Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 17, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

I'm sure this has happened to some of you... You lay down good money on a set of bucket seat cores- (these things aint cheap anymore!) They look ok on the outside, then you get them home and start to tear them down and HOLY MOLY, they are TRASH.

Well, this thread is to show you this happens to all of us-
I do a dozen or so seats a year for customers and should know better- but I bought these 1970 Olds 442 Seat cores (traded $350 labor for them) sight unseen based on photos, planning to put them into my own 68 Chevelle.

Not too bad right?


WRONG!










Basically these are up there among the worst condition seats I've ever done.
These had apparently been left outside for some time and they had been used as a rodent home for a long time.

The whole bottom edgewire in one upper cushion is rusted away, every spring is rusted through and broken along that bottom edge, the other upper cushion the entire edgewire is rusted & thinned down to a needle around the entire perimeter, springs rusted through at the bottom edge. Half the spring clamps are rusted off.

Lower cushions were actually mostly intact, some broken springs, but again the edgewires so pitted and whittled away with rust they are dangerously thin in places.

I COULD lay down a pile of cash and buy reproduction spring assemblies... i think they run around $380 by the time you buy all 4 of them, which are known to be overly stiff anyway.. But I'm not gonna shell out cash when i can fix them myself, right? ;-)

To Be continued....

Ben R.

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Last edited by RAMBO; Jul 6th, 17 at 5:26 PM. Reason: adding pics
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post #2 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 17, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

I had grand plans of doing electrolysis rust removal on these. Obtained a bin big enough to fully submerge the seats even... but alas, the idea of powerwashing & scrubing them after the process go the better of me and I dropped them off at my local sand blasters shop and picked them up a few days later. I really hate scrubbing.

Anyway- Now we can see what we have left.
As expected the edgewires on the upeprs and lowers are darn near toast. Most of the springs themselves are actually saveable, though a few may need splicing with new.

There are some thin spots and rusted through spots on the frames themselves. I'll inspect them closer and decide if they need to be welded up or can just be cleaned up and left alone.











..To be continued

Ben R.

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post #3 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 17, 2:10 PM
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

Good lord, they look like the captains chairs from the Titanic! But I'll be following to see how you resurrect them, as I know you will!

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post #4 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 17, 2:15 PM
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

Will be interesting to see.

Fortunately mine looked factory line fresh compared to these jewels in the rough.

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post #5 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 17, 2:21 PM
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

Ben, I have had them as bad as that before. Bought a set off ebay that was local to me. Learned my lesson well on that set. Think the guy stored them in a 55 gallon drum of salt water. I could care less what the covers look like. Show me the springs and frames.
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post #6 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 17, 2:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

Yup yup yup. i've actually seen much worse than these too, at least the frames for these are mostly solid... I've had a couple come through rusted so bad i could not even get the frames apart, much less save them.

My goal here is to show that even with nasty rusty seats like these- they can be repaired and restored by ANYONE with basic tools and supplies.

You don't NEED to spend $$$ buying reproduction spring assemblies, or pay a shop to do any of this stuff.

I'll post up some more pics tonight and the next couple days as I go along...

I want these done and in my car by the end of this weekend, so I won't keep you guys waiting ;-)
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post #7 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 17, 6:29 PM
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

I am doing a set that started out just like those, Mouse nest city..
At least you can get all of the springs you need.
I did the electrolysis on them too, really cleans them up nice.

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post #8 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 17, 7:45 PM
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

I'm going to follow this one closely. I bought 3 seats recently. 1 67 passenger seat and a pair of 66 seats that the passenger seat is pretty rusty. Fortunately I bought the seats with a few other parts, just sold the other parts and brought my cost of the 3 seats to $40. So I can afford to sink a few bucks into making a pair out of the 3 seats. Jim

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post #9 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 17, 3:22 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

Allright- before i go to far... Tools of the trade... for anyone curious what it takes to do this... this is it





That tool at the bottom is the one that makes everything possible. That is a wire bender and allows me to bend up the 9ga edgewire however i need.

Oh yeah... and a pile of zigzag spring. 9ga and 11ga.

The yellow handled things are spring bending paddles that make flattening and forming the springs into their specific shapes possible.

The edgewire and springs are all held together with steel spring clamps which are closed up with a pair of pliers.

Everything else is all basic hand tools.

Continued...

Ben R.

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post #10 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 17, 3:30 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

So last night (before i posted this) i actually completed repairs to the lower cushions, but i wasn't very good about taking pics during the repair process... but you can see the results here:



The side edgewires were horribly pitted, so i formed up all new ones from the back of the frame up to their connection point to the springs near the front



While the side support springs were not broken, i always change them out and switch to a beefier 9ga spring vs the original 11ga, which i find adds more support at the bolsters without increasing the center stiffness.



ANother detail shot showing the rear edge corners and new side edgewire joined.

The dark grey springs are all new replacing pitted or cracked originals.

The springs in the rear of this seat were still intact but badly pitted. I opted to replace the two center ones with new, here they are shown spliced (clamped) onto the original midway up the seat. I'm not real happy with how my cross bar at the rear turned out, i may take it back off and replace it with a straight rod instead.



Detail shot at the front showing the side edgewire joining back onto the springs in the original location.



To be Continued...
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Ben R.

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post #11 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 17, 3:36 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

As i mentioned before, the upper cushions are in pretty rough shape. The whole edgewire is really badly pitted and whittled down by rust... on one cushion the whole bottom edge was actually rusted away and every spring broken at the bottom edge.

So... here we go.








I started with bending up new center 11ga springs to be spliced in for both seats.
You will notice that i'm not replacing the whole spring. There is no need to, the rest of the spring itself is in decent shape and isn't really under much stress- unlike the bottom edge springs which do all the supporting.





All 5 bottom springs repaired, and the edgewire fully removed.



the separated edgewire



Cont...
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Ben R.

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post #12 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 17, 3:42 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

The springs supporting the assembly at the two top outer positions were pitted and not supporting evenly, so i removed the clamps holding them, and formed up new ones



Back to the edgewire... This is actually two hoops that clamp onto each other and onto the springs at various spots to form up the whole spring assembly..



And, through the magic of the internet-


That was actually about 45mins worth of work carefully measuring and bending an 8ft long 9ga rod.


Some tweaking will need to be done in place, but its extremely close on all measurements.

And we end tonight with the new lower edgewire hoop installed on the spring assembly



The upper hoop is a lot shorter (only a 5ft peice of rod needed for it) and easier to form up, so i will get that done tomorrow night then move onto the actual recovering phase.
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Ben R.

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post #13 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 17, 5:33 AM
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Awesome thread! Thanks for posting. I worried about the internal condition of the seats that came with my 67 Chevelle. Recently one of the strato buckets became exposed to the elements and bees made a nest in it. Exterminating them required me removing the upholstery. I was shocked at how little is left of the lower springs. The lower seat frame is a bit rotted as well. My seats are so much worse than what you started with. Not sure if it's worth trying to fix. I'll be watching your posts with interest.
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post #14 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 17, 8:12 AM
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

Thanks for your post, great thread....

A customer dropped off a pair of '71 Chevelle buckets just like those last week. Genuine barn find seats for which he paid $600!

I could tell immediately from the stink what was inside. Wore a respirator and my oldest set of oil-change clothes to tear them down (outside the shop), then took a shower right after that. They were even worse than the 2nd and 3rd pics in your post #1. The seat frames cleaned up pretty well, but now I'm going through the process of bending new spring sections just like you are.

On the flip side, 2 days ago I bought a pair of '64-65 A-body buckets for $200 with nasty upholstery, but perfect frames and springs. NO repair needed, not even the side bolster springs. Same guy needs a complete interior resto on his '66 Malibu, and I now have a new customer.....
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post #15 of 101 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 17, 11:04 AM
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Re: Worst Case scenario Bucket seat rebuild

Ben, outstanding info for those who may have not done this type of repair. But there is one glaring tool missing, especially for first timers...............Alleve, Tylenol, Advil, whatever works for the fingers that cramp up, or quit working entirely. My brother, Pnugene and i redid 3 pair of buckets and 6 rear seat sections. At night, we lost lots of sleep from the pain. If you are use to this kind of work, maybe you get use to it. Personally, i never want to get use to it. Doesn't look hard, but is. Also, those right angled red handle pliers might just be the most useful of all the tools, at least in our opinion.
Not to hijack your thread, but others may have came across this problem.
Bought a set of what i thought was 1965 Chevelle buckets, had the horizontal lined upholstery still attached. Chrome spears down the sides. After rebuilding seats, destroyed upholstery trying to recover seats. Used heat just like on other seats, but PUI covers were short around shoulder area. Some have said these may have been Corvair or even Impala seats. Any thoughts. Thanks again for taking the time out to help others like us.
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