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Tractors Steering Wheel Restoration
The fate of many tractors is that they spend most of their time in the open exposed to all the elements that nature can throw at them, often resulting in the tractor steering wheels suffering extreme weathering.
Common results of this weathering of the tractor steering wheel are; damage where water gets into cracks, rust attacks the frames, often splitting the plastic or Bakelite finish, including the casing and structure.
The tractor steering wheel will show signs of wear especially to the steering wheel rims which become thin due to the heavy usage of the steering wheel. Once the rims become thin they are both uncomfortable and dangerous to use as they will be slippery often wet and lack proper grip. Another indication of severe tractor steering wheel wear is that solvents will often leach from the surface leaving black marks on hands and clothes, a common indication of Bakelite decaying over time.
Nuffield tractor Cracked Bakelite Steering Wheel Spoke
The same Nuffield tractor Steering Wheel Restored
Nuffield tractor damaged Steering Wheel boss In need Of Restoration
Repairing the tractor steering wheel will often require all or some of the following; honing out of the cracks and splits; remodelling; re-thickening of the tractor steering wheel to give a constant thickness.
Welding is often required to mend and reinforce steel frames. Cracking around the centre boss is quite common where the steering wheel has been heated and forced off the column either by pulling or hitting. These areas need reconstructing to restore the tractor steering wheels to the original shape.
Not all tractor steering wheels are constructed with metal frames and Bakelite, earlier tractor steering wheels may be of a tubular construction formed from segments of metal creating the tube. These types of tractor steering wheels are normally celluloid covered.
Because of the age of these tractor steering wheels (70 years plus) welding repairs are needed and sometimes require the rims being separated from the spokes to facilitate a structurally sound wheel. They are then recoated in a 1mm thick celluloid finish.
If a tractor steering wheel has insufficient plastic or Bakelite left and all that remains is just a steel frame, we will either have the moulds to totally remake the Bakelite or plastic covering or can construct a tool for the correct mould. Once all the structural issues have been addressed we then recoat the whole steering wheel in a 1mm thickness of polyester either coloured or black as required thus giving the tractor steering wheel a smooth durable and constant finish that will not leach the original solvents the steering wheel was constructed from.
We are also often asked to coat the matching control knobs, such as gear knobs, centre caps and other miscellaneous switches or parts; we are pleased to offer this service for the tractor connoisseurs and tractor enthusiast who want to show their historic tractor.
If your tractor steering wheel is of a particularly rare type or one that is in very poor condition it may be necessary to make a mould and totally reconstruct it, see that’s clean maids. In this event it will often be more cost effective if a number of wheels are being repaired or made for a tractor Club or historic vehicle society.
We have recently made the tools to reconstruct the David Brown wire spoke type steering wheel (photo) and the Nuffield three spoke steering wheel (photo). This type of steering wheel was also fitted to a range of Morris commercial Lorries from the early 1940’s onwards
Some of the various makes of tractors for which we have restored or repaired the tractor steering wheel:
David Brown: Crop Master