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Guide: de-upholstering 700 seats

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Old Jul 30th, 2013, 14:44   #1
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Default Guide: de-upholstering 700 seats

(Yes, as many as that )

This is how to remove the seat covers and the foam from the front seats of a 700.

You might want to do this to replace seat covers, or foam, or the grids underneath the foam, or heated seat pads, or all four.

I know that this is all detailed in the 700 FAQ, and it's pretty easy to figure out as you go along, but since I was doing it myself I've thrown together a picture guide just in case some photos might help people with anything like my low skill- and high fear-levels.

Safety first: If you have mechanical pre-tensioners built into the seat (as there were on these seats) you should disable them first by turning and popping out the little red button by the seat belt buckle. And keep your fingers sensibly well away from the buckle at all times in any case. These seats don't have airbags built in, but for all I know some do, so, if yours do, identify and take the appropriate precautions to avoid setting them off. I'm afraid I don't know what those precautions are in the case of the 700; on the V40 there is a plastic key that you slot over a sensor that stops the airbag from firing.

Remove the seats from the car.

I started with the back of the seat, as opposed to the bottom part.

Remove the lumbar support adjustment knob. Unscrew it (anticlockwise) until it comes away slightly from the side of the seat.

Then pull it quite hard, straight out of the side of the seat and it will just come away, as will the plastic surround in which it sits.

Set the seat so that the back is as far upright (as opposed to reclined) as it will go. Put it upside-down and you will see the three metal hog-rings that hold the covering together at the bottom of the back-rest.

Open them up with needle-nosed pliers (or cut them) and you can start to pull the seat cover up. You are going to be taking it off so that it turns inside-out, so start that way, as shown:

When you get it up as far as shown, you encounter two things that need to be undone:

(a) the first of several (three on my seats) rows (actually just pairs) of hog-rings attaching the cover to the foam at the front of the seat. They are fastened around thin metal bars that are embedded in the foam. Open them up. I took a picture here but you can't really see the ring here, as it's too tight and deep in the foam.

(b) two hooks at the back of the seat, each attached to a length of fabric – one on either side of the seat. These attach the seat cover to the seat frame, so simply unhook them from the holes in the frame where they are attached.

Then pull the seat cover further up. You will find the next pair of hog-rings at the front of the seat. Open them up and pull the cover still further up, whereupon you will find yet another row.

Near the top, there's a pair of hog-rings attaching the seat cover to the foam at the back of the seat. Undo these.

If you've already removed the headrest, you can now just pull the cover away from the seat. If not, you have at least now exposed the two little white plastic tabs at the back of the seat that need to be pushed forwards to release the headrest. It's easier to find these with the seat cover pulled up than it is to feel for them with the cover on.

Undo the white wiring connector for the heated seat pad, feed it and the bottom of the pad itself carefully through the gap between the seat bottom and the seat back, and then you can remove the heated seat pad itself.

The foam is attached to the frame of the seat by the four large springs visible at the back of the seat. Release these. The springs are strong and the bottom ones in particular I found were a bit of a pig to release, but you get there in the end. The foam can then be removed. The picture shows the top springs already released; you can see the indentations that they have made in the foam.

Now for the bottom of the seat:

The cover is attached, front and back, in the same way. Turn the seat over and you can see that it is held on by a round metal clip in the centre of the seat, and at the sides by a thin metal bar (mine looks very rusty, which at least helps you to spot it in the pictures) that runs all the way across the seat and whose ends fit into holes in the frame of the seat. Here are some pictures from the back of the bottom of the seat:

Central clip:

End of the metal bar at one side:

Same at the other side:

And here's one picture of the same arrangement at the front.

Ping the central clip off with a flat-bladed screwdriver (mind your eyes) and bend that metal strip (it is flexible) so that the ends come out of the frame.

Near the front of the seat, one on either side, are hooks holding the foam to the frame of the seat. A flat-bladed screwdriver and a bit of leverage gets these off.

Detach the black wiring connector under the seat and you can lift off the seat cushion, complete with cover.

Now, I didn't want or need to remove the seat cover from the foam base of the seat. So there are no pictures of that, but it's pretty obvious when you look at the seat bottom that if you do need to remove the cover from the foam you are just confronting more of the hog rings, first of all at the sides of the seat and then, no doubt, there will be more of them holding the cover to the foam on the upper side, along the seams in the cover, just as with the back of the seat.

Note: These are seats that were very kindly given to me by Brian (minesa240x3) about a year or more ago – or if they were not quite a gift, the price that he charged me was so generously low as virtually to constitute a gift. I should emphasise that despite appearances I am finally (I hope) getting round to putting them to use, not wantonly destroying them. Unfortunately (for various reasons that I'll detail elsewhere, if the project ever comes to fruition) it has not been as simple a matter as just bolting them into the car.

Edit: link to original thread.
(Formerly) 1988 745 B230K (Phoenix)

Last edited by cumbrianmale; Aug 6th, 2013 at 18:29. Reason: link back
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 19:25   #2
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OK so here's what all the de-upholstering (I want to coin the term 'downholstering') was for. Yes, it's a change to leather from my old blue cloth seats, which were in generally good condition except for the driver's seat cover, which was worn very thin in places and had a few burn holes, as well as some classic wear on the outside edge - and its foam, which was pretty disgusting and crumbly underneath the cover.

The leather seats that Brian so kindly gave me presented two immediate problems that I noticed – plus one that I didn't till later.

The first issue was the colour, which just didn't (in my opinion) suit the general blue theme of my interior. A darker grey, or black, might have done – but not this particular shade of mid-grey. So I knew that I'd need to change that. The second thing was that the seatbelt buckles on the front seats were clearly different from mine – so to fit them in the car I'd have needed to change the front seatbelts for ones with different clips.

So the seats went into the woodshed. And stayed there, as it turned out, for many months, gathering a bit of surface mould and making a happy home for a great number of spiders. Also preventing me from storing very much wood. From time to time they made me feel guilty, and I occasionally thought of selling them on, but then that was always too much trouble in itself. The fact that it seemed to be raining constantly all year didn't help.

This summer I made up my mind to clean them up, at least, and think about what to do.

So I did a lot of cleaning and conditioning.

It was during this process that I first became aware of the existence of mechanical seatbelt pre-tensioners – and with it of the depressing new fact that one of the pre-tensioners on my 'new' seats had been activated already (quite possibly by my being careless with it in my previous ignorance of the things – I'll never know). I suppose that these things can be replaced, but it's obviously not the kind of job that I could do myself or that I was willing to pay someone else to do.

Eventually it dawned on me that if the soft bits of the new seats could be transferred to the frames of my existing seats, I'd have solved the seatbelt issues at a stroke – I'd be using the old buckles that fit my seatbelt clips; so there'd be no need for new belts, and I'd also never have to worry about the pre-tensioners.

I had little confidence when I started that I wasn't going to run into some insuperable (by me) problem. I had no reason to think that the swap couldn't be done, but for all I knew there might turn out to be slight differences in construction that would put the whole thing beyond my abilities. So I approached the exercise with some trepidation.

Only after I'd begun dismantling did I realise that the project of swapping the new soft stuff to the old seat-frames actually gave me the positive opportunity to switch things around a bit to my advantage: I could put what had been the driver's foam and seat cover on the passenger seat and vice versa. Obviously this gives the driver's seat the benefit of the less-used leather that used to be on passenger seat, and it puts the relatively worn areas on what used to be the driver's seat covers on to the inboard side of the passenger seat, where they will be subject to much less wear in future.

Ah, but surely doing this means cutting a new hole for the lumbar adjustment knob in each seat cover, and involves leaving a gaping hole on the other side of the cover of each seat?

Well, not necessarily: not if you can undo and redo three screws on each seat and thereby fit the lumbar support mechanisms the other way around. Then you can install the adjustment knob on the other (inboard) side of each seat, where it will go through the relevant hole in the swapped-over seat cover. (Thousands of people must, of course, have realised this before me, but I still felt like running naked through the streets shouting 'Eureka' when my tired old brain stumbled to this thought.)

So that is what I did.

Otherwise, I just rebuilt the seats using the best bits of what I had. A good tip (and another eureka moment for me) for re-attaching the difficult springs on the backrest is to hook another spring over the end of the one that you are trying to stretch, then hook the other end of this extra spring over a spanner which you use as grip as you pull. Pulling the two connected springs seems (though I don't know whether this is supported by science) to 'gear' the operation so that although you pull further overall to get the target spring to stretch as much as you need, it's less effort to do it.

The colour issue was solved courtesy of half a litre of Gliptone dye. (My cheap camera seems to handle blues very badly but they are now a tasteful shade of dark blue which matches the rest of the interior.)

(Formerly) 1988 745 B230K (Phoenix)
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