Saving original seat upholstery, but replacing foam- anyone done it?

Discussion in 'Interior City' started by el_37, Jun 27, 2021.

  1. el_37

    el_37 Member

    The seats in my newly acquired 1968 Special Deluxe Sedan are in fantastic original condition- they are the base cloth/vinyl mix.

    I have heard over the years of vehicle restorations where they removed the original material, cleaned it and then reinstalled the original material over restored seats (i.e- painted frames and/or replaced springs, new foam/burlap).

    However in my searches on the internet, I could not find one example from an auto restoration shop or interior shop where they carried this out. I could only find examples of home furnishing restoration where this was done.

    Has anyone here done it? Know of a shop in the North East that does it?
  2. Jim Weise

    Jim Weise EFI/DIS 482

    Most upholstery shops are going to balk at this.. the reason is that while the covers are not torn or ripped, 50 years of exposure to the elements has made them brittle, and more likely to tear, once you start man-handling them. You might get lucky.. but your just as likely to end up with a ripped seam. During the process, or right after when you start sitting in them.

    I have done this with orginal vinyl GS bucket seat covers, results are mixed.. the covers take the shape of the foam, an often don't want to conform to new shapes.

    Max Damage, Smartin and Brett Slater like this.
  3. Brett Slater

    Brett Slater Super Moderator Staff Member

    When I had my driver's seat done a couple years ago, my original intention was to use a very nice repro cover I had acquired along with new springs and foam.

    A few days later, my upholstery guy called and told me basically the same thing JW said above, so I ended up buying new covers from Todd Miller - who had a set for a restoration that wasn't in immediate need of them.

    Back then, the wait at Legendary was a couple weeks. Now it's an eternity.
  4. Duane

    Duane Member

    I owned an upholstery shop for years, and was the first company to reproduce most of the interiors for our Buick a-bodies.

    I never took off a set of original covers to replace the cushions and then put the original covers back on for any type of car, ever.

    Those covers have been sitting on those cushions/frames for over 50 years now. If you tried to remove them the stitching would probably break somewhere, or the covers would tear in the corners. (Especially on bench seats.)

    And if you think the new foams are actually going to be the exact size/shape of the original foams, then I have a bridge I can sell you.

    There is no way I would ever do this, not even for one of my cars, unless I had a new set of seat covers standing by to replace them. All you are doing is asking for trouble.

    You can do what you want, but if they were in good shape I would leave them alone.
    Max Damage likes this.
  5. 12lives

    12lives Gravity is matter warping space-time - Einstein

    I have a set of buckets that were covered in Legendary covers some time ago. One seam on one seat was pulled out. The cushions looked to be originals and the previous owner had simply stuffed new foam pieces on top and then recovered them with the Legendary ones. I sent the one cover with the torn seam back to Legendary and they fixed it. (Thanks!) I then recovered them with new foam from ACI and reused the Legendary covers. They look good to me. The biggest issue will be the tops where the headrest holes are. Its difficult to get them back perfectly. See here:
  6. Max Damage

    Max Damage I'm Working on it!

    Yes to what Jim and Duane said! Having just removed my 1968 bench seat covers, I can say, even if they look great the muslin pockets that were hog ringed to the frame are NOT going to be reusable at this late date (brittle, rust impregnated).

    If the covers look good as they are, clean them up in place and leave them alone...

    Pictures of your car here anywhere?
  7. 12lives

    12lives Gravity is matter warping space-time - Einstein

    I only reused mine because they were quality covers from Legendary. Like said above, OEM covers would be too old. Finally finished and in the car:
  8. 72STAGE1

    72STAGE1 Runnin' with the Devil

    I also re-foamed my front Buckets in my 72, but the covers were from legendary and just put them back on and it made my seats nice and firm and my butt was happy once more. It’s not difficult.
    12lives likes this.
  9. 436'd Skylark

    436'd Skylark Sweet Fancy Moses!!!!!

    This is one of those deals where I'd never try it for a paying customer, but I'd give it a shot on my own car on my dime.. I considered doing this same thing with a corvette that had beautiful covers but the foam was all but gone due to rodent damage. Luckily the guy bailed on the car. It needed a full interior and paint. It was disco era vette that was essentially worthless.
  10. el_37

    el_37 Member

    Thanks for all the replies. Now has anyone ever tried deep cleaning original cloth upholstery? If so what methods have you tried?

    Quick shots of the seats

    9AAE25E4-C1E8-480A-8A52-B87F38EE139D.jpg 9771461A-6CA8-4C0F-A2C8-4FB47995B2F9.jpeg 40BAE39A-158D-47D7-82A7-4107B375980F.jpeg 057077AD-E825-418C-B021-3B3F3A0C0C50.jpeg
  11. 72STAGE1

    72STAGE1 Runnin' with the Devil

    Laundry soap and warm water is probably a safe way…

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