cylinders

Wooden Steering Wheel Restoration

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I bought this beautiful Momo Indy wheel the other day and it needs restoring, so I'm going to fix it up and show off the end results.

This is Peanut, and the motivating factor in today's sanding.

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Got it for $59 off trademe, it's built in 1979 according to the stamp on the back. Here's why it was not $150 like the other nice wheels.

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And this at each join between alloy spokes and wooden rim...

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The plan is to sand it back to clean blonde wood, fill the cracks with wood filler or gel-type superglue, brush the alloy back to brightness, mask off, spray varnish towards previous glory, and drive into sunset with one hand on my lucky 7 ball column shift knob and the other gripping fine Italian wood. Fuck that sounds yuck haha.

My old man occasionally mixes saw dust (of the same timber as being repaired) in with clear resin for a matching colour when repairing furniture.

Helps to hide cracks etc.

Don't use superglue or anything excessively harder than the wood... It will leave hard to sand ridges

this will be the best tip if you have cracks you want to fill. mix the original wood dust with pva or something and fill the cracks. just be sure to scrape off excess before it dries otherwise it will take forever to sand. it may take a couple of goes too fill if the cracks are large due to sawdust sumping.

Been working on the wheel for the last couple days.

I ended up sanding the urethane coating off as I found it pretty easy once I bought some decent norton 60 grit paper.

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Detail of the cracked wood.

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Sanding the finger grooves.

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Close up of finger grooves after sanding through grits 60, 100, 150 and 400.

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Starting to look good.

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After this I figured it's as smooth as I need while still leaving some grain for the varnish to grab onto. Cleaned out the cracks by using a slim craft knife to cut any dags splintered into the cracks and blowing the dust out.

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Using a Kauri coloured wood filler as it was as close as I could find at Bunnings, so once the urethane was off I started saving all the sawdust from the sanding process. Mixed it with the filler to provide something a bit closer to the hue of the wood. I spatulaed the filler into the cracks using a shaved down chopstick, and a skewer to push the filler further into the crack. It was messy, but it should do. Waiting for the filler to dry now before sanding it smooth again. More photo's and progress to come, time spent so far about 6 hours over two days and 24 standard drinks.

The filling in of cracks was a bit of a fail. Here's my advice, unless your filler material matches your wood colour perfectly, be very careful when applying it!

I thought I had a good match, but it turned out a lot lighter once it had dried and been sanded. Since I just spooged it on with my finger, this was a bit of horror show. I had to sand extra wood away to clear the lighter filler from large finger sized swathes of wheel. I managed to do this without misshaping it by sanding the entire damn wheel again..

Here's that goddamn filler...

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First coat of varnish after 24hrs drying, wet sanding with 800, and a meth rub down. Not much there as I sanded really well to leave only the filled grain. Next one was pretty much the same.

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Exciting varnish close up!!

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My wrist's are all good now, I chucked some of the filler on them and they look sweet.

Finally got the wheel to a point where I think it'll last a while, and it looks fucking mint!

Before...9910568933_e1f1d0f6d4.jpg

After!

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Fitted it to the momo boss kit I scored off tm and slapped it on the ute.

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I still have a few little things to do, one of which is to paint in the logo on the centre spoke, it has remnants of yellow paint in the creases of the stamp so I think I'll go for a bright primary yellow. Horn and indicator stalks work perfect, and the wheel centred is straight ahead.

The final stage it is at now is 6 coats of aerosol varnish (1 can from Bunnings). I allowed each coat to dry for at least 12 hours before wet sanding with 800 grit wet/dry paper. After sanding and immediately before a new coat, I would give it a thorough rub down with a clean rag and meths. 6 coats is actually a much thinner finish than I was hoping for, but I think for now it will do. One option I didn't consider until now would have been to ask the marine industry guys about urethane coating the wheel, which might have allowed a more consistent even finish. There are areas on the wheel with a mirror smooth gloss, but only where the grain is very long and running parallel to the surface, most areas have a slight orange peel texture, but not bad enough to make me keep going.

Worse comes to worse I can always take it off and do it all over again if I want a smoother finish or nicer transitions into the spokes.

After the masking came off I gave the alloy a quick brushing with scotchbrite, making sure to go in the same direction as the machining marks.

Tell me what you think!

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