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Finally! D&D Automobilia are ready to do your clear steering wheels. I'm sorry, I didn't even bother to ask the price. Now If you'll excuse me, I have a couple of steering wheels to pull and ship.
From Roger I.:
I just got my newly recast steering wheel for my '65 LeBaron. It was done by D&D Automobilia who also did Greg and Russell's '65 Crown wheel. It looks wonderful! Very classy in black center with clear rim. The only quibble is that he beefed up the casting a bit as he said the original plastic was so thin over the steel armature that it was impossible to recast it. The difference isn't noticeable to the eye, but the feel is slightly less delicate than the original. Functionally, a little more heft to the grip should be more comfortable on a long drive. The only downside is the cost--about $1200. In the years I've looked, I haven't seen anyting better at any money. I've also had him do the wheel for my '55 DeSoto and it's also wonderful. I haven't seen my '59 DeSoto wheel yet. Those who have wheels that are in like new condition are lucky--nothing compares to the feel of a wheel that's free of cracks and missing chunks.
From Greg M.:
I too am extremely pleased with Don's (one of the D's in D & D) work and am glad he was out there to provide me with the beautiful wheel for my '65 Crown convertible. Without him, I don't know where I'd be as apparently the ONLY other person in the US who does this recasting (he is on the west coast) wasn't interested in doing an Imperial wheel. He doubted if he did one for me he would ever hear from another Imperial owner about recasting theirs. How WRONG he was as Don has now recast three wheels for IML members. The guy on the west coast was too busy recasting wheels for other 'more popular and high dollar hobby cars' and he simply wasn't interested in my problem. My original wheel was so badly chipped and had discolored to a sort of orange shellac. It wasn't going to fly with the rest of the car and so after spending the better part of three years looking for a good used wheel or an NOS one (yeh right), I realized I had no other choice but to go the recasting route.
Don Eash is very talented and is easy to work with as he tried repeatedly to get just the right color for my wheel. I have an unusual shade of dark gold in the center and a light pearlescent gold rim. >From a color standpoint, it was not an easy wheel to do. It is beautiful and I have no regrets other than the fact it is still in the box and not on my car!
I know twelve hundred dollars sounds like a lot of money but he does rechrome the inner ring and as Roger said, he has to (in most cases) make a mold from your old wheel before he can even begin to start on your new one. A lot of work and time goes into the finished product. I am surprised it doesn't cost more. I mean it is CUSTOM work. Quality costs. It always has. Always will. A Chevrolet doesn't cost as much as a Mercedes but then the quality is a little different. Don's work is definitely Mercedes quality. The steering wheel was worth every penny!
Don at D&D Automobilia said that as long as my wheel is intact he can make a mold, have any rechroming of the pot metal done and do the recasting of the hub/spokes as well as the translucent grips. These fellows are the only people I know of recasting steering wheels. Don said he would have to recast my wheel and go from there. Probably going to cost around $1,000 by the time it is done. (2001 price)
Awhile back I asked about experiences with steering wheel restoration/recasting. After talking with several operations that restore wheels, we decided that the only option for us would be to have the wheel of our '65 convertible recast. I found 2 companies that recast steering wheels, but only one (D and D Automobilia), was interested in working with us on our wheel. You may remember that I got trashed by a few people on the list for reporting that the other guy said he could hardly get the Chrysler 300 people to spend any money, and that he doubted the Imperial people would ever let loose with enough dough to make it worth his while. The initial setup for the mold alone would cost around $3,000!!!!! He does beautiful work, but we can't afford a $4,500 steering wheel.
Anyway, Don at D and D has really worked hard to get the colors of this wheel right for us. He will be at both Carlisle and Hershey with our steering wheel showing his recasting process. He had to fill all the cracks and separations in our wheel first, make a mold, then rechrome the ring that shows through the translucent hand grips, get the colors correct and make two separate castings - first the upper and lower grips, then the hub/spokes. I'm sure he'd say I glossed over how difficult this process really is.
As I stated earlier today, Don has really gone the extra mile to try and get the colors right on this project. He has been extremely nice to deal with and I would highly recommend him. I am not sure if the '64 wheel is the same as the '65. At least now he has a mold for the '65 wheel if any other '65 owners need this service. As many of you already know, repairing cracks and painting the translucent wheel will not give you the wheel that came on the car from the factory. For those who want to replace their cracked, chipped or otherwise worn out wheel with an authentic one, Don is the one to work with. It isn't inexpensive but for my restoration, it was my only choice. Apparently there aren't many good used wheels out there and NOS ones are extremely rare too. After almost three years of looking for the Holy Grail, I began to see the handwriting on the wall and started checking into the recasting process. It is time consuming and tedious for the person doing the work thus the pricetag.
From Mel (3 Aug 2004):
The following is a brief chronology of events resulting in a new D & D steering wheel for my '59 LeBaron.
September 29/03 I mailed my old steering wheel (multi cracks, chrome inserts corroded,..) to Don.
Since then we corresponded many times (mostly by phone).
Don required the old horn ring and the horn switch that fits into the steering wheel. The horn switch was easy but the old horn ring was a little more challenging. I had sent the old horn ring to American Classic Restorations so they would be able to see how the center part of the ring was originally padded. They would then be able to pad the "new" ring I had sent them. As a point of interest they do not do any padding. They send it out to Just Dashes for this to be done. After a number of phone calls we managed to get the old horn ring into Don's waiting hands.
I was sent a number of color samples in order to select the ones that I felt best represented the original installation. Since I live in Canada sending items back and forth is always delayed by those activities involved by the act of crossing the border.
Ultimately the "work of art" arrived here last Friday (May 7/04). Total elapsed time was 221 days.
Was it expensive?.....YES.
My thought on the final product?......Excellent workmanship. I do want to add one qualifier and that is I want to be able to say the same thing 10 years from now.
For anyone looking for this type of work I believe you will be very pleased with Don's craftsmanship.
From Larry McPhail (9 Jun 2016):
D & D does good work and the steering wheel turned out very nice. However be prepared for a long wait. If he says 2 months that really means 1/2 a year. I asked him if I could take 6 months to pay. He said no, pay now. Larry McPhail
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