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280Z Steering Wheel


Av8ferg

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After finally getting my car on the road and logging about 100 miles this week, I’m considering going a different direction with my steering wheel.   I don’t really want to go aftermarket but I can be convinced otherwise. 
Right now I have a nicely restored 240z “wood” composite steering wheel.  It looks awesome.  Here is what I don’t like.  The grip diameter is small and a bit slippery.  I know this was how they’re supposed fo be.  I think 14” would be better, and I like leather feel.  I also think it’s a little too big in overall diameter at 15”.  So doing my research I see a few options and keep in mind that I don’t have the skills or fancy tools like Captain Obvious who probably installed airbags in his Z32 steering wheel modification.  
Options:

1. Have my stock 280Z wheels sent off for refurbishment and wrapped in leather - quote was $360

2. Buy an aftermarket one like MSAs or a Momo type,  (my least favorite option) ~ $260

3.  Buy the Zcardepot competition wheel that looks stock but just about an inch smaller (leaning this direction)

4. One I haven’t discovered 

Finally, I have three 240z composite steering wheels.  Not the series one with open holes in spokes.  
I’d be will to make a trade for someone in the market for one of these.  

- one is totally restored and looks new

-one is original but in great condition (bought it from a z collector in Montana on a work trip)

-one needs restoration (pulled from salvage yard)

see pics

 

 

 

F551F595-D3D0-4830-9753-BAE737098A57.jpeg

096E6EF0-D59B-45B5-99A1-3040D0936921.jpeg

B4BA8C97-BC74-4E1C-91A0-BC7A574D44CE.jpeg

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The 280Z steering wheels I have are covered in leather, and the rim cross section is about twice the diameter of the faux wood wheels that came on the 240Z.

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i wanted a really fat wheel for my aging arthritic fingers.  I cut down to the metal core, then encased in successively larger layers of heater hose, and finally wrapped in a custom Wheelskin.

 

20220512_154155.jpg

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I put the "wood" PXL_20210926_195854735.jpgsteering wheel on my 260z but it was too thin for my tastes. I purchased an old Nissan wheel with heavily deteriorated foam covering and made a black walnut steering wheel out of it.  

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I put the "wood" PXL_20210926_195854735.thumb.jpg.0d213aa421260b6d98e07c5d26a9c33c.jpgsteering wheel on my 260z but it was too thin for my tastes. I purchased an old Nissan wheel with heavily deteriorated foam covering and made a black walnut steering wheel out of it.  

Wow…way outside my skill level.


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i wanted a really fat wheel for my aging arthritic fingers.  I cut down to the metal core, then encased in successively larger layers of heater hose, and finally wrapped in a custom Wheelskin.
 
20220512_154155.thumb.jpg.9d6184fea50c90d01177aac338f005e4.jpg

Shak hands. You must have played for the NBA in another life


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Ferg, I refurbed a 240Z steering wheel because I liked the way it looks. But like you, I don’t care much for how thin it is. I bought a “Compe” wheel from a guy in Japan (I’m guessing it’s the same as what ZCarDepot sells) and like it way more. It looks good, the horn works, and I have not found it necessary to bend the turn signal lever to keep from accidentally hitting it while driving.


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5 hours ago, Jeff Berk said:

I put the "wood"

me too... I see that you made it exactly like me! ( in 2007)  was i your inspiration or...?

zx7.jpg

exactly same system, 6 on front parts and 6 on the rear, i made the front parts over the steel inner ring.. the rear parts are massive. (mahogany wood)

I also did this because of my big hands.. i had no fun with the tiny orig. 240z wheel.. (iirc, i had this "making of a steeringwheel"explaned somewhere on this site i believe.. 🤔

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5 hours ago, pogden said:

Ferg, I refurbed a 240Z steering wheel because I liked the way it looks. But like you, I don’t care much for how thin it is. I bought a “Compe” wheel from a guy in Japan (I’m guessing it’s the same as what ZCarDepot sells) and like it way more. It looks good, the horn works, and I have not found it necessary to bend the turn signal lever to keep from accidentally hitting it while driving.


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Thanks, the only issue  I have is I think those competitions wheels aren’t leather covered, they’re the rubber I think.   Is yours rubber and do you like that feel?  

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Jeff Berk said:

I put the "wood" PXL_20210926_195854735.jpgsteering wheel on my 260z but it was too thin for my tastes. I purchased an old Nissan wheel with heavily deteriorated foam covering and made a black walnut steering wheel out of it.  

There is a guy on Ratsun, who lives in Texas, that has made a few wood rims for steering wheels. It is a fairly straightforward process. Make a circular jig for a router, select a nice cut of wood, rout the two halves, glue them onto the rim, and finish the wood. 
 

One he laminated several different types of wood stained different colors. It looks awesome. He even made a matching shift knob.

Check it out here: https://ratsun.net/topic/78921-diy-steering-wheels/#comment-1700673

Edited by Racer X
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20 hours ago, Racer X said:

glue them onto the rim,

Use 2 component glue between the steel and the wood.. and .. use some professional wood glue between the wood. think that's the best way.

20 hours ago, Racer X said:

He even made a matching shift knob.

That's what i did TO!!  (Also out of mahogany!) :beer:  (They are in my 240z now for 15 years and working perfect.)

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Nice write-up of making a steeringwheel! I had the same idea.. then.. in 2007..  I thought i like a "fatter" steeringwheel but to buy a wheel... it probably would also not be thick enough.. so i made one myself..  One of the most important things is: use very dry wood otherwise you will have crack's in it later on and wast your time.

I drove the car about 25tkm and it's still as new.  The costs were around 200 euro, as i had to buy a good (quality) milling machine, some mahogany wood from a very good quality and some laquer..  it took me 36-38 hours.. as i'm not that fast.. (disability) 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just installed my real wood steering wheel in place of my simulated wood wheel and ran into a glitch. The wheel fits but not the hub and horn. If you look at the attached photos, the old wheel has a pair of holes on either side of the steering wheel shaft to hold the horn mechanism. The padded hub then snaps onto the horn mechanism. The wood wheel has a larger padded hub that clips onto three bolts threaded into the holes. 

I'm considering carving a center hub and incorporating a wireless horn button or designing an adapter to accept the old horn button. 

Any suggestions?

old and new.JPG

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9 hours ago, Jeff Berk said:

the old wheel has a pair of holes on either side of the steering wheel shaft to hold the horn mechanism.

Maybe it's possible to drill the 2 holes for the horn assembly and put some metric thread in? then you could use the orig. horn and button...

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I found this comparison on the classicZcars site and it looks like my replacement wheel is off a 280z while my older wheel was from a 240z.

 

I really prefer the 240z hub with my 280z wheel so I think I'm going to try and adapt it. 

Thanks for the input.

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 5/28/2022 at 9:11 PM, Jeff Berk said:

I really prefer the 240z hub with my 280z wheel

And.. Jeff, did you manage to let them work together?  I like the smaller 240z hub also more than that big 280z hub..

It's also a good warning for the rest of us.. look first if the steeringwheel fits on the axle (yours did..) but the button in the middle is not interchangeble..

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Dutchzcarguy

I'm still working on it. I'm either going to weld some metal on the new wheel's center to give something to drill into or I'm going to make a an adaptor. I'm waiting for the welder at my local maker space to get back in town next week.

Jeff

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Posted (edited)

I would be very careful, i ask myself if that wheel inner part is even weldable..  I would use some 2 component glue for steel and/or make an adaptor and glue it together.  That hornpad is just sitting there, does not need to be very strong.

btw.. think that the inner part is aluminum? Many sorts of alu and variation in welding does not make it simple.

Mart

Edited by dutchzcarguy
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The wheel is a strange construction of cast aluminum hub and steel spokes. I had the welding instructor at a local makerspace do the welding for me. It did pop a little due to the casting having bubbles, but he had no problem welding it. I personally would of not attempted as aluminum is very tricky to weld. At home, I drilled and tapped the holes to 4mm and was able to mount the hub. There's a little gap between the hub and the horn button but I can fill that in with a ABS printed part (once I can get one of my two printers working again).

 

modified hub.jpg

With Hub installed.jpg

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Yes, they were a little off but not enough to prevent them from working. I should of used a drill press and not a hand-held drill but my drill press did not have the reach to clear the steering wheel and I didn't want to wait a few days to get access to one of the ones at the maker space. At least they were both off in the same direction so the separation was correct. And for the first time in 9 months, my horn is working!

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