I have a warped Fordite steering wheel. When laid on a flat surface part of the wheel is as much as 1/2" off the flat surface. There are no cracks or other effects in the wheel, just the warp. Does anyone know if they can be straightened? It so how?
Thanks for any help,
Mine was warped too. The spider (spokes?) was also bent. I removed the wheel and straightened out the spider, then reassembled everything. It still is a little out of round and a little warped, but I dont even notice it anymore.
There is a '25-7 one on ebay now for .99 cents.
Lay it on a cookie sheet in the oven, not to hot and it will flatten back out, make sure the wife is not home because it will stink up the house.
Since it is so thick, I doubt if it will flatten out on its' own without some clamping pressure being applied. I have never flattened out a warped steering wheel but I have removed the warp from old Victor 78 records by putting each between two pieces of 1/4" glass (because glass is perfectly true and it captures and retains the heat), clamped together with wood screw clamps, then lay in the sun and after the glass got hot from the sun, tighten the clamps a little at a time until flat. It can't be hurried or you might break the hard brittle wheel. If you have a heat lamp, it might accelerate the process, but heat lamps can get very hot so monitor the temperature closely, using common sense. If you smell a burning smell, it is too hot, so back it off. Let us know what you do and how it turns out. Jim Patrick
I flattened my warped Fordite steering wheel by putting it in an 250 degree oven for about 1/2 hour then sandwiched between two flat peaces of plywood with some weight to hold it flat. Let cool for a few hours and it is now dead flat.
Can't really see the warp but here are before and after pics.
That turned out great. It looks as though you used a glossy black for the spider and a flat black on the wheel.
I wonder what material the wheel is made of?
Jim, looks great. How did you finnish the rim?
The wheel is Fordite, apparently a soybean based material that has some kind of fiber reinforcement (I think). I just wet sanded it and there is no finish on it, just as it came form the factory.
Some folks on this group have painted them and others have reported good results just cleaning them up as I have here.
You may want to seal it with something as it will tend to bleed on your hands if it gets wet or your hands are sweaty. I used Tung oil on one once,but prefer to just paint them. Your choice.
I kind of wonder if the black on your hands is from oxidation or decomposition of the Fordite due to the sun. When I was wet sanding I tired rubbing my hand on the wet wheel and could not get any color on my hand from the freshly sanded surface.
In either case I'll find out and it is an easy fix if it is a problem.
A broken wheel i found was filled with what looked like coarse sawdust bound together with black stuff if that is any clue to what fordite was
It looks like particle board or pressed wood when a wheel is broken.
Ford was ahead of his time again.
And it lasted almost a hundred years.
By the way, I visited your website. I am very impressed with your photography. Great work.
Questions on steering wheels,
Were wooden steering wheels only on early cars and became accessories for later ones?
And why different sizes in diameter of steering wheels?
Here is the info on steering wheel sizes and materials from
Bronze spider and nut. 14-1/4 O.D. (12-1/2 I.D., 1 thick) wood rim was painted black. Note: most recent data shows the wheel to be 13 O.D. but this is apparently the result of latter-day reproduction wheels. No original 13 wheels have been found on Ford cars.
Bronze spider. Redesigned wheel now 12-3/8 I.D. and 1-1/8 thick (14-3/4 O.D.) wood rim painted black. Bronze spider believed to have been painted black in later production.
Malleable iron spider, painted black. 12-1/4 I.D., 1-3/8 thick) 14.59 O.D. wood rim painted black until about 1919, then made of Fordite composition material. The malleable iron spider was changed to the pressed steel design late in the era (date unknown)
Pressed-steel spider, painted black. 16 O.D. wheel. (June 1920)
Similar to 1925 but now 17 O.D.
Also from the Ford
http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=31391this is the description of Fordite:
Ford's interest in wheat dates back to the 1920s, when company founder Henry Ford developed a product called Fordite a mixture of wheat straw, rubber, sulphur, silica and other ingredients that was used to make steering wheels for Ford cars and trucks. Much of the straw used to produce Fordite came from Henry Ford's Dearborn-area farm.
In late 1917 and early 1918 Ford used a cast case ignition coil made of wheat gluten with an asbestos binder. It was soon discontinued because of dimensional instability.
Here is a photo of one of these coils.
Ron the Coilman
Nice job on the wheel!
Did you ever get my p m reply?
Nice job on the 'oven treatment', will have to try that sometime.
I'm with you, I like the Fordite look, just sanded the wheel, and then occasional coats of car wax, and the wheel doesn't get grimy or sticky in the hot FL sun....
No, I missed your PM.
If you still have it send again to email@example.com