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- 07-21-14, 05:04 AM #1
My C5 seat foam repair job with pictures
The top front of the black plastic trim piece on the left side of the driverís seat on my 2003 Coupe kept popping loose from the seat frame. This resulted in an unsightly Ĺ" gap between the trim and the leather seat cover.
The top front of the trim piece is held against the seat cover by a plastic finger that snaps into a hole in the seat frame. I could push the trim piece toward the seat and the finger would engage the hole and the Ĺ" gap would be gone. But after a couple of exits from the car the gap would return.
I did some reading on the forums and discovered that this gap can result from a problem with the seat foam related to the bolsters on the left/right side of the seat. My 200 lbs of weight is largely all on the left bolster as I exit the Corvette and this causes the ľ" wide seat frame to cut into the seat foam that supports the bolster. The cut seat foam then slides down the frame thus causing a bulge on the left side of the seat. The pressure from this bulge is what tends to push the top of the trim piece away from the seat which results in the gap that was bugging me.
I purchased a "Corvette Seat Cushion Repair Kit: 1997-2013 C5, C6, Z06" (Corvette Seat Cushion Repair Kit : 1997-2013 C5,C6,Z06) from West Coast Corvettes for $30. The kit is for both C5 and C6 seats and consisted of 4 cut pieces of blue foam, some ballistic nylon cloth, a piece of jute padding, a handful of cable ties, and instructions. You can probably buy the parts yourself for less than $30, but I liked the convenience of the premade kit.
The instructions that came with the kit were "all right" but if you are going to attempt this repair yourself I definitely recommend these excellent instructions (Vette Essentials Full Custom Seat Cover Install) from Vette Essentials. The instructions are for a complete seat cover replacement, but the sections on seat remove/install and lower seat cushion remove/install are excellent and provided me with tips that really helped.
Below Iíll share some pictures and comments regarding my experience with the seat foam repair. I deviated somewhat from the instructions that came with the kit, and Iíll cover that below.
The first step is to remove the two black plastic "shoes" on the front of the seat rails. This shot shows the black plastic pins (sort of like rivets) that attach each shoe to its seat rail.
Slide the seat all the way back and itís easy to get to the two front nuts.
Slide the seat all the way forward and itís easy to get to the two rear nuts.
The Vette Essentials tip about propping up the front of the seat while I struggled with the electrical connector was helpful.
Despite the fairly detailed Vette Essentials instructions (step 17) on how to disconnect the electrical connector (I only had one connector) I struggled with getting the connector to disconnect. Typically on my projects if there is an electrical connector involved then I will have a hard time with it.
In the end I was unable to separate the connector while it was attached to the seat frame. I ended up squeezing the plastic finger that attached the connector to the frame and detaching the connector from the frame. Then I was finally able to get a firm grip on the two sides of the connection, push a small flat-blade screwdriver into the magic spot on the connector, and separate the male and female sides of the connector.
Now it was "cut the hog rings" time. I chose to cut my hog rings because the repair kit came with plastic cable ties to replace the hog rings. If you have hog ring pliers (I didnít) then you may want to put the seat back together using hog rings. I used the cable ties.
The first hog ring I cut with side-cutters is shown above in the red circle.
With that hog ring cut you can lift the leather seat flap and see the knot in the seat cover drawstring. Untie the knot. DO NOT CUT THE DRAWSTRING!
Next I cut the hog rings shown above that attach the seat cover to the back cover (this is step 15 in the Vette Essentials instructions).
Then I cut the hog rings on the right side.
This view shows that I did not have a problem with the seat spring wires cutting into the foam. The kit came with ballistic nylon cloth to glue to the bottom of the seat foam to prevent the wires from cutting into the foam.
Next I removed the seat cushion and seat cover assembly from the seat frame. At this point you can separate them by pulling the seat bottom toward the front of the seat.
The rear of the seat foam has a curved section that fits over a horizontal piece of the seat frame. After I got my seat bottom out I discovered that the foam in this curved section was torn. I donít know if it tore due to my pulling on the seat cushion to get it out, or if it tore over the years of use. At any rate, before you start pulling on the seat cushion assembly to get it off the seat frame you might want to help that curved rear foam over the horizontal frame piece to avoid tearing the foam or making an existing tear worse. Iíll have a picture of the tear in this area later.
The Vette Essentials instructions have you remove the seat cover from the seat cushion because they are planning on replacing the seat covers. DO NOT separate the seat cover from the seat foam (as shown in step 16). If you do, you will just have to put the seat cover back on the foam which is no big deal - you just have to get the Velcro attachment points stuck together.
This picture shows one of the small foam blocks that came with the kit. The block has been glued to the frame to help in supporting the bolster in that area. This shot is the front right of the seat frame.
Notice the two red arrows that point to the ľ" wide frame member that supports the bolster foam. Having a support that narrow often causes the frame member to cut into the foam below the bolster, especially the bolster on the door side of the seat where your weight is concentrated when you exit the car.
Here is the front left area of the seat frame. Another blue block of foam from the kit has been glued to the frame to aid in supporting the bolster foam.
The black shaft attaches to the seat recliner handle. For me, getting the recliner handle off that shaft and disconnecting the black electrical connector shown in the picture were the two hardest parts of this repair.
If I had to disconnect the recliner handle just using the instructions that came with the kit I would probably still be poking and prodding to no effect. The Vette Essentials instructions (step 10) were extremely helpful. In my case I tried to use the crochet needle method but that didnít work for me so I ended up pushing the retainer clip down toward the shaft using a slim flat blade screwdriver.
Continued in the next post due to a restriction on no more than 12 images per post.
- 07-21-14, 05:06 AM #2
This is a picture of the torn foam that supports the rear of the door-side bolster. You can see where the ľ" wide seat frame member has torn and cut into the foam.
I used 3M 90 spray adhesive to repair all of the tears in the foam. I sprayed the foam on both sides of the tear, let it dry for 2 minutes, and then pressed the sides together. The instructions on the can neglected to say how long to let the adhesive set. In my case I waited an hour or two. In hindsight I think 24 hours would have been better to ensure that the adhesive had dried/set properly.
Here is the tear at the left-front of the seat foam. In my case that torn piece of foam Iím holding slid down the side of the frame and tended to push the plastic trim piece away from the frame resulting in a Ĺ" gap between the trim piece and the seat cover.
This shot is the split in the foam channel at the rear of the seat cushion. The channel fits over a horizontal piece of the seat frame. Iím not sure whether the tear resulted from years of seat use or it happened when I pulled the seat foam forward to disengage it from the seat frame.
This shot is the door-side bolster support foam after I strengthened it by gluing nylon cloth to the foam. The seat cover has been folded back under the foam to prevent me from getting glue on it.
I watched a YouTube video that recommended gluing a piece of carpet jute over the ľ" frame member that tends to cut into the foam. I stopped by a local auto seat repair company to see if I could get some jute scraps to use. After I explained what I was doing the owner said that he thought the jute he had would be too thick to work well and recommended gluing nylon cloth to the foam to provide strength. He gave me a nylon cloth scrap that I used on the left and right bolster support areas of the foam, as shown above. As long as the adhesive provides a good bond between the nylon cloth and the foam that should prevent any future tears in the foam.
This is the same area as the previous picture; except now the blue foam from the kit has been glued in place and the seat cover is back where it normally is.
This is a shot of the console-side bolster support foam repair. I probably didnít need to do anything here because the console-side bolster doesnít get much weight and was not torn, but I figured since I was in there I might as well.
The width of the channel in the foam is not a lot wider than the ľ" frame member that fits into the channel - so if I had tried to glue jute padding to the frame member it might have contributed toward making the foam tear in this area.
This picture shows where I glued nylon cloth in the channel at the rear of the seat foam to strengthen the foam where it had torn.
This is a picture of the "special tool" that I used to install the nylon cloth down into the foam channels that I strengthened.
I sprayed 3M 90 adhesive in the foam channel and on the piece of nylon cloth and let it tack for 2 minutes. The trick was getting the nylon cloth down into the channel without first touching the sides of the channel. If I touched the cloth to a side of the foam channel first it was difficult to get it unstuck it and down into the channel where it belonged.
I found a piece of scrap wood molding that allowed me to wrap the cloth around the molding and thus get the cloth all the way down into the channel before the sides touched the foam. A ruler would probably also work.
Hereís a shot after I glued the nylon cloth and two blue foam pieces that came with the kit.
Prior to this I cut off some of the kit nylon cloth to use in my channel strengthening work - so the length of the cloth is less than what comes with the kit. The kit instructions also didnít have the cloth being glued into the curve at the front of the foam. I figured that since I didnít have an issue with spring wires cutting into the bottom foam, I would use some of the cloth to strengthen the curved area of the foam.
A close-up shot of the nylon cloth glued to the bottom of the seat foam.
Hereís the seat bottom with all my additions and the blue kit foam pieces glued in place. The kit came with the jute padding shown in the picture and said that using the jute was optional. If you wanted a bit firmer seat then use the jute. After I glued the jute to the bottom of the seat I re-read the kit instructions and discovered that I was supposed to attach the jute pad to the seat wires using the supplied cable ties. Oh well, hopefully it wonít make much difference.
Hereís the almost completed and reassembled seat. The black trim piece on the door side and the switches and recliner handle still need to be attached.
Continued in the next post due to a limit of 12 pictures per post.
- 07-21-14, 05:07 AM #3
Here’s the seat with the trim panel all attached. The gap between the upper front of the trim panel and the seat cover is now gone (yea!).
I believe there are primarily two things I did that will help to prevent that gap from reappearing.
1. Fix the torn bolster support foam and reinforce it with nylon cloth to prevent it from tearing again in the future. When the foam tears and slides down that ľ” support member it will put pressure on the black trim piece and make it more likely for the support finger to pop out of the hole in the seat frame.
2. I didn't take a picture of this, but there is a good picture in Junkman's post (http://www.digitalcorvettes.com/foru...d.php?t=104955). There is a round plastic finger about 3/8” in diameter that sticks out an inch or so from the inside of the black trim piece. This finger goes through a hole in the leather seat cover and sticks into a hole in the seat frame. The finger has three small metal strips on it that stick out a bit from the plastic. Well, they are supposed to stick out a bit, but on mine these three metal strips were pretty much even with the plastic. Thus there wasn’t as much friction between the finger and the hole as you would desire which tended to make the plastic trim easy to pop away from the seat cover (the problem I started out to fix in the first place). I took a small flat blade screwdriver and gently pried the three metal strips out away from the plastic a bit. When I pushed the trim piece into place I felt a nice bit of resistance as that finger went into the hole. Hopefully it doesn’t pop out again.
Here’s the seat back in the Corvette. I’ve got the front propped up so that I can get the electrical connector hooked back up.
That’s it. I hope you have success with your seat bottom rebuild.
I must confess that I could not really tell much difference in the feel of the seat after my repair. Perhaps my rump is not as sensitive as it used to be . But I do believe the bolsters are firmer than they were.
Here are some links I found useful while researching this repair:
Vette Essentials Full Custom Seat Cover Install
C5 Seat Rebuild - Better than new
SEAT ASM/FRONT. Fits: 2003 Chevrolet Corvette 2 DR | Nalley Buick GMC Brunswick
C5 Corvette Seat Cover Installation - YouTube
- 07-21-14, 07:16 AM #4
I see that you referenced my writeup. One thing I didn't do is buy any kind of kit to do the reinforcement. I just easily made my own kit out of common home improvement store items."Marines - Making the other guy die for his country for over 200 years."
- 07-21-14, 07:45 AM #5
This is my next job too, thanks for the write up, upholstery is not my strong suit. I have the repair kit ordered, but I am going to add seat heaters while I am in there.......
BTW, does any one have any experience with different leather seat cover venders? Such as quality of leather, ease if install, price etc. DJ Motorsport seems to have the best price but I cannot get in touch with them (left numerous messages for over a month and no answers or return e-mails or phone calls) but I don't know about their product quality and I would have to say their customer service is probably non-existent. Any feedback would be appreciated.Master Technician
25+ year ASE Master Certified Tech
22+ year Honda Master Tech
- 07-21-14, 08:00 AM #6
If you are looking for leather quality, you won't find anything remotely close to the quality of Vette Essentials. They are second to none but they are not cheap. You definitely get what you pay for though."Marines - Making the other guy die for his country for over 200 years."
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