Aerostar Seat Redux

This post is about the neglected drivers seat from a 1996 Ford Aerostar van.  It’s repair was a little more involved than what one might imagine.

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After the seat was removed and disassembled, the cover was removed, turned inside out and each piece was marked as to location and orientation in relation to adjacent pieces.  It was then dissected down to each individual piece of vinyl in order to make a suitable pattern for the new material.  I did a complete reupholstering of the seat cushion, and a panel replacement of the worn section on the backrest.

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The bolstered side of the seat cushion had some severe damage from the driver sliding in and out over the past 17 years.  After some careful surgery on the LH foam bolster, I used a donor foam cushion that I had on hand, and sculpted it with an electric carving knife to roughly match the contour of the original foam bolster.  I then glued it into place and after the glue cured, I used a power sander to finish the shaping.  Yes, that’s right – an air powered sander with some 180 grit paper.  Back when I learned that foam could be sanded, I had some doubts, but it really does work!

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After finally getting the right vinyl with the correct grain and color, it was on to making new pieces to stitch together.  This particular seat uses two different grain patterns.  The seating area pattern is called Heidi grain, while the sides and back use Montana grain.  The color is called Smoke.  After estimating how much vinyl it would take to cut the pieces required, I then glued the vinyl to  “sew foam”.  That’s sheet foam, 1/2″ thick with a fabric scrim on the back side.  It’s used to add some definition to the panels, especially where the channels are sewn in, and the scrim on the back helps compress the foam along the stitch lines and keeps the stitches from pulling through the foam. It also adds a little more cushioning to the base foam or seat structure.  After pressing the old pieces as flat as possible, I layed them on top of the new vinyl, marked around the perimeter of each piece and then cut them out.  I measured and marked the straight lines for the channels, and then sewed down each line.

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After a fair amount of time spent at my trusty old Pfaff 545 walking foot industrial sewing machine assembling the covers, it was time to refit them to the seat units, reassemble and reinstall.  As simple as that!!  LOL

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