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Refinishing a wood rim steering wheel

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What is a safe way to remove old finish from a wood steering wheel ?

I have used the citrus paint remover gel on metal parts and it works great, but it always leaves a sticky gooey residue that has to be scrubbed off with water to get the part clean. 

Wetting that old wood to clean away the goo just does not seem like the best method to clean up. What  other options are there ?

First photo is the replacement wheel I acquired, which a 1926 or 27, and appears to have been refinished in recent decades.   I tried wiping the old finish with lacquer thinner and it got a little sticky, but not much came off.  It might be a polyurethane finish.  I have spent several hours hand sanding the aluminum to remove the deep scratches, and its looking a lot better now.

Second photo is the original 1925 wheel which I have repaired in the Frankenstein style with a wood rim my father made then left out in the rain for 15 years.   I will keep this wheel as a backup.

Design changes for 1926 included introduction of machine screws penetrating thru the wood rim into the ends of the spokes, and elimination of the 1-1/8" tapered lock bushing in the hub bore used in 1925. 


26-27 steering wheel.jpg

25 steering wheel.jpg

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Here it is after stripping.  The now visible wood grain looks much more appealing than the dark stain.

I applied citrus stripper, scrubbed with a Scotchbrite pad, cleaned up with lacquer thinner. There was a patch where the dark stain came off, so wiped it some more using acetone, and the majority of dark stain came off.  The only issue with acetone is my nitrile gloves broke open after contact with acetone.



after strip.jpg

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