Passenger Seat

After last weekend’s front seat refinishing progress in Inside the Driver’s Seat and Driver’s Seat Part 2, I had been looking forward to the weekend, to be able to dig back in to refinishing the seats. Saturday was a rain out, but Sunday was a sunny treat. I pulled the front passenger seat out and started disassembling it on the front porch.


I saw some green bubble wrap showing through from the underside of the seat. There also appeared to be some mechanic’s wire of a decent thickness twisted up, tying the seat cover on. That would require some more investigation.

As I started unfolding the little prongs to release the seat cover, one on the back side of the seat base popped off.

I pulled the metal trim piece off the side of the seat. It was missing the rotating metal bracket that holds the back half in place. It looks like someone had previously tried to put a plastic GM push button trim thing in there, but it was broken off.

This passenger side seat cover also had the tie down strings in the front, though they were tied differently than those on the driver’s side. When I tried to untie the knots, they quickly fell to pieces, just like the ones on the driver’s seat.

When I had everything disconnected and started peeling back the vinyl seat cover, I found another hat on a hat type situation.

I got the seat base all stripped down and brushed it clean. I used all my brake parts cleaner spray last weekend and hadn’t been back to the parts store to pick up some more. I’m sure it will be fine.

Friends, let me just say that most of the DE1634 paint (Amazon link) I sprayed never actually set. My experience on the driver’s side was after emptying a can of brake parts cleaner into/onto the seat frame, the paint stuck like glue. Also, I have sprayed that engine enamel on the oily, dirty underside of the car many times with no issues.

Here on the passenger side, five hours after spraying the paint, it was still gelatinous and quickly became a mess I had to deal with.

Moving on to the seat back, I stripped it all down and there was only a trace of the two tone tan seat back cover like the driver’s side seat back had. It appears the prior seat back cover was just quickly cut off at some point.

It did have the same traces of mouse house, with chewed up acorn shells or whatever, as the driver’s side, as seen here, after sweeping up.

The seat back had the same broken braces as the driver’s side, though these didn’t have the additional broken welds. I zip-tied them together.

It also had the same surprisingly high quality foam headrest in surprisingly good condition that the driver’s side side had.


I performed the act of tying twine into a grid on both the seat base and back.

I then hog-ringed some jute webbing across the seat base and back, but apparently forgot to take a picture of the seat back. Still wet/forever wet paint is visible in this picture.

Next up, I cut another panel off of that dishwasher box to flatten the back of the seat and zip-tied it on.

Last time, I had cut a piece of high density foam for the seat back, but decided to use some softer foam I had purchased a year ago for this purpose. I cut that seat back piece into a seat base shape using the craft paper pattern from the driver’s side.

Now onto patching the vinyl seat covers. On the outside, the passenger side was in worse condition than the driver’s side, but from the inside, was not as worn. There was only light showing through in a couple of little places. Using a combination of the self adhesive vinyl patch (Amazon link) and Gorilla Clear Grip (Amazon link), I got them sealed up as best I could. I have been really impressed with that roll of vinyl patch! The texture is great and the adhesive back sticks well.

I wiped the seat covers down with Mothers VLR (Amazon link) spray – it Cleans, Conditions, & Protects!

I got the seat back cover slipped on with relative ease. The passenger side was missing the plastic rail guards, which made it a much looser fit. All three snaps on the seat back cover were holding firm, but I went ahead and added a couple of zip-ties as well, just to be safe.

The cover on the seat base also went on without issue.

I mounted the metal trim piece on the side of the seat with another zip-tie.

I had just enough of everything to finish the passenger side seat. Another Amazon order was required to get enough jute webbing (Amazon link) and high density foam (Amazon link) to start on the back seat.

I’m again waiting for the upholstery foam to be delivered. That’s my only complaint with any of this lot is that the roll of seat foam isn’t sold by Amazon directly and takes a week or more to receive once the order has been processed, shipped, and delivered. Let’s just hope next weekend’s weather is cooperative. It tends to rain for a couple of months here once the weather starts to change into Spring.

Driver’s Seat Part 2

It’s day 2 of the driver’s side front seat rebuild.

Patching the vinyl seat covers

Once the roll of vinyl repair stuff (Amazon link) arrived, I got started patching up the seat covers. I picked up some Gorilla Clear Grip (Amazon link). The package says to use it like E6000, so I did.

In places where there were gaping holes in the seat cover, I used the vinyl patch as a backing and glued it with the glue. Where that didn’t look great from the outside, I just slapped a patch on the outside and used the adhesive backing on the vinyl repair roll.

Replacing the seat foam

I had previously picked up some low density green upholstery foam pads (Wal-Mart link) and decided to use those in the seat backs. After cutting a seat pad and seat back out of the high density foam roll I bought, I realized there wasn’t going to be enough for both front seats.

It was a really tight fit in the seat back and needed to be massaged into place. The seat back cover started off being 2-3 inches away from being able to snap closed.

I apologize for the gratuitous crotch shot, but luckily, I’m still a baggy pants 90s kid, so it could have been worse.

We don’t need no rusty snaps

I pulled the plastic side bar supports out to free up some space and was finally able to get the ends to meet up, but the snap was failing. After bending the female side of the snap into a little oblong, it finally held.

I did the same with the other side and got it snapped as well.

The middle snap had been previously pulled through the vinyl, so I cinched it all together with zip-ties.

I then got the side of the seat back wrestled into place to be able to put the plastic trim piece and knob for the seat back release lever in place.

Once the seat back was fitted, I wriggled those plastic side bar supports back into place. The fit is now very revealing. As you can see in the picture above, much like Robert Plant’s hip-huggers, you can see the hog rings that are holding the jute webbing in place.

Moving on to the seat base, it was a much better fit than the seat back, initially at least. With all the stretching and pulling, the strings sewn into the front edge of the seat cover snapped off. They were very crispy. A zip-tie helped cinch it down.

One edge at a time, I stretched the cover down over the bottom of the seat base and stabbed the little prongs through. The last edge was the toughest, as you might imagine, but smooshing the seat springs down with one hand while pulling with the other was enough to bring it home.

Buttoning it up

I flattened the prongs down all around, only stabbing myself several times, and it was a nice, secure fit with no need for more zip-ties.

The foam pads are too much for the seat back and you can see the square edges, but other than that, it is very firm and comfortable! The high density foam would have looked even worse. I’m glad that I remembered I had those low density green pads laying around for the last year.

Pardon the mess! The housekeeping staff is on a gap year.

Inside the Driver’s Seat

The weather app said it was 54 degrees today and the sun was blazing. Beautiful!

I watched a couple of videos about how to remove the front seats and it’s really quite easy. Simply lift the lever and slide it all the way forward. There are many references I found to a locking tab on the side of the rail that needed to be depressed (I think I’ve got enough of that already, thanks), but it slid all the way out with no bother.

The floorboards have been full of coconut hair since I bought it, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned previously.

Underneath, it was clear that there were multiple layers of old “fixes” in place.

Deconstructing the seat base

I flatted the box my dishwasher came in and set up shop on the front porch. A couple of acorn nuts and washers to remove and then the seat back and base were separated.

It looks like there is a broken lever or catch on the inside seat back hinge. Missing springs as well.

After bending back the little prongs/spikes that hold the seat cover on and removing the seat cover, it was time to start peeling back the layers.

There was a very chintzy packing foam, almost like bubble wrap on the bottom, then there was the factory coconut hair pad with furniture padding edges. Above that, I think to try and soften the edges of the springs that had sprung up through the now nonexistent coconut pad, there was some white fluffy batting, like upholstery lining, and finally a couple of layers of much more modern packing foam. All of that, aside from that last layer of packing foam, went straight into a trash bag.

Rebuilding the seat base

The rebuilding process can now begin. I started with a ball of twine, wrapping and looping a grid across the top of each row and column of springs.

Then I hosed the whole thing down with a couple of layers of Dupli-Color Low Gloss Black black engine enamel DE1634 (Amazon link).

I bought a roll of jute upholstery webbing (Amazon link) and a set of hog ring pliers (Amazon link) for this project.

The hog ring pliers kit randomly came with a mustache sticker in the box, which was quickly applied to the nearest flat surface.

I attached a few rows of jute webbing across the seat base and decided to reuse some of that packing foam.

I used some craft paper to make a seat base template, then laid it out on a roll of two inch high density upholstery foam (Amazon link).

I have tried various methods of cutting upholstery foam in the past and have always made a mess of it. This time, I had some old kitchen scissors in my tool bag and decided to give those a try. Other than my lack of scissor skills, it was really easy and came out great.

It’s a tight fit and I’ll likely have to trim some around the edges.

There was a metal trim piece along the outside edge of the seat base, which had previously been repainted and was tired looking. I hosed it down with brake parts cleaner, wiped it down, and made it look a little blacker. It needed to be cleaned a little deeper, apparently, as it went very heavily orange peeled immediately.

The vinyl seat covers looked like brand new in the pictures when I bought the car, but there are cracks and breaks all through them. I wiped them down with some Mothers VLR (Amazon link) vinyl cleaner and conditioner.

I am waiting for a delivery of a roll of self adhesive black upholstery patch material (Amazon link). I’m going to try using that as a reinforcement behind the cracked and broken areas.

Deconstructing the seat back

Moving onto the seat back, as I had previously mentioned in The Next Saturday Updates, I found a nice surprise inside. This was a much higher quality seat cover, being two tone vinyl with buttons connecting the front and back side of the headrest. It appears to be a factory model, though I wouldn’t expect it to have originally come from this car.

When I started digging into the second seat cover, I found the first signs of mouse house. There wasn’t any smell to it, just some little acorns or whatever.

This seat cover arrangement didn’t have as many layers as the base.

I got it all stripped clean and sprayed it down with some brake parts cleaner.

Rebuilding the seat back

I tied the spring tops together in a grid, as I did with the seat base. I also found a couple of broken supports on the back side that were previously welded and re-broken. I zip-tied them back together. If that lasts as long as the broken welds, I will be happy. If not, it’s fine.

I sprayed the whole thing down with a couple of coats of DE1634.

There was a cardboard back, to separate the springs from the seat cover, but it crumbled away when trying to pull the seat cover off. I cut a panel out of the dishwasher box and bent it to fit. Initially, I tried to attach it with hog rings, but that tore through the cardboard, so back to the zip-ties.

Then I added some jut webbing on the front side.

And did the same process of tracing out the seat back shape on some craft paper and cut it out of the upholstery foam.

The shadows were getting long and as mentioned previously, I’m still waiting on the vinyl patch material, so I packed it all back in the car, anxiously awaiting the next sunny day to dig back in.