Welcome to the E-M-F Steering Wheel Restoration Page

So you want to how the restoration of the Steering Wheel for my E-M-F Automobile is going? Well, you have found the right page.

Sunday, December 31, 2000 4:45 PM

Steering wheel when found
Steering wheel and controls as I found them in Kentucky. Note the original mud dobbers nest on the wood rim of the steering wheel. Click on the picture to see the full size.
I Got the Steering wheel off today. I had to get a small pin out of the Spark lever (or maybe it is the throttle?). The problem is I did not realize the pin was brass and banged it up pretty good. I wound up having to drill the pin out. Once I got that out, at least the spark and throttle lever and the quadrant they run on all came off.

Spark and Throttle polished
Here are the Spark and Throttle all polished up. All that remains is plating the steel piece. Click on the picture to see the full size.

After I got the spark and throttle off, I polished them up and placed them in my display case.

Steering wheel before
The steering wheel just off the car. Notice I did try polishing up part of the aluminum spider. Click on the picture to see the full size.
I did also get the Steering wheel off after a little forceful persuasion. The spider is aluminum with a wood wheel. The wood wheel is in fairly good shape. Some of the wood needs to be glued back together (Any suggestions???). It is still in one piece, but the sections have separated a little. The wood is also bleached from years of sitting. Any suggestions for a color stain to match the original color?

Right now the steering wheel is sitting in my display case until I figure out what to do about the wood.

Steering wheel joints
The left image shows the top of the wheel with slight separation of the wood pieces. The right image shows the "finger" cut that joins the pieces. Click on the picture to see the full size.

Thursday, March 29, 2001 11:48 AM

Steamer box Steering Spider March 29, 2001
This is the steamer box I built to steam the wood rim of the steering wheel. Click on the picture to see the full size. This is the spider after sanding each leg with 220 grit. Notice I have not fine sanded around the hub. The leg to the upper right is polished. Click on the picture to see the full size.
I have built a steamer box to steam the wood part of the wheel. I used the steam generator from a Wagner wall paper steamer/remover. It worked quite well. I steamed it for about an hour. After the steaming, I was able to clamp the wood back together quite easily. I am going to let it dry for a while before I remove the clamp. I think I will be ready to glue it back together.

I also did more work on polishing up the aluminum spider. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper, then 600, then 1500, then polished it with two different grit polished on the buffer. It is going to look nice, I only have one leg of the spider polished because I ran out of time. My goal it to finish that steering wheel so I can say I have another piece completed.

Monday, June 25, 2001 11:49 AM

Steering Rim July 1, 2001
Here is the joint now fixed. No more gaps. Click on the picture to see the full size.
Thought I would make an update here. I had quite a time getting the two pieces of the steering wheel back together again. No matter how long I steamed it, it would be too dry by the time I got it clamped all the way around. I finally soaked the wood in water for a week, then clamped it. It stayed moist enough to bend all the way up close again. I let it dry for several weeks before releasing the clamps. It held it's shape. I then glued the two pieces together.

All I have to do now is sand the thing down and finish it. I do have a couple of places where the wood cracked as I bent it, but I have been able to force glue into the cracks and then clamp it back down. When the glue dries, a quick sanding leaves almost no evidence of a crack.

I still have two places in the wood rim that will require filling with something, though at this time I am not sure what to use. I will have to think on it for a while. Any suggestions on what I should fill a gap with in the wood rim?

Sunday, November 4, 2001 11:50 AM

Top of finished steering wheel Bottom of finished steering wheel
This is the top of the finished steering wheel. See is you can find the joints. Click on the picture to see the full size. This is the bottom of the finished steering wheel. Click on the picture to see the full size.
Well, after months of work and thinking and sanding and such, I can call the steering wheel finished. I wound up filling the small cracks with a wood filler. I bleached the wood to lighten it and I stained it with an antique maple stain. I then topped it with spar varnish per the recommendation of several readers of this page.

The spider was polished up and reattached to the wood wheel with 4 new counter sunk oval head screws. All in all I am very pleased with the way it looks.

One thing I would do differently next time: I would do all of the filling and sanding of the filling before I did the bleaching. I found that when I sanded the bleached wood, I was sanding back down to darker wood. I chose not to re-bleach since I did not want to loose any more of the wood through another round of sanding.

So there you have it, another piece completed. I hope you have enjoyed following in the restoration of the steering wheel for my 1912 E-M-F Demi Tonneau. I look forward to the day that I can turn it clock-wise and make the car go right, and vise versa.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

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John M. Daly

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This page was last modified on: Friday, April 10, 2009
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