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Seat rebuild; cleaning, rebuilding foam, adding seat heaters
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jsSyncro
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Joined: August 18, 2007
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Location: mill valley, ca
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:36 am    Post subject: Seat rebuild; cleaning, rebuilding foam, adding seat heaters Reply with quote

The '87 I bought a few months back was in pretty decent
shape but the carpets and upholstery were kinda nasty and
I could feel the wires coming thru the disintegrating cushions.

I called Sewfine to order new bottom cushions but the nice
lady there said they were still working on perfecting them.
So I decided to just BS my way through redoing them.

I went out and got some 2" thick upholstery foam and spray adhesive
from the local upholstery shop. I also ordered some seat heat elements from
http://www.heatedseatkits.com/heatedseatkits/index.html
I got the H3 model.

Went to work disassembling the seats per Bentley.

Check out Sewfine's excellent photos on disassembling the arm rests:
http://www.sewfineproducts.com/vanarm.html

I cut the upholstery rings with wire cutters, these will be replaced with
zip ties later.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


On the seat backs you gently pry back these nasty little clips to get the
covers off:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Untie the wires from the seat frame. I kept them in the seat covers
and wrapped the ends in duct tape in order to throw the whole thing in
the washing machine.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


the head rests are held in place with cotter pins:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


pull (don't pry) the plastic mounts out like so:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


All the upholstery got sprayed with a ton of "Shout" and were scrubbed
down pretty good. I washed on COLD. I then let everything air dry.

the covers (left) looked awesome after washing. the seat on the right had
just been shampooed by a local car wash but was still pretty funky:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



Here we go. The tools of ignorance:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I decided to use as much of the original cushion as possible since
it is molded to the steel seat pan. I shaved off the foam on top
that had started tp disintegrate.

Paper templates of main pieces:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I shaped the new foam using the sharpest serrated bread knife I had and
glued it in pieces to the old foam. There was a lot of dry fitting and trial and error to get a shape and firmness that worked. I then did some final
shaping with a belt sander (clamp down the seat real good so you don't launch it across the room).

I used duct tape to clamp the foam while the adhesive dried.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The seat back cushions were in pretty good shape so I didn't do much to them.

At this point I installed the seat heaters. I neglected to take pics of this but
the instructions that came with mine were very clear. They are self adhesive so they just stick right to the cushion. I made holes through the
seat cushion to run the wires.

As mentioned earlier, I used zip ties to replace the upholstery rings.

here is a finished seat:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


old on left, new on right:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Back in the van, I was installing sound damping and carpet so the seat wiring was easy.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I also put in an aux battery at this point and wired the seats up to it.
I believe the heaters draw a lot of amps and I didn't want them draining
the main battery.

I drilled a 1.5 inch hole in the swivel plates for the heater wiring:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I decided to mount them in the lower center console:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



I'm really happy with the way the upholstery and heaters worked out.
It's getting cold here in Colorado and the van is much more pleasant
to drive with the heated seats.

regards,
john
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rockfish
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. Fantastic job.
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Christopher Schimke
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool! One tip for future do-it-yourselfers, an electric turkey carving knive cuts foam like butter.
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FNGRUVN
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where were you when I was doing this to mine. I could have used a play-by-play. I also installed seat heaters when I had mine apart and had Sewfine make some really nice seat covers. I like the tools you used too, however I prefer using a New Belgium Fat Tire or 1554 for those jobs. I'm up in Fort Collins so I might see you around.
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Vanagon Nut
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just found this. Nice photos JsSyncro!

JsSyncro:

how are they holding up and how do they feel?

Thanks!

Neil.
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JeffRobenolt
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure if zip ties is a good idea instead of the hog rings?
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westylife
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is awesome! I never would have thought to put in seat heaters Shocked

Quote:
Where were you when I was doing this to mine. I could have used a play-by-play. I also installed seat heaters when I had mine apart and had Sewfine make some really nice seat covers. I like the tools you used too, however I prefer using a New Belgium Fat Tire or 1554 for those jobs. I'm up in Fort Collins so I might see you around.


I second that on the Fat Tire! I cant get that up here in Alaska.
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rockfish
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depending upon your budget: Instead of making your own seat cushions, you can purchase replacement seat & back cushions from Sewfine. Same goes for the bench seat, cargo/engine pad and the bunk bed.
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Syncroincity
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jrobewesty wrote:
Not sure if zip ties is a good idea instead of the hog rings?


Nah, zip-ties are FTW. Not only are they easy to work with, they allow you to keep the upholstery loose while you've got your hands in there routing the other ties, then snug everything down progressively. I've done two Subaru seat sets with zip ties, after 6 years the oldest is in perfect shape. Hog-rings will leave you bloody and cursing your life.
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jmranger
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:25 am    Post subject: Re: Seat rebuild; cleaning, rebuilding foam, adding seat hea Reply with quote

Old thread revival warning...

Since this one is in the FAQ, I believe a little correction is warranted.

When removing the headrest mounts, just pulling them...

Quote:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

... seems unlikely to succeed, given the adversary:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I used a variant of the strategy proposed by Sewfine:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

1) pre-compress from the top using a (reusable) zip-tie, so the tips are all close enough for step 2
2) compress even more and push out at the same time using the square end of a 1/4" socket

Done! And thanks jsSyncro for the tutorial.

JMR
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vw7266
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just did this...I popped mine out just like the original poster did...and I do love my seat heaters


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westyman71
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brad??????

Seat heaters??????
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KDI_CUSTOMS
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks good. Just some simple tips for you guys/girls.

Electric carving knife cuts foam.
Use a good contact cement for gluing things together.
Angle air grinder w a red sand disc will shape foam nicely.
Zipties can be used in place of hogrings.
You can put a small metal rod on backside of foam n tie to tiedown rod on front of foam if its broken loose from inside.
Put headliner over shaped foam to help hide rough edges.

Hope this helps someone w their project. Maybe we should have diy upholstery section sponsored by me. Wink
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tam_shops
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 7:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Seat rebuild; cleaning, rebuilding foam, adding seat hea Reply with quote

THANK YOU for the detailed point by point pictures! I'm not sure I need to re-foam mine, think I might swap mine right to left like someone else suggested. WOW, though, I sure do need to wash them!

tam
jsSyncro wrote:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


old on left, new on right:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


john

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SyncroChrick
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am also doing this job right now. My bottom foam is totally shot, I wasn't expecting that. Those vehicles are starting to be pretty old by now...everything needs replacement.

So now I need to either find another used foam, pay $300 for 2 bottom foam at Sewfine, carve one myself...or get another set of seats.

decision, decision...
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smurfpike
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where did you get your carpet kit from? It looks very nice! How is the quality?
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job! I wish you had posted before you started because then I would have told you to use an Electric Carving knife to cut the foam! That is so much easier and more accurate since it cuts instead of tearing at the foam while trying to hold it with one hand and cut with the other.
It looks like it turned out well enough though.
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