[Saloon-lovers] Removing seat covers

I want to replace the foam on my front seats. Old, dry crumbly
foam. My upolstery guy (spell check) is leery about pulling off
the leather seat bottom for fear of tearing it.

I am treating the leather with neat’s foot oil, hoping to soften it
up enough so he can pull it off the seat without tearing it.

Does anyone have any experience with this problem? Is there a
trick to getting seat covers off with the least strain on the
material?

Thanks,
P. Smith–
Peter J. Smith, 1966 3.8S, former 67 MGB
carson city nevada, United States
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In reply to a message from carsoncitysmith sent Fri 25 Apr 2008:

I recently wanted to ‘‘straighten’’ the driver’s seat cover since
they lose their shape and the pleats take a sideways orientation
with years of use. So I removed all the ‘‘Skirt Clips’’ around the
bottom and started pulling the cover.

The top of the foam shape had ‘‘glued’’ itself to the leather, not on
purpose, but by time. The sides and front are not glued at all.

So it entailed very slowly pulling and even then, chunks of the
foam came undone from the foam shape. Not to mention the ‘‘pull
strings’’ which ‘‘shape’’ the pleats area of the seat, were falling
apart. A total mess. I regretted messing with it but I was already
into it, so I just pulled away come what may.

In your case you are going to replace the foam anyway so I don’t
see how the leather would tear by carefully pulling it. Just make
sure the pull strings are undone. you can see them where the
springs are, turning the seat over. Otherwise pulling is the easy
part.

Zurdo–
The original message included these comments:

I want to replace the foam on my front seats. Old, dry crumbly
foam. My upolstery guy (spell check) is leery about pulling off
the leather seat bottom for fear of tearing it.
I am treating the leather with neat’s foot oil, hoping to soften it
up enough so he can pull it off the seat without tearing it.
Does anyone have any experience with this problem? Is there a
trick to getting seat covers off with the least strain on the
material?
Peter J. Smith, 1966 3.8S, former 67 MGB


1965 3.8 ‘S’ 1984 XJ-6
Florida, United States
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In reply to a message from carsoncitysmith sent Fri 25 Apr 2008:

Peter,
No worries, have a look at the bottom of
http://picasaweb.google.de/JagWaugh1968/Seats to see how they come
apart. The leather is not glued, but the cotton is sewed to the
burlap in a few places to stop the seat losing shape.

Opinions differ on Neats foot oil. The place I got my materials 

from claim that as it as a natural product it will oxidize and rot.
I used a synthetic old leather softener from www.lederzentrum.de
which really worked well, my leather was like cardboard and I had
actually written it off, then I tried the leather softener, which
worked so well I decided to rebuild the drivers seat bottom with
the original Leather. I resprayed the color, and am quite happy
with the results.

Andrew–
The original message included these comments:

I am treating the leather with neat’s foot oil, hoping to soften it
up enough so he can pull it off the seat without tearing it.
Does anyone have any experience with this problem? Is there a
trick to getting seat covers off with the least strain on the


1968 3.8S
Zurich, Switzerland
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In reply to a message from JagWaugh sent Fri 25 Apr 2008:

Andrew: Your seats look pretty much like mine do in your before
shots. I have started with neat’s foot oil since I first posted
this item and it is soaking up a lot. I will check progress in a
couple days and see if I should look for a synthetic product like
you describe. Certainly there should be something similar on this
side of the big pond.
Here is Nevada we don’t think about rot. We think a lot about dry
stuff, unfortunately including dry leather.
–Peter J. Smith–
Peter J. Smith, 1966 3.8S, former 67 MGB
carson city nevada, United States
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In reply to a message from carsoncitysmith sent Fri 25 Apr 2008:

Pete
To give you an idea about how tough even dried leather can be:
I had decided before I even touched the seats that they were a
write off, but I had a litre of the old leather softener that I had
bought at a car show for a good price.
Being a big fan of Nietzsche I decided that the worst that I
could do to the leather couldn’t match the effects of time and
mildew, so I attacked them chemically. First I sprayed them with a
mildew cleaner that I found at the building center housepaint
section, and scrubbed that in with a stiff brush. After letting it
sit overnight I soaked them with the mildew agent again and rinsed
them down with a garden hose at full pressure. I then scrubbed them
really really hard with a floor polish stripper, rinsed again, and
then with dishwashing soap, and rinsed again. As they were soaking
wet I then hit them with a mildew preventer (also from the building
center) and let them dry for a week. I then read the instructions
on the leathersoftener and scrubbed them with Vinegar, leaving them
to soak overnight then rinsed gently (i.e. without the nozzle on
the garden hose) and left them to dry for 2 weeks.
My aims were as follows: I was deliberately rough on them to
see if the stitching was rotted through - no point in softening the
leather and recoloring if the stitching lets go after you’ve
finished. My seats were also heavily mildewed, as you can see in
some of the pics, so I deliberately left them to dry slowly to see
if I had got the mildew out.
Since I had already resolved that the leather was completely
shot I was very very rough on them, both physically and chemically.
A lot of color rinsed out with the scrubbing, but the seats
themselves didn’t change color or exhibit any further tears or
scuffmarks.
As usual it was only the drivers squab that required extensive
repairs, and as you can see in the photos I completely stripped it
and replaced burlap and foam, I also couldn’t have repaired that 7’’
tear without access to the back of the leather. I was so impressed
with how well the leather and stitching held up to my chemical
warfare, and how well it responded to the leather softener that I
then felt it worth the money to get the additional materials to
fill the cracks and recolor the seats (about 400$ less than 10% of
new leather). As you can see the final result is pretty good as the
patina is retained. I was quite surprised that they came out as
well as they did.–
The original message included these comments:

shots. I have started with neat’s foot oil since I first posted
this item and it is soaking up a lot. I will check progress in a
couple days and see if I should look for a synthetic product like
you describe. Certainly there should be something similar on this
side of the big pond.


1968 3.8S
Zurich, Switzerland
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In reply to a message from JagWaugh sent Sat 26 Apr 2008:

Andrew:
First of all, Nietzche is dead. And with good reason. God is
still kicking, but we will let them argue out the fine points of
that one.

I have applied neats’ foot oil now 4-5 times a day for 4 days and
it is still soaking it up. I don’t know where it is going, but I
think the leather is getting softer.

My real question is how much stress should I expect on the leather
in pulling the covers off of the seats. It is the front corners of
each seat that look like a potential problem because the leather
appears to be fitted over the corners and to be narrower towards
the lower edge.

Danke v. schon
P.–
Peter J. Smith, 1966 3.8S, former 67 MGB
carson city nevada, United States
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In reply to a message from carsoncitysmith sent Sun 27 Apr 2008:

Pete,
Think of it this way: If the leather is shot it will be shot
whether you remove it or not. It probably isn’t - it is only held
on by the clips, and although it may be a bit stretched from
scuffing and tension over the years it was not originally thinner
than the rest.
It is essentially the effects of Sunshine and perspiration that
degrade the leather, as well as the strain imposed by being sat on.
I wouldn’t worry too much if I were you. Even if the leather is
shot that bit won’t be too hard to replace.

Andrew–
The original message included these comments:

in pulling the covers off of the seats. It is the front corners of
each seat that look like a potential problem because the leather
appears to be fitted over the corners and to be narrower towards


1968 3.8S
Zurich, Switzerland
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In reply to a message from JagWaugh sent Sun 27 Apr 2008:

I have been looking closer and thinking some about this and I think
there is not that much stress on the front corners, but I am going
to have a pro take the covers off because he will be more
experienced in getting those clips off neatly and because he will
be able to see how it was put together for when he reinstalls the
covers.

The leather is still drinking up the neat’s foot oil.

Thanks,
P. Smith–
Peter J. Smith, 1966 3.8S, former 67 MGB
carson city nevada, United States
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In reply to a message from carsoncitysmith sent Sun 27 Apr 2008:

Peter,
It will soak neats foot oil almost indefinitely, like a woman
with attention…

Once the skin is off (the seat I mean) you can apply softener 

from the underside.

In my case it was the cloth part that had the most damage. If I 

were to do it again I would sew a new section of cloth on.

The spring clips will have rusted in place to the leather, be 

sure to apply softener there to stop the leather from sticking to
them.

Andrew–
The original message included these comments:

to have a pro take the covers off because he will be more
experienced in getting those clips off neatly and because he will
be able to see how it was put together for when he reinstalls the
covers.
The leather is still drinking up the neat’s foot oil.


1968 3.8S
Zurich, Switzerland
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In reply to a message from JagWaugh sent Mon 28 Apr 2008:

Andrew,

My seat springs show some rust. Did you treat the springs
with any rust killer or sprat paint?

Thanks,

Shell–
61 MK 2- 69 E FHC
La Grange Park, IL, United States
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In reply to a message from Shell Yoelin sent Mon 28 Apr 2008:

Shell,
Mine had a few bits of surfacerust, and a couple of broken
springs. I wiped them with oil, and canniballized a few springs
from a few old chairs at the dump. It is important to make sure
that you repair any breaks in the wire rod frame. In some places it
is welded, in some it is joined by soft steel strips wrapped around
the two parts.

Andrew–
The original message included these comments:

My seat springs show some rust. Did you treat the springs
with any rust killer or sprat paint?


1968 3.8S
Zurich, Switzerland
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In reply to a message from carsoncitysmith sent Sun 27 Apr 2008:

Peter,

I have removed one of my seat covers (the driver’s seat). I
wouldn’t worry about the leather too much, It’s the fabric you
should worry about. On my seat the fabric very fragile and ripped.

Cheers,–
The original message included these comments:

I have been looking closer and thinking some about this and I think
there is not that much stress on the front corners, but I am going
to have a pro take the covers off because he will be more
experienced in getting those clips off neatly and because he will
be able to see how it was put together for when he reinstalls the
covers.
The leather is still drinking up the neat’s foot oil.


Pim, 1967 E-type 4.2 FHC 1E34261, 1968 Sovereign 1A33630BW.
www.vanderschaafonline.nl, Netherlands
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In reply to a message from . Pim . sent Mon 28 Apr 2008:

I see the fabric problem already. I may have to plan some expense
on replacing that.
Thanks,
P. Smith–
Peter J. Smith, 1966 3.8S, former 67 MGB
carson city nevada, United States
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In reply to a message from carsoncitysmith sent Mon 28 Apr 2008:

Update: The upohlsteror (sp?) really did not want to take the
leather off, in spite of my assurances, but he said he would loosen
it in the back and slip some new better foam in under the crushed
center section where the main problem is. The two cheek imprint is
clearly evident.
I will be gone of a month, so for all of you who are sitting on the
edges of your seats, I will report back at the end of May.
I am going to look for Jaguars in Turkey. I will report back on
that also.
Do we have members in Turkey? I do not recall.
P. Smith–
Peter J. Smith, 1966 3.8S, former 67 MGB
carson city nevada, United States
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