Fordite steering wheel repair

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RFH
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Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Mon Dec 23, 2019 8:35 am

]Hi,
Newbie to posting , been lurking for years.
I have a 1919 coupe and the steering wheel is Fordite and it is cracking.
Been thinking about grinding out the crack and using JB weld.
This is a 15 inch wheel and has T902 and FORD in block letters stamped on the backside.
I would like to keep the original wheel on the car any help would be appreciated.
Thank you
Attachments
3.jpg
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Henry K. Lee
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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by Henry K. Lee » Mon Dec 23, 2019 8:58 am

Your plan of attack should do the trick. Coat well with a SEMs brand flexible primer in thin coats before putting on the color and sand smooth.

Hope this Helps and Welcome to the Club!,

Hank


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RFH
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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Mon Dec 23, 2019 10:37 am

Thanks Henry
I didn't know how this material would react to being ground on.
Looks like sawdust down inside the crack.
Thanks,


R.V.Anderson
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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by R.V.Anderson » Mon Dec 23, 2019 11:15 am

I have heard of a method, but have not yet personally tried, where folks take an irreparably broken Fordite rim and use coarse sandpaper or a wood rasp to make a pile of Fordite dust from it that they then mix with epoxy or other glue and use as filler for cosmetic cracks and dings after cleaning and roughing the damaged area thoroughly. It sounds like it would work well, as there would be no problem matching the appearance of the filler material to the rim under repair. As I said, I haven't tried it but I have a scarce 15" rim for my '20 that I plan to try this method on.

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RajoRacer
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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RajoRacer » Mon Dec 23, 2019 11:25 am

The above wheel & cast spyder might possibly original to a very "early" '19 but the spyder went to a 15" pressed steel version in '19 for a limited run before going into the standard 16" pressed steel version - I have the 15" pressed steel version on our '19 Centedoor if anyone would like to see an original.

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Mark Gregush
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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by Mark Gregush » Mon Dec 23, 2019 12:20 pm

Can't remember for sure, but I had one of the 2 wheels talked about by Steve on my 21 when I got it. Let it go before I knew about such things and went to 16" :(
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :roll:

1921 Huckster
1925 Cut down pickup


Rich Bingham
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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by Rich Bingham » Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:43 pm

It would be interesting to know what the composition and process actually was for “Fordite”. It certainly had a fair amount of fiber content, straw or more likely sawdust. My memory of the stuff is that it had a hard rubber aspect,
i. e., handling old weathered steering wheels would leave my hands black and smelling of rubber. I believe the dash terminal blocks were made of the same material.

Look up Fordite on the interweb and you’ll find the term has an entirely different meaning nowadays. 😳
"Get a horse !"

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Henry K. Lee
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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by Henry K. Lee » Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:53 pm

You might find out that the process used hemp fibers!

They used it up until 1929.

Hank


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by John Page » Mon Dec 23, 2019 2:17 pm

Here is an excerpt for one of Henry Fords books. "TODAY AND TOMORROW " published in 1926.

Best regards, John Page, Australia.
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Today & Tomorrow.png


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Mon Dec 23, 2019 2:23 pm

Yes,
I have searched Google for Fordite and came up with old automotive paint...
I have also read about it in Bruce McCalley's Model T book.
What is your experience with grinding on it.
Does it melt or cut / grind easily.
Thanks,
Randy


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by R.V.Anderson » Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:07 pm

The 15" wheel that I have (actually I several) and which Steve T. cites is really quite unique. The pressed steel spider has a significantly higher profile, resulting in a deeper "dish", than the familiar 16" spider used in later 1920-25. When I was looking for one of these for my April 1920 touring, one fellow told me that that wheel was "Canadian." I found the drawing and release info at the Archives, and it was definitely a US production part, though it may have appeared in Canadian production as well. (FWIW, my dad's 1923 Canadian coupe, a true unrestored survivor, still has a forged spider, with the horn button of course.)

Here are some photos. Note the deeper "dish" in the side view. The rim looks warped in that photo but it's not; just a trick of the perspective.
Attachments
1919 steering wheel 002.JPG
1919 steering wheel 001.JPG

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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by George Mills » Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:17 pm

I know that I have seen step-by-step with pictures and the peanut gallery was all complementary and positive about it.

Was it this forum or the other? THAT is the question. (IIRC whatever that process was for infill, it might create an open pore while it was curing out and it even went into how to fill the pore and blend the finish so it would not become a 'blem'...ring any bells with anyone?)

I'm no good at searching this site, never have been but like I said, I think there is something somewhere on how to do it.

It's tough when the memory only provides "peeks" and not full fact...so much for being in my 70's...lol...it IS still better than the alternative. :roll:


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:30 pm

Thanks R.V. Anderson for the photos.
The outside of my wheel has a line around it like yours.
Looks like you can see the inside material of the wheel.
There is also a line or seam / crack on the inside of the wheel.
This is what I was going to cut and fill in an attempt to make it stronger or last longer.
Just didn't want it to fall apart one day.
Thanks,
Randy


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by John Page » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:21 pm

I think that this might be the thread that George mentioned.

Best regards, John Page.

http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/17 ... 1301454438


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Mon Dec 23, 2019 8:10 pm

Thanks for the link John
Randy Hilyer


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:43 pm

t.jpg


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by Allan » Mon Dec 23, 2019 10:06 pm

On the Canadian sourced cars we have in Australia, the forged spider was the rule for all production. So we have wheels in all sizes with Fordite rims. The lines around the perimeter of the rims seem to indicate mould marks, as though the rims were created using a split mould. These show up as the material weathers. I have rejuvenated some by sanding, lacquer priming and applying some coats of satin black lacquer. Years down the track, cracks come back, revealing the finish applied, but it can be re-done when needed. This same process could be used to mask any repairs made. It also leaves the hands clean when driving, unlike the unfinished original wheel in Henrietta, which seems hygroscopic in damp conditions.

Allan from down under.


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:10 am

Thank you Allen for the information.
Also thanks to everyone who responded.
This is a Great place to get good information.
Randy Hilyer


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by R.V.Anderson » Sun Dec 29, 2019 4:45 pm

FWIW, the "transitional" wheel (15" dia./ high 'dished' pressed steel spider/ Fordite rim) was first drawn on November 3, 1919, shortly after the start of the 1920 model year. It was declared 'Obsolete' on June 21, 1921. Its successor, the 16" Fordite rim with the flatter profile pressed steel spider, was first drawn on April 21, 1920. It in turn was obsoleted on January 6, 1925, no doubt in favor of the 17" rim of the Improved Fords.


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Sun Dec 29, 2019 7:20 pm

Thanks R.V. for the info.
That looks like a nice steering wheel you have there.
The wheel I have is the only 15" Fordite wheel with a forged spider I have ever seen.
Now I can say after seeing your wheel.
That's the only 15" Fordite wheel with a pressed center I have ever seen.
Hope to have mine fully restored soon.
Thanks again
Randy Hilyer


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by d stroud » Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:12 am

My late lifelong friend and Model T buddy had a 15" Fordite rim with the forged spider, only one I have ever seen. I think he found it at an auction somewhere, I believe it sold at his Estate auction in 2009. Dave
1925 mostly original coupe.


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by jiminbartow » Mon Dec 30, 2019 10:30 am

I would get a quart size of Abatron “Liquid-Wood”, wood restorer (www.abatron.com) and mix a batch (1 to 1 ratio) and paint as much onto the joints of the steering wheel as it will absorb. It is water thin and soaks deep into the wood or loose, deteriorating Fordite and once it cures, bonds the loose particles of the unstable surface together, so that it is as hard or harder than the original material. I would then get an epoxy wood filler (Abatron also has a great 2 part wood filler called “Wood-Epox”) and fill the open joints of the steering wheel and once cured, sand smooth and paint with a satin or semi gloss black paint. Jim Patrick


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Mon Dec 30, 2019 10:41 am

Thanks for the link.
I will definitely read more about this product.
Thank you,
Randy Hilyer


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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by RFH » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:11 pm

Hi again,
I made a jig to hold the wheel.
Started grinding out the seam crack to fill and sand.
Other than a horrible smell and lots of dust, seems to be going well.
Looking forward to the end result.
Thanks again for all the info.
Randy Hilyer
Attachments
FORDITE (6).jpg
FORDITE (4).jpg
FORDITE (3).jpg
FORDITE (2).jpg


Original Smith
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Re: Fordite steering wheel repair

Post by Original Smith » Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:11 am

I have a 17" type, and just keep waxing it. The Fordite still comes off, so I wear leather gloves when driving. I don't wish to paint it, because that will destroy the original look.

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