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Thread: How To Re-Do Your e36 3 Spoke Steering Wheel Leather

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    How To Re-Do Your e36 3 Spoke Steering Wheel Leather

    I chose that title so it'll be easy to find one day in the future because a title of "check this out" is borderline useless in a search.

    Before I took a sabbatical doing leather work, there was one remaining order I had to finish.

    So as I prepared Z3Couper's wheel, I figured I'd make a DIY out of it. This will end up, as I've been told, in his LSB.

    Nothing less than perfect and original will do so I decided to create my own version of the e36 3 spoke wheel for this coupe...keeping with the oem look though.

    You'll see.


    The work is in progress so this initial post is not complete. I'll update as I go.

    Starting with this past weekends work.

    To do this right, you will need the following:

    -OEM BMW seat leather. www.gahh.com
    -An industrial walking foot sewing machine (although my first wheel ever was done using my mom's bottom feed sewing machine) and appropriate needles. I use size 16-23.
    -Polyester thread size 92 or thicker. http://www.thethreadexchange.com/miv...lyester-thread



    The first thing you want to do is remove your steering wheel. I won't go into that as this has already been covered.


    Once your wheel is out, you'll want to remove the leather. Cut along the seam where the connecting stitch is and then peel the wrap off.

    It should look something like a snake shedding it's skin.



    At this point you will soak your original leather in water for it to relax and forget it was ever wrapped around a wheel.

    During this time you need to clean up the original wheel core. It's a non-vulcanized rubber which will clean up fine with mineral spirits.


    The below pics show where the concentration of cement is. Get it all removed.





    Once all the original glue is removed, it's time to measure for the circumference of your wheel with the material you will be using. No two leather hides are the same thickness and for Z3Couper's wheel I'm including some neoprene for a softer feel.


    This will ensure the pattern is made to include the width of all the material.

    After a few hours of soaking, the original leather wrap is ready to cut apart and make patterns. Remove all the loose thread and cut at the seams, there are 2 on the 3 spoke wheel.

    Lay the leather wrap flat and straight and let it dry for up to 2 days using weights to prevent the leather from shrinking back.

    You should end up with 2 pieces to make your pattern from. Use some basic poster board taped together to trace your pattern.

    In my case, I scanned the leather wraps and redrew each piece to exact specs and width.


    Once you have your pattern, transfer it to your leather and trace it out. Use a sharpie as it will leave a clean like to cut from.

    Cut a little proud of your pattern because later you will need to trim the leather wrap to fit when you do a test fit. I've done 20+ wheels and I've never cut the leather perfect the first time. If only I had a laser cutter.

    Once you have your leather cut, it's time to get to sewing.

    If you chose leather from GAHH, you will find that the finished sides are very slippery and dont like to stick together when you go to sew. That's why I staple my seams before I sew. BMW uses a similar technique as do most trim shops.



    Leather's all set up, time to stitch. I wont go into how to sew. Your mama shoulda beat me to that. Or your papa as in my case.



    What you should end up with is a basic seam to which you will want to trim the selvage or excess leather - as close as possible.


    For Jeremy's wheel, I also cut neoprene to fit under the leather accounting for wrap gain. I made this wheel for myself in one form and it's quite a good feel. Think of a step past the e46 M3 wheel. That's this.



    More posts as I work.
    Last edited by rocknroad; 07-07-2010 at 11:20 PM.

    .

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    Jeremy is offline ǝoɥsuʍolƆ ǝnƃɐǝ˥ ɹoɾɐW BMW CCA Member
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    Awesome Jeff. Can't wait! Thanks for putting the DIY together. Hopefully a lot of people will take advantage of it.
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    Watching..thanks for this.

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    Subscribed!

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    Jeff, let me know when I can send you mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian G. View Post
    Jeff, let me know when I can send you mine.
    Not in the leather biz anymore which is why he's doing all of us the service of posting this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M Pete View Post
    Not in the leather biz anymore which is why he's doing all of us the service of posting this.
    So he thinks the average person is going to do this themselves??

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    I have an extra wheel sitting in the garage and am going to give it a try, why not? It keeps me off the streets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian G. View Post
    So he thinks the average person is going to do this themselves??
    If they don't want to pay someone else, yeah.

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    Awesome! I would fail big time if I tried this.

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    Very nice write-up!!! I would also fail miserably though

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    Im sad now Jeff..... Very Sad...

    Teach me and Ill teach you to weld?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sky1Z3 View Post
    Im sad now Jeff..... Very Sad...

    Teach me and Ill teach you to weld?
    hey now I does the welding up en hur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinci View Post
    If they don't want to pay someone else, yeah.
    I just don't have the time or skills to do something like this myself

    Sounds to me like Z3Couper found a way to have Jeff do his wheel for him.

    Looking forward to seeing others undertake this task.

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    Jeff is sympathetic to whining, large sums of cash, and whining. Nah, Jeff was gonna do a bunch of stuff for my old car and it didn't work out before he got his new gig. I'm stoked that he's using the DIY as a chance to make mine.
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    I would never try this myself, unless I wanted to laugh miserably at myself and then cry afterwards.

    I'd just ask if I could send him anything I wanted stitched. If he agrees, sweet, if not so bet it then. Any work although not cheap would prob be better than trying this and screwing up my part and then be forced to buy a brand new OEM one...

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    Why don't we all try this & then post the pictures? We could then have a vote later to determine the top 3 fails. :-) Gold, silver, bronze. LOL

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    Yeah I get it. You seem to think this is tough. And Im not going to lie, it is a challenge but no more of a challenge than what I've seen most of you guys already undertake.

    Look, I've seen what you guys are capable of, otherwise I wouldn't have wasted my time or yours on posting this.

    Think about it...then relax and think about it again.

    You CAN do this.


    And hell, even if you think you can't, I'm here to help you.


    SO on to the next steps..

    This weekends work included the straight stitching in both the M blue and M red stitch colors.

    If you order thread from my reference, get yale blue and scarlet red.

    The M blue runs along the spoke wraps..




    Then the red stitch. Just follow along the line of the cut leather. Keep off the leather edge about 1/8"



    Once you have the stitching done it should look something like this



    For Jeremy's wheel, I'm adding neoprene. The seam is to make sure the neoprene lands at the stitch seams.


    I realize most of you simply want new leather for your wheel and added neoprene isn't necessary. Therefore when I end this post, I will offer a pattern for an oem rewrap - just...wait til the end.

    So until next week, a final pic....Damn, I really really wish I could make a living at this cause I effing love it.
    Last edited by rocknroad; 07-11-2010 at 11:06 PM.

    .

  22. #22
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    Jeremy is offline ǝoɥsuʍolƆ ǝnƃɐǝ˥ ɹoɾɐW BMW CCA Member
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    Looking good Jeff. I can't wait!
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    Awesome thread. I have a spare steering wheel in my closet that is just begging me to try this.

    Subscribed and waiting patiently.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OUSHark View Post
    Awesome thread. I have a spare steering wheel in my closet that is just begging me to try this.

    Subscribed and waiting patiently.
    Same here. I bought mine for this specific purpose, though I bought it long enough ago that I was hoping to have someone else do it for me.

    Jeff, what thickness of neoprene are you using?

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    Nice work, can't wait to see it finished!
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