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Refresh the Old Seat in Your Truck

Seat View
Trent Riddle | Writer
Posted December 1, 2001

The Great Cover Up

Step By Step

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  • Using wire cutters and a box knife, remove the old cover from the seat. Take care not to cut the back foam, and don’t cut the edge wires in the old cover, as you’ll be reusing them. The seatback is unbolted from the seat base and everything is laid out so that you can assess what will be reused. No, you’re not seeing double. We had an extra seat to work with, so we took both apart and picked the best used parts from the pair. Be sure to place your new covers in the sun so that they’ll be soft and flexible for your install. Never try this on a cold day.

  • The first tip is to check the seat edge springs, if applicable. As expected, ours were broken. The answer to this was to install a block of high-density foam under the outer corners of the seat. Spray adhesive should be used to help keep the foam in place. Later-model seats don’t always have this side spring and won’t need the added foam. If you don’t have any high-density foam, you can cut a piece of foam from your old base foam and use it. It’s not as dense, but it’s free.

  • With the new base foam in place, you can bring your new cover in out of the sun and begin installing it. The first step is to place the cover inside-out on the seat foam. Now, while holding the cover on the corner with one hand, gently roll the edge down over the sides. Begin at the front and work toward the back.

  • Believe it or not, the vinyl cover will need to stretch all the way down to the seat base. In order to get it to stretch this far, you’ll need to set the seat and cover in the sun several times during your install. This is so it will warm up and soften a little, making it easier to work with. Be sure to secure the cover from the center out with hog rings and install only a few of the rings along the back edge at this time. This is because you might need to remove them later to align the stitching along the seat base and back.

  • Remove the old wires from your stock seatcover and install them in place of the soft edging material in your new cover. If you don’t have the wires, you can use wire coat hanger material instead. These wires will make your install go faster and look cleaner.

  • Your seatback foam can be overlaid with a thin piece of foam to restore its original bulk. This foam should be attached with spray adhesive and trimmed to match the stock seat-foam exterior shape.

  • The new seatcover is installed on the seatback beginning with the top and working down. First center the cover on the seatback and then turn the top of the cover inside-out so that it can be rolled onto the seatback.

  • Hog rings are used to install the seatcover to the seat frame. These unique fasteners require a pair of hog-ring pliers to make the install go easily. Be sure to start at the center of the seat and work out to the corners. The cover edge wires are grabbed by the hog ring and pulled over to the seat frame using the hog-ring pliers, and then the hog rings are squeezed closed for a secure fit.

  • With the seatback installed on the seat base, you will need to fold down the side-cover portion of the vinyl and secure it so that it hides the seat side supports. Now all you have to do is install the recovered seat in your truck.

The best deals on used trucks are found on rigs that are mechanically sound but a little rough in the visual department. Usually, a right-priced truck will have a seat that is somewhat dilapidated, if not completely worn out. Don’t worry, you can fix this in short order. The seat in your truck may look old, ugly, and not worth a darn, but all it needs is a little tender loving care. Most likely the basic seat frame is in fine shape, it’s just the seat cover, and possibly the foam, that is worn out. To fix things, all you need to do is reupholster the seat. Sure, you could take it to a shop, but if you want to keep your budget in balance, you can tackle the task yourself. We decided to do just that with the bench seat from a ’72 Chevy 4x4 pickup. This seat was in dire need of a new cover and foam.

We contacted Brothers Truck Parts, a company that specializes in early Chevy parts, and had them fill us in on our seat restoration options. Brothers informed us that we had a few choices: vinyl “Madrid grain” cover, a factory reproduction “Walrus grain” vinyl cover, or a factory reproduction “Houndstooth” cloth insert cover. We opted for the Madrid. We felt that the vinyl was perfect for the dusty conditions of the trail. Also, the price was $100 less than the other two options, and as such was easier on our budget. Brothers also had a solution to our damaged seat foam. We ordered new base foam to replace our aged and decaying factory foam. Brothers also offers a roll of thin foam you can use to reface and restore your seatback to its original shape.

Installation time for our project was about four hours. Follow along and see if you want to tackle this task at home.


Corona, CA 92879