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Old 07-08-2004, 08:41 AM
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installing reproduction seat covers

Hey guys,
looking for any advice or experience on installing repop seat covers on a 67 chevelle, or any vehicle. My first attempt at recovering seats. any advice appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 07-09-2004, 09:31 PM
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You are not going to be happy with what you end up with if you dont take these important steps.

1. Get a camera, take lots and lots of pictures of the seat every step you take apart. There is alot of little details every first timer misses. On the assembly line (the big three built their own in those days) the guys did alot of subtle stuff like folds and location of hog rings. How much material overhung here and there. Film is cheap and a bad looking job will make you upset that you missed something.

2. Be Very carefull. Some parts are easy to get repos other are a stone cold pain in the rear. Broken parts and bent wires happen if you have to force it off. Many times it means you are doing something wrong, those guys were keeping up with an assembly line every part had a right way on and a right way off. (Never cut trim covers off!! You can useually roll them off like a wet bathing suit, I will tell you why later)

3. Bag all seat parts in a separate bag. Passenger goes in one the driver in another. some drivers have fewer parts than passenges due to easy entry features.

4. Compare the 2 seats. Many drivers seats are bent or broken especially in a shifter car due to clutch loading over time and they are used all the time unlike passengers. Look for breaks. I usually suggest (CAREFULLY) taking the foam off (time makes it glue itself on to steel so be carefull not to rip it) And clean up the rust. I dont recommend paint cause it tends to makes the seats squeak

5. Get a hold of a steamer, the foam pad has been under compression for 30 years+ it has taken a set. Steam the stuff until it expands as far back as possible to its original shape. Due to chemical change in structure called crosslinking it will never come all the way back. but the more you get it to rebound the better the fit. (Let it dry for a few days you dont want it to mildew your white covers do you.)

6. Get a roll of Dacron quilting batting 1" (mice smell cotton a mile away, dont add it unless you already have it). You can use this to help recover whatever dimesional issues the steamer wont bring out. And all aftermarket covers will not give you a perfect fit without alittle help in a few critical areas.

7. Compare the old covers to the new, I cant tell you how many guys have given me emergency pre show calls cause they have the wrong cover or a hybrid (some companies make one size fit all covers that cover several models) Note any differences. (read next line before you call the cover supplier!)

8. Read the cover instuctions completely. Many suppliers of covers will note the differences between models and how to make them fit your year.

9.Take a deep breath, you saw how it came apart. You read how it goes together. Do you still want to do this? If No, call your trim shop it will be cheaper than them trying to fix a ripped up new cover. Did you say yes? Great lets go forward.

10. Get a plastic bag that will fit over the seat This is a garage way, An upholstery shop would use "Angel hair or Silk Film" or years of practice an know how. The garbage bag will make a awful sound it you leave it inside the seat so...Get a utility knife, cut a bunch of slits like perforation on a tear off. This is so you can pull it out as you slide the seat cover on.

11. Place the bag over the foam.

12. If the cover is vinyl. Carefull now, Preheat the cover. I have a heating box. You can make one out of a card board box and a heat lamp. Leave the cover inside out and warm it until it goes slightly limp (DO NOT heat the crap out of it, you will overstretch the cover it when you put it over the foam or have a unique ungrained seat, Any your buddies will never let you hear the end of it)

Read the next to put it on!

Breathe, think about how it came apart it will go on almost the exact way only backwards and hopefull after the steam tighter.

12. Put the cover on like a pillow case on a pillow (If you punch it in like my kids that wrong) push the cover at the top like a little pocket if there is a tiedown (dont remember that seat too much I think they were open backs) If it is attach the front detail and roll it on gently. Pull the bag out, if it comes out in pieces good as long as its out.

13. How it fit so far? anything that looks like its missing support, frugally apply the batting in the hollow areas. Pull the ends out of the cotton candy to taper them so you dont get "lumps". (A rookie will make alot of goiters before they get it, the pros make it look easy, whe have taken are lumps per say)

14. Breathe, I know I know, but really trust me they didnt look perfect at the factory yet.

15. Go in the house, avoid the wife. She will want to have a look and you would have too much explaining to do. Get some wet rags and some ice (im not joking, just do it)

16. While your in there grab her hair dyer. If you have a heat gun (whoa lightning dont use it! You grasshopper, will probably burn the **** out of it with that!). A hair dryer usually dosent make enough heat to get the deep wrinkles out but should will help with the minor ones. about 9 inches away to start slowly heat small areas until it is uncomfortable to your touch, get a little closer slowly. Is it hot? Okay quick! Rub the ice on it, the vinyl should shrink. But be careful around the carpet it will smoke in a heartbeat and you will be bummed (cover it with the wet rag)

17. GENTLY keep heat in the seat. The vinyl and thread will relax over time (I have a full oven a whole seat will fit in, but a black garbage bag over the seat outside on a sunny summer day is Amazing. Inside a hot day in a suburban is good too). How long? as long as it takes, hey these are your cookies doughie or crisp you decide man.

18. Covers look good. Nice job. (Call the wife and Gloat) If not (Hide it from the wife and get the yellow pages) call the trim shop usually if you ask nicely and tell them what ya did they will heat it down for a couple of bucks

19. Put all accessories (handles shields back panels)

20. Install and brag when cruizin it!!

Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last edited by creativeinteriors; 07-10-2004 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 07-10-2004, 08:00 AM
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creativeinteriors - a big thanks for sharing that info. rebuilding my seats is on the list of things to do and when I get to it, I think that your info is going to really help!
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Old 07-10-2004, 05:34 PM
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wow. Thanks for the great response. As much as I would like to do this myself, it sounds like I would be a lot happier with a professional job. I have been waiting a long time to replace the black vinyl diamond tuft interior and would really be bummed if I had a second rate job after the money invested in the repop covers. Truly an impressive play by play. I may still try the backseat myself. I can see the buckets are pretty involved as I am tearing the passenger seat down right now. Luckily I have coincidently got the steps described right so far, but with the seat base cover half off, I am wondering if I would be wise to go any further with that.
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Old 07-15-2004, 12:47 PM
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wow is right i don't think i would attempt to that either, some things are just better left to have professionally done
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