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  1. #1
    searay270
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    Default Steering Wheel Restoration

    Anybody out there ever try restoring a C-1 steering wheel?

    Assuming it may be torture - judging from the number of cracks, etc. - I'd like to take a shot at it.

    All comments welcome.

    Jack

  2. #2
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    1959 black 270hp (9/2/69) 1981 Beige L81(10/20/80)

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    Jack,

    Eastwood has a kit for this. Appears that even larger gaps can be repaired with the kit. I have also read several articles over the years on the subject but haven't tried it myself. Looks fairly straight forward and worth the effort considering the cost of repro steering wheels.

    Keep us informed if you try it.

    Tom

  3. #3

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    '67 Marina Blue Convertible

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    It's difficult to make the usual "crack-fix" remedies work on C1 steering wheels, as the spokes and the underlying rim are so flexible. Give Dale Pearman a holler (varooom@usit.net) - he has an outstanding source for restoring C1 steering wheels to original appearance, including the original graining.
    John
    '67 Convertible

  4. #4
    searay270
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    Default Steering wheel grain

    Thanks to all for so many replies. I intend to try the Eastwood material for my blue 58 wheel and I'll report back.

    I have studied the steering wheel grain issue for years at the various shows. My understanding is that there never was any grain originally, while some people state that the grain is worn down over the years to make the wheel smooth. This does not make sense, since only a small portion of the wheel experiences all the ring scratches, finger/palm abrasion etc., and I can't understand how this could possibly wear so much material off the wheel. I can understand, however, how paint might get worn off.

    Best explanation I heard so far likens the steering wheel grain to the popcorn ceiling and orange spatter-peel wall surfaces in your home - these are put on to cover up imperfections in the wall board, mask substandard joint finishing and don't require the attention to detail for sub-surface board finishing. I do believe the steering wheel restoration people have done some effective marketing here, have developed a spray-on repair process, but I don't want to appear too cynical.

    I picked up a one-owner 61 vette 20 years ago - still have it - which had a leather cover on the wheel from birth. The wheel is perfectly smooth under the leather cover, and not in need of restoration except for a cracked spoke joint where the leather never touched.

    I'd like to hear some more opinions.

    Jack

  5. #5
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    1959 black 270hp (9/2/69) 1981 Beige L81(10/20/80)

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    I have wondered about that for the same reasons Jack. My '59 was only 10 years old when I got it and there are absolutely no traces of any graining anywhere on the wheel. Also areas that don't appear to be worn either. I wonder if all wheels were supposed to be grained or maybe there were more than one supplier.

    Tom

  6. #6
    searay270
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    Default Steering Wheels

    Hi Tom,

    My perception is that the only steering wheels you see in car shows with graining are those wheels that have been "restored".

    I am glad someone else has experienced the same doubt that I have for so many years.

    My understanding is that the base plastic moulded substrate of the wheel is a grey color, and that the top coat is a fairly thick layer of enamel paint with hardening agents. I would guess the wheel ring steel was originally placed in a 2-half form, the plastic added, cured and removed. However, I can find no evidence of a mould line for the 2 halves - perhaps this was sanded smooth.

    For a restoration, I'd guess one takes a triangular file, painstakingly notches each crack, fills in the notch, sands to restore the contour and finger impressions, then paints it. Of obvious concern - can the repairs be seen through the paint?

    Ah Ha! Enter the textured coating. If it is spatter painted on the wheel prior to the finish coat, the peaks can be knocked down much like the hopper gun application of spray-crete to create the grainy and raised finish, while adding mechanical strength to the repair coat below, and while hiding filler lines which may result from shrinkage over time.

    Thant's my theory. All I know for sure is that my blue 58 wheel looks like heck, and there is an obvious reason why it is the last thing that the restored car needs to have done.

    Regards,

    Jack

  7. #7
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    1959 black 270hp (9/2/69) 1981 Beige L81(10/20/80)

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    Jack,

    It looks like the repair will need to be built up higher than the surface of the wheel and sanded carefully so as not to take it down farther than the old surface. Like doing body work. I remember a how to article on steering wheel repair in one of the rod magazines I get a few months ago. They didn't use the Eastwood kit but I'm sure the results were about the same. I have some cracking around two of the spokes which concernes me due to the flexing of the springy flat spokes. I would hope that the repair compound would be flexible enough to handle this.

    Well it looks like John is right again. I went out to the shop in the middle of this post and did a bright light inspection of my steering wheel. I do find a small sample of graining remaining right next to the little chrome eschutchion at the end of each spoke. With my steering wheel being black and there being no worn through areas on the entire circumference of the wheel the graining must be completely made up of the color. I will remain stubborn in that I find it hard to believe that the graining was a pronounced as I've seen on some of the repro or restored wheels. Imagine, a stubborn solid axle owner.


    I wonder if I could get Dale to comment on this here. If not I'll bring it up over at NCRS and report back the results.

    John,
    Is there any chance that all of the wheels were molded in black and then painted for the other colors?

    Tom

  8. #8

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    '67 Marina Blue Convertible

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    Tom - My '57 had the original beige steering wheel, with nearly all traces of the original grain texture worn off (the cracks cost me a condition point or two), but I always got full originality point credit; I considered having it restored, but the points-per-dollar equation never made sense. I thought about restoring it myself, but the flex issue held me back. One crack was all the way through to the rim, and it was beige all the way through. Based on many years of observation of known-original and Bowtie cars, the NCRS C1 TM&JG's all indicate that C1 steering wheels were originally grained; the reproduction C1 wheels, however, have it very much over-done compared to the OEM original texture.
    Dale's restoration source (a private individual who doesn't advertise and takes his time doing it) is very conscientious about his work, and does it right, according to Dale.
    John
    '67 Convertible

  9. #9
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    1959 black 270hp (9/2/69) 1981 Beige L81(10/20/80)

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    Thanks John,

    I just recrived this reply from Dale. (edited for brevity)

    Hi Tom:

    I restore steering wheels to AS NEW condition. No Other Service in the hobby
    approaches my quality.

    If you provided a stainless center section with the steel rim attached and
    NO rubber/plastic material at all I cound still do it. Cracks are the rule
    rather than the exception. No problem.

    Typical cracks occur over the years due to the coefficient of expansion
    being quite different between the rubber/plastic and the stainless. The
    extremes of temperature are usually the cause of these cracks. Also pulling
    one's self in and out of the car by the steering wheel contributes to
    cracking.

    The reproduction wheels with much thicker stainless and incorrect
    rubber/plastic have a grain that is a tad too pronounced. They "FEEL" cheap
    and are instantly detectable in judging. My restorations appear AND feel
    original.

    Regards,

    Dale.


    Looks to me like it would be worthwhile to have Dale do it if high points were a priority. I don't have any idea how to reproduce the grain pattern. Some experimenting might give acceptable results. Keep us informed on what you decide to do Jack. I'd be interested in the results of your efforts.

    Tom

  10. #10
    searay270
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    Default Cost for a 1st class restoration?

    Not sure if Dale monitors these threads, but could someone find out what he charges for this service?

    Might save lots of frustration, knowing it has been done properly with the right materials, has the correct finish and appearance, etc.

    I sure was glad I sent my Bose CD to Dr. Don's for refurbishment!

    Jack

  11. #11
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    Here's his email Jack.

    varooom@usit.net

    It would probably be better if you contacted him as I'm sure he will have questions about the condition of your wheel.

    Tom

  12. #12
    justtrying26
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    Default steering wheel resto

    I also am intrested in having my 63 wheel done, I tried to get to the site shown but can't get page to open...I used varooom@usit.net, Did I do something wrong

  13. #13
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    No. That is the right place but I think it has been shut down for the time being. Dale has suffered a serious medical poroblem and we almost lost him a couple months ago. I understand that he is back home and improving somewhat but is far from out of the woods yet. He has returned most everything people have sent him for restoration because it is unkown right now when or if he will be able to do any work again.

    I should have posted a note to this thread earlier but I didn't think about it.

    Tom

  14. #14

    Join Date
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    '67 Marina Blue Convertible

    Default Re: steering wheel resto

    Originally posted by justtrying26
    I also am intrested in having my 63 wheel done, I tried to get to the site shown but can't get page to open...I used varooom@usit.net, Did I do something wrong
    Varooom@usit.net (note three o's, not two) is Dale's e-mail address, not a website address; Dale is up and running again, and feeling much better now. When he got back from the hospital, he had about 3000 e-mails waiting, so he just dumped them so he could start fresh. Give him a holler.
    John
    '67 Convertible

  15. #15
    Member
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    Corvette(s)
    57 270 4-spd, black; 72 air 350 4-spd, silver

    Default C1 Steering Wheel Surface

    Hello all--
    Sorry for the late input. I have an NOS C1 wheel (Gr. 6.513, #764756), and it definitely has the grain surface. Very low relief, closely resembles the wrinkle you get using incompatible paints. The two used wheels I have (one with no cracks whatever) are both completely smooth throughout. The original graining apparently disappears very quickly.

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