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Why are suicide knobs called so?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by alex1954chevy, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. A friend had one on his 46 john deere that he bought new. It was solid metal with bearings, but you could flip it down so it was inside the rim of the steering wheel, then flip it back up when you needed it. I would really like to find one like that for my 49 merc with Armstrong steering. I only want it for backing up or parking.
  2. timmy25252
    Joined: Sep 15, 2007
    Posts: 315


    Already had a bad experience with a suicide knob, Was driving home from work and the knob get caught on a hole in my jeans ( Yes im tall and the cab is small) but anyways ended up making a left turn and the end of the bolt got caught causing me to cross the center line and into on coming traffic than into a parking lot. I was just lucky there was no traffic coming towards me. But I still kept the knob on because it makes driving so much easier.......
  3. I had my first suicide knob on my bicycle when I was a kid, Actually I had one on each side. My Dad was a trucker, so we always had a good supply of steering knobs, as he called them.

    I also had a Mack Bull Dog on the front Fender---stupid kid
  4. Glenn413
    Joined: Dec 16, 2008
    Posts: 3


    I grew up calling them "grannie knobs" and "suicide knobs". I've seen them cause some pretty bad chest injuries in wrecks, so I guess that's where they got the suicide moniker. As for the "grannie knob", see the post from dare-to-be-different.
  5. Model A Mark
    Joined: Apr 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,298

    Model A Mark
    from dallas
    1. Holley 94 Group

  6. Driveteach
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 3

    from Sacramento

    Steering Knobs (suicide, Brody, or necker knobs) are NOT illegal in California. California, is a "codified" state, meaning that if something is not expressly prohibited by a section of the Vehicle Code, it is, by default, legal. (This is why motorcycles often "white line" or split is not specifically coded as illegal, thus it is legal, in and of itself). A call to a local District Attorney, as well as to CHP, confirms this.

    While they can be dangerous if used improperly, they are often used by seniors and others who have experienced loss of grip strength or loss of limb.
  7. Thanks for the info. Now please do an Intro as required by the administrators of this board;
  8. shake
    Joined: Aug 2, 2009
    Posts: 15

    from central az

    My dad always called them suicide knobs, this in the fifties. A bud had one that folded flat, as mentioned above. It was spring loaded, so you flipped it up, grabbed it, did the cranking of the wheel bit, and when released, it snapped back flat. I drove this car several times, and liked the knob for backing into tight places. (with no P.S.) Would like to find another.
  9. lostforawhile
    Joined: Mar 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,160


    they are illegal,not only for causing wrecks from clothes getting hung up in them, but because of all the firefighters and EMTs that had to yank people off of them in bad wrecks, they killed many people in front end collisions, right into the chest. They are supposed to be legal for people that have disabilities and have trouble turning the wheel, but not for everyday people. I've been looking for the picture that used to be up on the net, the one with the guy with the big hole in his chest,caused by one of those things,but it seems to have been taken down
  10. unklgriz
    Joined: Sep 12, 2005
    Posts: 288


    I have an old wooden steering whel that has one built into it.

  11. voodooblackcat
    Joined: Jun 16, 2006
    Posts: 62

    from Pacheco

    Anybody know which states there ilegal in or is it all states?
  12. As if the solid steel dashboard, non-collapsible steering column, the non-impact absorbing bumpers and the solid (sharp edged) chrome dashboard accessories, knobs, switches and levers in the average 40's, 50's and 60's car or truck wouldn't do as much damage? :) When I look at all of the relatively soft edges and upholstery in my newer truck, I wonder how any of us survived a crash in those old un-padded dash, solidly built, really thick steel cars and trucks from back in the day!
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  13. Best that I can tell is that they are NOT illegal in any of the 50 states (or "54 states" as the previous administration used to say!)
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  14. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 3,550

    from norcal

    That’s why
  15. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 3,550

    from norcal

    And this
  16. I agree that they are quite dangerous, but I remember as a little kid the first time that I saw one. I must have been about 8 years old, riding my bike, I rolled into a little country store parking lot where a '52 Chevy was parked. It had Dodge Lancer caps on it and I could see the fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror, so as a car geek from birth, I had to peek inside for further inspection. There on the wheel was a suicide knob with a near naked pin-up insert. As an impressionable 8 year old, I just thought that was the coolest thing ever!:D;)
  17. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 8,871



    When we were little, most of the family cars driven by the dads had those knobs. We called them spinners, because they acted like spinners making the non-power steering cars easier to turn. They also provided an easier way to park those big old cars in parallel parking spots. Luckily, we never got in any serious accidents, so the term suicide knobs was a nondescript item.

    It was easier for the moms and us little kids to sit behind the steering wheel and turn it one way or the other. For us little kids, it was cool to grab on to the odd shaped ball and turn the stationary wheel back and forth. That was driving for us. Later on in my early driving days, those knobs made it easier for a anyone to steer a big 50s-60s car back and forth. Those big Mack Truck drivers had them on those big steering wheels. Everywhere we stopped on the Alameda St. Corridor on the way to L.A. we noticed those colorful knobs for sale on counters and display cases. They were the hot items back then.

    In junior high school, there were some laminated plastic sheets that we glued together for our projects. One of the projects was making all of those cool colorful radio knobs, shifter knobs and knobs for the accessories. The big project was making a big round knob that could be used as a floor shifter knob or for the “spinner knobs” on the steering wheels. The teacher showed us how to put threads and insert the shifter knobs on the levers. The steering knobs had a different shape and size, but still had to function correctly. We loved that teacher and how much he taught us in that “crafts and jewelry” class.

    In our driving/cruising days, no one in our high school group or friends had those knobs in the early 60s. They were seen at the car shows in those fancy interiors with the fuzzy dice, accessory style of cars. Our neighbor had one on his steering wheel. But, he was the kind of guy that drove with his elbow on the window sill, sticking out. Not the 9/3 or 10/2 location we have all been taught. He drove holding the knob. So, it takes all kinds in all different cars.
    As dangerous as they seem and have been shown, it was a fun implement on steering wheels. It definitely made turning those non power steering heavy cars easier to parallel park and to get into tight spaces. If driven with care, there were millions of people that did not have a problem with these custom accessories. Today, they can still be ordered online for a flash back to the 50s and 60s.

  18. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 3,386

    from NKy

    As stated previous , they are very useful on slow moving equipment , tractors , bucket loaders and such . As far as the thumb thing , I never wrap my thumb around the steering wheel , driving a Duece and a half and farm equipment off road made me learn fast that the spinning backlash of the steering wheel from hitting something will make the Preacher cuss . So never wrap your thumb around the steering wheel with no power steering or you may have to pick it up and put it in your pocket for Mom to help reattach for you .
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  19. 392
    Joined: Feb 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,206


    Definitely bad bling. Then again lots of blings are strange and goofy.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  20. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 5,325

    from Ioway

    I was four wheeling on a rough trail out west in the mountains, going pretty slow, and hit a boulder or something "just right" after a bounce while the wheel turned sharp. I couldn't believe it, the steering wheel turned into a blur instantly spinning as it headed from lock to lock in just a split second I could hear it hum just like a floor fan, that's how fast. I can see where it would really cause some damage! Never forgot that.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  21. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 14,157

    jimmy six

    As much as I like to look at them.. I would never clamp one on my 56 restored steering wheel..
  22. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,256


    They must do wonders gouging any steering wheel much less a restored one. Another JC Whitney "bolt on" POS I'd never put on any of my cars.

    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  23. gatz
    Joined: Jun 2, 2011
    Posts: 1,740


    had one similar to the one lothiandon1940 posted in my '57 Dodge Coronet during the HS days
    Mounted it on the lower left of steering know, to keep my right hand and arm available.


    Was parking against a high curb and downhill next to a bank in town.
    When the right tire hit the curb, the knob about tore my left hand off.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  24. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 33,337


    I grew up with one on my grandfather's Farmal C tractor that was handy when raking hay (which I ended up doing a lot of in my teenage years) as you could spin the tractor around at the end of the row but never had a desire to have one on any of my cars. Around here they were either called suicide knobs as you ran the risk of them catching in you sleeve or neckers knobs for one hand driving.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  25. gatz
    Joined: Jun 2, 2011
    Posts: 1,740


    Mr48chev's post reminded me that we had one on our D17 Allis too.
    Like his, it sure was handy when mowing and raking hay.
  26. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 8,208

    seb fontana
    from ct

    When I was a kid and helped my father farm we had a Farmall "A"..My older brother put a "suicide" knob on it as the steering was beyond slow and really helped to wheel the tractor around especially when plowing or harrow work..Found one last year and stuck it on my lawn tractor for a pleasant improvement in maneuvers..
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  27. JC Sparks
    Joined: Dec 8, 2008
    Posts: 733

    JC Sparks
    from Ohio

    They work great on a towmotor / forklift.
    Rich S. likes this.
  28. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,647


    I don't think we had any on the farm, maybe one on the 54 Chevy pickup....but 60 years have dimmed some of those memories. I had one on my Farmall Super H in the 70's and always had a little fear of it:)
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  29. jimgoetz
    Joined: Sep 6, 2013
    Posts: 517


    Nope. It was the pointed center of his Caddy steering wheel that took his eye out.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.

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