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Help me rescue this from an antique shop


greenie
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If you get it, consider not vanishing it; rather, properly sand, then oil it. That would be more original. The feel of the actual wood, not a "polymeric" coating, is more pleasant while driving. Though subjective, to my eyes, the wood looks better oiled as new, than if coated with gleaming varnish. Some would disagree, and I won't hold it against you  🙂.    -    Carl 

 

 

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I love antique shops like that!  PLEASE - Rescue it before some silly steampunk "artist" gets their hands on it- haul it to Hershey if necessary.

Terry

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3 hours ago, C Carl said:

 properly sand, then oil it. That would be more original. The feel of the actual wood, not a "polymeric" coating, is more pleasant while driving. Though subjective, to my eyes, the wood looks better oiled as new

I have always appreciated your comments and opinions.  What would you recommend I use for oil on my Pontiac steering wheel?

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Ting oil !  I used it on black walnut I put in the bed of a 49 F3 Ford pickup. Brings out the grain, protects the wood. Looking at that wood expect it to really absorb the oil. Thin coats let it soak in, rub it out and reapply. It’s going to take more than one or two coats of any oil. 

Have fun. 

Dave S 

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Oh yes indeed. Subject wheel requires and will benefit rewardingly from heroic dedication.

 

My experience is mostly marine brightwork, and home interior trim. For marine usage, on most wood, multiple coats of marine spar varnish with sanding between, is a long labor of love. For marine teak, tung oil is preferable, as far as I know, probably mandatory. I have never used anything else. As mentioned earlier, there are options for the steering wheel. I like infrequent light single application of tung oil, rubbed in sparingly with fine steel wool. And as per SC38DLS above, the treatment will vary, mostly depending on the starting point condition of the wood, and the end point target finish. Also, if tung oil is to be used, I recommend that it should be PURE. There are blends, which, in my opinion, you really should avoid for this purpose. I would not settle on a product or technique without specific expert consultation for your particular application from where your local pros shop. This would allow driving there for first-hand advice. I should also say, that for a high quality steering wheel, well kept and preserved, simple useage does impart oils (perhaps not all beneficial, eg: say yer one o' them there guys who eats fried chicken, multi-tasking along the way), and ultimately, a true patina. That is one reason that a once-over-easy therapeutic application with fine steel wool works well on the properly seasoned steering wheel.

 

My 1924 Cadillac wheel was varnished when I got it. I guess it looks small "o", small "k". I mean it does, it really does, and probably looks better to most spectators. I never really questioned it until I got my '27. The feel of the natural wood under way was a revelation. How could I explain it ? There was a saying when I was very much younger, more than 1/2 century ago, which I am trying to remember. Comparing something or other (I just can't recall anymore - too long ago), to "taking a shower with a raincoat on" ? Something like that. Exactly the proper feel by way of the perfect coefficient of friction, verses coefficient of "stiction" which the "plastic" varnish coating imparts, invites the enjoyment of subtly varied and modulated caressing. Also, the return action while coming out of a corner, etc. is much more pleasant.

 

I don't really have an adequate picture at hand of the 1924 wheel, but here are two which might be of comparative value if you click into higher resolution. In search of an elusive picture, I came across another which gives one more look at the '27. You can also see a little of what global warming had left us of Lake Mead 3 1/2 years ago. Almost sunset, temperature and humidity extremely comfortable. Certainly not much above 100 degrees, if at all. See if high resolution will allow you to see that the leisurely drive has almost warmed up the the cool running Cad sufficiently. You will also notice that the air conditioning is on "high", (the windshield is at maximum lift), quite effective in motion. That tiny "smudge" you can barely see at the extreme left hand side of the dashboard/instrument panel, where it rolls to meet the windshield, in the shadow, is the original Fisher VV decal. I hope you have enjoyed my digression form the topic at hand. My respectful apologies to those who have not.    -    Carl 

 

 

 

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Edited by C Carl
Spelling and embellishing (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, zeke01 said:

I used a 50-50 mixture of boiled linseed oil and turpentine on my steering wheel but was disappointed in the results. The wheel became sticky. Maybe a thinner mixture would have worked better. I had forgotten about tung oil. Zeke 

 

 

It needs to be boiled linseed if you use linseed oil. The raw oil can remain sticky somewhat. The can should read BOILED.

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I will have to try some tung oil on the steering wheel in my Rickenbacker.

The spokes and the wheel, itself, are wood so there is lots to cover.

Sounds like a great way to spend a few cold winter nights tucked away in the garage.

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7 minutes ago, C Carl said:

How long ago did this happen, and is it still at all sticky ? What did you do to try to fix it ?   -   Carl 

I applied it two years ago in the spring and by fall it was sticky. I removed it by repeated applications of straight turpentine. The wheel is now “naked”. One possibility is that I over applied the BLO. Zeke 

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I bought the wheel. It was marked down to $100 with its Christmas discount. I have decided to lightly preserve the wood which is in amazing condition but quite dry. As for its application, it remains a mystery. I have seen Lincoln wheels from the 1920’s with identical wood work; but I have not seen a match for the metal pieces. I would sell it to someone who has a use for it; otherwise you can see it next October in the green field (GAI 18-19).

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Edited by greenie (see edit history)
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Great information, zepher. Thanks! I really didn't know much about it, just a product I have used. Got me wondering about the advisability/practicality for use on wood spoke wheels. I think there are some tung oil products which also have a percentage of some kind of varnish. I don't know what to think about that. Well, the company does have an 800 number. Thanks again, zepher.    

 

Zeke : Glad your steering wheel cleaned up. There are few things in the driving universe as irritating as a sticky steering wheel.

 

Greenie  : Looking real good. Congratulations ! After reading the info zepher found, Confucius might say " pure tung oil in your future".

 

All : If you are planning to treat your steering wheel, please let us know what you used, and post before and after pictures. If I still had the physical capability to manually strip and then oil the steering wheel in the '24 Cad, I would do so. But, the astonishing good news is, despite my injuries, etc. I am still able to drive the thing !  🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂 !     -    Carl 

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If you use tung oil be sure it is pure tung oil as someone posted earlier and not a mixture. It’s expensive and can be found in most good wood working stores. 

That is going to be a good looking steering wheel when you are done. 

Have fun. 

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I’m a furniture maker by trade. I love oil finishes. Sometimes I’d need something strong and more water resistant than just oil. I mix equal parts of gloss marine spar varnish and boiled linseed oil. (Boiled means it has driers added to it) Then I cut it with turpentine. The first coat is cut more than the next coats. I like the first coat to sink deep into the wood. The key to any oil finish is to wipe off the oil until the rags are dry. The varnish does not change the look or feel. It does help with water though. 

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Update: The steering wheel has received its first coat of Tung oil and is drinking it up like a drunken sailor. My wood guy, a gun stock specialist, thinks it may be Cuban Mahogany or possibly Walnut.

 

Curious to discover who may have made these wheels, I found the following article on the internet. If our wheel is in fact from a 1924 Flint, it seems very likely it was made at the Onaway (Michigan) plant, just 2 years or so before the plant was destroyed by fire. I'll post a few pictures of the wheel as soon as the preservation is completed.

 

Given that these wheels were not made "in house" by early car makers; but were purchased from outside vendors; there is the possibility that our wheel (separated from the center elements) may interchange with other cars of the early to mid 1920's.

 

http://www.rainy-river.com/museum/steering.html

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The preservation process is completed. The wood looks great, but not refinished. The Tung oil replaces the essential oil that have been lost over the past 96 years. See the “after” pictures below. It looks dramatically better than the forlorn relic I found in the antique store. What is remarkable is that the wood never split, checked, or rotted. Most likely it’s American Black Walnut.

 

During my internet research, I stumbled upon the company that built the steering wheel; and a curious patent infringement case that resulted from another company attempting to make a steering wheel for Cadillac. The patent case summary includes the patent drawing for this wheel.

 

Sadly, after the American Wood Rim Company prevailed in its patent case, a fire destroyed the factory in Michigan. By the next decade, other materials began to replace wood in steering wheel manufacture.

 

Stop in at my Hershey spaces in October to see the wheel. GAI 18-19. Maybe the owner of a 1924 Flint will want to adopt it!

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