Sunday, 29 April 2012

Front seats

The seats as they were left a little to be desired - the bottoms had been covered with at least three different materials (including some very impressive tiger print!), the inside padding was falling out and the backs were dirty with a couple of tears.  These also weren't the original seats as although they are covered in Westfalia plaid material it is not the correct material that this van was originally fitted with - they are orange/green/black rather than yellow/green/black.

So, some TLC on the seats was definitely needed.

After lots of searching I managed to find someone in the UK who makes replacement seat covers to order using the correct original Westfalia plaid material.  Unfortunately they have not been able to find green vinyl the same colour as the originals and so that would be slightly darker, however I decided that didn't matter and would actually help me out as I need to also make replacement door cards and rear panels and could get identical green vinyl to the stuff they would be using to make the seat covers, and thus everything will then match.  So I got the seat covers ordered, and also ordered myself a roll of the same green vinyl.

I also found a supplier for replacement foam pads, and so all that was left for me to do was strip the seats down and re-upholster them.

While having them all stripped figured it was worth giving them a good de-rust and respray in order to try and get them to last for another 36 years.

And then I started on the re-upholstering...

Firstly a layer of thick felt to sit between the springs and the padding.

Then the replacement foam padding.

And finally the new covers.

The base covers went on pretty easily - although it did take quite a lot of time and sweat, with me having to balance my weight on them to squash them enough to get the covers over - and I think they look great!!

However disaster struck when I tried to get the backs on - while stretching the covers to try and get them on both covers split up the sides and ripped the vinyl, and one of them the stitching of the vinyl came completely away.  To say I was slightly annoyed with myself about this is an understatement!  My brand new lovely looking covers would now look about as bad as the old seats :o(

Being that I had a roll of the same green vinyl my first though was to make some patches to go over the ripped bits, but this still annoyed me as this would be very visibly bodged. So my next thought was to un-stitch all the vinyl and remake the vinyl back panels with new vinyl from my roll, wasn't sure however whether our sewing machine would be up for sewing through the thich multiple layers of vinyl, piping and seat material.

I then took a closer look at where the covers had actually ripped and found that all four ends points of the vinyl had ripped in exactly the same way.  What it looked like was that the stitching of them was a) too close together making too many holes in the vinyl (thus reducing strength) and b) the backwards/forwards finishing off of the stitching was right over the end of the vinyl and this repeated stitching on the same strip near enough cut it's way right through the vinyl and left it perfectly perforated (like toilet paper) all ready to tear away with little force.

Being that all four corners failed in the same way and that it looked like the way they had been stitched was at fault, I decided to contact the people who made them for me, and much to my surprise they volunteered to take them back and are in the process of re-doing them for me - phew!

Assuming I can eventually get them on properly and manage to make up my new door and side panels using the same vinyl, the only bit of the original green vinyl colour will be the seat headrests, and so I've handed these over to my mum with some of the new green vinyl and given her the challenge of recovering them - aren't I mean!!

1 comment:

  1. Impressive job so far - new seat bases look really smart. Hope the new vinyl covers arrive soon and go on without a hitch. Loving what a family project this is! Will look forward to your mum posting about her task ;-)