We’ve Got You Covered
Installing fresh hides in a fourth-gen Corvette
Lawrence J. Giberson - September 26, 2013 10:00 AM
Before you begin, disconnect the battery, especially if you have powered/sport seats. These standard seats are easy to remove. Pull up the bottom cushion and remove four ½-inch bolts located in the corners.
John Conway of Corvette America carefully removes the seat back trim secured with two Phillips head screws, If your trim piece is broken, now would be a good time to order a new set.
With the seat folded over, John has access and unclasps the bottom of the J-clip. He will then pull out the zipper tab and open up the back of the old seat cover.
With the cover unzipped, inspect the back of the seat frame. A 10-inch brass, threaded nipple is not the proper way to repair a seat frame.
Utilizing a good pair of pliers and safety glasses, you want to remove all the hog rings. Then, unhook two support bars from the top, buried in the foam. New bars are supplied in the re-covering kit.
Disconnect the back frame from the seat base by unbolting six 10mm bolts and disconnecting the seat back release cable tab. Clean off where the old seat foam was glued to the frame.
Lee Rodriguez of Virginia Architectural Metals works his TIG magic and properly welds the seat support bar back on the frame. If not secured properly, the seat support bar would have worked loose and punctured the back of the new seat cover.
New seat foam was used with the new leather covers to ensure a great fit and a comfortable seat when completed. Also included are the support rods and new hog rings.
Each kit receives several support rods; insert them into their corresponding sewn-in sleeves. These rods are very important as the hog rings attach to them in the assembly process and they hold the new cover securely in place.
Use rubber cement only on the top section of the seat frame to secure the new seat foam.
Ensure the cover is centered and work from the top down. The first three hog rings will be attached (center first) from the backside of the seat cover and will anchor the inner cover gray tab (which John is holding) to the first frame support rod just below the top of the frame.
Now insert the angled support rod through the seat foam so it catches the first frame support rod. (John is pointing to the tip of the rod properly installed.) Now insert the support rod through the foam for the other side.
Feeling from the backside, John puts some serious muscle into play as he drives in and secures a hog ring.
The objective when working the cover over the seat is to firmly massage it into position and not stuff it. Careful work here will be rewarded when finished with fewer wrinkles and no sags.
With the cover secured to the top of the seat, move down to the middle of the seat and secure the seat cover from the backside of the cover and anchor the inner cover gray tab to the second frame support rod. A good pair of hog ring pliers are required for recovering a seat.
As John massages the cover over the seat foam, he works methodically out to the sides and down, removing all the wrinkles.
John stands the seat upright and massages the cover down over the seat foam to ensure a snug fit.
The bottom of the two support rods are connected to the third frame support with hog rings.
After John brought down the back zipper, he carefully secures the bottom of the cover with the sewn-in J-clip. Note that the cover is not brought down over the large bottom frame bar.
After locating the seat back lever, John carefully cuts a small slot in the leather cover to allow it to protrude through. He then will attach the trim plate and secure it with two screws.
John secures the underside of the seat bottom cover with three hog rings.
John carefully massages the seat cover over the bottom seat foam.
John carefully secures the last hog rings to the bottom seat cover and foam. Five on each side, one in each leather tab and three in the front.
John skillfully applies heat and moisture from a damp cloth to remove wrinkles from the material and to tighten up the leather around the seat foam. If this is your first time, practice this on some scrap leather. If you leave the heat on the leather too long, you’ll burn the cover.
Care and cleaning of the new seats is simple: warm water, non-detergent soap and a soft cloth are all that is needed. Stay away from silicone cleaners or leather care products as they dull the finish and degrade the leather.
The end results are instantaneous, exceedingly rewarding and reflect an enthusiast’s passion for their Corvette.
It happens in the blink of an eye. One minute you’re happily detailing the interior of your Corvette, the next you’re dismayed with the appearance of your seats.
You notice the material sags a little, the color has faded, there are wear marks on the side bolster and the seat bottom has small cracks in the leather.
It doesn’t matter how well you have taken care of the material, time, the elements, and wear and tear have taken their toll on your treasured seats. As an enthusiast, what do you do next?
You could re-dye the material or throw a low-budget, sloppy-loose cover over the seat, but dyes wear off and covers only hide the problem. The correct solution is to properly rebuild the seats with the correct foam seat inserts and re-cover with high quality material.
We were treated to a behind the scenes tour at Corvette America, to follow master craftsman John Conway installing new seat foam and the black leather covers on the seat frames for a 1994 Corvette. The installation is straightforward, but one has to pay close attention to the details and take their time.
For the D-I-Y enthusiast, it’s a satisfying project that can be accomplished in the garage with a few simple hand tools. The end results are instantaneous, exceedingly rewarding and reflect an enthusiast’s passion for their Corvette.
For Your Information:
Outside N. America 717-667-3004