Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pitifully Sad Passenger Seat

In the previous post, 'Soggy Driver's Footwell', I had to remove the front seats to make space to work on the floor. While they were out and stored in the house, it was pretty obvious that 25 years of use had left them looking tatty, sad and tired.

The passenger side was particularly bad with quite a large stain on the material which I have to confess was my own fault. Driving to work earlier in the year, a pot of double cream tipped over creating the current, less than desirable look. In order to clean them properly I wanted to remove the covers, but as always, I had no idea how to do it and with little help online either it was going to be another 'trial and error' project.

Removing the covers from the seat turned out to be a fairly long winded affair requiring quite a bit of guess work and the odd mistake here and there. So rather than fill this post up, I detailed it here instead. What I will say here though is that there was much grimness lurking within.

What you can't appreciate from the picture is the unpleasant smell, but that aside once the covers were off my main concern was that dirty looking stain on the top and how to get rid of it without damaging the vinyl.

Taking a cautious approach, I didn't want to just stick them in the washing machine as I was concerned that it may either shrink the material or crinkle the vinyl. So I started with some soap powder in a bucket of hot water and a scrubbing brush on the path outside to see if I could shift that unsightly mess.

After a light going over with the scrubbing brush it initially started to look quite promising, but as the material started to dry out the stain could still be seen. It was certainly better than it was, but it was still pretty obvious. So biting the bullet, I decided to put the covers in the washing machine on a delicate 30 degree C wash cycle. Although it was a bit better, once dry the stain was still visible from a distance.

So what to do, I could either accept the fact that the stain would always be there or find a solution. I knew that every time I looked at the seat it would annoy me so I consulted the household expert and my lovely lady wife pointed out that there was a vast array of stain removers available in the local supermarket. Studying the daunting array of products on offer I could see that most were bleach based and the last thing I wanted was to wash the colour out of the material, so they were out. There was one product though that seemed promising, it was not based on bleach and even came with a 'Money Back Guarantee*', although terms and conditions apply and we all know what that means!

With that kind of marketing who could refuse! The box contained 3 small bottles for all kinds of stains, so with the one for getting rid of fat, I laid the cover out on a flat surface and saturated the stain with the solution gently rubbing it. After a 15 minute soak the covers were chucked back in the washing machine again for good measure, even daring to put it on the spin cycle this time. Once dry, the stain was gone!!

Well nearly, on close scrutiny it could stillbe seen, but how often do people closely scrutinise your seat covers? And would you let such people in your car if they did!!!

Once the covers were dry enough, they were ready to be put back on the seat and in true Haynes fashion it is simply the reverse of taking them off. It is worth mentioning though that pushing the clips back into place with your fingers is a killer, so I wrapped some gaffer tape around one of the jaws of my extendable pliers to protect the vinyl and used them to push the clips back into place.

Also one thing that confused me was whether the seat material goes over or under the metal spring that runs between the two sides of the seat. As I couldn't remember, I tried over, then realised it was wrong when I checked against the drivers seat, I realised it went under so once corrected it was glued back into place.

Putting the material on the back, everything just found it's natural place as all the folds and creases were still in the material and after the final gluing and clipping it was done.

Well nearly... when I turned the seat over, I noticed that the wire parts of the diaphragm were cutting into the foam leaving it bulging through and sitting on the seat it was obvious that it was happening.

By chance I had some carpet underlay left over from a room that had recently been carpeted. This seemed perfect if I could only get it between the diaphragm and the foam. It was a pretty tight fit but I was able to feed it down bit by bit from one side.

Sitting on the seat confirmed it was much firmer with the underlay insert. It seemed to take ages but I finally had one seat done and although not perfect, it's a massive improvement from when I stared. Also there's the knowledge they're nice and clean, always a bonus when you stick your hand down the back of the seat to retrieve that lost pound coin!

So that's one down and one to go. The clever ones among us will realise that the 'one to go' is the drivers seat which will undoubtedly have seen more use than the passenger side, so consequently may be a bit worse for wear. I just hope it's not too bad.

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