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MG TD TF 1500 - Steering wheel wood
|I started the making of my own wooden steering wheel.|
A long time desire and I am following the suggestions made by Gordon Lawson on the web and by Laverne in an e-mail to me back in 2005!.
First step (after buying the 4mm thick and 70 mm wide walnut strips, 1 meter long) is to saw the edges at exactly 22 1/2 degrees angle and glueing them together in a octogon ring shape.
A question: as a finish I like to have a strong (scratch resistant) , UV resistant clear cloat. What about the 2K carpaint clearcoat. Would that stick well to wood and show a long durability? And the same for the walnut dash (still to be made). Greetings, Huib
|Huib, also based on tips from Laverne I sprayed my dash wood with 2K auto clearcoat (Sikkens). The advantage, imho, is that you can then wet sand and polish it till you like it. (Or is that a disadvantage? If you've been there you know what I mean!) I first tried some clear polyurathane and was not satisfied with the results so I went to the 2K. I used a small touchup gun rather than the bigger one I have. I'm sure Laverne will chime in with more experience and I would listen to him, not moi, but this should give you some food for thought till then. Practice on some scrap like I did of course.|
Hey, leave that wheel octogon shaped and you'll have a real conversation piece! Post a pix when done.
|Huib, where is the site for Gordons Wheelmaking. think I saw it once but cant remember where.|
|Tom Maine (TD8105)|
|Huib - I would not recommend an octagonal steering wheel - unusual as it would be, the points are hard on the sensitive places in the lap! The traditional round shape will prove more functional.|
|Hahaha... yeah...gotta remove the points (thats the fun part...)|
I have tried a couple of finishes and settled on the highest quality spar varnish i could find (Sikkens 2215) (think thats the number).... it is so hard you can (and i do) steel wool off the gloss and re-polish it with a cotton cloth to a lovely subdued gloss....amazing stuff... then i just wax it when i wax the car.....
the website for the wheels is
but the method is hidden in there:
|Thanks Gordon, had it bookmarked once for future use but lost computer for a while and had to redo some stuff in there and site was lost.|
|Tom Maine (TD8105)|
|I used automotive clear coat. Put on a lot of coats and then sanded it down and polished to a high gloss. It's held up very well. Little too shiney maybe.
|Not for everyone but I like it just fine.
|I like it LaVerne, I am one of those guys who thinks British Sports Car, wood dash, wire wheels and such. Not a purist but like the looks of wood and wire on our cars. I know a lot out there disagree but thats why they made aftermarket stuff, to sell..|
|Tom Maine (TD8105)|
|I like the idea of a wood steering wheel. However, I'd want it to look like it was similar to the orriginal in size an proportion. Thus, LaVerne's wheel would be too small and fat for my taste. Cool looking wheel all the same though.|
|So, it looks like also automotive clear coat will stick well to wood although spar varnish is made for wood. I will check this Sikkens stuff.|
At first I wanted to go for the original thickness which is 16 mm. Pretty thin actually. I wanted to built this with four layers of four milimeters each. The rim is 8 mmm in diameter and because i want to make the finger indends on the backside, i putted the rim 1 mm more to the frontside. And this will leave 3 mm of wood on the rim on the frontside. But what I forgot was the the three connectors (connecting the spokes to the rim) also add up another milimeter, so leaving only 2 mm of wood there. Hmmm, pretty thin so, since having bought some spare wood, I added another ring of 4 mm to front and back. In the end this will at maximum make a diameter of 24 mm and likely around 20 - 22. So, still pretty thin and comparable to the original thickness.
By the way, to allow some more space between my leg and the wheel, i decreased its diameter by 10%.
Right now I finished the frontside: the rim fits in there and so do the spokes. I want the spokesends to be covered in wood something like the centerpart does. I am now working on the backside.
And I take the lesson learned by Gordon: first work the contours (inside and outside) before glueing the two halves together so one can see where the rim (or its space actually)is going to be and without the spokes being in the way. To be continued, greetings, huib
|I have found that 7/8" is about as small as I want to get... the wood on each side of the rim rod gets pretty thin.... if each layer is 1/8", it works out well...the rear layer is 1/2" and the front is 3/8"... |
I did one wheel with the finger indents, but found by cutting through the rear dark wood layer into the lighter next layer, it really looked like plywood back there.... i just leave them round now!
My Nardi wheel was 15"...the original 16" and when I put on the Bluemels on it was 16 1/2" and the handling difference was really noticeable....much better the larger the wheel....
|...I also didn't like the wood covering the end of the spoke bracket so had little aluminum channels made up to cover it....
I'm working in parallel with you on my side of the world. I took a little different approach, with just two halves of koa, no layering. The joints have a 1/8-in(3mm)lap. The sacrilegious hexagons are screwed on the back side where the groove for the wire will be. I did the cutting with a router, still have to do the rounding. The extra pieces on the bottom side are for a little more thickness where I plan to put the finger grooves. I found some ebony on e-bay and am going to try to make little wedge inserts to cover the spoke ends.
|....just a quick note... cutting the 'channel' before cutting the inside and outside edges saves a lot of swearing if your router wanders even an 1/8".....just sayin'|
|I haven't got there yet. I'll figure out something... maybe a jig on the router table.|
Nice wheel. :-)
|James Neel TD28423|
|I had to re-round the rim after I took a piece out to allow for the decreased diameter. It is almost round but not within 2 mm, a very bit eggshape. So, I putted the wheel on the centerpin and marked the outlines of the rim. The wood is fixed on the plate that also holds the centerpin. And than took a miller 6 mm and used the same centerpiece as a pivot to make the channel. |
Since I took away the plastic protector of the router, a headlight on my head gave good sight on milling close to the lines drawn to widen the channel.
I will use this pivot also to finally make the outlines exactly round. Greetings, Huib
|...there is a fair amount of hand work with various tools to allow the spoke end to rest in the wood....|
|Huib, here is a wheel I did a few years ago with the ends covered by the wood. The wood is two halves of solid walnut like you are using. Flash light in photo has made it look flat. I did cut some shallow finger notches in the other side, using the router and a jig similar to Gordon's. |
|That brings back some memories
|a lot of clamping
|just love walnut
|I was never really happy with the outside edge shown here. It had a flat surface, so eventually I put the wheel on a large drill press and rounded it up with some very course sand paper. Great way to finish sand it also.|
Wife said it looked like it belonged on a boat. I had a stock wheel on the TF for a while and I much prefer the feel of the wood one. No flexing and the larger surface feels much better to me in hard cornering.
I had the TF at a car show a few years back and an elderly gentleman asked if he could hold the wheel. Seemed an odd request but it really seemed to make his day when I told him sure. At the same show an elderly Dutch couple came up and the women said they had owned a YF many years ago. We had along conversation. Being a big fan of Van Gogh I asked her how it was pronounced. I had her repeat it three times. Vincent was right. We would have butchered the pronunciation.
|Gordon, you are right: it takes quite some presize effort to prepare the interiors for the spokes. I first marked the outlines of each spoke with a pencil and than, made a 0.5 mm wide cut with a so called japanese pulling saw to mark the centreline. This channel was a good guide for the next step with a triangle file to widen up this channel. Finally I used a 3 mm round file to open up the spokechamber. And did this 24 times! And, testfitting and testfitting over and over again. Right now, both halves seem to enclose the rim and spokes pretty well. Tomorrow I will start working on the contours.|
|Dallas, nice wheel! Did you put in those metal looking pins for strength or for decoration?|
And it looks like you made the centrepart the same colour as the wood. Looks good.
Laverne, these were the pictures you did send to me back in 2005 when we discussed this matter. That made me decide that one day I would make my own and that day is now.
Attached is the second picture about the spokes-interior preparation. Greetings, Huib
|Thanks Huib. The metal looking pins are for appearance. They are countersunk head brass rivets which I cut to length and pressed in, just short of the steel ring - which I didn't want to drill.|
The center hub is painted black. I tried the bronze/tan color of the dash center panel, but it looked drab against the darker and richer walnut, so I changed to black. I have an extra center panel painted with a black wrinkle finish which I planned to use with this wheel. Actually have never installed either ;^)
A side note is the wood for the wheel came from a huge old American black walnut tree that fell on my family's farm. The tree was planted by my Great Grandfather in the mid 1800s.
|Dallas, that certainly is a very special piece of wood!|
Jim, any progress on your side?
I made a lot of dust today using the router to shape the outlines. Still staying a bit on the maximum size my wood allows and put it in the car to check its looks. It's about 24 mm now (15/16th) and the original idea was to go back to 22 (7/8th). But the feel of this one is pretty nice. What do you guys think about the looks? By the way, the wheel is still a bit too much down (pipe is not yet fixed properly) and the wood around the spokes needs some downseizing.Greetings, Huib
I think you're doing a marvellous job!
|Jasper L Nederhoed|
I'm a weekend warrior, so progress is slow. I've finished the rounding, and am trying to figure out how I want to do the spoke inserts. The local hardware store had a special on router bits, so I got inspired and put a bevel on the inside - basically a flat spot on the round cross-section. I kind of like it. So far so good. By the way, the thickness additions I had for the finger grooves turned out to be a fully amateur idea - they routed right off when did the half-rounds!
|...I would still go smaller/thinner|
|Once ya go fat you'll never go back.
|My 2 cents worth. http://www.gomog.com/allmorgan/steeringwheel.htm |
|I reduced to 7/8th and that looks better. Continued to make the fingerindents and made them suitable to my own fingers/hands (one indend, one inch). Decided not to use any powertool for this because at this stage of the works, I do not want to be in risk with any kind of fast cutting or grinding tool. So, did it by hand. First a tiny groove at the right spot by saw, widened this up by triangle file and round file and than used a halfround flat file to make them fingershaped. The pencil-line on the backboard is the marker for the direction. Finally lots of sanding.
|Ready to close the gaps.|
One more question: for the finish of wheel and dash I can choose for a high gloss or semi (or satin) gloss.
I think high gloss looks nicer (right?) but would high gloss and sunshine give an unpleasant reflection?
Gordon, you mentioned subdued gloss. Did you intentionally remove the high gloss?
|The spar varnish I use is extremely hard and glossy... I #0000 steel wool off the gloss and polish it with a cotton cloth...it comes back up to a lovely soft gloss....|
|I've admired the beautifully crafted work that Gordon Lawson does. I've got a splendidly shrunken and split wheel in my 1954 TF that I'd like to have him re-build. But first, can anyone tell me how to get the darn thing off the steering column so I can send it, without doing any more damage? Many thanks!|
|E B Nash|
|The wheel is ready now after 5 layers of spar varnish. Now working on the dash. The walnut veneer is on and now I am making the gloveboxdoor and fitting the trims.|
Obviously the door is "locked" by a ballcatch. In my old parts, the counterpart was only a small hole in the dash trim allowing the ballcatchball to find a home. But isn't there a real counterpart for this? Couldn't find it in the archives.
|...Beautiful job..... can't wait to see the dash....|
This thread was discussed between 18/02/2011 and 14/03/2011
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