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Tech: Restore that Steering Wheel!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Hellfish, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. Hellfish
    Joined: Jun 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,478

    Hellfish
    Member

    I thought I'd do a simple tech post. We've all seen neat steering wheels that were in deplorable shape and "beyond saving" Well, that's not always the case!

    I picked up this nifty 52 Olds steering wheel from LowSprings for my girlfriend's 51 Bel Air project, but it had more cracks in it than a plumbers' convention. There were even big fissures where you could see the wire frame. It looked like it had been in a fire, too, given the bubbled plastic in one spot. Too bad I can't find the photo before I started the restoration. You'll just have to use your imagination.

    You'll need to file any sizeable cracks into a V shape. Don't worry about the hairline cracks. We'll get to them later.

    Next, you'll want to get some epoxy. There are a few good ones, but I used POR15's epoxy putty. It's pretty stiff and hard to mix, but you can do it. Stuff that puttty into all the cracks you can. Don't try to get it smooth, just stuff. The Por15 putty works great. It dries as hard as a rock in a few hours and sands just like Bondo. They sell it as part of their floor restoration kit and their steering wheel restoration kit, but you can get it by itself, and some paint supply stores carry it.

    After it's set up, get a foam/rubber sanding block and start sanding. I think I started with 150 grit. This will sand the filler as well as smooth any roughness iin your wheel.

    Here's the Olds wheel up to that point. You can get an idea of the original condition of the wheel. Look at all the white lines!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Hellfish
    Joined: Jun 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,478

    Hellfish
    Member

    Next, I sprayed it with primer so I could more easily see any problem areas or cracks I missed. This picture is missing, too. The only cracks I missed were tiny. Again, I took a sanding block and sanded looking for low/high spots. Once satisfied with that stage, I got some Icing glazing putty (like Bondo, but a higher quality and much easier to sand) and gooped it on. As it turns out I gooped on way too much (Boyd style!). A much thinner skim coat would've been better, but I got carried away, and as I would later find out, a high build primer will easily fill the hairline cracks.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Once that was all sanded smooth, the wheel was ready for primer. You can use rattlecan primer, but I reccommend priming the wheel when you prime your car. Auto primer is of higher quality and will adhere better. Remember, the wheel will get a lot of use with all that white-knuckle driving you'll be doing. We were so busy with the car that I never even got a picture of it in primer, but it was wet-sanded and Gary C painted and cleared it.

    [​IMG]

    And if you think that looks nice, you should see it with the horn ring! That will have to wait for the whole car reveal.

    I fixed a gouge in the wheel of the 59, and Jester (fellow Chrome Czar) painted and cleared it when we painted the car. So far the paint and repairs have held up really well.
     
  3. hamz52
    Joined: Oct 30, 2005
    Posts: 28

    hamz52
    Member
    from so cal

    Good tech piece. I have one that needs this done also and
    I will try to photograph the process as I go. Now if I can
    just find the time to do it.
     
  4. hotrodladycrusr
    Joined: Sep 20, 2002
    Posts: 20,762

    hotrodladycrusr
    Member

    Cool post. :cool: It's little things like this that go un-noticed as far as how much work actually goes into building a cool ass car. Details count.
     

  5. Great tech....I have become wiser.

    Thank you...great job.
     
  6. SinisterCustom
    Joined: Feb 18, 2004
    Posts: 8,269

    SinisterCustom
    Member

    Truer words have never been spoken.
    Great tech.....Now I won't be discouraged to buy that ratty looking steering wheel at the next swapmeet.

    Josh
     
  7. zealot9802
    Joined: Aug 20, 2005
    Posts: 894

    zealot9802
    Member
    from SoCal SFV

    Knowledge is power!
     
  8. Slate
    Joined: Dec 12, 2005
    Posts: 221

    Slate
    Member

    Great info. From some online info I read from a person who mainly restores wheels for T-birds (among other things), I recall him using a flex additive in the paint or a special type of paint with a clear coat with a flex additive. IIRC, this was for crack prevention and longevity of the repair.
     
  9. Hellfish
    Joined: Jun 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,478

    Hellfish
    Member

    That's good to know. I filled a few minor dings and divits in my 59's wheel and it was painted, flaked, candied, and cleared about a year ago and it hasn't shown any signs of trouble yet.

    Here's that wheel.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Just read this post today. Went out to my 50 Plymouth, pulled the wheel, followed your instructions, and amazed myself. I actually did it. The only thing I changed is I used single stage urethane(solid color). Probably won't last as long as base,clear, but looks 1000% better than it did! Thanks again for posting this, now I wanna paint something else!
     
  11. spoons
    Joined: Jan 1, 2004
    Posts: 1,738

    spoons
    Member
    from ohio

    I've been doing that same thing for years. Since i work in an aircraft factory, we use many types of epoxys to bond parts with. Ive done everyting from early banjo wheels to 60's wheels.
    Nice article...

    Spoons
     
  12. FLAT-TOP BOB
    Joined: Aug 19, 2002
    Posts: 1,964

    FLAT-TOP BOB
    HAMB O'dex Editor

    great tech and bitch/n wheel!
     
  13. spicoli
    Joined: Apr 29, 2006
    Posts: 261

    spicoli
    BANNED
    from in a house

    thanks for the tips. yours (or should i say hers) looks good with the red stripe
     
  14. tysond
    Joined: Dec 6, 2003
    Posts: 335

    tysond
    Member

    Thanks for the tech, I just bought a 46 chev steering wheel that will soon get a new life.
     
  15. "Doc" Parsons
    Joined: Jun 26, 2005
    Posts: 342

    "Doc" Parsons
    Member

    Great tech, now if I can only find time from the H.A.M.B dragster to try it on some kool one's I've stashed
     
  16. I was just thinking of this the other day what was I going to do about the wheel in my 53 after the pic of yours, I know THANKS for the inspiration
     
  17. Hellfish
    Joined: Jun 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,478

    Hellfish
    Member

    Hey Spicoli, that's not a stripe, the whole wheel is red, but thanks!

    Now if I could only figure out a good way to fix clear wheels from teh 60s I'd make a fortune!
     
  18. extremist
    Joined: Feb 7, 2006
    Posts: 286

    extremist
    Member

    Anyone know of a place to buy por-15 epoxy in/near Austin?

    I have a '67 Beaumont wheel I'm restoring for my shoebox and after reading this thread again I'm stoked and don't want to wait a week for shipping.
     
  19. CURIOUS RASH
    Joined: Jun 2, 2002
    Posts: 9,635

    CURIOUS RASH
    Classified's Moderator

    Very nice!

    I finally found my 61 Impala wheel for the 41 only now I'm thinking of putting it in the Hel Camino and putting the 59 Imp wheel in the 41.

    Or I may just sell the 41, Paint them both to match the Hel Camino and change them out at will....


    Either way, It will need the same treatment.

    Too much free time ya know.:cool:
     
  20. flatheadhero
    Joined: Feb 17, 2006
    Posts: 273

    flatheadhero
    Member
    from California

    Looks good...I restored the steering wheel from my 49 Club Coupe the same way. I took a dremel tool and dug out all the cracks, then I filled with pc-7 epoxy. After that, I rough sanded and shaped it. I then sprayed it with polyester high build primer, which is the same as liquid fiberglass resin or gel coat. It seals and fills in all the sanding scatches and smooths everything out. Then I sanded it to perfection, and painted it with off-white single stage.
     
  21. junkcad
    Joined: Jun 16, 2006
    Posts: 601

    junkcad
    Member
    from nashville

    looks awesome ! do you think the epoxy can replace the whole outside steering wheel? ive only got the steel wire on mine & the horn button & center is almost perfect
     
  22. Hellfish
    Joined: Jun 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,478

    Hellfish
    Member

    The Car Quest PAINT store near me carries it. Go to the Car Quest website and search for stores near you, and look for ones designated as "paint" stores. You could also call POR15 and ask for local suppliers. I also see guys selling it at swap meets.
     
  23. extremist
    Joined: Feb 7, 2006
    Posts: 286

    extremist
    Member

    Thanks Hellfish. Lotsa places in Austin carry the rust-prevent/patch stuff.

    Here's the only place I've found which carries the epoxy putty:

    Commercial Services
    2008 Ave N
    Austin, TX 78727
    (512) 251-7714


    Off of IH35, go west on Howard Lane, take the left right after the Fed-Ex building.
    They don't take credit cards.
     
  24. Slide
    Joined: May 11, 2004
    Posts: 3,025

    Slide
    Member

    Anybody have any experience using JB Weld on steering wheels?
     
  25. sodas38
    Joined: Sep 17, 2004
    Posts: 2,312

    sodas38
    Member

    Best part about the HAMB is the quality tech posts. Great job on this one. I checked out the body work post on the car too, nice work! Or I should probably give the credit to your girl.
     
  26. Hellfish
    Joined: Jun 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,478

    Hellfish
    Member

    Yep! Her and GaryC did the bulk of the body work.
    Thanks for the compliments!

    Not sure about JB Weld. Will that work on plastic? I'd use the POR15 stuff or the other epoxy people recommend (can't remember the name)
     
  27. Action Girl
    Joined: Oct 22, 2003
    Posts: 902

    Action Girl
    Member

    Thanks SOOO much for posting this. I have a big chunk missing above the button in the center of my wheel and didn't know how to fix it. I'm totally ordering some POR-15 stuff and fixing it!

    SWEET!

    Stacey
     
  28. CURIOUS RASH
    Joined: Jun 2, 2002
    Posts: 9,635

    CURIOUS RASH
    Classified's Moderator

    Myers used JB weld on his and it has started cracking after a couple years... I think it may set up TOO solid.
     
  29. joeycarpunk
    Joined: Jun 21, 2004
    Posts: 4,445

    joeycarpunk
    Member
    from MN,USA

    I have used JB weld on two Banjo wheels and 1 unidentified (Plymouth wheel ?) with no problems with cracking.
     
  30. Slide
    Joined: May 11, 2004
    Posts: 3,025

    Slide
    Member

    Well, I had already used JBW (last weekend) to fill the few cracks that were in that Biscayne wheel you hooked me up with... we'll hafta see how it holds up.:eek:
     

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