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Old 04-18-2014, 11:28 AM   #1
speedycrab12
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Default Ambitious Steering Wheel Reshape (04 WRX)

For some time now, I have been coveting some of the newer sport style wheels that are appearing from JPM Coachworks, and those found at Bimmian for the BMW's, and wanted one for myself. I love the carbon fiber accents, and the ergonomics of these newer style wheels, however, $750-$1500 for a steering wheel was a bit much for me, so in the words of Jeremy Clarson I chose to say "How hard could it be?" I this went and found myself an utterly ratty 04 momo steering wheel core for my project. It will certainly take plenty of time and patience, but am truly looking forward to the end result. I hope you enjoy.

The old core that i picked up. Completely shot as the leather was literally disintegrating in my hands.

[/url]

Here is essentially the style that I am planning on emulating, given my wheel has 4 spokes compared to 3, but you get the idea:



After all the old leather was peeled away, and I began to try to flatten the bottom out of the wheel.



After doing a little research, I found this product of epoxy clay that was very workable and hardened extremely well. This stuff is also almost completely non-reactive with other media, because it was designed for modelers, thus was a perfect base for the building the ergonomics of my new wheel. For those interested it is called Apoxie Sculpt.

I thus began adding layers of the epoxy on a little at a time, letting it set overnight before adding new layers.

[/url]

After another layer or two of buildup.

[/url]


After all that was built up and sanded. It was then on to the carbon fiber. I have never worked with the stuff, so I was relatively nervous. I found online a kit that contained the length of real carbon fiber, with an epoxy resin and hardener. I was immediately surprised at how workable the carbon fiber actually is. It is surprisingly malleable, but had a tendency to fray around the edges. To combat this, I found that if you spray a mist of 3M super 77 adhesive spray across the back, it holds the fibers in place, and also sticks to the surface (imagine that!)







After that it was on to the resin, adding small amounts at at time, allowing to cure overnight, then a quick sanding down, then adding another layer of resin. While the carbon is very workable, it isn't magic however, I found that it was going to be nearly impossible to wrap the whole section in 1 piece of carbon, so I laid up half of the carbon, allowed it to set, and made a slice to keep the carbon clean, and will then layer the other side the same way as the first. then blend the two together with sanding and subsequent layers of resin.




I will keep updating these posts when I progress thorough the steps. So far I am very happy with the results. I hope you enjoy
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Old 04-18-2014, 11:44 AM   #2
Sour_K
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This is a pretty cool idea. I've never thought to build my own "aftermarket" steering wheel. I actually work with carbon fiber on a daily basis building parts for the f35 jets for the air force and navy. Your layup looks pretty good, I would make sure there isn't anything in that adhesive spray you used that could cause it to delaminate from the wheel itself. Next time spread a thin layer of resin on the part first and then apply the carbon or glass or whatever fiber to make sure it sticks to the mold and then work from the center out to remove any air bubbles. Dry fiber is pretty delicate, it's best to handle it as little as possible, and always wear gloves to avoid skin contact with the epoxy or leave oils from your skin on the fiber where resin won't actually bond. Also make sure there is no aluminum where the carbon is touching because it will erode the metal over time (carbon and aluminum aren't friends) and I don't want to see your wheel disintegrate if it's aluminum based. Sorry for the novel and this is an awesome project!
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Old 04-18-2014, 11:54 AM   #3
speedycrab12
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Thanks! yeah, I actually did a little research, and from what i've seen, it shouldn't cause any delamination issues down the road. Apparently people who lay up carbon for RC cars have been using this technique for a while and no one seems to have any issues. And no, it isn't touching aluminum anywhere, besides, i think the core is steel, not aluminum anyhow. Good to know though
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:57 PM   #4
Millhouse_5
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That's quite the custom modification. I can honestly say I wasn't expecting a custom wheel to end up looking this good.
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Old 04-18-2014, 04:08 PM   #5
davidmullis
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Wow, from the pre-wrap pictures at least I can tell you I'd gladly give you my money if you provided this as a service.

EDIT: Would possibly consider thickening up the entire diameter of the wheel though as well. Just a thought.
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Old 04-18-2014, 04:14 PM   #6
Hondaslayer
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Started reading the thread thinking "I better put on some popcorn, this will be entertaining!"

Finished post and though "Damn, it looks like he has an idea of what he's doing"


Looking good!
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Old 04-18-2014, 05:06 PM   #7
vms150
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Damn man, awesome. Subscribed.
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Old 04-18-2014, 05:49 PM   #8
speedycrab12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmullis View Post
EDIT: Would possibly consider thickening up the entire diameter of the wheel though as well. Just a thought.
The carbon will give it close to a full inch of extra girth, which already feels much better, and yes Is' planning on adding more to the sides as well, there is a dense foam called landau that I am planning on utilizing. it is 1/8 inch thick, and will be under the leather or alcantara. Overall it should make it close to
An inch and a half larger in circumference
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Old 04-18-2014, 05:57 PM   #9
Badmunky
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Wow that looks really good man!
Can't wait to see the finished product.
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Old 04-18-2014, 05:58 PM   #10
wteGDF
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FYI... make sure to spray the parts black where you will be wrapping the carbon fiber. If not any spot in the weave that is open will have white specs showing through.
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Old 04-19-2014, 10:11 AM   #11
AkoiSo
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This is pretty awesome. Can't wait to see the final product.
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Old 04-19-2014, 11:31 AM   #12
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Awesome work. Can you describe how you're 'flattening' the wheel on the bottom?
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Old 04-19-2014, 01:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Recoil View Post
Awesome work. Can you describe how you're 'flattening' the wheel on the bottom?
Believe it or not it was more of a brute strength way rather than finesse. I attached the wheel to a vice clamp, then took a rubber mallet and beat it into submission.
There honestly isn't much you could truly do without cutting and re welding to make it perfectly flat, so in addition to the brute strength and ignorance, I added layers of epoxy and molded it as well for more affect
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Old 04-19-2014, 01:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedycrab12 View Post

Believe it or not it was more of a brute strength way rather than finesse. I attached the wheel to a vice clamp, then took a rubber mallet and beat it into submission.
There honestly isn't much you could truly do without cutting and re welding to make it perfectly flat, so in addition to the brute strength and ignorance, I added layers of epoxy and molded it as well for more affect
I had figured something along those lines. Thanks.
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Old 04-19-2014, 09:11 PM   #15
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In for more
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:47 AM   #16
MoreChuChu
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This is pretty sick. I'd be worried about that epoxy clay breaking in the case of a collision. I could be wrong about its strength, though.
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Old 04-20-2014, 06:15 PM   #17
speedycrab12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoreChuChu View Post
This is pretty sick. I'd be worried about that epoxy clay breaking in the case of a collision. I could be wrong about its strength, though.
Well, it is very resistant to sanding, its going to be wrapped in Carbon fiber, which will certainly hold it in place, and the rest will be wrapped in leather. Sure, it could potentially crack underneath with a collision, but frankly i doubt i would be worried just about the steering wheel at that point.

I got the front piece of carbon laid down, and a second coat of clear resin, Its starting to look more like a steering wheel every day. Pictures will be forthcoming in the next few days. Unfortunately, I'm taking the GRE tomorrow, so my focus has been elsewhere. now back to the grind of studying.

thanks for the comments and interest all, I'm getting pretty excited about this thing.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:38 PM   #18
sirsol66
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Very nice work.

Would you mind sharing the type of epoxy clay as well as where you found your carbon fiber kit? I've been pondering this for a BRZ steering wheel.
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:00 PM   #19
speedycrab12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirsol66 View Post
Very nice work.

Would you mind sharing the type of epoxy clay as well as where you found your carbon fiber kit? I've been pondering this for a BRZ steering wheel.
I mentioned the name of the product earlier in the post, it's called Apoxie Sculpt. There is also another product called Magic Sculp that apparently is about the same.

As far as carbon fiber, I got mine here: http://cjcompositestechnology.com/pr...oxy-resin-kits

There is also a place in the UK that has a good assortment of products:
http://www.carbonmods.co.uk/
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Old 04-21-2014, 12:15 AM   #20
art@grimmspeed
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Ambitious is definitely a good descriptor for this project. Great work so far; far from what I expected when clicking on this thread. Subscribed for final product.
-Art
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Old 04-21-2014, 07:33 PM   #21
colin1234567
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Saying, "How hard can it be?" pretty much always fails for the guys and myself, glad to see it didn't for you!
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Old 04-22-2014, 11:36 AM   #22
speedycrab12
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So here is my updated progress to date. So after I got the back laid up, it was time to go onto the front piece of carbon. Since I already had the experience from the rear part of the wheel the front wasn't bad at all.



Once the front piece was on and laid up and tacky, I ran a razor along the top and underside of the wheel to get a clean edge of carbon fiber. After I let that dry overnight, it was just about sanding down the high spots, and then adding subsequent layers of resin to build up the girth and durability.





Obviously there was a lot of refining to do, as the surface was incredibly uneven, but again this stage was just about building the resin up. But boy is it starting to come together.





Finally after 6 layers of resin it was then on to sanding it all down to a polish. I started with a 400 grit and worked all of the little high spots off until the entire finish was silky smooth. Then I worked my way up in grit from 600 to 800 then on to 1000, 1500 and finally a 2000 grit equivalent steel wool. Then after all that was done I finished it off with a 3M rubbing compound to bring out the shine underneath.





Now the next step will be to add the stripe to the top of the wheel. For this a simple rattle can will suffice.

I know my color choice is going to cause a bit of contention, as I am planning on using lime green for the stripe and the stitching for the leather. I know it may not be the most popular choice, but it's my favorite color by far, and I have lime green accents all over my car.

As far as the fabric for the wheel, I decided to stick with leather, as it is the most durable. I still drive my car daily, and figured that Alcantara wouldn't hold up the same way as traditional leather. Also I haven't decided if I am willing to risk trying to do the upholstery myself. I'm thinking it may be a bit out of my skill set, plus I don't own a sewing machine. But so far, I am very happy with the results. I hope you enjoy, and keep the comments coming, I am open to all questions, comments, criticisms etc... Thanks all
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Old 04-22-2014, 11:40 AM   #23
speckles
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Amazing. Just, amazing. I cannot wait to see the finished piece!
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:56 PM   #24
Bacon117
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Looks good.
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Old 04-22-2014, 01:06 PM   #25
digital-monk1
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Instead of the spray on stripe why don't you use a stick on pinstriping.
The stuff looks as good as paint, and once on, it's on there.
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