Transforming an old Steering Wheel - 2016
A technical article from the "Professor" aka Rob Bradford
When steering the right path or to be more precise, sharp left hand bends during a recent spirited event in Tasmania, there was much flailing of arms and elbows which in the confines of Noddy (3A) fitted with 2 people, made for quite a few surprises on the driver’s side when the intended line failed to be adhered to as expected.
Now it is not unusual for said driver to analyse things a little so, with the aid of some fine local grape it became obvious that there were only 2 options available for overcoming the problem and only one which might prove successful, make more flailing room by reducing the size of the steering wheel.
It was a no brainer that the new wheel had to have an authentic TR look so an old defunct and tatty original TR steering wheel was dragged out of the bin to hopefully be transformed into a thing of beauty and function.
The first task is to decide what size is ideal and get a ring of 3mm mild steel plate at least 15mm wide made up to suit the final diameter you want less about 6mm.
Mark out the old spokes making sure you allow some extra length
Now is the time to select your chosen wood type and colour in ½” or nearest available 12-13mm thick Ply.
Mark out in as much detail as possible with both Inner and outer diameters as well as top and bottom clearly marked.
It helps to use holes to give the right radii but probably better to leave a mm or so in case the spade bit leaves a ragged edge. (experience)
Only the top half has the routed channel. It is usually easier and more efficient to use a jigsaw to cut out the shapes but leave half a mm or so for cleaning up.
The steel ring should fit so that the surface is flush or very slightly below the wood, like 1/4mm.
It takes a little bit of hand fitting to get all the surfaces flush before mixing up a batch of good old araldite or 2 pack epoxy glue and giving the groove and both mating surfaces a good coating.
Clamp and leave to set.
The finishing is the fun part, I used a die grinder with coarse burr which made the job simple and quick. Whatever method is employed, I found that Plywood is not the easiest material to finish due to the grain being in different directions so a rotating bit seemed to give the best overall finish.
The spacing and feel of these finger grips are purely to taste but any modern steering wheel gives a good basic template. All modern wheels are thicker however there is enough meat to create what ever profile you think most appropriate.