We all know that building a classic truck can be an inexpensive endeavor. And with all the beautiful examples that are seen at shows, events, and in magazines it’s easy to get “project envy” and want all the very best elements to be incorporated in your own project. But while we may dream what our trucks could be, the reality of our budget often dictates what they become.
Unfortunately the gap between what we want and what we can afford causes many projects to be dormant, but there are ways to do a build on a budget and get your truck on the road if you’re willing to invest some time and labor. A great example is upholstery.
A case in point is the Ford F-1 bench shown here. Like many original truck seats this one had suffered the ravages of time and abuse—but we decided to save it with a DIY seat cover kit from LMC. Available for Ford, Chevy, and GMC trucks, LMC’s seat cover kits feature original-style seat upholstery patterns in durable padded vinyl and can be ordered in black, blue, gray, red, and saddle. Velour kits are also available with vinyl sides and all seat kits feature durable bonded thread that won’t rot and fully finished edges with reinforced stress points. To make installation easy each kit includes hog rings, hog ring pliers, and fully illustrated instructions. Along with seat covers LMC also offers replacement foam for the seat bottom and back as well as burlap reinforcement to cover the original set springs.
The worst part of re-covering a seat is removing the dusty, dirty, original cover and padding, so wearing a particle mask isn’t a bad idea. With the springs exposed, any necessary repairs can be made. Damaged springs can often be repaired with sheetmetal bands to tie them together. Fortunately our bottom and back springs were in good, serviceable condition, if not particularly pretty.
After covering the seat and backrest springs with burlap a layer of foam was glued in place; this is done more for keeping it in place during installation of the covers than anything else. The final step is installing the covers. With new, thick foam this can require some tugging and pulling and the most important consideration during the process is to ensure any pleats in the seat bottom match those in the back. That may require even more tugging and pulling along with measuring and maybe even a testfit of the bottom and back before the covers are secured in place.
So, what does it cost to re-cover a typical truck seat? LMC’s seat covers are around $170 and that includes a hog rig kit with pliers. Seat back foam is $85 with 2-inch seat bottom foam at $55 and 3-inch at $80. We went for the thicker bottom cushion, which brought the total investment in our refurbished seat to a very reasonable $335.
We think the finished seat looks great, it’s comfortable, and the financial investment was minimal. On the other hand we think getting the truck on the road and being able to say we did it ourselves is worth a lot.
LMC offers seat covers for Ford, Chevy, and GMC pickups that are affordable and easy to install. This example is for a Ford F-1.
This is what we started with. Someone had gotten their money’s worth out of the old Ford.
The first step is to disconnect the backrest where the pivot arms attach to the bottom seat frame.
After cutting all the factory hog rings the seat cover and the cotton filler is removed and discarded.
Despite the surface rust the bottom cushion springs were intact and serviceable.
The long arms on the seatback frame allow the assembly to pivot for access behind the seat. Note the serpentine springs used on the backrest.
Like the bottom the seatback springs were usable. Note the small horizontal support springs the bottom doesn’t have.
Christian Arriero of the Motor Trend Group Tech Center began the upholstery process by covering the springs with burlap from LMC.
The burlap on both cushions was secured around the edges with hog rings.
The purpose of the burlap is to tie the springs together and make them work together as the seat is compressed.
With the burlap in place the shape of the seatback is traced on the new foam from LMC.
The foam can be trimmed with upholstery shears—an electric carving knife also works well.
Spray adhesive is used to keep the foam in place while the seat covers are installed.
Arriero applied adhesive to the burlap and the foam.
The secret to success is to allow the adhesive to set for a few minutes and get tacky.
After a short break the foam was set in place and pressed firmly onto the burlap.
Arriero began the installation of the bottom by securing the cover at the front of the seat frame.
Next the cover was pulled over the cushion, working out any wrinkles from the center toward the edges.
Sometimes you need a little help from your friends. Manny Ortiz helped compress the foam as the cover was pulled into place.
With the bottom cover partially secured the seat mount was bolted in place, then the remaining hog rings were installed.
Like the bottom cushion, the seat back is covered the same way and secured with hog rings.
The finished seat back is ready to be installed. Careful installation will eliminate wrinkles and result in straight seams and pleats.
In some instances repairs to the frame may be necessary. On this Chevy seat a new clamp for a seat spring was welded to the framework.
Sheetmetal bands can be used to tie separated spring ends back together.