TOOL AND SUPPLIES
- steering wheel puller
- PC-7 epoxy
- DupliColor spray paint
The steering wheel is a focal point for your car's fancy interior. I personally love the old white steering wheels because of their size, shape, and color. How many white steering wheels do you see on new cars? None.
The trouble is, after 30+ years, your steering wheel is most likely not quite white anymore, and it probably has cracks on the spokes. Even if you don't have a white steering wheel, a simple reconditioning job will make it look fresh again.
I reconditioned the steering wheel in my Deluxe Club Wagon. This will be a daily driver, so my intent was not to restore the wheel back to original condition, but I think the results are still quite nice. There are kits available for restoration, and shops which will restore your steering wheel. My instructions are intended for the do-it-yourselfers who want to do a good job but don't want to spend the extra money to have someone else do it for them.
I still need to take a photo of the final results. I've noticed that my job has started to crack already, but this is because I did not use the correct filler. Do yourself a big favor and do it right the first time. Use PC-7 two-part epoxy filler. I used something else, but the instructions are the same.
Following these steps, you will have a steering wheel that looks new to average person.
|FIG 1: Close-up of center hub of Deluxe Club Wagon steering wheel. Note the massive cracks and discoloration. Around the outside of the wheel, much of the white paint was worn off.
|FIG 2: The cracks have recieved the first layer of filler. More filler will follow. The contours will be smoothed by seemingly endless sanding.
- Disconnect the battery and remove the horn ring.
- Remove the steering wheel locknut and remove the wheel using a steering wheel puller. Note the alignment of the steering wheel so that you can match it when you put the steering wheel back on when finished. Take the steering wheel into the comfort of your home or garage to further work.
- Do not lose the horn button, a small brass button with spring. Set this aside after cleaning it with steel wool. The plastic horn button sleeve was broken on my wheel, so I removed it with pliers, super-glued it back together, flied the inside diameter, and set it aside with the button.
- Inspect the wheel for cracks. The cracks, even the deep ones, are only cosmetic. There is a steel skeleton inside the wheel. Small cracks can be sanded out, but deep cracks need to be cut so that the filler will have a good surface to adhere.
- Using the hacksaw, cut V-shaped grooves where the deep cracks are. Deeper is better, but do not cut too wide. You will have to fill these cracks with filler and reproducing the complicated bevels and edges of the steering wheel is difficult.
- Mix the epoxy to instructions and fill each crack. I did this in several steps. (See FIG 2) I filled, let it dry, then filled more, bringing the edge up to the contour of the wheel. Fill higher than the contour so that you can sand it down later. The closer you get, though, the easier your sanding chore will be.
- Sand the wheel to acheive smooth contours and a clean surface. This is the step which was most time consuming. Clean with a pre-paint prep.
- Spray the wheel with paint. Some shops may be able to do this for you and produce a more durable finish. I used DupliColor Wimbledon White for a perfect color match. I sprayed 3 coats and wet-sanded in between each. I also sprayed a final coat of clear to seal it. I also wet-sanded this.
- Reinstall the wheel and horn ring.
When finished, I was thrilled with the results. Compared to the badly cracked and faded wheel I started with, it looked great to me. The white wheel is difficult to keep clean, but I think it compliments the vintage interior nicely.
I also polished my horn ring and applied flat black model paint with a fine brush to the recessed "Falcon" letters and logo. I do not know which other horn rings have this design, but it really benefitted from the simple painting. I do not know if this is "correct", but it looks nice and makes the letters and logo stand out. A future photo will show this better.
I apologize that I don't have a final photo yet. I will have one here soon.