would have to be creative with, but I didn't think the steering splines would be an issue. I didn't want to rebuild the wheel so to speak. I did not think about the clear tubing, but that would d That maybe a very good temporary solution until I can get a good casting.

    My heater controls have plastic infilled buttons that are disintegrating. I plan on cleaning them out and refilling with resin, but I am still thinking on how to get the text onto it. I might have to use some decals and not rub too hard when using the buttons and scrap the decal off,
     
  13. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 23,286

    Moriarity
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    you should call them, they can't possibly list every part on every car in a 100 acre yard on a website... call them and they will look and get back to you
     
  14. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 2,684

    nochop
    Member
    from norcal

  15. A couple of more options.... Mopar used a plastic on their higher-end model steering wheels in that era that was/is terrible crap. It aged poorly and did what you have. It will be a miracle if you find a usable one. But on some of their lower-line models they used more conventional materials, you may be able to find one of those that will be easier to repair. It may or may not be styled the same.

    The other option is similar to this...
    I saw this on the 'net, but can no longer find the link... The difference here is no donor wheel was used. The guy used 1" thick Corian countertop material (which opens up some interesting color choices) and a router to make the two halves. By drilling a reference centerpoint into the Corian sheet, a router jig was used to get the right radius. Three cuts need to be made. One cut with a ball-end bit for the internal relief for the wire core, then flip the material over and do two cuts with a half-round bit to form the outside using the drilled hole to maintain the correct relationship. Do this twice and you have the two halves needed for repair. This guy used the color-matched Corian epoxy to glue it onto the wheel, the seam almost disappeared. Apparently this stuff can also be buffed to bring the gloss back. His finished wheel looked great. Being a countertop material, it's also very durable.

    There is a few downsides to this. One, it only works if your wheel is round. If your wheel isn't round, I suppose it could still be done but a computer-controlled mill would probably be needed or some very carefully built jigs. Two, Corian isn't particularly cheap; this guy managed to score some scrap leftovers from an installer, well worth looking into that. Three, you'll lose any molded-in finger grips or other fine detail, but that'll probably be true with anything less than a full big $$$$ pro recast.
     
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  16. chstrumpetdude
    Joined: Feb 25, 2022
    Posts: 9

    chstrumpetdude

    I thought about this, but with wood. I didn't think I could get it thin enough to mate the two pieces and would be bulky compared to OE. That does open up some options such as sheet plastics like PVC to be routed and machined.
    You could do some crazy stuff by tinting epoxies and pouring into a mold or sheet to cut. Similar to some knife scales.
     
  17. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 8,690

    Budget36
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    There’s a thread here on the HAMB where a fella made his own steering wheel and did similar as @Crazy Steve posted.
    I have the link on my laptop, but not on my phone or I’d link it for you.
    I think it something like “making your own banjo steering wheel” or similar.
     
  18. This guy selected the Corian because of how tough it is. Not technically a plastic, it's an epoxy-based product and can take a real beating; you can't have any issues with a countertop cracking after somebody shelled out big $$$$... And Corian is a brand, but there's several similar products out there.

    I'd be hesitant to try any plastic product because of their brittleness. And when you get into those thicknesses, plastic is not cheaper.
     
  19. You could try the "kneadable" epoxy, kinda like clay, then sand it and give it a few coats of paint. For small areas this has worked for me.
     
  20. Might be another way, build up the missing area some with fiberglass resin and cloth. It will take some sanding and maybe few rounds to get it done.
     
  21. BuckeyeBuicks
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 2,516

    BuckeyeBuicks
    Member
    from ohio

    I agree, I have found them to be very helpful finding odd ball parts. Great to deal with too!
     
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  22. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 2,885

    gene-koning
    Member

    I think I would search out a different wheel about the same size, with the cross bar in about the same place. Then cut the two crossbars on both wheels so they match up with each other. Peal back about 1/4" of the plastic on each side of the joining pieces on the crossbars, and weld the crossbars steel rods of the original wheel center into the "new" outer wheel. Once welded, you have two places on the center cross bar to epoxy fill, and they are hidden under the horn ring. Paint to match.
     
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  23. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,214

    ClarkH
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    OK, this may be totally nuts. I mean totally. But have you ever watched somebody make a stacked leather knife handle on Forged in Fire? Where they tightly stack a series of leather discs along the tang with lots of epoxy, and then grind everything flush? I wonder if you could do that with your steering wheel.

    Put a hole in each disc and then cut a slit so you could slide the discs onto on the ring. Getting the discs flush on an arc might be tricky. But the cool thing is, in the end the concentric rings might kind of mimic the orginal look.

    Lot's of videos on YouTube if you want to check it out. I'd be tempted to experiment on a junk wheel.
    stacked-leather-handle.jpg
     
  24. Gahrajmahal
    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 456

    Gahrajmahal
    Member

    On my avatar car I adapted a rough 61 Imperial “square” wheel to an ididit column. I had to weld a GM hub to the center after grinding away the cracked plastic. I then built up the wheel with fiber reinforced bondo. Kitty hair. It took a lot of sanding to get it right. It has survived a good ten years, but I am getting ready to repair it once again as it has developed some cracks. I am adding some Impala chrome bands to the rim to break the circumference into four quadrants. Kind of like adding grooves to a sidewalk to make it crack in a particular way. The main safety feature is to have a good welded wheel. The factory plastic only adds style and smoothness.

    I do like the corian suggestion. It is a very good material to work with and I’ll bet paint would stick to it great. Most countertop places would probably give you the sink cutouts.
     
  25. rdscotty
    Joined: Sep 24, 2008
    Posts: 225

    rdscotty
    Member
    from red deer

    this is it How I made a banjo wheel | The H.A.M.B. (jalopyjournal.com)
     
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  26. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,696

    manyolcars

  27. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 4,582

    Fortunateson
    Member

    I like Squablow’s suggestion and I haven’t watch the video posted by manyolcars yet but...

    How about using some appropriate sized ABS or PVS to make an arc shaped half mould. Place the portion of your wheel that’s missing the plastic in the mould supported by small steel rod after filling the “mould” with Kittyhair type material. Let it cure and then do the same to the other side (front/back) or just bury it with the material on top. When it’s fully cured strip off the mould and start filing, sanding, etc. Maybe a thin coat of filler or high build primer to finish off and then light sanding to finesse it... that’s what I plan to do ona steering wheel that needs the same basic repair. Won’t work on transparent or translucent wheels.
     
  28. choptop40
    Joined: Dec 23, 2009
    Posts: 4,261

    choptop40
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    looks like your being steered in the right direction...
     
  29. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 4,893

    indyjps
    Member

    How about repairing the top as stock, then find a solution for the bottom.

    1) Coxcombing is the rope wrap that sailors used on handrails, there's a lot of patterns. Here's a video for one pattern. Can use a rubber hose under it or large diameter rope to make up the diameter you want. Rope would need sealed after.
    Watch "three stranded running cockscomb" on YouTube


    2) coxcombing with leather lace instead of rope.

    3) leather wrap. Would need a rubber hose or similar under layer. Buy a leather wrap repair kit. Stitch it up.
    Watch "How to Cover a Three Spoke Car Steering-Wheel - Leather upholstery" on YouTube


    4) make a mold for the bottom and just have it be smooth.
    Mold options:
    A) Router a top and bottom half, getting this to release might be difficult.
    B) Clay might work. If it deforms it's a lot of extra sanding.
    C) Even quick dry drywall compound or Plaster of Paris would make a 1 time use mold if you sealed the inside.

    I'd go with the same epoxy used for decorative countertops
    https://stonesprotect.com/best-epoxy-resins-for-countertops/

    Fiberglass resin is another option.

    Whatever material, once you pour it into the mold. Need a way to get the bubbles out and settle it, a rigid mold helps with this. Holding an electric sander pad on the mold with no sand paper after its poured to vibrate the mold is a trick in the woodworking world to get bubbles out of epoxy pours.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2022
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  30. 97
    Joined: May 18, 2005
    Posts: 1,974

    97
    Member

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