Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Birthday = KARR's New Gullwing

I thought it would be cool to put a gullwing steering wheel in my Fiero (KARR). It was an idea I was toying with, but I really could not justify the expense of putting a gullwing in my daily driver just to have a gullwing. This summer the leather-wrapped GT-style steering wheel in my Fiero started oozing whatever glue was used to hold the leather in place on the steering wheel. It oozes out of the pores where it is stitched and looks like melted chocolate, in both consistency and color. It also stains clothing. One day while trying to get a "chocolate ooze glue" stain out of my dress pants, Sara said, "How about for your birthday present this year you get a gullwing steering wheel for KARR?" Got to love my wife!

I had decided before starting Project: K.I.T.T. that all of KITT's conversion parts, both interior and exterior, will be from Billy at Knight Designs. Billy's parts are the true "Cadillac" of conversion parts. They are not only the highest quality and most screen accurate, but feature all the bells and whistles, too. The downside to having "Cadillac" parts is the "Cadillac" price that goes with them.

When it came to choosing a gullwing for KARR, I was not looking for the ultimate in screen accuracy, but rather a cost effective, functional, quality gullwing. Also, I needed a customized gullwing, as I was putting it in a Fiero and not a Firebird, and would not have the dash and the rest of the conversion parts.

I turned to João at Knight Passions. I liked the look of his 3rd season “Gullwing” steering wheel and he was willing to customize the steel neck of the gullwing by shortening it for my Fiero. He also had an unbelievable turnaround time for a customized part. I had my customized gullwing in just three weeks!

Here is the box from Knight Passions. João wrote "Very Careful!" or "Extremely Careful!" on every side of the box, including the bottom. I have never seen a box marked that well. Very impressive!

Even more impressive was the packing job. Yes, it is just newspaper, but every square inch of the box was filled.

Nestled securely in the newspaper padding was my gullwing.

Here are some detailed pictures of my new gullwing. My gullwing had to have the metal cover over the access hole due to the customized shortened neck.

João told me the gullwing would be "out of mold" which means it would need some sanding before it was ready for paint. You can see the seam line that runs all the way around the gullwing in the pictures above. This could be felt as a distinctive ridge all the way around. I spoke with Billy about his techniques for sanding, and then began sanding my gullwing.

Billy told me if he was to teach me how to work with fiberglass, he would start by blindfolding me. He said you can feel with your fingers what you cannot see with your eyes prior to paint. After you have it painted, you will be able to see what you should have felt with your hands. I sanded my gullwing by hand and then felt for smoothness. He was right - there were definitely areas I could feel but I could not see.

I have my gullwing sanded to the point where I am happy with how it feels. However, I plan to install it and drive with it a bit before I paint it. I just want to make sure there is nothing else that stands out while I am actually using it. I have also purchased the Grant adapter necessary to mount this in place of my stock steering wheel.

I did have to make one modification in order to fit the gullwing on my Fiero. Due to the shortened neck, it was impossible to access the top bolt. I switched bolts from the provided hex head bolts to Allen head bolts, and then from the back of the neck I drilled an access hole through the front of the gullwing. In the picture below you can see where the hole came out just inside the lip of the original hole cut into the front of the gullwing. This will provide me access with an Allen wrench to turn the top screw in with no trouble.

I am hoping to install the gullwing in KARR tomorrow. :)

If you are looking for a great gullwing for your conversion, I highly recommend the 3rd season “Gullwing” steering wheel made by João at Knight Passions. Thanks João - you are awesome!

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