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Dennis Nicholls

Wood trim on steering wheel cracked: restore or replace?

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I have a 2000 base 986, which has an option X30 "dark rootwood steering wheel". It's a regular 4 spoke wheel with grey leather at the sides and dark wood trim veneer at top and bottom. The car only has 51K miles but the wood trim at the top is cracking into chunks. Right now the chunks are all still firmly attached but it's starting to be unsightly.

Are there any kits for an owner to self-restore this trim? Or is this something where I have to send it out to a steering wheel shop?

An alternative would be to recover the offending wood trim with leather, perhaps in a contrasting color.

Another alternative would be to replace the steering wheel. People appear to replace the 4 spoke wheels with the 3 spoke wheels as an upgrade, so there are generally a few nice 4 spokes offered on eBay and the like. There's a nice grey all leather one there now for $350 with airbag - I wonder what he'd take for just the wheel.

Any suggestions for me?

Edited by Dennis Nicholls

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The steering wheel is all one piece, so it would be difficult to replace or repair just the wood. I have never seen or heard of a wood replacement kit or DIY. I am not sure if a shop could repair it, so that might be worth investigating, but I suspect it would be more expensive that buying a used 4 spoke wheel.

I would look for a nice 4 spoke that matches your interior in the $2-300 range, or upgrade to a 3 spoke.

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I suspect the only real USA information on this sort of restoration lies with those few firms performing 6-figure or more restorations on Porsche, Mercedes, etc. where original equipment is no longer available. I also think it's pretty likely the original supplier was http://www.mp-design.com

Edited by lkchris

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I spoke too soon about the trim being attached...a small flap is now loose at the right hand side next to where the leather begins. Right now I taped it back with electrical tape so that I wouldn't break it off while driving. I suppressed the urge to go all "Red Green Show" on it with duct tape.

So what kind of glue would be appropriate to glue this flap of veneer back into position? Maybe some exterior grade "liquid nails"?

Edited by Dennis Nicholls

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I spoke too soon about the trim being attached...a small flap is now loose at the right hand side next to where the leather begins. Right now I taped it back with electrical tape so that I wouldn't break it off while driving. I suppressed the urge to go all "Red Green Show" on it with duct tape.

So what kind of glue would be appropriate to glue this flap of veneer back into position? Maybe some exterior grade "liquid nails"?

Can you post a pic? I have a 2000 S also, and I've never seen the wood option. Also, the toughest glue I've seen for anything like so far is Gorilla Glue. You can apply a tiny amount and wet it a bit with water. You just have to make sure you keep the glued area clamped down while its drying because the glue expands. You just cut off the excess with a sharp knife.

Devin

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Upon recommendation of a "glue expert", I used DAP Weldwood contact cement.  This has held up well for the loose flap mentioned above.  Apparently since wood is porous (veneer and wood substrate) this works better than super glue and retains some flexibility unlike epoxies.

 

I've hit the surface cracks with tung oil, applied with a q-tip.  This is a strange product halfway between a varnish and an rubbed-oil finish.  After letting it set for a day or two I could remove the surface excess with a rag soaked in paint thinner.  The tung oil should prevent moisture getting down the cracks and causing future problems, while darkening the cracks for appearance.  I've just applied a second coat.  This seems labor intensive but looks like the simplest (and cheapest) solution.

Edited by Dennis Nicholls

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