Changing the back of a worn seat by GraemeW

Started by Carolyn, March 6, 2024, 17:56

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The problem with fabric seats is wear, particularly on the bolster at hip level. It appears to get quite damaged at low mileages, whereas the passenger seat is usually used less and can be relatively undamaged. The good news is that the seatback from a passenger seat will fit onto a driver's seat frame so there is the option of swapping seat backs so the wear area is moved into the centre, or buying a "good" passenger seat and swapping backs.  Note that the squabs differ because of the height adjustment knob requires a hole to have been cut in the squab for the driver's side.

Removing a seat back is not difficult but requires care removing plastic trim (both to the trim and personally to avoid stabbing yourself when the screwdriver slips!).

The seat donating the back has to be removed from the vehicle. Secured by 4 x 14mm bolts, three in the floor and one horizontally into the tunnel. First encounter with plastic trim over the offside rear bolt. Try prizing up with a screwdriver under the back edge. Next, look underneath and unplug the connection for the seat belt sensor. Take great care removing the seat as the protruding bolt-down extensions on the frame could cause damage. The seat is heavy and difficult to manoeuvre around the steering wheel and under the hood (best raise the hood).

Set up a comfortable height work area with protection so turning the seat over and around won't cause damage or dirty marks.  There are three plastic trim items to remove.  I found it much easier to do this if the seat squab is removed first. Turn the seat on its side and take out 4x12mm bolts screwed up from the underside. At this stage the connection to the seat belt anchor prevents the squab being taken away completely.

Moving the cushion around allows access to get a clearer view of how and where the trim pieces are secured. They use a combination of plastic tabs sitting on a small square lug (lift the tab with a screwdriver to allow the trim piece to slide) and plastic slots to provide a home into which a metal lug on the seat frame slides. Only one item – the short side protector on the opposite side to the seat belt lock – has a screw (small cross head).  Removing the plastic trim is tedious and frustrating. Each piece has one locking tab and at least one slider. It is still necessary to pull and twist but by inspecting from the inside of the base frame the locks can be spotted and unlatched. It can also help to play around with the angle of the seat back to give better access.

Both trim pieces which fit around the seat hinge have the "slide lug" at the lower back edge. Slide the piece back as far as you can (not much!) after the screwdriver tab is lifted and resort to a bit of gentle distortion to finally free it at that end. The short one is easier (screw out!); the full length one has another sliding catch about halfway along the length of the seat frame (tilt lever cover off first). All need persuasion.  They don't seem to have gone brittle after 19yrs (fingers crossed). If you are taking care, the operation so far will have taken more than half the total time!

Next step is to put the seat squab back on the base. I was being cautious here because I sensed that later in the operation the two sides of the base could separate, and I was being very wary about the sync of those two hefty tilt springs getting out of line if the bar linking the two came away.

The back end of the base frame has a steel bar running from one side to the other, located at the centre of the springs. This is referred to as the Reclining Connecting Tube. This can stay in place, but as you will see below, prevents the seat back lifting away.

Turn the seat around so you are facing the rear side of the seat back. Gently lift up the fabric flap which is situated near  the bottom of the seat (where the zip ends) and you will see that the two ends of the cover underneath are closed up, rather like closing an envelope. The closure is help in place with three metal hog rings. Gently lever them out and separate the two pieces of fabric. Behind  you will see foam padding.  This padding has a free end which tucks under a cross bar close to where the hog rings were, and runs down,  under the connecting tube, to the padding on the front of the seat back.  It is actually part of the front padding. It is held in place by more hog rings on the metal bar at the back and two elasticated straps. Remove the hog rings thereby releasing the straps, pull the foam out from under the cross bar and carefully ease it down and you will see how in wraps under the connecting tube.

On each side of the back frame there are two 14mm bolts. These can be seen by lifting the fabric flap on the outside of the bolster just above the springs. Removing these bolts will allow the back to be lifted clear if the tucked foam under the connecting tube is unwrapped from the under side at the same time.

Refitting is straight forward. I had bought pliers and hog rings but cable ties would also do the job. If you are fitting the back into a driver seat frame, the height adjustment knob will have to be removed. This has a more-friendly variation of a circlip holding it in place. Another case of poking around with a screwdriver to push the clip free.
Perry Byrnes Memorial Award 2016, 2018.  Love this club.