Lotus Elan

Redoing steering wheel.

PostPost by: reb53 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:21 am

About 20 years ago I sewed a new cover onto my steering wheel.
Looked and lasted OK but have decided to do it again as it's getting a bit tired, but more annoyingly the packing underneath has gotten a little "soggy".

Intend to find some rubber hose of the right diameter, ( about 0.9 inches total ?), split it, glue it in place and then stitch the new leather on.

Anyone have a better idea for the core, or know what the original was ?

(And no, I'm not going to send it off to the other side of the World to get done, this wheel ain't leaving my sight.....)

Cheers
Ralph.
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PostPost by: billwill » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:16 pm

Plumber's foam insulation for copper pipe might be better than hosepipe, as the latter might be too hard.

On the other hand, no idea how long such insulation might last..


A sheet of expanded neoprene (as used in wetsuits), cut into strips & wound & glued as a spiral wrap might be even better.
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PostPost by: Sea Ranch » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:16 pm

Cool thought with the neoprene, Bill.

Don't suppose Len Chandler would be willing to offer his tips/insights on how the pros do it?? Might be worth a try.

elan-f15/restored-steering-wheel-t19726.html

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PostPost by: DeanG » Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:24 pm

This linke may help. http://www.eastwood.com/master-steering ... struc.html

Eastwood stuff is very good if somtimes a bit pricy. If nothing else looking at what the kit contains could give you a few good idea. A batch of epoxy and a leather steering wheel cover could do the trick for you. Good luck
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PostPost by: reb53 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 6:13 am

Thanks for the ideas guys.

You're right Bill, unless I get a softish rubber I could end up with something that is too hard .

Randy- Len's work is superb but I don't think it reasonable to ask him to share his trade secrets. If you're reading this Len and are happy to let me know what makes for a good core I'd be interested to know but suspect it would be a product that's not available here anyway.

I had a look at the Eastwood stuff Dean but it appears to be for repairing hard plastic type wheels rather than our type.

Cheers
Ralph.
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PostPost by: Frizer » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:56 am

http://www.coachtrimmer.co.uk/ourwork-LotusElan.aspx

Maybe ask these guys if they can supply you the rubber?
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PostPost by: 612kiwi3333 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:14 pm

I redid my wheel with 5/8 heater hose split and covered in wheelskins leather cover. Feel is just right for me.
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PostPost by: billwill » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:12 pm

Purists will probably be horrified to learn that I can't abide the glare from the shiny bits of the steering wheel when driving away from the sun, so long ago I painted the spokes with matt black paint and I renew that from time to time.

Mine is not however a fancy signed wheel.
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PostPost by: reb53 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:23 am

Just an update on my search for a steering wheel core.

Contacted Nick Fulcher here, ( thanks for the link),

http://www.coachtrimmer.co.uk/ourwork-LotusElan.aspx

and he was able to supply me with the correct moulded core of the type he uses.
Turned up in the mail this morning so now I have to dust off the needles and thread.

Thanks for all the suggestions,
Cheers
Ralph.
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PostPost by: reb53 » Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:46 am

Tis done !
Core arrived, was glued on, and good old youtube showed me how to do a baseball stitch.

Added some photos if, like me, you never knew what is in the centre of your wheel.
And yep, in the picture of the finished wheel that is a Maserati dashboard clock on my dash.
Seemed too good to not do anything with, and didn't need to cut or drill any holes to fit it.
Attachments
DSCN1541.JPG and
Done ! Naturally the last bit of the stitching was the best...
DSCN1535.JPG and
You can see why the core really needs to have a square section internally.
DSCN1533.JPG and
What was found under the leather. Disintegrating foam.
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:55 pm

Hi Ralph,

looks like you did a really good job there. Did you find it difficult to do and how long did it take you. What leather did you use?

Cheers

Steve
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PostPost by: reb53 » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:54 pm

Hi Steve,
Time consuming rather than difficult.

The best thing I did was to get a core off Nick Fulcher, (GBP 45, see earlier post).
It was a moulded soft rubber, ( type of silicon ?), that had been moulded as a tube and then split down one side, presumably to release it from the mould.
When glued onto the rim that split line made a good guide to keep my stitching straight, ( ish....).
I trimmed all the old foam off with a cobbled up hot wire cutter but left the foam between the two flat rims. Nick made a point of saying to leave it and I can see why. The rims would collapse towards each other if it wasn't there.

The moulding needed some trimming to fit around the spokes. When glued I wound masking tape around it to keep it in place. Despite doing that there was still a few small bumps but to my surprise the rubber sanded beautifully and I was able to tidy it up with very little trouble.

The leather I got off a furniture upholsterer which means it has been tanned and dressed with softness more in mind than longevity. So I don't expect it to last as long but it is so nice to handle that I don't mind doing it again in 15 or 20 years. Especially as I expect the core to last forever.

If there are any real upholsterers reading this, well now's the time for a shake of the head, followed by a laugh, because my stitching time was about 4 or 5 hours.....

Cheers
Ralph.
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PostPost by: billwill » Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:44 am

I did mine a few years ago, but retained the existing rubber.

The leather I used was a purchased wheel cover intended to be laced on.

Your stitching is neater than mine, but I too about that amount of time too.

:evil:
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PostPost by: ardee_selby » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:11 pm

reb53 wrote: If there are any real upholsterers reading this, well now's the time for a shake of the head, followed by a laugh, because my stitching time was about 4 or 5 hours.....Cheers Ralph.


Ralph,

Given the result, nobody has cause to laugh. It looks really very good.

It's something I don't think I would even attempt...no matter how many hours were available!

Out if interest was a special (waxed?) thread used?
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PostPost by: reb53 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:06 am

Hi Richard,

When I first did the wheel more than 20 years ago I had no trouble finding a braided, square section, nylon thread that was as strong as hell and laid nice and flat when used.

This time I spent all day, ( one of the perqs of being self employed), driving around the district before I got some off a canvas/leather business.

Went back later and got some more for the next time. So if this re-cover lasts 20 years, and I have enough thread for another, I guess I'm good for the next 40 years....... :)

Leather and thread cost NZ$20, or about GBP10.

Cheers
Ralph.
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