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41 Olds steering wheel - What would you do next for hairline cracks?


Doctor's Pontiac
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Hope to get some tips on how to continue the stock restoration of my 1941 Oldsmobile steering wheel. It has countless extremely thin hairline cracks.  They are too close to each other and it is not possible to enlarge each of them in a V-shape to add epoxy (which is the usual method of restoring larger cracks) without removing most of the ivory material. Since each line seems very superficial I decided to sand the wheel and to my surprise most of hairline cracks went away. However, there are a few that I can feel with a fingernail and there are still many that although visible, will not even be caught by a fingernail. I  would like some opinions how to continue the restoration work.

 

 

First photo shows the hairline cracks at the worst spot of the steering wheel, before sanding

 

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The following photo shows same area after hand sanding. I tried 320 grit but moved to 180 which worked better at this state

 

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Third photo: black marker showing the few lines that I can feel with fingernail

 

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My goal is a stock restoration for a very nice stock driver. No concourse goals.

 

Which one of these options do you think will be best to recover the smooth stock appearance? Or any other suggestions?

 

1. Continue sanding until all lines disappear.  (a lot of sanding indeed, I am sore after more than 4 hours of sanding today) and I can not tell if there is deep structural damage after 80 years. I am afraid may be making the wheel too thin and distort the shape

 

2. Apply a smear of PC-7 now and press by hand trying to get into the fine lines and then sand the whole thing again, prime and color paint (I suspect the epoxy will not penetrate into the tiny lines and effort wasted)

 

3. Sand more until lines that can not be felt with fingernail until they disappear and cut a V on all the ones caught by fingernail, fill with epoxy, prime, paint.

 

I enjoy doing the work myself. Wheel is in too good shape to spend money recasting (heard $700 to $1K)

 

Hope to hear some suggestions from members with more experience, thank you very much. Manuel

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11 hours ago, JACK M said:

I think those lines give a bit of character. But that's just me.

Have you considered sanding smooth and then clear coat?

Thanks for your comment. Yeah, they do. Not sure clear coat will bind well to this original material so instead I decided to keep sanding up to 2500 grit. I then buffed with a plastic polish and the result is excellent. Only a few lines remain, but happy this way because my wheel now has character 👌

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