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Steering wheel reproduction

Keith L.

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Steering wheel reproduction

Here is an update of my progress on casting 1941 Lincoln Zephyr and Continental steering wheels. If you have read some of my earlier posts you’ll know it’s been a long process.

Trail and error and error.

After years of molding and casting smaller objects, with countless hours of trial and error, learning the properties of mold material and resin, and finding solutions to numerous small problems and superior ways of making molds, I was able to make interior knobs with less waste, perfect color, and with a bonus of less time with after-casting cleanup. With every pour I was learning. The next step on my evolution was to try my hand at molding and casting steering wheels.

When I first started this undertaking, I researched the reproduction and restoration of steering wheels from most of the shops listed in Hemmings, Internet websites and the known world. They fell into two separate camps. Those that restored wheels using methods of grinding out the damage, patching and filling the imperfections with compounds, then layers of paint. They’re good for a few years, but not long term. The second camp is the recasting group. You send them a core, they make the mold, or use one they have in stock for your year, and they recast the wheel by pouring resin into the mold over your core. Then bake. Then, a lot of time sanding and polishing to get it just right.

Both methods are fairly expensive and the wait considerable. None of the recasting group tells you, or lets you see how the process is done, to go behind the curtain, it’s proprietary information. But if you study enough with a lot of trial and error you too will have your own proprietary information.

When I make my molds I tried to use the same principal as my other molds, make the mold so perfect that when the wheel comes out, there is very little time spent in the clean up. I don’t like spending hours and hours with a facemask on, filing, sanding and polishing. Some people may enjoy that, I don’t. I would rather spend the time designing and engineering my molds so the after casting clean up is minimal.


When I started this venture I knew I would have to have old cores to use. Problem is, they are hard to come by, expensive and most people don’t know the difference between the years, especially the “40 and ’41 wheels. Many pre-war cars have post-war replacements, resulting in owners wanting a new placement need to locate a correct wheel to send me.

My solution is to make new center hubs and outside rims.

There are several reasons I’m making new manufactured cores.

•Many of the ’40 and ’41 wheels have been replaced with post-war wheels and to recast the steering wheel for a ’41 they must locate a good ’40 or’41 core. Finding one on EBay or a vendor can be a hassle, costly and the desire to replace the steering wheel can soon fade.

•The ’40 and ’41 cores look alike but are not interchangeable. If the customer sends me the wrong core, I won’t have to hassle getting the correct core, sending back cores, etc.

•The customer won’t have to be without a steering wheel on their car while waiting for a new recast wheel.

•Often the original wheel is slightly cracked but not enough to recast it, or the heart to destroy it for the core. Well, they can keep it, mount it somewhere nice and use the new core that I’ll supply.

•Time is money and starting with a clean, exact duplicate center core is far easier than cleaning up and straightening an old wheel. Again, I don’t like spending hours with a face mask on. If you have ever taken the plastic off an old wheel you know what I mean.

For the time being, I will be using original cores that customers have sent me and in the near future the new manufactured cores will be available for those that need them.

For those of you who have purchased from me, you know the quality of my work. I bring that same level of quality to my steering wheels. Also as an added benefit, the horn button mount I currently make will match in color and work perfectly with the new wheels.

The attached photo is my first cast wheel using my manufactured center hub, straight out of the mold without clean up. The detail is superb, and after I correct a few minor issues, I will be advertising and producing them.

I haven’t priced them yet, but with the smaller amount of clean up time I can offer them to you at an affordable price.

Thank you,

Keith Lee

Knobsoup, Inc.




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