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Homemade steering wheel




Hello to all,

here I am again with my next quirk.

Propably all of you know the early ti/i steering wheel with the slotted black spokes, and also everybody knows the here so-called 3-spoke-sport-steering wheel what is very widespread.

In my car used to be the wooden version, maybe out of a 1600ti or 1600GT. I drove with this for several years but the grip is not the very best, and the major thing is: it doesn't fit optically to the car. The car is held in blue, black and silver/chrome/grey and the brown wood was irritating. An alternative was wanted.


I do like the sports wheels and I've got one in acceptable condition, but like so often I was looking for something individual that is not in any other car. For I like the holed spokes on the one hand, the dished shape on the other and a tiny flat hub on the third, I started to create my own wheel before the wooden one is entering the world of pain.

Here we go. Step one: kill an Alpina four-spoke to get the hub with inside denting:


4mm-steel plates:


And an andaptor disc for the spokes:


The hole for the horn contact had to be copied from the 02-position because the hub is from an E28 or such. Those have a contact ring and the tip is at the steering column. In the 02's, it's the other way round.

First loose fixing of the spokes to check the angles between them:


And here cut to triangles each fixed with two inhex screws to avoid overturning:


The M6 in the middles are needed later for the top cover. Then I stamped out black stickers to get an impression where are the best positions for the holes. I thought this was important because of the difference between flat and dished shape, but finally I located them feeling free by the stomach. The end cover is taken from a E21-series or 2002 turbo, I don't know. God bless the grabbleboxes. By this end cover the hub diameter was ruled.


Ok, here we have the hub, holed spokes, fillings for the gaps between them and a ring taken from an old barstool. The ring was not solid enough, that's why I later chose massive material.


My 82-year old friend Klaus who brought the hub unit into cone shape:

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The lathe in his cellar is still 20 years older- but works well!

This are two hard wooden plates to fix the spokes next to each other and fold them in identic angle. The spokes are already polished- simply by an excentric grinder like used for bondo. This job wasn't that easy, the material is quite hard.


The barstool ring was too weak. I ordered a massive 16mm-bar and bended it around an old 13” rim.

For I wanted the ring segments to overlap, I made a kind of setting (?) tool:


Installation on the lathe to check angles and tumbling:


It tumbles less than 3mm, stock wheels sometimes are much worse.

Inhex screws to draw spokes and segments to another:


And now the theme of upholstery. Here I used adhesive foam for sanitary isolation what's not perfect because it's too soft. The dark dots around are stamped out of stiffer foam to give the shape for the fingers. They are placed a bit outside of the middle because I expected the later drawn-over leather to draw the dots to the inside, what has happened indeed. Let me already now note that the foam or any material for the upholstery should better have the same color as the leather.



And the leather on the ring:


When you run the lines for the holes to sew the leather by a pattern tracer, don't choose a low gear. The distances between the holes drawn on the ring are very much smaller than they are when it's lying flatly on the table. Make sure the holes left and right are exactly parallel to another; otherwise there will be mistakes in the seam. Use a half-round needle.


I didn't measure, but there must be three or four metres of yarn between the upper spokes. When you start with about 80cm or 30- 35” of yarn, make sure the knot for the following 80cm is as close as possible to the cover. Otherwise you'll have to draw the knot through too many holes and it may tear.

On the first way from one spoke to the next it is easy to avoid to touch the foam- on the way back it's just impossible. The knots are tearing tiny fuzzles out of the foam that are then sticking in the leather holes and you have to push them back into the cover. Or there will be light-grey microdots on the seam that appear white what's not so attractive. That's why the foam better should be black, too.

Here we have the result:


And installed in the car:


Propably one of the heaviest steering wheels in the world, but I'm pretty happy with it.




Edited by Henning



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