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Restoring and covering '68 Ghia seats with TMI covers
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:26 pm    Post subject: Restoring and covering '68 Ghia seats with TMI covers Reply with quote

It is probably presumptuous of me to think that I can teach others how to restore their Ghias, but here we go anyway.

The backstory goes as follows: I thought I was buying a '67 and it came with low-back seats. I later found it was a '68. I ordered low-back TMI seat covers from KGP&R but due to a misunderstanding - miscommunication - I received a set of high-back covers - which, of course, is what I should have had on my car in the first place. Long story short: KGP&R sourced a pair of high back seats for me. So I set about restoring them and to put the new covers on. I studied the posts on theSamba first.

Here's what the seat frames (bottoms) looked like before and after cleaning and painting:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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


Next I had to choose between the old coir (horsehair, sisal) seat padding and the new foam padding from KGP&R. After much debate and with my wife being my tester, we decided on the coir - it's original, that was the deciding factor. Here the two are side by side.

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


To protect the coir seat padding from the springs I prepared a vinyl insert from some spare vinyl I had.

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


I also cut a piece of .25 inches thick high density foam to go under the seat bottom for extra protection of the coir - which is now some 46 years old.

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


I tied the vinyl to the frame with cable ties.

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


I'll show the finish in a second post. Later in the week I'll do the seat-backs, which will require some manufacturing (for the boards at the back).
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the next part I used a trick I had learned here on theSamba. I compressed the springs and tied them down with twine. This proved to be more difficult that I had anticipated, but my wife suggested that she should sit on the seat to compress the springs. It's her seat anyway. So we did that. (She won't allow me to publish the photos with her bottom on the seat.)

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


I did a trial fit and marked the positions for hog rings (tarp grommets, really) - I don't like the idea of the seat covers being penetrated and torn by those sharp "tiebacks" under the frames. EDIT: I had transferred to steel rod in the sleeve from the old seat cover to the new one. It slides in the back of the cover and is designed to prevent those sharp tiebacks tearing through the vinyl.

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


Then I installed the hog rings/grommets. EDIT: I'M NOT SURE THAT I CAN RECOMMEND THE USE OF THESE GROMMETS WITHOUT QUALIFICATION. YOU NEED TO TEST THE GROMMETS YOU HAVE ON SOME SPARE MATERIAL TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE THE STRAIN WITHOUT TEARING OUT.

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


My wife suggested (ordered?) that we should install an extra layer of foam between the seat cover and the coir and I used a .5 inch thick soft foam for that. This is not shown in the photos but it accounts for the seat not being as hollow as one might have expected otherwise.

The rest was easy, thanks to the springs having been compressed.

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


I pulled the twine out and the springs came back up and stretched the seat covers to their final position. And this is the final outcome.

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


EDIT: On the original seats the covers had been glued to the seat-frame rails at the bottom. I'll wait a few days and a bit of heat from the sun before I do the same.
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Last edited by kiwighia68 on Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:44 pm; edited 2 times in total
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TheFop
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good write up so far, just one little point of confusion for me, you note "hog rings" but what you have aren't hog rings, hog rings are something like a staple that you bend into a ring with a set of pliers through the material and into either the seat base or on corners into the adjacent fabric.

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


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


But saying that what you've installed is kind nice looking but it worries me that they will fall off the metal tabs when you sit on the seat as the tension on the vinyl will be removed when the seat base compresses, but you may be able to use some kind of cord to string the eyelets together like shoes laces to provide some stability for the covers.

I happily stand corrected if this is a way I'm not familiar with.....its 20 years since I've re-upholstered seats.
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheFop wrote:
Good write up so far, just one little point of confusion for me, you note "hog rings" but what you have aren't hog rings, hog rings are something like a staple that you bend into a ring with a set of pliers through the material and into either the seat base or on corners into the adjacent fabric.

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


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


But saying that what you've installed is kind nice looking but it worries me that they will fall off the metal tabs when you sit on the seat as the tension on the vinyl will be removed when the seat base compresses, but you may be able to use some kind of cord to string the eyelets together like shoes laces to provide some stability for the covers.

I happily stand corrected if this is a way I'm not familiar with.....its 20 years since I've re-upholstered seats.


I think we were at cross-purposes when we spoke last Sunday: I see what I think of as hog rings are actually "tarp eyelets". That said, I'm waiting for the vinyl to stretch before I add exactly what you suggest, namely a lacing system.
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KGCoupe
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The grommets are an interesting idea - I never thought about using those, but it seems logical.
I like that idea.

If I understand you correctly, you are concerned that the standard hog rings that TheFop pictured above would tear through the vinyl material under the strain of someone sitting on the seat over time.

As I recall, there is supposed to be a thin metal rod that slides into the "pocket" along each botom edge of the seat cover:

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


You were probably supposed to remove them from the old seat covers, and then slide them into the new seat covers.
With the metal rod in place, it would then be impossible for the hog ring to pull completely through the vinyl.

Does that make sense? It's been over 20-some years since I dealt with seat covers, but that is what I recall.
It goes without saying that there is more than one way to skin a cat, or reskin a seat.
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mlhsquared
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KGCoupe wrote:
As I recall, there is supposed to be a thin metal rod that slides into the "pocket" along each botom edge of the seat cover.


This is correct. My wife and I re-covered the seats in our '67. The rods were indeed in the old seat covers and I transferred them to the new. BTW, my wife utilized the same spring compression method, and it made the job much more enjoyable from my point of view. Cool
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mlhsquared wrote:
KGCoupe wrote:
As I recall, there is supposed to be a thin metal rod that slides into the "pocket" along each botom edge of the seat cover.


This is correct. My wife and I re-covered the seats in our '67. The rods were indeed in the old seat covers and I transferred them to the new. BTW, my wife utilized the same spring compression method, and it made the job much more enjoyable from my point of view. 8)


Yes, you guys are right. I have those rods in place at the back of the seats. The front has a drawstring which looks a rather flimsy arrangement to me. (I'll edit the post to include that step, thanks.)

The other thing is that the seat covers still have to be glued to the frames both in front and at the back. I am waiting for everything to settle down before I add the glue. The glue ought to take care of TheFop's concern about the grommets slipping off their anchors.
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Bikerchris
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That looks great. I could never get mine to sit quite right, especially the back portion. The foam isnt even with the cover and it isn't quite taut and there are wrinkles. But I cut my own foam and horsehair so that could be why. I also used new imitation horsehair padding to replace the old stuff. It looks just like it and it is blue in color. So there is an option between reusing either old horsehair or foam. I'm anxious to see what your back half of your new seats look like.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
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analogmax
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where did you find the horsehair pads?
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bikerchris wrote:
That looks great. I could never get mine to sit quite right, especially the back portion. The foam isnt even with the cover and it isn't quite taut and there are wrinkles. But I cut my own foam and horsehair so that could be why. I also used new imitation horsehair padding to replace the old stuff. It looks just like it and it is blue in color. So there is an option between reusing either old horsehair or foam. I'm anxious to see what your back half of your new seats look like.

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


Did you put the new coir over the old one? (You are spoiled for choice out there in the USA. We don't have as many choices down here in Kiwiland.)

When you say, the "back half", do you mean the back-rest or the back half of the bottom seat? I didn't see a problem with the latter. I'm waiting for some clips from KGP&R but will start the seat-backs later today.

I did have a problem with those tarp eyelets I used and I'm not going to use them on the second seat. So for anyone following this thread:

DON'T USE THE EYELETS. THEY TEAR OUT OF THE COVERS.
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Bikerchris
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought the synthetic horsehair padding at a local foam/upholstery supply store.

When I said back half, I meant the back cushion of the seat. The other section that your back is against, not the section you sit on.
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bikerchris wrote:
I bought the synthetic horsehair padding at a local foam/upholstery supply store.

When I said back half, I meant the back cushion of the seat. The other section that your back is against, not the section you sit on.


Hi Chris, Yes, I'll be getting to that part next week and will post my progress. I have the original coir for that as well as new foam from KGP&R. I'll try both before I decide which one to use. If I use the coir, I'll put some vinyl between the coir and the springs (to protect the coir) and a quarter inch thick layer of high-density foam between the coir and the seat cover (to soften the back of the seat).

Chris M
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, those tarp eyelets didn't work, so I replaced them with what I call tabs - English is my third language so I'm at a loss for the right word every now and then. The tabs are vinyl patches that I glued onto the seat covers at the stress points to ensure those sharp devils (what's the right word?) under the seat frames don't tear my new seat covers.

The tabs look like this, with contact glue having been applied on both the tab and the area on the cover where the tabs will seat.

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

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

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


I similarly strengthened the points where the string may well tear through the vinyl under stress.

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


Then I pulled the sharp points through the vinyl at the points strengthened with the new tabs as you can see in this image. This is more or less what the factory did when they built my car - without the reinforcing I have added.

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


Here is my seat complete, and the two seats together.

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

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


I feel rather proud of myself. It took time, my hands hurt, my wife's nail polish job - $40 this morning - is shot to pieces, but we have 2 seat bottoms ready for re-installation in the car. I'm writing this with a glass of red wine in the hand - well, what's left of it.

Next task: the seat backs.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chief, THANKS!!!! for posting this! Fantastic pics and walk through. This is going to make my whack at this a whole lot easier. Thanks!!!
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking good! Keep up the good work.
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, so I'm on to the seat backs now. First I had to do a lot of cleaning. The previous owner, it will be recalled, had '68 high-back seats in red upholstery but changed them to low-backs and a yellowish-beige colour. In order to make everything work, he/she simply cut the frame at the top and fitted the padding for a low-back seat. So my job started with the pieces to turn the seat-back into a high-back '68 seat again.

Thanks to TJ at KGP&R, who sourced the correct seat frames for me. This is what I had to start with (after the cleaning and painting):

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


Note how the PO had cut the frame.

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


I used the old coir seat-padding I had. The manufacturer's label on the back sold me on the idea to stay with the original. I could have used the new foam I had, but could see no reason to throw perfectly good coir padding away. It somehow feels disrespectful to me.

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


I put some light coir-like padding over the choir to give the seat-backs a little more "body".

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


Then I made a board to fit on the back of the seat back. The reason for this is two-fold: The original seats had a thin layer of vinyl stretched over the back of the seat back. This would make it vulnerable to being punctured by luggage slipping forward under braking or other accidents. The second reason is that I intend to craft some map pockets to go on the seat backs and I need something more substantial as backing for those.

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


I glued the vinyl to the board at the edges.

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


And the board now looks like this and will go on the back of the seat-back.

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


The seat-cover pulled over the frame looks like this: Final stretching and gluing to follow when the sun comes back and I can get some generalised heat on the thing!

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

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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had to take a step or two backwards. The TMI covers for the '68 high-back seats don't quite fit the contour of the headrest. I've had to glue in a wedge-shaped pieces of foam (from the original seats I had) at the neck of the headrest on either side.

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


In order to smoothen the patch area, I glued some vinyl over the patch.

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


My wife wants to know if other wives allow their husbands to make a mess of their kitchens like this:

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


I plead that I'm lonely in the garage and need her advice from time to time, but she says, "Yeah, right." (This is when I realise that two positives can make a negative.)
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well my wife can have her kitchen table back now. I've decided to put the seat covers in storage until the sun comes out again. I've completed all but the fabrication of the magazine pockets that will go on the back of the seat backs but I need to wait until TMI have made a back seat cover for me (and have indicated that I may keep the defective one they sent me).

To complete the picture of what my seats will look like, here's a photo of the seat back with the board that will be attached to the back - and to which I'll attach the magazine/map pocket.

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


So this thread will go to sleep for a while.
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Gwdghiaguy
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris,

How are you going to attach the board to the seat back?

and I keep my copy of Miss Dose the Doctor's Daughter next to my bedside table for those times when I just can't fall asleep...

Byron
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kiwighia68
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Small stainless steel screws into the frame at the sides and bottom capped with colour-matching "cups". The curve of the seat-back holds the back-board flush at the top.
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