Lotus Elan

Steering wheel refurb

PostPost by: alanpearl » Wed Aug 12, 2015 2:27 pm

I thought I would let you know about my steering wheel refurb for my 1968 +2. It has the original Moto-Lita wheel, but was in a very bad way, with the lacquer having turned opaque yellow and flaking off (I suspect previous refinishing), together with discolouration on the wood and some cracks in the laminated wood. I sanded the wheel down using progressively finer sand paper/wet and dry (and using my Dremel to sand the finger indentations and similar tricky bits), and then refinished the wheel with Rustins Danish Oil (having seen Colron oil recommended on an E-type website, but that took a long time to arrive so I used what I had to hand). I rubbed this down between coats with wire wool, allowing a few hours between coats, and put 6-7 coats on it. I then polished the metal up - in retrospect should have done this before the oil perhaps, as the metal polish got everywhere. The gaps and discolouration mostly resolved themselves, and I quite like the remaining patina where it's not quite perfect.

I'm really happy with the result, it's satin rather than too glossy, and doesn't seem to get sticky in the sun (could be the UK weather). It was a really satisfying job to do and I think it looks pretty good, and the cost was minimal.

Al
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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:59 pm

Not to take away from Elanpearl's efforts, but I think there's a better way.

I believe you'll do less damage to the wood and usually get a better result using a stripper. Coat liberally, wear gloves, and remove the sludge using medium steel wool (copper wool if you plan to refinish with water-based poly because the leftover bits will rust otherwise). This will allow you to get the old finish off everywhere without resort to power tools, which are very good at making a mess quickly.

I know sanding is the preferred method for bodyshells, but wood is a different composite.

Strippers are available in various "environmental" formulations, all of which will eventually get you there but after using a lot more goo and elbow grease. The stuff you remove is all hazardous waste any way you look at it (even as sanding dust) so I recommend the strongest, "least friendly" goo you can find, usually measured in percentage of methylene chloride. For a wheel, a quart/liter should be about twice what you need.

After cleaning up and rinsing off, get oil on it as soon as it's dry. Depending on what you use, reapply annually or when it looks like it wants a touch-up. And note that while I prefer the look and feel of oil finishes too, they are not as protective of the wood against dings as poly. With most oil finishes, the oil in your skin will also alter the finish over time (darken). Light sanding with fine wool will address this.
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PostPost by: alanpearl » Thu Aug 13, 2015 2:15 pm

Fair play - I'm sure there are lots of other ways, and no doubt most are better than mine! I didn't think of using strippers. Apart from some slight dremel use I did the whole thing by hand, found it rather therapeutic if time consuming, and it lets you really feel the wood come smooth.
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PostPost by: dgym » Thu Aug 13, 2015 9:58 pm

Moto-Lita wheels were original?
36/6612
1967 S3 Coupe (left the factory in 66)
original rego PPC 8E
original owner B.M. Wetherill ..are you out there?
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 11:31 pm

Nope, Springall were.

Tim
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