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Tips on re-covering seats

 
Old 03-10-2019, 04:58 PM
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Mpls Funk
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Default Tips on re-covering seats

Hi all,

I thought I would take on rebuilding my seats. I got it out, stripped it all down, had the frames blasted and painted...purchased new foam and covers from Corvette America. Now I'm trying to put it all together. Everything was going fine until I tried to put the new vinyl cover on. I have watched the C.A. video...and it looks so easy. But I don't see how I will ever get the cover pulled down far enough to get those clips to attach to the frame! Is it expected that I need to heat them up? Does anyone have any tips/tricks?

Thanks!
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:34 PM
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derekderek
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That vinyl stretches. Hair dryer.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:44 PM
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I put my seat bottom on a bench stool. then but your sidebody/tummy/shouilder on it to compress the foam. then pull the sides under and roll them on with the clips.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:44 PM
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REELAV8R
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Yes heat, it’s the only way to get them on. And work slack into it from top down you can’t just pull at the bottom.

not an easy job if you’ve never done it before.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:48 PM
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other solution is maybe flip em topside down. press em down the frame with your knees.

the seatback. use a large trash bag or some plastic sheet. the cover will slip on easier. you dont really have to pull the plastic off either, its unoticable.
]
dont use heat. put the cover out in the sun for about 10 min. our work in the sun. you kinda gotta get the whole cover hot to see any major difference.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:19 PM
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Sunshine or heater vent yes, heat no! Inside the house for you right now. Work top down. Hog ring pliers a necessity, don't use cable ties on the stays. That's all I can think of, you can do it.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Mpls Funk View Post
Hi all,

I thought I would take on rebuilding my seats. I got it out, stripped it all down, had the frames blasted and painted...purchased new foam and covers from Corvette America. Now I'm trying to put it all together. Everything was going fine until I tried to put the new vinyl cover on. I have watched the C.A. video...and it looks so easy. But I don't see how I will ever get the cover pulled down far enough to get those clips to attach to the frame! Is it expected that I need to heat them up? Does anyone have any tips/tricks?

Thanks!
Not knowing what type of seat you are working does not help us in directing you specific advice.

Some seats have shoulder harness provisions in them ...while others do not.

Some seats have the chrome accent piece that goes in right behind your head while others do not.

I can say that you will want to assemble the BARE seat back and bottom and VERIFY that the rubber stop that goes in the seat back frame...lines up with the large Phillips headed bolt that goes in the seat bottom FIRST.

I have worked on so many seats where the frames were distorted and 'racked' and I needed to get these stops to line up perfectly so when I am done with the seat covers...all the pleat lines line up.



I can say that I do flip the seat bottom with the cover on a towel and stand on the frame so I can pull the cover up and over the edge of the frame and get it so I can get those clips to attach.

As for any advice on the seat back....there is a LOT to do before you go in and do it due to making sure the seat foams are correct..

DUB
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:50 PM
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Mpls Funk
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hi guys - thanks for the responses. I should have given more info. It's a 1970...currently working on the passenger seat...and starting with the seat bottom.

So, I think I'm hearing to NOT use a hair dryer/heat gun....am I best to wait until I can take it outside in the sun? I am in Minneapolis....so not sure when that will be! Ha!
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Mpls Funk View Post
hi guys - thanks for the responses. I should have given more info. It's a 1970...currently working on the passenger seat...and starting with the seat bottom.

So, I think I'm hearing to NOT use a hair dryer/heat gun....am I best to wait until I can take it outside in the sun? I am in Minneapolis....so not sure when that will be! Ha!
I've never needed to use a heat gun to install vinyl (or leather) seats on a car, compression of the foam as mentioned above is critical but what is even more important is that your roll the cover over the back instead of trying to pull it over. If you pull it over (and I've made this mistake years ago) you'll tear the stitching out of the cover.

The videos are awesome on how to install the covers and while they make it look easy there are a few other tricks to doing the installation. I'm working on a page to go along with the video with a few of these tricks but I'll cross them here for now but remember that guy in the video does one job... he install's seat covers.... My gosh, look at how large his hands are... catcher's mitt comes to mind... so he uses these hands constantly.

Okay... so a little info, they only let me do two jobs here in the shop and both are because I'm too old and tired to teach it to the younger guys... One of them is soft tops (which I hate... did I say hate... yeah I hate doing the tops and have three scheduled in the spring) and the other one is seat covers which I like.

In the video the guy that calls out the clips sizes makes mistakes on the size of the clips... so it is very important to make notes of the original clips when you take the covers apart. It's funny(well it's really not funny I'm just used to the issue) I have boxes of these clips and have marked on the outside what they actually are and also what the CA guy calls them by... it avoids confusion for me and best as I can, remember I do all seat covers so remembering which one installs which way caused me to type up a sheet for each year.... but since the videos came out, if I get confused (and admitting so... yeah I often do), I just take the laptop on the install table and fire up the video...

A few tips.

The Z clips that hold the covers to the frame.... If you use two screw drivers and bend them open a bit they slide in place easy.... Once installed on the binding you can then crimp them tight with your hog ring pliers assuming you have a pro set of pliers. The cheapo's won't do it.

While I made a tool years ago to install the clips, the hook tool is a must... it's funny but the reproduction tool is almost 100 percent like what I fashioned years ago from watching another installer do the install.... that tool is a must.

When installing the & clips (I guess that's a good way to call them) but the clips that hood to the rods and listing to the back of the seat covers... there is a cheat trick to them as well... Take a pair of pliers and twist them just a tiny bit.... this gives you an open style loop and makes it easier to install though the listing. BUT.... you should also take a pick and poke a hole in the listing before you install them. because that makes installation even easier.... You don't need to worry about closing them up when you install them the tension when installed will keep the clips intact. The listings changed about a year ago and while I like them they are also harder to pierce with the clip so this will give you an advantage.

Watch the video, the guy makes it look easy but one mistake that most customers make is the size issue caused by the guy on the video calling the clip the wrong size but the major issue is the use of the clip tool. If you watch the video closely you'll see that he doesn't pull the clip up and over.... and if you do you'll break clips. You don't pull them up and over, you pull them up and flip them over with the hook tool. If you don't do this you'll break clips and swear they are too short.... All the clips are 100 percent correct in the CA installation sets.

While you'll think the cover won't roll over the backside, it will... just take your time and roll it.. .don't pull it. And... vinyl covers will split way faster than the leather covers.

Amy more questions, just post back... I've probably done 15 sets last year and three since Jan.

Ernie

Last edited by Willcox Corvette; 03-10-2019 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 03-10-2019, 11:36 PM
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7T1vette
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I've not tried this, but others have and say it works well. Put the larger body foam pieces (back and seat) inside a plastic trash bag of similar size. Tape it up so the surface is relatively smooth and tight. With the slippery bags around the foam, the covers will slide right on. And, the foam will be protected from spills! Much less risky than using a heat gun!?
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Old 03-11-2019, 07:01 PM
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Using a heat gun is not a big deal....because IF you set the cover in the sun and they get hot.....then that is the temp I know I can get to when using a heat gun. Sometimes I have to do this during the winter and do not have all day to get the cover armed up.

Funny thing about a heat gun....the person holding it and moving it around has ALL the control they need if they are paying attention to what they are doing.. I guess I am a bit of a renegade and do not fear some things...but then again...I pay attention to what I am doing when I have a power tool of any type in my hands.

DUB
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Old 03-11-2019, 07:42 PM
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Sort of the trash bag idea, but I use thin mil painters plastic drop cloth. Sometimes on the boat seats we recover we will wrap them up in plastic then hook a shop vac to the bag we made and suck the air out of the foam. If desired you can usually reach in and pull most of the plastic out before you use the hog rings. And as said above, turn the seat cover inside out and slip what would be the top on first, then roll the cover over itself as you go down the frame. Hair dryer ( not heat gun) is good for getting rid of wrinkles. Heat gun is too easy to make a mistake. You know the drill, if a little heat is good, a lot of heat is better...
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Old 03-11-2019, 08:55 PM
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Guys... again it's just my humble opinion...

I've been doing these installations since the 70's.... and I've never needed to vacuum the foam or use a heat gun to install the covers... We had a fella with a 67 that swore the covers were two small and that he couldn't get them over the back of the seat frame... I had the bottoms on in probably 1.5 hours.

Typically you can push down on the foam hard enough to get the cover to roll past the back edge.... the the key word is roll.... at least that's been my experience.

E
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Old 03-11-2019, 11:51 PM
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Ernie, I have to suggest that after doing these things for that many years, you [most likely] have developed specific practices that resolve the issues that 'seat cover novices' might experience. You can demonstrate these techniques in a video, but a novice may still not have the skill and/or confidence to do it like they see it.

Give yourself some credit for being 'well trained' by the school-of-hard-knocks. If you can remember that far back (I know that I can't!), I'll bet you had reservations about doing your first set of seat covers. And they weren't for a 40-year-old classic car with original covers ! They may have been for the same year and model...but back then they weren't "prized" .

I think the OP is learning some 'stuff' from this thread that will help get the job done.
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Old 03-12-2019, 12:06 AM
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You can also use powder to help the covers adjust to the new foam.
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Old 03-12-2019, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by 7T1vette View Post
Ernie, I have to suggest that after doing these things for that many years, you [most likely] have developed specific practices that resolve the issues that 'seat cover novices' might experience. You can demonstrate these techniques in a video, but a novice may still not have the skill and/or confidence to do it like they see it.

Give yourself some credit for being 'well trained' by the school-of-hard-knocks. If you can remember that far back (I know that I can't!), I'll bet you had reservations about doing your first set of seat covers. And they weren't for a 40-year-old classic car with original covers ! They may have been for the same year and model...but back then they weren't "prized" .

I think the OP is learning some 'stuff' from this thread that will help get the job done.
Awesome post Charley...

Most of you guys don't know it but I'm NCRS member 224... So yeah you are correct, I don't remember that far back but I've never been scared to try anything that I felt was possible. You know the old saying, if there is a will there is a way...

Like I said above, I've never had to use heat or vacuum to install the covers and I've installed original GM covers, covers from AK and CA... and as bad has I hate to say it... the worst covers ever made... "Johns" (which is no longer in business.).

To me the only job that wasn't do-able... is the one you didn't try to conquer...

E

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Old 03-12-2019, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by thatcorvetteguy View Post
You can also use powder to help the covers adjust to the new foam.
100 percent!

Baby powder (talc or corn starch) is an old trick... and yes I use this on every installation... It helps the cover roll over the foam.... I dash the foam on the back side with powder and roll it over.. it makes the job or rolling the cover over the foam easier... I'm sorry for not posting this sooner,.... I had a lapse again...

E

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Old 03-13-2019, 12:39 AM
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"Powder" on the seats! I had that. It was yellow 'powder'. Well...actually....it was the deteriorated seat cover channel foam. Yep. That's what happens to the stock C3 scrim foam that creates those puffy channels.

So, as Paul Harvey used to say, here is "the rest of the story": The workers on the seat cover install line used [wait for it] BABY POWDER to aid with cover installation. And THAT, after many years, is what really caused my seat foam to turn back into "powder".

Hey! That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
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