There's a funny old saying automotive painters like to quote when they talk amongst themselves, and it's "if nothing else, make sure that you do a good job on the hood and the driver's door." With this thought in mind it only makes sense if person wants the inside of their cab to look really good the first place to start is with the steering wheel. In addition to creating the illusion that a truck might be in better condition that it really is, the steering wheel also plays a key role in setting the style.
For example, if a guy wants to give his truck a modern street rod appearance he will install a polished billet beauty with a leather-wrapped rim. In the case of my Raven Black Big-Window CCT readers have come to know as Barn Find '56, I wanted to restore the cab's appearance to as close to how it looked when the truck first rolled off the showroom floor. I don't intend for the '56 to be a complete stocker, but I thought since the truck is so original, it would be fun to bring her back to original, and then let the customizing begin.
Provided a person pays close attention to all of the necessary details, swapping out the steering wheel on a truck is a simple job that can be handled by any hobbyist with a minimum amount of basic tools and a desire to do a good job. As a side note it's a good bet it didn't slip past any of our eagle-eye readers the '56 F-100 depicted in the lead photograph suddenly transformed into a '53 F-100. Friends, that's a good example of a tech story gone sideways when the subject vehicle didn't want to cooperate.
The morning started out simple enough. The plan was after taking Jeff and Steven from Sonoma County Street Rodz in Petaluma, California to the Donut Derelicts in Huntington Beach I would slide over to the storage garage where I keep the '56 and install the new Dennis Carpenter reproduction '56 F-100 steering wheel. I packed a few tools, and it would have been a breeze if the '56's carburetor didn't hemorrhage gasoline from a ruptured accelerator-pump diaphragm as soon I turned the key. Without being able to start the engine, the '56 was dead in the water. Thankfully, the crew from Sonoma County was down to deliver a '53 F-100, so our story was right on track. It was interesting to discover how installing the deep-dish '56 F-100 steering wheel in place of the flat-spoke '53 F-100 provided an old-school custom look to the '53.