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Thread: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

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    Darth Vader AUSMHLY's Avatar
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    Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    I have what I believe to be a AMCO wooden shift knob, with the Austin Healey cloisonné emblem inserted on top.
    From use, the clear coat has worn off the top section.
    I would like to refinish it, but not sure what the procedure would be.
    What would the steps be and what products would I use?

    Here are two pictures of mine, which I call the light bulb style.

    IMG_2699.jpgIMG_2703.jpg

    After a little searching on the web, I noticed some differences in the style of Healey cloisonné emblems on wooden shift knobs.
    I wonder what was the most common one back in the 60's.

    953BA37B-97D3-4CF5-A443-9CCC6F4750FA.jpgE0428ABE-E95E-4D57-A4CA-9AEF72DB3F3D.jpeg4E145D22-4B29-470B-B2C0-8A00AF18F09F.jpegD60BF94B-FA38-4C87-BE27-B6FE8DF7FD5E.jpg
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    1964 BJ8 phase II

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    Yoda Gliderman8's Avatar
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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    I have the same style shift knob on my TR6. I hand sanded it with the grain of the wood. It took quite a long time by hand but I could not think of a better way. Final sanding was with fine sandpaper. Then I gave it several coats of marine grade polyurethane letting it dry for several days and would steel wool in between coats.
    It came out pretty good.
    Elliot
    Central PA
    1973 TR6 Damson Plum / Biscuit interior, HVDA 5-speed, Good Parts Hubs
    1976 TR6 White/Biscuit interior SOLD
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Quote Originally Posted by Gliderman8 View Post
    I hand sanded it with the grain of the wood.Final sanding was with fine sandpaper. Then I gave it several coats of marine grade polyurethane letting it dry for several days and would steel wool in between coats.
    It came out pretty good.

    Hello Gliderman,

    1) What grit of sandpaper for the initial sanding?
    2) What grade of steel wool did you use in between coats?
    Why steel wool vs sandpaper?
    3) What grit of sandpaper did you use after the last coat of polyurethane?

    Do you remember what brand/product of polyurethane you used?
    Thank you.
    1964 BJ8 phase II

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    It’s been a long time since I refinished it. I’m guessing that I used something like 220 grit for the sanding. For the steel wool I used Fine 0000. You must make sure that all of the steel wool particles are cleaned off the knob before recoating with the polyurethane. Also don’t rush it... give the polyurethane a day or two to completely dry before using the steel wool.
    Here’s the polyurethane that I used.

    6C6AA161-8DE7-4DFD-B177-F3F498075FDD.jpg
    Elliot
    Central PA
    1973 TR6 Damson Plum / Biscuit interior, HVDA 5-speed, Good Parts Hubs
    1976 TR6 White/Biscuit interior SOLD
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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    Yoda Gliderman8's Avatar
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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Using steel wool on the polyurethane gives it a nice smooth finish.
    Sandpaper was only used to remove the original finish of the wood.
    Elliot
    Central PA
    1973 TR6 Damson Plum / Biscuit interior, HVDA 5-speed, Good Parts Hubs
    1976 TR6 White/Biscuit interior SOLD
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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    Darth Vader AUSMHLY's Avatar
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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Quote Originally Posted by Gliderman8 View Post
    It’s been a long time since I refinished it. I’m guessing that I used something like 220 grit for the sanding. For the steel wool I used Fine 0000. You must make sure that all of the steel wool particles are cleaned off the knob before recoating with the polyurethane. Also don’t rush it... give the polyurethane a day or two to completely dry before using the steel wool.
    Here’s the polyurethane that I used.

    6C6AA161-8DE7-4DFD-B177-F3F498075FDD.jpg
    Elliot,
    Thank you for taking the time to post what you used.

    You first posted you used marine grade polyurethane. I looked up the can you posted and it's for interior wood surfaces. The difference I believe is marine polyurethane has UV protection, interior does not.
    How long ago did you apply it? I'm concerned about the knob being subjected to UV.

    The more I research about what to apply, the more confusing it becomes. I think it's important to have UV protection, but maybe not? Not all coating have UV protection.
    Oil based product vs water.
    Urethane, varnish, polyurethane, lacquer...
    Will it yellow, chip or peel off over time...

    To ad to the confusion, product labels.
    Example, Varathane Spar Varnish, description: "Varathane Spar Varnish is a superior performing polyurethane for project requiring outdoor protection." Is it a varnish or polyurethane?
    1964 BJ8 phase II

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Yes, I definitely used the Marine grade since I was also concerned with the UV. Sorry, I took a pic of the wrong can.
    Elliot
    Central PA
    1973 TR6 Damson Plum / Biscuit interior, HVDA 5-speed, Good Parts Hubs
    1976 TR6 White/Biscuit interior SOLD
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Success.... I found the can on a shelf in my garage.

    IMG_4108 3.jpg
    IMG_4110.jpg IMG_4109.jpg
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    Elliot
    Central PA
    1973 TR6 Damson Plum / Biscuit interior, HVDA 5-speed, Good Parts Hubs
    1976 TR6 White/Biscuit interior SOLD
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Interesting. I'm leaning toward that same product, Spar Urethane.
    You first mentioned your product is a polyurethane, yet the label says Spar Urethane.
    It's confusing what these product actually are.
    Is it a Urethane or polyurethane or a varnish?
    Most likely a combination.

    I was in Home Depot last night, found Rust-Oleum brand, Varathane Spar Urethane. Description on the back of the can: "Varathane Spar Varnish provides maximum protection for all your outdoor wood projects."

    IMG_2711 2.jpg
    1964 BJ8 phase II

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    This description may help.
    what-is-spar-urethane
    1964 BJ8 phase II

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    Yoda
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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    I refinished my BJ8's in genuine British aluminium:

    ShiftKnob.jpg

    IMO, the only way to go.

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    Yoda glemon's Avatar
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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    I used the regular Minwax stuff on my TR250 dash and shift knob. Since it leads a pretty sheltered life, only being out in the sun for long periods of time a few days a year, I wasn't too worried about exposure to the elements. Ten years on still looks great, no wear to the shift knob from shifting either.

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Quote Originally Posted by Gliderman8 View Post
    I have the same style shift knob on my TR6. I hand sanded it with the grain of the wood. It took quite a long time by hand but I could not think of a better way. Final sanding was with fine sandpaper. Then I gave it several coats of marine grade polyurethane letting it dry for several days and would steel wool in between coats.
    It came out pretty good.
    Hello Elliot,
    How many coats of Urethane did you apply?
    Would you post a photo of your shift knob so I can see how it came out?
    Thank you.
    1964 BJ8 phase II

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Quote Originally Posted by AUSMHLY View Post
    Hello Elliot,
    How many coats of Urethane did you apply?
    Would you post a photo of your shift knob so I can see how it came out?
    Thank you.
    It has been many years since I refinished mine. Honestly I don't remember how many coats of urethane I applied but I would think 3-4 coats would be sufficient. Let it dry for a day or so before using the steel wool.... don't rush it.
    Here's a pic of mine. It's been years obviously there is some wear. Sorry about the reflections in the photo.
    IMG_4118.jpg
    Elliot
    Central PA
    1973 TR6 Damson Plum / Biscuit interior, HVDA 5-speed, Good Parts Hubs
    1976 TR6 White/Biscuit interior SOLD
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Nice

    I'm filling in the gap around the Healey cloisonné emblem so no more grime gets trapped in that gap. Once done, I'll sand, spray the Spar Urethane, sand, spray, repeat X times till I get the result I'm looking for. Smooth high gloss.

    Thank you for your help.
    1964 BJ8 phase II

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    Yoda tahoe healey's Avatar
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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Reason for not buying a new one?

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Quote Originally Posted by tahoe healey View Post
    Reason for not buying a new one?
    My father had the same car and I remember as a kid, he had a walnut shift knob that looked like a light bulb with the Healey cloisonné emblem. More likely then not, it was this AMCO knob that I have. In my first post, I showed examples of the different types of knobs and the different Healey cloisonné's emblems.

    So I'm going to restore this knob and there's the satisfaction, feel good about doing these sort of things yourself. Plus it's most likely the same knob, AMCO, my Dad had in his car. Miss you Dad.

    IMG_2703.jpg

    Style sold now by the usual suspects is this one.
    234-000_1.jpeg
    1964 BJ8 phase II

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    The old style is available (not from Moss). Search ebay and others as many have NOS. I bought one 5 years ago for my Healey and an MG one for a friend last year both in original boxes. I have a like new vinyl one that I took off my BJ8 available as well as the original black round one with the shift pattern.

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    I use the black round one my drill press. Helps keep track of the knobs.
    John, BN4

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    Re: Wooden shift knob, how to refinish

    Quote Originally Posted by tahoe healey View Post
    The old style is available (not from Moss). Search ebay and others as many have NOS. I bought one 5 years ago for my Healey and an MG one for a friend last year both in original boxes. I have a like new vinyl one that I took off my BJ8 available as well as the original black round one with the shift pattern.
    Thanks TH. I did search.

    I'd be interested in a NOS of the exact AMCO walnut knob I have now, which currently, my search comes up as not available anywhere. As I mentioned, I don't want a different shaped knob or different Healey inlay. Search will turn up, different shaped knobs, different Healey inlays, knobs made of different types of wood, aluminum, colored carbon fiber, vinyl and prices ranging from $25 to $95.

    Being a replacement isn't currently available, I decided I'll refinish mine. My post was simply asking for guidance on the how to procedure. I'm restoring mine for $12, the cost of a spray can of Spar Urethane and some sandpaper. And being a meticulous guy, when I'm finished, it'll probably have a better finish then what this NOS AMCO knob had, when I bought it 13 years ago on Ebay.
    1964 BJ8 phase II

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