Seat Recovering 101
Coutesy of Mr and Mrs Moshman from Cosmicquads.com
At this time I would like to share with you members the proper way to recover your seat.
It wont cost only $5 dollars.
As a matter of fact, by time you include your materials, tools and time,
The average worth will be near 40$. Your time is worth something right?
Over the years we have learned many tips and tricks. I cant cover all of them In this one post,but I will touch on the basics.
These are simple steps showing you how to replace your cover with a one piece style vinyl cover, much like the factory.
These tips will show you...
1) The best tools for the job.
2) Repairing of simple foam problems.
3) The proper materials
4) Proper prep work
5) A tried method for getting a wrinkle free end product, while retaining the stock sharp line.
Let's get started. This is a long write-up so bare with me.Some seats are harder than others.The easiest will be ATC 250R seats,Banshee seats, 200x seats.The harder seats will be ones like The 350X, Tri-Z, 86-87 Tecate and Big red and seats with foam up off the pan which require sewn patterns to do properly.
Here are the basic tools for the job.
We use a Air Powered Stapler for upholstery work.
These are the way to go, but will be a large investment for the everyday guy just wanting to do a seat from time to time.
Some good scissors.
A flatblade screwdriver.
A pair of needle nose pliers for pulling old staples.
Some 100 grit sand paper.
And lastly A good hair dryer or heat gun.
This will be instrumental in helping you remove wrinkles and stretching vinyl.
I cant stress how important it is to use heat, heat and more heat. It is your best friend for a good product...
Be careful that you do not melt the vinyl.Especially if using a heat gun...
A Stanley Powershot Stapler works the best for manual stapling. They have a front firing lever to keep pressure on the pan as you staple.
They are about 30 bucks at the Hardware store.
The air powered systems require Their own staples, and the air stapler itself can range from $50-300 dollars.
These are the proper staples to use.You want use a plated staple or Stainless staple to cut down on rusting.These are shown next to a peny to reference staple depth.Too long of staples will ruin foam and vinyl as shown below.
All too often guys use too long of staples and it will either ruin the foam or poke thru the vinyl....
This is a pic of foam that has been murdered, by too long of staples.
Lets get started then.
We will be doing a TRX 250R seat.
Here is what we have to start with:
notice the dingy pan with over spray from paint on it.
Remove the foam and use Super Clean or the like and clean the pan.
A brillo pad works good for removing overspray.
After cleaning the pan, We will remove the old staples and inspect the pan for problems that may hurt the vinyl.
Staple removal. Use the flatblade screwdriver to pry up the staples then some pliers to remove the rest of the wire.
Next,look the pan over for rough edges that may tear the vinyl.
This pan had some burs on the edges.
Lightly scrape them off with a razor blade, then hit them with some sandpaper to smooth the edges out.This will help prevent the vinyl from wearing thru the pan prematurely.
Lets move onto foam inspection and repair now that the pan is preped.
This foam is old and original, but useable for the guy on the budget.
Here you will see what the wrong staples do to the foam.
It will actually crater the foam on the outside, cuasing a bad finish on the product.
These are some economical easy tips,to repair the foam imperfections for a daily rider.
A restoration job should get new foam unless the stock foam is MINT.
Here is why Seamed aftermarket off the shelf Seat Covers suck!
The Seams actually indent the foam and cuase low spots and staining of the foam.
Anytime you can, if you care about your machine, you will want to use a one piece cover to avoid these lines from seamed covers.
Not to put any company down, But Cascade and Verde Brand Seatcovers have the thickest seems and do the most damage in my experience.
The best way to attack this, is a air grinder with sanding pads and a steady eye and hand.Foam shaving and reshaping will not be covered this time.That is a whole art in itself I will get to at another time.
The best thing to do with these lines, is use some 100 grit sandpaper to sand the deep dents down so they wont show thru the vinyl.Just like sanding anything else,sand until you achieve the desired results,but make sure you do not deform the edges of the seat foam built ,by the factory.
Or your seat will come out looking too rounded on the edges,and more like a loaf of bread.
Next lets attack the craters in the seat foam.
Using some scrap foam from a pillow or even a old couch cushion, cut small pieces, and fill the little holes.
Some seats mave a very small hole in it.Not all the way thru the foam.
I have used silicone RTV sealant to "bondo" the hole and fill it.
You will have to let the RTV dry before you can proceed.
Put a dap in the hole and use a razor blade or old credit card to smooth off the excess.
For this seat, I will fill the holes with foam scraps.
As hillbilly as this sounds. IT WORKS for the guy on a budget.
Next using masking tape, Place tape over the foam repair to get a flat finish.
The tape will hold the foam in place and last quite awhile,and you wont see it under the new vinyl.
These are simple cost effective ways to re-use damaged foam.
Our restoration seats have more steps into making them as nice as possible.
Also if your foam is real bad, you can get some 1/4 inch thick foam sheeting from Jo-ann Fabrics and wrap the whole seat in it,and tack it with staples and aply your vinyl over top.
This will hide nasty imperfections, and you will gain some extra padding. But you will loose the sharp lines of the factory seat style.
Now onto recovering the seat.
First use quality marine grade vinyl.
Do not use the type with felt backing.It is week and will crack in cold weather.
Lay the vinyl over you seat,and cut out the sape of the seat leaving about a 3-4 inch over hang.
The more over hang of material you have, the harder it is to work with.
Once I have my piece sized, I center it and tack it in the middle of the pan at one side.
I use a East, West, and North, South method to tack my seats.Once you get these areas tacked properly, the rest starts to fall into place.
Working from one end or side of the seat at once is much harder and will warp the pan unevenly.
One front corner may be crooked if you do not use this method of East West,and North and South.
I start with the sides of the seat ,then tack the front and back areas last.
Next flip the seat over and center your vinyl.
Use the hair dryer to warm the vinyl and pull it semi tight across the other side.
Tack it in the same place,opposite of your first tacking.
Next heat the center area of the seat.The vinyl should be heated hot to the touch, but not so much it melts the vinyl.
You will feel it stretch easier as the heat sets in.
Pull the rear of the vinyl so the center of the seat becomes smooth and tack in the center rear pan of the seat.
This will be the "South" Posistion of tacking.
Next you will do the "North" Tack or the top of the seat.
Once again HEAT HEAT HEAT is your friend.
Heat the dip arear of the seat and pull the vinyl tight at the top.
Dont pull too hard or you will warp the front of your pan and it will hang up too high in the front of the machine leaving a gap.
Starting to smooth out here.
Next tack that top of the seat in the center and pull the front edge corners up and around, and tack those, like this...
Ok now we have the seat tacked,and we will wrap it up.
These are the hardest parts of the job,and may take you some practice.
But if you follow these guidelines it will help the diffulculty level.
After tacking the 4 areas......
The front will have some major air pockest in the "Dip" area of the seat.Do these first before you move on......
Heat, HEAT, HEAT, these areas one side at a time and pull them tight down around the front side of the seat.Do one side,then repeat the other.
Grasp the vinyl after you heat it and pull it down around,while using your other hand to push the wrinkles down under the pan.Staple 3 or so staples.
Repeat with the oposite side.
You always want to leave your self som areas under the seat not stapled,so that if you have a small buble or wrinkle you can push it out later where you left yourself some room to work.
Once you attack the front dip area, your seat will look like this and you are ready to attack the rear corners.The hardest part...
At this time I have maybe 15 staples in the whole seat, and it looks this decent.
Only staple what you have to to get to this point.That way you have room to work any wrinkles out later.
Now we will do the rear corners.......
Most guys pull too tight at the back edge and it smashes the corners.
Seats with very soft foam will be hard to avoid.But you can minimize the squishing by using this method.
HEAT HEAT HEAT a baseball sized area at the top rear corner of the seat.
This will make the vinyl strecth better before it crushes the edge of the foam.
As you heat the corner, gently pull around the bottom corner of the pan, minimizing the bunching.
Make it bunch even.
In other words, you want there to be an equal amount of bubbles,or wrinkles, on the back of the seat,and that back side of the seat.
This method will make it easier to smooth the bunches out after you get the corner done.Keep an eye on the top corner of the foam, to make sure you are not smashing it too much.
Notice the even amount of stretching.
Pull your edge down under the back corner of the pan, and apply 2 staples.
Make a fold under the pan in the corner area.
This will strenghten the vinyl as you staple it.
This is the pic of the bottom corner attaching.
Repeat these steps on the other back corner next..
And we are ready to finish the back and side panels.
Now we will finish up...
Your seat should look like this after the corners are done.
Using the blow drier, work out the remaining wrinkles and pull them down evenly around the pan to achieve a smooth finish.
At this time,there may be some minor wrinkles around the seat that need smoothed out.
That is where using the minimal amount of staples in the first steps comes into play.
Heat all areas and work them smooth and finish stapling.
Once you have the wrinkles out, remove your starting tacks and finish those areas off.
Trim you extra vinyl away.
Notice I dont use a million staples.
When I first started doing seats, I used to many staples.But after years of practice, I found less is more and gives a cleaner look.
The cover will be just as strong.
I leave about 1 inch or so between my staple points.
Some of these pics may look like there are wrinkles, but trust me,there are none.
This seat is now ready for the logos to be applied.
Your seat is done and looks good. About 30 bucks in quality materials and 2 hours of your time.
I hope you find this info usefull.
If you already knew how to do this, then I hope you picked up some new tips along the way.
Give it a shot.
With a little patience you will be happy with the end results.
NOTE: If you are recovering a 81-82 250R seat with a metal seatpan I suggest using self tapping/drilling screws instead of staples.
Thanks for the writeup guys! I urge everyone to visit Cosmic-Quads.com .