We are sharing our Gremlin X steering wheel restoration project in hopes that it might help someone down the road. As most of you know, when working on an AMC Gremlin, you can’t just pull out a catalogue, or type in a web address to order any and every part imaginable. You either refurbish what you have, or search long and hard for a better quality /NOS replacement part.

It’s always fun learning new skills and improving on ones abilities, and if you are like me, the more money you save the better. Below I’ll take you through the process I took, the materials I used and I’ll give you some hints that might be helpful.

Before we get started, please know:

First and foremost, there are a multitude of high quality tutorials already available online from professionals and I checked out a lot of them before attempting this project. I’ll have links to my favorites at the end of the article.

Materials:

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Simple Green cleaner
  • 3M Scuff Pad Scotch Brite (grey)
  • 220, 320 grit sandpapers (not shown)
  • PC-7 Epoxy Putty
  • Etching Primer
  • SEM Adhesion Promoter
  • SEM Color Coat (Landau Black)
  • Masking tape
Materials used to restore the Gremlin X steering wheel

Let’s get started

With our dirty (well loved) steering wheel

I had some extra wheels laying around and purposely set the best one aside just in case I made a horrible mess of this project. (I’ve done that more than once). The photos show it’s condition.

Gremlin X Steering Wheel Restoration project: Step one

Cleaning: Use hot water, dishwashing detergent, scrub brush and Scotch Brite pad to remove all the dirt from the wheel. Because the wheel was so dirty I washed the wheel a total of 3 times (the second time I used simple green, and my pocket knife to scrape the stubborn areas)

AMC Gremlin X Steering Wheel Restoration project: Step two

Identify the problem areas. As you can see from the photo, just cleaning the wheel made a huge improvement. Inspect the wheel for cracks areas to repair and rough them up with coarse sandpaper.

TIP! Other tutorials mentioned that a Dremel tool with a small coarse sandpaper drum works well. I agree, just make sure you keep your RPM low or you might melt the plastic rather than roughen it up.

Better than a damaged wheel but not perfect: The Gremlin X wheel has texture and details that can easily be lost. If your wheel has to be perfect I’d suggest sending it to a pro. I didn’t attempt to keep the texture, I kept the fill areas as small as possible, and taped around the groove detail on the outside of the wheel to minimize losing detail.

AMC Gremlin X Steering Wheel Restoration project: Step three

Fill the problem areas with PC-7 Epoxy. After reading and watching many tutorials it was evident that PC-7 is the choice for steering wheel repair. Other regular quick set epoxies will sag over time. PC-7 is a two-part putty epoxy that’s available from many online retailers. I got a very small tube from my local Lowes Home Improvement. Mix equal parts of the PC-7 thoroughly and fill the cracks / imperfections.   This is a slow curing epoxy and while it does shrink a little during the hardening process, it doesn’t shrink up as much as a body filler. The putty is pretty thick and doesn’t spread easily. I found a great tip when watching Eastwood’s tutorial (link below) Wet your fingertips to smooth out the PC-7.

TIP! The curing time is about 24 hours, but much like body filler, you can really save yourself some time by shaving or sanding it before it’s fully cured.   After about 12 hours, I used a razor blade and some 225 grit sandpaper to rough-in the shape. After it fully cured, the finish sanding was a lot easier.

AMC Gremlin X Steering Wheel Restoration project: Step four

Finishing and painting. Start by cleaning one last time. Eastwood’s guide indicates using a PRE painting prep. I used a wax remover pre paint that I had laying around. You’ll want to mask the center aluminum of the wheel to avoid overspray. Next, apply several light coats of a self-etching primer (I only applied over the areas that were filled). After the primer is dry, follow the application instructions for SEM Adhesion Promoter and apply top coat with the SEM Color Coat.