Land Cruiser Heaven Leather Steering Wheel Cover Install (1 Viewer)

cartercd

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Joined
Aug 31, 2004
Messages
612
Location
Chandler, AZ
My OEM steering wheel cover was showing its age, so I decided to recover it. My criteria was a) leather material b) must cover the spokes just like the original c) not spend $300-$400 to outsource it to Dallas Custom Steering Wheel. So I pulled the trigger on a cover from Land Cruiser Heaven, Land Cruiser Heaven. This set me back $160 with shipping and took 3 weeks to arrive. They are available in various shades of brown and gray, and also black. Full disclosure – this was my first foray into leather work, so I don’t claim any expertise. Follow along on the install:

1. The cover is made of high quality leather and comes with color-matched thread of similar weight as OEM. I assume the thread is polyester, which is better than nylon for sun exposure. What came as an unwelcome surprise was that the cover is not punched with holes and not sewn into a loop – this resulted in many hours of work I was not expecting.

2. Remove the steering wheel. Technically you could do the install with the wheel on, but you undoubtedly will have better access and be able to do a better job around the spokes with the wheel off. Reference FSM section on Steering or FZJ-80 leather steering wheel recovered for guidance. My hints a) use a proper steering wheel puller, you’ll thank me later b) disconnect the battery if you have airbags c) make match marks on the shaft and wheel to ensure the wheel goes back on the same way it came off d) start with a centered wheel and don’t rotate the clock spring

3. Remove the OEM cover. Before you start, take a Sharpie and label the front part of the cover. As you can see in the photo, the spoke covers are not symmetrical front to back so it is helpful to use the OEM cover to figure out the proper orientation. The OEM cover comes off easily by cutting the threads with a razor blade / utility knife
with OEM.jpg


4. Mark your holes. I spaced mine at 5mm (3/16”) apart and 4mm (5/32”) from the edge. This is around 600 holes. I bought a $4 awl in the sewing section of Wally World. A finishing nail would also work. For the ends that butt together, I spaced the holes at 2.5mm because this section is under a lot of stress when you stretch the cover over the wheel. Be precise, as every hole on one side of the cover needs a corresponding hole on the other side.

awl and hole marks.jpg

5. Sew the ends together. I took 3 passes to ensure it would not pull apart. Do this with the cover inside out so the stitching is hidden once installed.

butt seam.jpg


6. Step 6 :beer:
7. Place the cover over the wheel, ensuring proper orientation as described in Step 3. I used plastic flagging tape to cinch things down to ensure I had the spokes lined up correctly.
trail fit with tape.jpg



8. Watch this video on the baseball stitch:
9. Start sewing. I did this in 6 sections, using the spokes, top, and bottom as starting/stopping points. I had difficulty around the spokes – in some cases there was excess material so I trimmed it with scissors and re-punched the holes to get a tighter fit. In general I found that that the cover was slightly larger in diameter than needed, so it did not fit as tightly as desired. The baseball stitch allows a little cinching, but not much. Also, the thin thread has very little friction (or perhaps my holes were too large), so if you do cinch up a section it relaxes as soon as you relieve tension. A larger diameter thread might be a better option. I recommend re-visiting step 6 several time along the way, because this process was tedious, frustrating, and took several hours.

10. The finished product. Better than my worn out OEM cover, but certainly not as nice as the pics I’ve seen from Dallas Custom Steering Wheel. I’m hoping with some summer sun the leather will shrink and tighten everything up a bit.

finished off car.jpg


I have mixed feelings about the project. It was an interesting endeavor , but I’m not sure taking an entire day to do this was worth the money I saved vs. outsourcing. If the cover came with pre-punched holes it would be a different story. You are paying $160 for a nice piece of leather cut to a pattern. If you might be contemplating the Euro-look with contrasting stitching, I’d recommend against it. The lack of hole placement precision and awkwardness around the spokes result in an imperfect “V” pattern.

Repeat step 6 :beer:
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2007
Messages
7,507
Looks like it needs some padding between the leather and the rubber core to take up the slack. Or, the size was cut too large for a wheel without padding. When I had DCSW recover my wheel I had them add a 1/16" thick layer of padding, which added ~1/8" to the OD of the wheel (ring).
 

Tedward

95 LC
SILVER Star
Joined
Feb 2, 2015
Messages
1,186
Location
Cleveland OH
I was looking at my cover the other day.....for 160 I will look for local leather....know what I mean. Thanks for the detailed write up, photos and instructions.
 

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