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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Folks,
I am trying to get my Hellebore steering wheel off, to see if I can save it (it is cracking badly). Got the center cap off, got the nut off, and I am trying with a puller, but geez, that thing is tight, it won't budge. I just sprayed some WD40 in there, but I don't think that'll do the trick, it does not looks rusty or anything. Any tips or tricks? Thanks!
 

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Peter, this is something that was suggested to me, once. I haven't tried it myself. Take a heat gun (not a torch!) and heat the aluminum boss while simultaneously applying a little tension via the puller. You just need a little clearance to break the wheel loose.

Alfa has a factory puller which works really well. It attaches to the two threaded holes on the steering wheel boss and makes a straight pull. However, I've also seen people pull the threads out of a badly stuck wheel even using the appropriate factory tool.

Any way you look at it, getting a 40 year old steering wheel off is a royal pain in the butt. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I thought about heat, but did not want to try it, as there's wiring in there for the horn, and a plastic surround right below the wheel.....maybe I should try just a little :confused:
 

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I will chime in with Jim that the factory puller can make a big difference. The proper bolts, and the fact that the puller cross bar is very stiff, makes a big difference. Cheap universal pullers can't really handle the really stuck wheels. Hitting the attachment nut after you've loosened it a bit is alleged to help free things, but it's never helped me.

Andrew
 

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Steering Wheel Removal

You are undertaking one of the absolute toughest jobs on a 105 series Alfa.

The problem is that the steering shaft is tapered. And they must really put them on snugly at the factory.

If you will be able to get the wheel off without damaging it, you will most likely do it by doing everything possible at the same time to loosen it.

1) Use a puller. If you can't get your hands on a factory tool, make one yourself. It's not difficult to see what you need to put together.

2) Use heat, sparingly. Naturally, you will need to take off the plastic shroud. Assume you will have to replace the horn wire. Try to avoid damaging the turn signal/light combo switch. Suggestion: obtain one of those little propane torches that they use in cooking, like to put a crust on Creme Brulee.

3) Tap gently on the steering wheel hub while tightening the puller and applying a little heat.

If your efforts are sucessful, it will POP loose from the shaft.

4) Leave the nut threaded on the shaft a few threads so the wheel won't come flying off in your face.

Do not overdo any of the above. For example, you will probably not be able to remove it just by using a puller. So just apply medium force with the puller. You will not get it off with just heat, or just by banging on it. Do a medium amount of all three at the same time.

Do not try yanking on the wheel with your hands to loosen it. You will destroy the steering wheel.

I wish I could be more positive about the task ahead of you. I have had some bad outcomes. I have damaged some wheels and I have destroyed some wheels. And others I have been sucessful in removing undamaged.

Go slow and be careful if the wheel is valuable. Good luck.

OldAlfaGuy
 

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I thought about heat, but did not want to try it, as there's wiring in there for the horn, and a plastic surround right below the wheel.....maybe I should try just a little :confused:
Peter, this is why I recommended using a Heat Gun rather than a flame. You can even use a strong hair dryer to start with and it might be just good enough to pop the wheel loose. A heat gun will allow you to focus the heat on the steering wheel boss itself. It is also a lot more controllable than a flame---less collateral damage to wiring, etc. If the heat gun doesn't work, then a small propane flame is next.

Definitely take the plastic shroud off. It's not hard.

You might also think about going in the other direction and freezing the steering post with dry ice. If you can shrink the post a bit, that might let the puller do it's job.

The aftermarket pullers are OK for shifting a wheel that isn't stuck. But the common claw type pullers can actually work against you because, pulling at the edges of the wheel, they are actually applying pressure toward the center. Not good.

The objective of all this jiggery pokery is to pop the wheel loose. It went on so, even after 40 years, the **** thing ought to come off! :mad::mad:

If nothing else works call Fernald. He may have some more suggestions. He's probably removed a couple of hundred Alfa steering wheels. When I run out of answers (an admittedly rare occurance and usually someone else's fault) :) he's the first guy I call.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all your words of encouragement and advice. I first tried it with a claw type puller, that obviously did not work. Only after reading here, I noticed the threaded holes, so, I brought out the other puller that I once bought to get the old Duetto aftermarket wheel hub off. From what was described here, it is very close to the factory puller. Found the right thread/length metric bolts in my personal stash, and used heat, tapping, and ultimately a little more force on the puller than I initially thought was wise. I figured that I was following y'alls advice, was not forgetting anything, and my wheel was in bad shape to begin with, not even sure if restorable, so if the threads would not hold, it would just be time for a "new" wheel. And then it popped off!!!:D What a SWEET feeling!!!

Thanks all!!
 

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CONGRATULATIONS!

I share your joy over successfully removing a 105 series steering wheel.

That is indeed a sweet sound when you hear it "POP" loose.

OldAlfaGuy
 

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Glad to hear you finally got it off, Peter. How badly is the steering wheel weathered? Wood is maliable so there's a lot you can do to repair it if it isn't too far gone. The Hellebore wheels are both unique and beautiful. Mine is also going to require some repair and a thorough refinishing.

There's a thread running on steering wheel repair and another on wood veener repair.

Good luck
 

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I've had to do this twice on the same car in recent years, and both times I ended up resorting to brute force by way of the rubber mallet. (unfortunately, I don't own a puller)

I disassembled the entire steering column shroud and removed the switch gear. Then started with very, very carefully placed yet firm hammering from behind. The wheel came off in a few minutes.

Strangley, having removed the wheel about a year earlier seemed to make no difference. Despite very determined pulling, thumping and swearing the wheel stayed fast. In fact, I'd say it was harder to remove the second time around.

Mind you, I like the idea of using the heat gun. Never thought of that, but it makes sense now...
The first time I removed the wheel was at the height of summer and the car had been in the sun for several hours. The second time around the car was under cover in a garage. I know for next time.

Cheers,
-Col-
 

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Discussion Starter #11
so now that it's off, let me show you what the problem is, it is in really bad shape........
 

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next thing I did is take off what's left of the coating, and sand, not to a perfect surface, but enough to see what I had to work with. After that, I filled up the cracks with glue, and clamped overnight. Some cracks I could close completely, some have material missing and need to be filled.....Still, I think the result so far is amazing! So next I will work on filling the large crack, not sure yet how I am going to get the right color, but whatever happens, this wheel will look a lot better than it did before. I also gave the spokes a quick polish, makes a world of difference!
 

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Peter, looking at the bottom photograph. . . the cracks look extensive enough that clamping probably won't apply enough uniform pressure for glue to close the cracks. I say this because it looks like we're looking at a big crack w/separation rather than actual missing wood. Can't tell for sure, of course.

Anyway, here's a guitar maker's trick. Instead of clamping try wrapping with strong twine. Before you apply any glue, you might do a practice wrap to see if there's enough elasticity in the wood to allow you to close the gap. Often, when a clamp won't work the more uniform pressure of a good, tight wrap with strong shipping twine will apply enough pressure to close the gap and save you from having to fill it with wood. (Note: sawdust, mixed with Elmer's makes a great filler, BTW)

If you can see some movement along the gap, the go ahead and fill it with glue and the wrap it. You'll want a very close, very tight wrap to be effective. Let it set and when you unwrap, if you are lucky, you'll have a surface you can work with.

Good luck!
 

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oh what a happy camper I am. The wheel is finished, and it turned out really nice! The finish is smooth, and VERY shiny. The pictures actually don't do it justice. The one pic of back is where the crack was that I filled....with glue and saw dust...and some wood dye......pretty good huh? I used a one component marine varnish, because that's what I had left over from another project. I am in between jobs, so I am attacking projects that take time, but don't cost any money ;);)
 

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oh what a happy camper I am. The wheel is finished, and it turned out really nice! ]

Peter. . .

It looks like you did a good job. Did you spray the marine varnish on or use a brush? Did you have to rub out the finish to get it that smooth?

Y'all done real good. :)
 

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I used a brush with a very soft tip....I kept the varnish in my shed, so it was nice and warm (=fluid). I have not had to rub it out.....I contemplated trying one more layer, as I had some specks of dust....the layer before the last actually seemed a little better....but I have visitors over from Europe flying in tonight, and I need to clear the room that I used for this job. I gathered I was looking at it way too closely anyway....it's a lot better than I had hoped for!
 
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