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Old 10-07-2009, 09:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Improving the seats

UPDATE: https://plus.google.com/photos/10443...CM6J1K2j04_bNQ - Here are all the pictures.. Google changed picasa, so all the links broke.

Yesterday just felt like a day to do some tinkering. I decided it was time to try and improve the comfort of the seats. I went to a craft store and purchased some 1" high density open cell foam. The foam is actually closer to 3/4" thick. The foam was sold by the yard ($9.99/yard), with a width of around 3/4 yard. I bought a total of about 1.7 yards (I just picked a few pieces from their "already cut" bin), which covered both seats easily.

First, remove the seat belt from the outer side of the seat. Lift the gray cover to access the 14mm bolt underneath. Then slide forward to access the rear seat bolts, thease are 12mm. Once those are loosened (I had to use a pretty big ratchet, but not a breaker bar to get them open), remove the front bolts (also 12mm) as well (these are smaller and much easier to remove). When you are removing the driver side, you need to be cautious of the seatbelt indicator sensor wire. It need to be disconnected before you lift the seat.

With the seats removed, the installation I performed was as follows.

The seat backs are easily removed from the bottoms with 4 14mm bolts. To access these, you must unzip the cover slightly.


Once separated from the seat, unzip and open the cover as much as possible. Upholstry rings attach the cover to the foam support. For my installation, I just bent the two bottom rings with pliers enough to squeeze the cover eyelet through.

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_XjR4r7gdjGk/Ss...0/P1220616.JPG

If you want to put more support in the shoulder or headrest area, you will need to remove more of these rings.

With the two lower rings removed, you can now access the lumbar support area. I decided on one thickness of foam for the whole area, with an extra thickness in the area shaded darker blue in the diagram below.



I also cut and placed foam in the side bolsters.
http://lh3.ggpht.com/_XjR4r7gdjGk/Ss...0/P1220621.JPG
In the picture below, you can see how the foam need to be stuffed into the crack in the OEM foam. This was necessary to prevent hard edges showing up when the cover is back in place. The seam in the cover will mask the edges of the new foam.



Finally, I put a little strip under the lumbar area (between the fabric rings I loosened and the bottom of the seat back) to make it look a little smoother over all. To get the upholstery rings back together, I just used pliers the best I could. They aren't perfect, but they hold well enough. If I was removing all the rings, I would just buy and upholstery tool and some new rings. To get the cover back together, connect the black sheath fasteners first, by angling them.


Once those are connected, slide them closed then zip up the back. If you zip first and try to pry those together, you'll have quite a hard time with the new foam in there.

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For the seat bottom, I decided to only do the seat area and the front seat area. The bolsters were left as is. I didn't want to increase the height of the seat too much, and didn't want the seat to have too much of a feel like it was squeezing.

To disassemble the lower portion, I removed the back and side sheath type fasteners. Then the gray plastic side covers. Finally, i pulled the seat up from the back and flipped it around until it was face down in front of the seat. Unfortunately, I took no pictures of this... Basically, on the first seat, I removed the front sheath as well, but has a hard time re-attaching it. I decided to leave it attached for the second seat and had a much easier time.

With the seat mostly removed, I cut and fit the piece for the front seat area, and reposition the seat onto the frame (lighter blue section in diagram above).

Next, I removed the rear most two rings to access the rear seat area, and stuff foam in there as well. Now is as good a time as any to mention foam stuffing technique. For me, it was easiest to push the foam in folded slightly, then flatten it into place. That is, fold it in half, get is positioned so that the rear is lined up, then stuff the front flat by unfolding it. Its hard to explain, but it just seemed like the best way to do it.

With that piece in place, it was just time to put it all back together. One note on the seat bottom, the sheath fastener on the outer side of the seat was folded around the bar it attached to. Again, hard to describe, and unfortunately I stopped tacking pictures, but just make a mental note of the orientation of the side connectors when you take them apart, and how they fit back together should be easy.

As far as where I decided to put foam support, I just based it on how it felt to me. Being 6-2, my taste may not be equal to everyone else. My wife said that she would prefer some more support in head area and especially the upper back area, as she feels to reclined in the seat (this was the case even before the added foam). I will most likely add a little foam to the upper portion of the passenger seat and possibly raise the back a quarter inch with some spacers under the rails.

Last edited by nayrhyno; 03-23-2013 at 11:12 AM. Reason: photos...
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Just an update after driving with these for a while, this was an excellent improvement to the stock seat comfort. It cost me less than $30 and 3 hours. Totally worth it. The additional lumbar support is so much more comfortable, and the seats over all feel like they have a much better hold on you.
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Old 10-18-2009, 11:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Nice custom mod and demo pics. I have always felt the seats to be way too low-like sitting in a hole looking up at the sky, and I am 6 feet tall. I blocked up the drivers seat 3/4 " with hardwood blocks (the front ones are trickier because you need to keep the correct angle with the floor). I bought Wet Okole's which already have 1/2" foam, and under the covers added another 1" of foam cut the full width including the bolsters. With the seat covers installed the edges of the foam sheet blend in just fine. The car has lots and lots of headroom, so for most people not to worry about hitting your head on the head liner. Gettin in and out wearing a hat is another story. So I am up about 2" from stock height-not exactly like riding in an SUV but much better visability and comfort.
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Old 10-18-2009, 01:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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nayrhyno, is swapping the drivers & passengers seat a direct, drop-in thing? I would love to swap them to get the seatback handle on the outboard side like 99.9% of all cars.
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The hog-ring pliers needed to re-install the covers are less than $10 on eBay with a supply of hog-rings.

One thing to look for that my car has is that the front lip of the seat pan is bent down (heavy people rode in my car in both seats).

Also, it's a lot easier to work on the seats if you take them out of the car first.

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Old 10-18-2009, 06:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I got to admit, this whole thread had been very interesting. I found a few comfort problems with the seats but found our custom little pillows to work very well. I'll post a pic if anyone's interested
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Old 10-18-2009, 08:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have no problems even driving for 10 hours at a time, but my wife carries a dozen pillows which I cuss every time I try to clean out the back of the car. I would like to see your pictures.
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Old 10-18-2009, 10:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
nayrhyno, is swapping the drivers & passengers seat a direct, drop-in thing? I would love to swap them to get the seatback handle on the outboard side like 99.9% of all cars.
No. Dammit. I tried it a few years ago. The seats do not swap out side-to-side, and there's no happy way to get the handle to the outside of the seats where they belong. I even though of making an extension of the shaft to the other side of the seat, and for whatever obvious reasons (which escape my memory at this time), abandoned the project at the time as too hard or expensive or time-consuming or something. So no. Dammit.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimIsbell View Post
I have no problems even driving for 10 hours at a time, but my wife carries a dozen pillows which I cuss every time I try to clean out the back of the car. I would like to see your pictures.
We also found the seats to be too reclined or the headrests too far back so I hit up my mother for these custom made, interior matching pillows. They have served us very well.

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Old 10-19-2009, 08:42 AM   #10 (permalink)
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No, the seats won't swap easily, the plastic covers and seat belt mounts are not identicle left and right; however, I don't see any reason you couldn't make a supplementary handle (an extension) for the outer side. It would be a time consuming job, and would likely require the fabrication of some parts.

I don't change the angle of my seat much, so it doesn't bother me.

I like the citrus accents on your seats H-B-R. If you look at my pics closely, you will see that my covers are quite worn and stained in spots (messy previous owner, apparently). When I get around to it, I will pick up some rings and a tool and redo the covers. I am not a huge fan of the stock mesh material. It doesn't seems to age all that well. Sewing projects can be fun for the winter time, so who knows.

As far as the seat height goes, for me I would not want to do anymore than add this 1" foam. I am 6-2 and sit pretty straight (back issues otherwise), so my hair sometimes brushes the roof with this current set-up.
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