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Nevile (Fat Man) Steering Wheels


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Fellow DB Owners:

After almost six years of looking for a Neville (Fatman) steering wheel for my '24 Fisher Body Coupe; I finally lucked out and bought two of them on e-bay. This past winter I installed each of them (one at a time) just to see which one fit the best. Both wheels are in great shape and fit equally well. My question to you Neville owners is: -one wheel has four keyways, at the 12&6 and the 9&3 positions, and is marked

3B-5. The second wheel has two keyways only, at the 12&6 positions, plus a hole drilled through the hub marked with "Oil Here". The second wheel is marked 5B-5. Both wheels have the same makers plate with the same patent dates. Is the 3B-5 older than the 5B-5? I presently have the 5B-5 installed and may relist the other on ebay.

Has anyone in the club ever "centered the wheel" on a '24 DB? With only one tie rod end, and what appears to be a square shaft coming off the steering box, I can't figure out how to center the wheel as I have in the past on other cars and trucks. Both wheels seem to come out at the 2 o'clock position when driving straight down the road. Even the original advertising for the wheel shows a well dressed lady with the wheel somewhat off center to the 1 or 2 o'clock position. Any ideas Guys?-----Should it be straight or slightly to the right to provide more room to get in and out?

Still Collectin'.... John & Steve

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I believe the one with the four keyways is newer. I have a locking fatman steering wheel on my 1916 Model t and according to my lit on the T they went to multiple keyways as a way of giving drivers the option. I would be interested in you steering wheel for my 23 screenside when you do sell.

Have a nice day.

Jan

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Thanks for the info. Jan. I had a T model, after market, tilt wheel, w/horn button, for the early ‘20s Ts. I would walk around the swap meets with it...every Ford guy would try to buy it, but I said it was for trade, only, against the cost of a Neville wheel for my ‘24 DB. After getting the two Nevilles I sold the T fatman for approx. $350, much less than the Nevilles bring on eBay now. Jan, you and one other DB member have expressed a wish to buy my “extra” Neville wheel; the one with the 4 key ways and the best of the two data plates. I paid top dollar for this one because I didn’t want to go to Hershey and maybe, even then, come home empty handed. The old timers, myself included, cringe when they see Nevilles going for $800 to $1,200 on eBay, but with the cost of gas-hotels-air travel-etc., it’s sometimes the only way to go. I want to find out if this 4 key Neville fits any other vehicle, like a Cad, Buick or Packard. The wheel could be worth more to them than a DB owner...maybe? I bought this first Neville on eBay last winter, eBay # 37001991, I doubt if the listing still appears after this amount of time. The original listing said circa 1917 Neville, it had good pictures and description. I paid approx. $950 with the shipping etc. I will sell it , but not at a loss...Still Collectin’...Steve.

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  • 2 weeks later...

John & Steve,

The one with the 'Oil Here' in the center would likely be for Dodge Brothers closed cars from '19 to '22. These were, however used on MANY other cars and were sold as accessories as well. After '22 when the horn button was moved to the center of the steering wheel the oil hole was omitted for obvious reasons of electrical connections.

Rodger "Dodger" Hartley

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Hi again Rodger:

A belated “thanks” for helping Dad and me get the Neville questions posted. Did any of the DB factory wheels have the oil holes? If not, I wonder about the need for such; as an open hole just invites water and grit into the steering system. When installed properly, a little grease on the spline and keyways should suffice for many years.

Also, to respond to David D’s question on fatman reproduction steering wheels, here are a few ideas and opinions on that subject. I talked to a very knowledgeable Texas collector some years back. He had researched getting the Neville wheel reproduced both in the U.S. and over- seas. The cost in this country exceeded the highest prices paid on eBay. Having 500 pieces made in China dropped the cost down to about half. Everyone I’ve talked to wants an original, “...I will wait as long as it takes to get one...” (In my case almost six years). I believe the cost of a good Neville wheel is more than offset by the increase in value of the vehicle in which it is installed. The Ford fatman and tilt type repros cost around $500. This is a lot of money when you consider how many Fords are out there. Ford owners had many different types of wheels and companies to chose from when buying their after market wheel, so many that Ford finally made their own factory tilt type wheel. This never happened with the DB factory. Most Ford repros wheels go on “hot rods”; “rat rods” and “speedsters”. This is fine for that type of application. The true Ford restorer wants an original, not a repro when it comes to a tilt or fatman type of wheel, and like most DB people I know, will wait for the right original to come

along. More than one Ford and DB owner has bought a car or truck just to get the fatman wheel. After swapping wheels the vehicle is resold.

David D...Your original Neville “ More Room” wheel is out there, and is worth waiting for! You don’t really want a Neville repro marked “Made In China” do you?

Still Collectin’...Steve.

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Steve,

Guess I'll keep lookin' Another factor is likely the liability issue too. I have plenty of time to look for a wheel, it'll be years before my touring hits the road!

David.

BTW, I was figuring the market would be more than just DB folks & Hot Rodders would probably buy them too.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The third Neville fatman wheel came my way last month. I bought it because I could see several differences between the first two I had. The cross over piece on the bottom is located behind the wood rather than in front, like every other Neville I've seen. The straight shaft is 3/4" diameter, with two key ways at the 9 and 3 position. Only one of these key ways was used, so it may have been installed on a "T" Model Ford. The key used on this wheel was made from square "key stock" which is still available from Napa Auto parts (#770-1782). For us DB guys, if we need replacement keys for our steering shaft, (it takes 2). They are called "Woodruff" keys and are half moon shaped. I went down to the local Napa auto parts store, to buy an over size key to file to fit; and much to my surprise they had an exact replacement key, I could not tell the difference between the one original I had, and Napa copy 85 years newer! This Napa part (#80474) is only 95 cents.----- Back to the Neville...the wheel has only one marking on it , and that is "C-1".

All of the Nevilles I've bought, have six screws holding the wood to the spider. These screws have seen better days. Either the slots were worn or the screw head was pitted. I finally tracked down a box of NOS “Arrow Brand 1" X #10 nickel-plated, raised-head, iron wood screws”. The Neville Co. installed blued or nickel plated oval head wood screws------ what ever they had on hand at the time. I replaced all 18 screws on my three wheels...they look great! If any Neville owners out there need replacement screws, I have some extras...yours for 75 cents each, plus postage.

If anyone out there has a Neville "More Room" steering wheel with any other markings than the three we have talked about, please let me know...Still Collectin'...Steve.

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  • 5 months later...

Well Joe spilled the beans about the wheel on e-bay. I've been bidding on

this wheel. I'll drop out p-d if we can share it or we can both pull on it until

we are broken. Interesting to see what the market will bear. BID HO !

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P-D, Its me Tom. I was at $385 and SOMEONE outbid me. I'm gonna give

that one a rest and watch,at least for a day or two. Good luck with it. After

this one wins the hillclimb event,it would be neat if someone put another

up for more$ in a "buy it now" feature event and she how fast she goes.

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Hi P-D, Sure reads like he'd sell all he can make. From most of the above

comments not too many other folks are aware of this mans craft. Now

watch, with this news the bidding on this "more room" wheel will freeze!

How far out east? I'm quite faa downeast,not much faathaa and its Canada.

Wouldn't be much difference to fit DB column. Call him up already!

P.S. I'm seeking interest in a mini-tour here in Bar Harbor,see related posting

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Hi.. I just sent him a email. If I dont hear from him by tomorow nite I will call him.. We got so far at one time that he made the center hub and sent it to me to see how it fit.. It fit perfectly.. The wheel for the Mod. T had a 4.5 inch raise from center to the wheel and he scrapped the idea when he seen he would have to make all new casting molds.. Maybe he will rethink it if there is some interest. He has sold his wheels for the T on ebay and they really looked nice..

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this is a photo of an original wheel on an original car which shows the orientation of the keyways and the oil hole. The wheel is mounted upside down I think. I haven't driven the car and it has been so long since I pushed it anywhere, I'm not sure. I don't see any numbers anywhere. Clearly the one on ebay is not made for Dodge and would require new keyways cut and possibly the hole reamed to fit the Dodge shaft.

post-31312-143138048571_thumb.jpg

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I just talked to Peter the Machinest and pattern maker. He says He will look into it but he needs to get his hands on one to make a pattern.. He is in Clarence NY.. If anybody would be willing to let him have it for a short time I think we will have affordable Neville wheels..He has another guy that does the wooden wheels and they are really sharp. He sells them for Mod. T on ebay but this deisign is different as his are a flip up instead of moving in the slide..

Let me know if anyone can help..

Gary

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There's a thumb operated release that allows the wheel to slid up the aluminum frame to allow for more access for us full figured guys. Supposedly closed cars came with them, but I've not seen a factory picture with one, except in the accessory catelog. I absolutely can't get in a roadster from the drivers's side without one.

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