Seat Rebuilding: Part II

First, take the backs off the seats by the removal of the two bolts (common for classics) on the side. With one of the backs clamped in the holder, it’s easy to take the original leather covers off. Once off, the original straw and cotton batting filler is exposed. Behind this material may be a gridwork of fat rubber bands that absorb flex. These rubber bands were in fine shape, as was the straw. We removed the cotton batting and layered on some rayon filler, then slid the new seat cover over the frame.

The first time we pulled the cover tight, the seat still had some wrinkles and loose areas. To correct the problem, simply pull it back off and add more filler to the appropriate areas. After a little trial and error, the seat-back is nicely supported and everything fits secure.

Once content with the cover’s shape we stapled it down on the bottom (wood) rail, as the original cover had been done at the factory. The pleated front of the seat was stapled first, then the wool (moquette) rear cover was folded and stapled, and tacked to hide all the rough work.

Now For The Bottom

The bottom portion of the seats is more likely the most collapsed and worn, for obvious reasons. Starting from the bottom, pull out all the staples and tacks holding the leather cover and peeled it away from the frame. This will reveal the old foam rubber cushion. All that stuff will go into the trash.

At the bottom of the frame is a stretched rubber membrane. You may need a new one, or salvage the old one. Once the rubber is in place, lay the new foam seat cushion onto it, using just a quick spray of adhesive to hold it in position.

The center of the seat cushion is depressed (for bolstering) so we properly positioned our new cover over the area and then glued the corresponding underside of the cover to the cushion. This was the only method (with this seat design) to hold the center section down.

Once the center adhered we proceeded to stretch the cover over the foam and staple it to the underside of the frame. The best technique was to pull the center of each side, staple it, and then work towards the corners. Once you are satisfied with the seats, assemble the backs to the bottoms and put them aside for later installation.

The Final Steps!

Back in the car, we turned our attention to installing the coverings that hide all the rough sheet metal. The first thing to do was to lay out every piece and place it in the position it occupies in the car. This would rule out any mistakes and help figure out the order of installation (some parts overlap others). Starting with the floor area, we glued down some aftermarket sound/heat insulation. It’s worth it to do this step with any old car. The material is inexpensive and goes a long way toward making the car less rattly and turbulent.

Next, start gluing in the carpet and vinyl trim materials. Start at the footwells and work your way towards the rear of the car on each side. The only trick to this part of the project is to stop and think about which pieces overlap the others and which ones you can put in without getting them soiled later.

Piece by piece, we glued in all the trim vinyl and carpets. We took our time with all this; in all, this can take up to 10 hours.

Door Panels

We didn’t, of course. Before putting on the new panels, we had to glue in some vinyl trim at the leading top edge of the doors; this was easy to do since there was a little right-angled piece of sheet metal covered by vinyl. Once we glued new material onto it we simply screwed it into place along with the channel that holds in part of the door panel.

Next comes the window garnish molding. That’s what most companies call the piece of trim that you rest your arm on when the window’s down. Most of the time all that’s required is to strip the material from the old one and glue the new material on. The garnish moldings were held in place by the screws that hold the upper channel for the panel.

The door panels then had to be installed. Once lined up putting the panel on is just a matter of slipping it in the upper channels and then hitting the area in front of each clip with your hand. The panel snaps in place and then you can reinstall the door and window handles (easier said than done!). Be patient, the completion of this project will be worth a little frustration.