It's been a long time since I've had to worry about whether or not what I drive will pull chicks, and then not too long ago I got a refresher course in what it takes. Parked outside in front of my house I had the passenger-side door open to my freshly reupholstered 1976 F-250 when a pretty little girl from down the street peeked inside and commented "oooh, now I'd ride in that."
On the flip side of what she'd ride in is the 1979 Chevy C10 Classic Trucks' devoted readers will recognize as CT Editor Jim "Riz" Rizzo's project truck. In past editions of CT there's been a fair amount of hardcore mechanical tech performed on the 1979, but its totally trashed interior has been left intact. Tacky might be a better word to describe the 1979 C10's funky innards, but thanks to a seat reupholstery kit along with a carpeting kit and dashboard essentials from Classic Industries that's all about to change.
As with any undertaking one might want to embark on in the interest of improving their truck's appearance a decision must be made on where to draw the line. How much time and effort, plus how much expense for materials should be used to complete the job. The one variable that won't cost an extra dime is the amount of skilled labor one applies. Skill and tricks of the trade are what make the difference between a so-so job and professional results no matter how much money is spent. This is the part where I confess the job was almost done; I had the seat covers pulled completely over the foam and ready to install the hog rings bringing things to an end, but the results were looking amateurish.
I called my longtime friend Jesse at California Auto Upholstery in Garden Grove, California, and asked him if he wouldn't mind revealing some tricks to the trade to our valued readers so this wouldn't happen to them.
1. There's four hex head bolts, one at each corner, that hold the seat in place. All it takes is a 9⁄16 wrench or socket to remove the seat and then pull the seatbelts through to remove it. A stout table at the right height makes a perfect workbench.
2. First thing, Classic Industries seat covers should be unfolded and laid out in the sun to remove packaging wrinkles. Sun-heated seat covers are easier to install when the time comes.
3. Two Phillips head bolts at each side hold the seatback in place on fixed-back seats. Leaving the top bolts out on reassembly will convert the seat into a folding back.
4. Eastwood diagonal pliers (dikes) worked great to grab and twist out the old hog rings. Cutting works to remove stubborn hog rings.
5. With the hog rings removed, the seat covers will easily peel off. Note at right the broken seat springs, this is typical of most C10 seats.
6. Welding broken seat springs makes the spring brittle and will not work. Jesse placed high-density foam under the broken springs for added support.
7. Leveling a high spot, this is a pro foam saw. For the DIY guy, an electric kitchen knife works great to slice foam.
8. Low spots worn into the foam through time are filled in by adding foam and then final shaped with a sanding disc similar to shaping Bondo (polyester body filler).
9. Jesse used a spray gun full of upholstery glue (adhesive) to prepare the surface to hold a thin foam topper. Eastwood sells an aerosol spray can adhesive that works perfect for this.
10. For seat foam in unworn condition, Classic Industries' seat cover fits snug. For worn foam like we discovered in Riz's seat, adding a thin sheet of topper foam ironed out the wrinkles.
11. Jesse used sharp scissors to trim the excess overhanging foam. Then positioned the seat cover on the seat as shown. The long black plastic channel was hooked (pressed) over the flat steel edge at the rear of the bottom springs.
12. Next, holding the seat cover in place with his left arm, Jesse pulled (rolled) the driver side of the seat cover over with his right hand.
13. Jesse then pulled the front of the seat cover down all along the front of the lower seat springs toward the passenger side.
14. With the seat cover rolled completely over the seat foam it stayed in place.
15. Same as the black plastic strip used to hook the rear of the seat cover, this is the front black plastic strip that must be stretched over and hooked (pressed) over the front rail (has oval slots).
16. Classic Industries upholstery kit comes with DIY quality hog ring pliers that will work in a pinch. Eastwood sells professional quality bent and straight nosed hog ring pliers.
17. Here's what a hog ring looks like that's positioned properly in hog ring pliers.
18. Hog rings are used at the left and right sides of the lower seat frame. The top sharp end of the hog ring is used to pierce the seat cover and twist (attach) it to the seat frame sides.
19. Aged seat foam sheds foam dandruff. Jesse glues burlap to the seat foam to prevent foam particles from shedding onto the carpet.
20. The stock seatback foam had a topper foam added to tighten the fit of the seat cover. This is how Jesse rolled the cover over to install.
21. A sun-warmed or artificially heated seat cover stretches easier over the seatback. Be careful not to tear the seat cover material or threads.
22. The last step to installing the seatback cover is to attach the front and back of the seat cover to the seatback frame with hog rings.
23. At bottom hooking the rear first. Here's the point on the seatback frame where the hog rings attach the front and rear sides of the seat cover to the frame.
24. Both sides of the seatback cover attach at the same point on the seatback frame. Pulling the seat cover snug as it is progressively hog ringed ensures a good snug fit. Bolt the seatback to the seat bottom and the job is done.