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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all

I have a very nice looking set of seat covers for my 73 GTV from Alfaholics sitting in my shop. Trying to decide if I'm going to have at it myself.

Has anyone done this at home? Can you tell me what's involved? Maybe point me to a thread? Trying to get a grasp on what tools/skills are needed and if its possible to get nice tight upholstery from a DIY job.
 

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1966-2013
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I've done it right in my kitchen.

You'll want hog ring pliers, rings, a pile of rubber o-rings from the hardware store, mabe some springs too (you'll have to wait til teardown to get spring and o-ring samples from the old stuff) and if working with vinyl, a hair drier or heat gun. (even better if your heat is on and you can lay bits of the skins over registers to get the whole piece warmed up and loose)

They even make special pliers to grab the edge of the material so you can really reef on it, but I didn't see the need for them myself. Were I doing many skins instead of just a pair I'd prolly opt for them though just to ease the stress on arthritic joints.

Presuming the cushions are good, it's really just a matter of peeling the old stuff off carefully, then taking great pains to get the new stuff on smooth and tight.
ie: the hair drier can be used to soften the skin a bit in specific areas so you can get a better pull on things.
You'll also want to 'spank' the skin to help pull it taught in certain areas.
Literally slapping it in a certain direction while pulling on an edge to get it to creep on tight spots or where you're forced to pull at the wrong angle as the spanking not only pulls a bit but also convinces the foam to not hold so tight to the inside of the skin.
EG: trying to draw the top of the bolster tight but the pull is downward instead of outward due to the shape of things. Pull down, spank top of bolster outward and the skin will slowly creep tension into things in the direction it needs to.

Anchor nothing until things are perfectly smooth onnaconna that little ridge/roll/lump/whatever won't go away over time as much as you'd wish it to do so.

Hog rings will do most of the retension around the edges while the springs and o-rings pull the middle areas so that the bolsters on the edges actually stick out like they are supposed to.

Pay attention to where stuff was anchored/hooked on the old stuff so that you can reproduce it with the new. Pictures taken during teardown would be of use here.

It's really not overly difficult to swap skins, but it can be tedious getting things just right so that the finished product looks as good as it possibly can. Really anyone can do it and get it done, but patience with fit and finish will show better results than just throwing it together.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks that's encouraging. I have to admit, I have not removed the existing skins from my seats so its a bit of a mystery to me as to how the new ones are attached. What is it that holds them on and taut? Can you give me a real idiots description of the basic concept?

I've done it right in my kitchen.

You'll want hog ring pliers, rings, a pile of rubber o-rings from the hardware store, mabe some springs too (you'll have to wait til teardown to get spring and o-ring samples from the old stuff) and if working with vinyl, a hair drier or heat gun. (even better if your heat is on and you can lay bits of the skins over registers to get the whole piece warmed up and loose)

They even make special pliers to grab the edge of the material so you can really reef on it, but I didn't see the need for them myself. Were I doing many skins instead of just a pair I'd prolly opt for them though just to ease the stress on arthritic joints.

Presuming the cushions are good, it's really just a matter of peeling the old stuff off carefully, then taking great pains to get the new stuff on smooth and tight.
ie: the hair drier can be used to soften the skin a bit in specific areas so you can get a better pull on things.
You'll also want to 'spank' the skin to help pull it taught in certain areas.
Literally slapping it in a certain direction while pulling on an edge to get it to creep on tight spots or where you're forced to pull at the wrong angle as the spanking not only pulls a bit but also convinces the foam to not hold so tight to the inside of the skin.
EG: trying to draw the top of the bolster tight but the pull is downward instead of outward due to the shape of things. Pull down, spank top of bolster outward and the skin will slowly creep tension into things in the direction it needs to.

Anchor nothing until things are perfectly smooth onnaconna that little ridge/roll/lump/whatever won't go away over time as much as you'd wish it to do so.

Hog rings will do most of the retension around the edges while the springs and o-rings pull the middle areas so that the bolsters on the edges actually stick out like they are supposed to.

Pay attention to where stuff was anchored/hooked on the old stuff so that you can reproduce it with the new. Pictures taken during teardown would be of use here.

It's really not overly difficult to swap skins, but it can be tedious getting things just right so that the finished product looks as good as it possibly can. Really anyone can do it and get it done, but patience with fit and finish will show better results than just throwing it together.
 

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1966-2013
Joined
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13,741 Posts
The edges of the skins are held and tensioned using stretch resistance and hog rings anchored to the framing.
You pull hard/tight, and hold it there with a hog ring which is installed by shoving it through the edge of the material wrapped around a bit of seat frame, then locked in place with special pliers. (note that some folks have used safety wire and pliers to good effect. while not neccisarily the spec way to do it, it accomplishes the exact same thing)

The center panels are recessed in by springs and/or o-rings that affix to the *wire framing in the seat skins and sometimes the stitched seams of the ribbing.
Basically you hook onto the inside of the skin around the wire and pull the o-ring or spring taught then hook it onto the metal framework of the seat. This in turn pulls the material in whatever direction the tension is applied at.

*Regarding the wire frame, as I neglected to mention it earlier:
The piping between the bolster of the seat and where it meets the center sections of the skins?
This has a wire running through it to (1) hold shape and (2) give somehting for springs and o-rings to attach to.

Ideally you could pull the old ones out of the old skins and reinstall them in the new skins, but that's not always the case due to breakage or rot.
Should they need replacing, a well straightened and kink free wire clothes hanger is just about perfect, and while a bit 'softer' than the originals (made from spring steel) they end up being easier to feed through the piping because they aren't so hard so fight against you less.

I'm fairly sure there's a couple old threads up in the spider subsection that show some folks work during thier restorations, but it's been a good long while since I actually saw one.
 

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1966-2013
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This thread by alfarobert showing some of the ins and outs of doing it including pix of the springs (springs go on the seat base, o-rings on the seat back, but thier function is the same) and hog rings mentioned above.

While its for a different model seat, it should at least give you an idea of what's in there and how to go about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Again very useful, thanks.

A few more questions... did you replace or modify the foam in the seat? Ditto for springs...

Hog ringly speaking, did you just measure the existing and re-order from a supplier?

This thread by alfarobert showing some of the ins and outs of doing it including pix of the springs (springs go on the seat base, o-rings on the seat back, but thier function is the same) and hog rings mentioned above.

While its for a different model seat, it should at least give you an idea of what's in there and how to go about it.
 

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1966-2013
Joined
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13,741 Posts
I didn't need to fiddle with the foam as it was still intact and firm, but mine weren't as old as your likely are.

If you get replacements, take into consideration that they're gonna be firm, and likely seem to be taller/larger than what you pulled out. They can be stretched over anyway, but if you feel you won't be able to stand it, using an electric carving knife will allow you to trim with relative ease. Just remove less than you think you need to onnaconna they will compress a bit as things settle in and start to get a butt groove working into them.

The springs I had to get from the hardware store as every one of mine was broken.
The best I could so was try to match length and tension. Worst case scenario you get proper tension and a little long, because you can always make a spring shorter but you can't change its tension with ease.

I don't know if hog rings actually come in specific sizes to tell the truth.
Generally pliers can be found that have a fistful of rings in the packet, otherwise I think they're pretty size generic in the grander scheme of things.
 

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If you plan to reuse old foam, a skin over the existing foam of some 8-12mm foam does wonders for helping to fill out the new covers and hiding any old indentations in the foam from existing seams etc. You can also trim the foam to get nice crisp edges on the seats etc.
Just spray glue the new foam on. Also, silicone spray works very well on the foam in any areas that are difficult to pull the new covers over.
 
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