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wallaby

Replacing seat covers

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I'm thinking seriously about ordering all the stuff I need to update my interior. I think I can handle doing the door panels and carpet and maybe even the headliner, but how hard is it to recover a set of seats?

I want to get new seat foam and cloth covers. I have bench seat if that makes a difference. There are items like the headrest covers that make me think that there might be some sewing involved? Maybe some special tools besides the hog-ring pliers?

Has anyone installed their own interior with reproduction parts and can give me some advice about whether I should do this myself or gather up the parts and take it all to an upholstery shop for install.

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If you have never done this before and you want your car to look it' best I strongly suggest taking your seats to a good shop. I'm sure you can put them on but getting that factory look can only come from experience & proper tools. I've had many interiors done by the Pros and I'm glad I did. Just my 2

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Wallaby.

I just went through this. I bought the new covers from true connections, and started with the front buckets. The old covers came off ok when I found that the foam ans springs need some work. I gave up on the buckets and went to the back seat which was not that bad to do. I called around and found a guy to rebuild and cover all seats for $250.00. Im my opinion the $ was well spent.

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I recovered my buckets in just a few hours. It was not all that hard to do. Have a spray bottle with soapy water handy to help ease the new covers over the foam. It took about 2 hours per seat, and they turned out great! I would feel confident to do it again. Best advice go to a place that sells horse shoing supplies to get the pliars, and hog rings, it will save you a nice chunk of change. Most repo places want to charge you 30 bucks for the pliars, I paid 7 i believe at one of those places.

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Sorry about the long post to follow but it is a detailed "how to upholster your seats at home". I'm not sure who recommended soapy water for installing the covers, and it may have worked but it's not really a good way to do it. I'm in the middle of a 15 month auto upholstery class as we speak. So far I've done several out of the box cover sets and have sewn up 2 interiors from scratch. The way we were taught is to carefully dis-assemble the seats paying close attention to where all of the lister wires are and where everything is hog ringed. Assess the foam. If you can re-use the original and add some to it you are usually better of than using aftermarket foam. Carefully check all of the springs. New side bolster springs and complete assemblies are available if needed. Once you have cleaned and painted the springs, tightly hog ring a heavy fabric over the seat springs, it keeps the foam from getting chewed up by the springs. If the foam needs to be built up, use a couple of thin layers of foam glued into place. At school we use an upholstery glue from a 2 gallon paint pot but 3M makes a high strength spray glue that will work fine. Rough cut the foam and test fit it. When you are happy with how it fits, spray one side of each piece of foam, let it dry completely then spray a light coat on ONE of the pieces and position it in place. If it is lumpy etc, take a 120 grit sanding disk on a D/A and GENTLY smooth and sculpt the foam. Resist the temptation to stick lots of foam on the seats for a more cushy feel..won't work out. It's easy over stuff the seat and you wind up sitting to high. Ask me how I know!!! When you are happy with the foam, get a couple of plastic bags that the dry cleaners put over clothes, the ones that are extremely thin and wrap the seat foam in them. This will allow the seat cover to slide over the foam easily but won't bunch up or show through the cover as a lump. Set the covers in the sun to warm them, if this is not an option, put them in a clothes drier on a MEDIUM setting, not hot. Get a hair dryer to help keep the covers warm as you install them but be careful! Put your left hand on the cover in the area that you are heating with the hair dryer..if it's too hot for your hand it's too hot for the cover. Pull the cover into place, making sure that it is centered. If you are doing the bottom, start with the lister wire in the center of the back of the seat and hog ring it in place. Next pull the front of the cover into place, align the welt with the edge of the front seat and with the cover warm,and stretched, hog ring it in place. Now go to the back again and start working your way to the outside edge. You want to keep any wrinkles moving in a diagonal direction. If the wrinkles are perpendicular or horizontal they are difficult to work out. Keep going front to back and side to side and you should be able to get a good tight installation. If you have low spots at corners and radius' work a small amount of dacron (1/2" thick usually works well and it can be bought in a small sheet at a fabric store)into the cover where you are having trouble, it will fill the voids. Don't use too much or it will show. Doing the seat back is about the same and if you made it this far you'll be ok. One good trick for getting the foam into a seat back cover is to wrap the foam with a dry cleaner plastic bag, about like a christmas present..but don't use tape, just use 2 layers of plastic all over. At the edge that will be exposed when the foam is in place, make a small hole in the plastic bag. Take your vacuum cleaner and use just the hose without any attachments. Put the hose over the hole in the plastic and turn on the vacuum. It will shrink the foam way down and you can easily slip the foam into the cover. When it is properly positioned inside, turn off the vacuum. The foam will expand back to it's original size and you can then adjust the cover as required. Again, sorry to be so long but it could save someone a bunch of money if they are patient. There really is a reason it cost's what it does for upholstery work. Our instructors have years of experience and that's how they help us fix what we screw up as we learn !!!

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Hey Hey

Rich how about some inbfo on thge school

Dave

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The school is Clover Park Technical College, ( www.cptc.ctc.edu )and it is in Tacoma, Wa. I'm currently enrolled in the Auto Restoration and Customization program and my Step-Daughter is enrolled in the Auto Upholstery Program. The programs are listed under the Automotive Technician heading. I get a couple of quarters of upholstery as part of my program. After we finish the class we will be moving to upstate New York and will open a small shop. It is a great school!

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Don't know if I'll ever get to do all this Rich but thanks for all the input. This will definitely be useful.

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If you have any questions, just e-mail me and I'll try to help out. It's nice having really good instructors!

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Ok, thanks.

I'm thinking maybe on the seats, but what about the headliner? is that going to be worse? It looks to be pretty straightforward, but maybe I'm wrong?

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If you want, I can type up a "how to" on a headliner. Again it's patience, keep the wrinkles moving diagonally and proper application of heat and glue. Let me know! Rich

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