I have a 25,000 KM/4 yr old i20 Asta, which had started showing signs of wear and tear on its leather wrapped steering wheel since Dec-14 and was sticking out as a sore thumb in an otherwise immaculate in-cabin quality of my car. I tried going for an off the shelf leather cover but was simply not happy with the fit and finish of the product compared to the super-premium factory fit leather my i20 had come with. I was looking for ways to discard the bought cover and that is when I hit this thread - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/bangal...bangalore.html
It was exactly what I was looking for!...but for JC Road! That area of Bangalore gives me the creeps. Driving (read crawling) through those narrow lanes with traffic and crowd literally running onto you is not to my liking and obviously so, the motivation and enthusiasm took a backseat. To top it all, after going through the thread above, the bought cover started looking uglier and it started hurting my eye to such an extent that it was discarded instantly. There on wards, the wear/tear of the steering kept getting worse till it started looking like below. The picture is a close up and hence its looking much worse than it does to a human eye when driving but nonetheless, it had become an epidemic and cried for an operation.
I called up Devraj last week finally, and fixed an appointment for Sunday assuming that the madness in JC Road would be much less compared to other days. I planned my appointment for 11 am because I had photography class at Lalbagh from 7 am to 11 am but you can get the appointment as early as 8.30 am. Please note that he is off every second Sunday of the month.
Some quick points about Lalbagh that you may consider when fixing your appointment:
- Try reaching Lalbagh between 6.30 am to 7 am on a Sunday.
- Entry is through East gate on Hosur road and you can take your car straight in and park where you find space
- If you reach so early, you need not pay for car parking
- Take your camera along to capture early morning nature. No camera fee till 8.30 am.
- After spending 45 mins to 1 hour, walk to the east gate, take a rick and hit MTR for breakfast. Fare is 25 bucks.
- Depending on the time you hit MTR, you might hit a long waiting, so try being there before 8 am. Enjoy your breakfast.
- Come back to Lalbagh east gate in a rick from MTR. Again fare is 25 bucks.
- Walk to your car. If you are entering after 8.30 am please be reminded that in case you have your camera in hand they might ask for camera fee that is 50 bucks.
- Drive out your car to hit JC road. You wont be checked for parking tickets on your way out of Lalbagh.
- Assuming you passed Lalbagh East Gate on your left, keep driving straight and you will pass the Main gate on your left.
- Drive further down till you see Ganesha temple on the right.
- Take the right after that and head to the first crossing.
- Just before the crossing, on the right you will see JC Road BBMP parking, a desolated building so it appeared on a Sunday.
- Take a left from that crossing and then take the third left.
- Its the 3rd Cross road and mind you, this road is very narrow, so narrow that it can only have one vehicle pass through it in one direction at a time. Mostly this road is used as one way for vehicles entering into the 3rd cross but many a times cars come out in opposite direction if they see a clear pass through.
- I don't exactly remember but his is probably the 5-6 shop on the right after AK Traders. But this would mostly not matter because he will not miss you once you enter the 3rd cross. Its a small stretch of road, maybe 500 m and ends in a T-junction.
Before you enter 3rd cross, please check with Devraj if there is any space there for you to park. Generally on a Sunday you will find a place but still better to check with him before you take that left. Getting out:
- Once your job is done, go straight till you hit a T-junction.Take a right
- Again you a hit a t-junction. Take a right from there.
- You will hit Mudaliar road, take a right from there.
- Continue straight till you hit Lalbagh main road.Take a right and MTR will fall on your right.
- Go straight to hit Lalbagh main gate.
- Stop by at MTR for their wholesome lunch if you can Sneak peak below:
The picture below shows the condition of my steering wheel. I would say that it lasted me a good three and a half years before signs of wear came up. Reasons could be anything like abrasion from finger rings, nails of the thumb which most likely rests on the front side of the wheel when driving, sweat etc. It was just a matter of getting the first spot of abrasion, and it grew thereon into adjacent areas as and how hands moved across the spot when taking turns and this continued till the entire wheel was 'infected'.
Another close up below. Notice the fine stitching out of the factory. We will compare this with the after job stitch quality.
This is Devraj, the man in action. One important point is that in case of a vehicle with no airbags, he takes out the steering, takes it to his workshop, completes the job there and then installs the steering back into your car. But in my case since my car had airbags, he had to do the job in the car!
First he asks you for your choice of leather color. In my case I wanted to go with the closest match to factory fit so it was chocolate brown for me. Next he comes with 4 cut pieces of leather and starts his measurements.
As per the measurements he uses a white pencil to record his marking on the leather. This takes around 20 minutes.
Post the measurements he goes inside his workshop and completes the stitching work that takes around 10 minutes.
After the basic cover has been machine stitched in the workshop his assistant comes in, and starts fixing the cover. Here you also see a custom stitched leather tool bag on the co-passenger seat. Good attempt at marketing. Just in case you do not know, he also does leather seats, gear knobs, door panels etc.
As a first step after adjusting the alignment of the cover with the wheel, he starts applying glue to the inside of the cover, so that its sticks and holds onto the wheel better.
Once the glue has been applied, he starts sticking it hard. You can see the outline of the wheel cover take shape now. Application of glue takes about 10 minutes.
Post that he starts hand stitching with a thread (color of your choice). I again chose the factory fit combination.
Almost 25 % done. When doing his job at his super speed he was very careful not to scratch the wheel.
Another angle. Total time taken to complete the stitching take about 20 minutes.
So what does the result look like? One word - Excellent job done! The fit is so snug that it just feels like a skin on top of the wheel and not a cover off the shelf. The quality of stitch is very fine with 1-2 blemishes that the eye would not even notice (the camera does however).
All the loose ends of the thread were burnt using a match to give this even finish.
This is the part where some bit of improvisation is done for cars with airbags. He could have also replaced the leather above the mounted control panel till the horn pad also but that needed him to remove the steering which could have possibly deployed the airbags and hence we stuck to the improvised bit. Post job completion, results were fabulous with safety aspect of the car untouched. Here in the picture you can see some fresh glue trying to bond the two covers together but as I write this, glue has dried up and the two surfaces have bonded well.
This is how the whole steering looks post the operation. Isn't it looking great! A good thing that has happened is that the wheel is a bit more meatier now(a missing attribute in a factory fit car) and with each passing day the cover is setting up better on the wheel take the shape of the contours and curves.
Just in case you are guessing, the part of the leather cover over the V part of the wheel spoke was nudged beneath the surface of the matte panel using a screw driver.
Please keep a watch out for any spilled glue onto your steering body. It being a strong adhesive, needs to be cleaned up quickly otherwise taking it out later can become a challenge.
A few comparisons of then and now. To sum it up:
Total cost of breakfast at MTR = 200 bucks
Total time taken for the steering wheel job = 1 hour
Total cost of the operation = 900 rupees
Total cost of sumptuous meal at MTR = 220 rupees
Satisfaction on a productive Sunday = PRICELESS
Address of the workshop is adjacent to:
A K Traders
22/23, 1st Floor, Seethalakshmi Complex, 3rd Cross, Journalist Colony, Near-J C Road Circle
J C Road
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560002
Contact: Devraj -09964031960
A good thing that the whole exercise did to me was to remove my inhibition to drive to that part of the town and I am really happy about it. My next visit to JC road will happen shortly to put a close to another thread of mine on T-BHP - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ery-drain.html