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Replacement Front-Seats (Leather, Arm-Rest, Swivel, No Rise)
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boulderdrop
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:59 pm    Post subject: Replacement Front-Seats (Leather, Arm-Rest, Swivel, No Rise) Reply with quote

I really want to replace the seats in my 84-westy-4sp-bostig with something more comfortable. I'd love to drop $3k for a couple of the Recaro Captain Chairs from GoWesty, but I've gotta find something cheaper.

My requirements are:
- Leather
- Arm-rests
- Swivels
- Doesn't raise the seat over 1"

In searching the forums for a while now, I see there's several options for retro-fitting the seats from different platforms (SAAB 900,9-3,9-5 or EuroVan or Porsche 911,944, Jetta MKII, Honda S2000). But I really don't see anything that has all of the requirements met. Most don't seem to have Arm-Rests or they raise the seat too high with slider-modifications.

So, my question to the group is if anyone knows or has experience with a Make/Model/Type of Seat that will meet these 4 requirements and still not break the bank
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thummmper
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

armrests put you in the van category. youre not sitting on the wheels in most other vans. the low sports cars give the flat-on-the-floor feature,
while vans configured similarly will give you the flat underpan and armrests. the jap vans are worth looking at--boneyard. take a tape
measurer and make a grid of candidates. I'm sitting in a toyota bucket
I mounted to an office chair base, bought for 30.00
you will have to adapt tracks--loogy and a few others have done that --
I rebuilt my stockers and put pockets on the backrest with zips.
I deleted the outboard armrests for door mounted armrests, sort of like the old type 3.
similar threads on this already, but this post doesnt
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bread geek
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:17 pm    Post subject: leather Reply with quote

Have you looked into recovering the originals in leather?
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boulderdrop
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:55 pm    Post subject: Re: leather Reply with quote

bread geek wrote:
Have you looked into recovering the originals in leather?


You know, that's a good point, assuming I find a good working used vanagon seat-set with arm-rests...

In looking at Sewfine again, it does look like I can get new upholstery *and* padding from them.

Page 32-47 of their catalog show the Vanagon stuff:
http://digital.publicationprinters.com/publication/?i=44301

Headrest: $50 (Group B fabric)
Arm Rest: $40 (Group B fabric)
Bucket Seat Covers: $340 (deluxe)
Foam Backrest:$55
Foam Bottom: $125
Seat Heater: $90
Storage Pocket: $32
TOTAL == $732

They also have full-blown replacement seats, ala Recaro, but range $1425 to $2255.
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shepherdsond
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think leather would be terrific. I stopped at a local upholstry shop last week and asked what they thought it would cost (they were familiar with vanagon seats) and they said $550/seat which included adding half an inch of padding. At that price it would be a mighty attractive option. I am not sure what sewfine would charge (do they list the price of leather in their catalogue, I dont think I saw it) but I have a feeling it would be more.
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Classicvibe
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

$550 per seat?! holy crap...

I was eyeballin' some perferated-type leather like you might find in an old bug or BMW. It is breathable for the hot stuff, but still killer like you want leather to be, spill fee and snazzy lookin'.

I am going to redo my entire interior here with the quickness...I hope I can find better prices. It would be hard to find anything that would work better than the original seats though.
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randywebb
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

perf. leather will breathe a little more but not much - it will never approach cloth

if you really want it to breathe you will need a ventilated seat (they use a fan and ducting to pull air thru the fabric) - MB pioneered this IIRC
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Wolfram
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are going to drop $$ on seat work, get heated seats while they are apart.
Beautiful

Geoff
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westynova
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an 84 Full Camper and I have to admit the seats suck. I found them not very comfortable and I got tired fast. Never thought seats could impact driving that much. I guess that is why big rigs and buses have those fancy air ride seats. A buddy of mine has a couple of Vanagons (Cargo, Weekenders, Full Camper, Syncro) at his place (yes, I am drooling too, wish he would start parting with them) and he noticed that there are a couple of different seat types the Vanagon cam with. The main differences were the width and length of the bottom part of the seat as well as the thickness of the bottom seat. The 84 Westy Full Camper seemed to have the worst combination (narrow, short and thin padding) hence the poor support.

I recently acquired a set of seat with arm rests out of a 87. What a differencem. Like night and day. The arm rests really help and they are much more comfortable. I would recommend looking for a set. Mine fit in with no modifications. It took about 5 minutes, if that to swap them out.
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Crankey
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got excellent used Recaros on ebay and sliders from GoWesty...total cost under a grand. they have no arm rests but I never had them so I don't miss them.
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Classicvibe
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dropped by a couple of local upholstery shops, and this is what I learned.

* Leather is expensive:
For you eco-friendly folks, you may consider this over vinyl, but the cost is easily double. By the way, do you know the history of vinyl, how it is produced? Did you know there is no way to dispose of vinyl? Study up if you are interested...you will likely find yourself avoiding vinyl products AT ALL COSTS!
Leather has about the same life as vinyl, but tends to dry out and requires more care.
* Perforated anything is more likely to rip:
The upholstery fold all said that perforations just make tearing easier, but they still put it in old vehicles where that was stock. Breathability is better than non-perforated.
* Sunbrella is cool material:
This is a high-performance canvas type product, and it looks like it can defend well against liquids, dirt, etc. I have seen it used in open cab cars, like jeeps, where the sun can just bake on it all day to no avail. The bad about this product is that it breathes only a little better than leather.
* Classy/Fine fabrics are hard to come by:
That ridiculous cordouroy from your '86? There is little change you can find something that cool to replace it with, at least using "upholstery" fabrics. The why was explained to me, and it makes sense. In the end, your fabric options are limited.
* It is much less expensive to use a single piece of covering to that that seat and stitch lines into it, rather than stitching multiple pieces together. So, custom + cool = more $$. Big surprise.
* DIfferent color thread is not problem, and there are two or three variations on the kind of stitching used, single/double/french I think they are called.
* Vanagon headrests are very expensive to recover, as they are melted together. To re-cover them will significantly change the look, but it can be done.
* Mercury XR4Ti headrest are easier to cover and rotate 90 degrees. They cost about $40 to cover in a vinyl or fabric (I have 3 more to sell in the classifieds).
* Prices for vinyl/cloth (approx):
- Front seat with arm rests: $275
- Rear Bench (weekender): $275
- Weekender Jump Seat: $160
These are the best prices I could find from a quality covering shop.

All this has led me back to looking at sewfine again, and caused me to reconsider leather n the vanagon. A big hot and sometimes dusty sweat box does not = leather seats, but oh man, why deny a little luxury?
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Anyway, my plan of attack now looks something like this:
1) Consider leather, look for good prices:
I was told a full hide would likely barely cover the weekender bench seat.
Hides are about 50 square feet, 2 1/2 yds of a 54 inch wide material.
I was just looking at this page here:
http://www.midwestfabrics.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=20
Then I thought about how in the heck you can determine if you are getting a good product, and I found this:
http://www.ehow.com/how_5970047_grade-hides-leather-upholstery.html
2) Consider leather/fabric hybrid, using fabric in the centers where you heat up, and leather on the sides to make it look snazzier.
3) Look at some high end interiors and take photos to find some good color combos and stitching.

ANyway, we'll see where this goes.
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a914622
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know it dosnt fit the leather end of things BUT the toyota Privea does have a good seat option for a "into vanagon swap". I know you can find them cheap at the Upull yards.
You would have to cut off the toyota rails and spark on the vanagon ones. They have arm reats and the seat pan is a little lower than the vanagon.

jcl
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

leather and air conditioning go hand in hand

You guys are getting jabbed if you pay more than 400 per seat with fabric
and padding, unless you have some super-custom job done or leather.
Isnt sewefine mail order, where you still have to install them yourself?
these dont feel like a block of cheese anymore-I can actually drive
up the coast on them now.

the original seats are rebuildable, with a little sculpting and reinforcement.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
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kevtherev
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I chose the vinyl and a center panel of automotive fabric.
Bought some scrap caravelle seats and had the re-upholstered that is to say I had the seat foam changed to a slightly firmer feel.

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


The head rests were also upholstered to be solid


Last edited by kevtherev on Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:56 am; edited 4 times in total
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what about something like neoprene? Honda Element has it. Not fancy material but very practical for camper vans.
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Classicvibe
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:
what about something like neoprene? Honda Element has it. Not fancy material but very practical for camper vans.


I like your thinking, but the requirements process would be something like this:
1) Do you live in a hot place? Most of us do. Yes=#2 No=#5
2) Do you have a good air conditioning system (or adequate)? This answer is almost always no. No=#3 Yes=#5
3) Do you need some serious stain/dirt/sun repellent? Yes=#4 No=Keep your existing interior/any cloth will do, see prices above.
4) You need a material that breathes and stain resistant. Leather and vinyl are out. Sunbrella is a possibility. Neoprene? Hmm...what else? Otherwise you are looking at full cloth or cloth/something hybrid.
5) Do you want to drop some coin on nice interior? Yes=#6 no=#7
6) Recarros are easy, custom leather for your existing seats is cheaper and still sweet. Custom leather in the back as well. You can try some high end perforated for a little more breathability. You could buy some completely custom seats as well and tinker with the rails.
7) Keep your existing interior/any cloth will do, see prices above.


Also, that interior above is really sweet. I keep that picture close for when I get my done...great job! But I digress...nobody takes a shadt in my van!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice job kev!
the wetsuit material would be great for the winter--you could probably
avoid the electro-magnetic side effects of electric seats with them too.
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