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We refresh our aging FSB’s interior with Corbeau seats and LMC carpet

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on May 22, 2017
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It’s been more than a year since “Eddie” came into our possession. The ’91 Eddie Bauer Bronco had seen better days—a lot better days. The engine and transmission were on their collective last legs, the stock suspension was loosey-goosey, the brakes were all but shot, the tailgate was rusted and broken, and the interior smelled musty with mildew growing along the rear armrests.

It was your typical driven-hard, put-away-wet 4x4 that’d rarely, if ever, seen regular maintenance, eventually being left for dead to sit out in the weather. Before we intervened, Eddie was one turn of the ignition key away from the salvage yard.

Since that time, we’ve systematically tackled Eddie’s ills when time allowed: The brake system and suspension were replaced; the engine, transmission, tailgate, and differentials rebuilt. Each repair done while keeping our end goal to end up with a dependable, capable daily driver that would also serve our family’s weekend backcountry exploration needs on and off pavement.

There’re still several areas we needed to address: the interior and the body. Our 26-year-old Bronco’s body looks decent from 50-feet away. But up close the paint doesn’t match, and there’re a few rust spots beginning to raise their ugly heads. We can live with the exterior for a while longer, at which time we plan to get a cool body wrap over the sheetmetal repairs and mismatched paint.

The more pressing need was the interior, which had the distinctive odor of a wet rug. In addition to the smell, the passenger-side seatbelt was malfunctioning, the driver’s bottom seat cushion was collapsed, and the armrest flopped like a broken tree branch. The carpet, front and rear, was stained, and there were pinholes in the high-back cloth buckets. It was time to rip out the bad, replace with new.

Carpet Bagger

There’re a lot of ways to skin the proverbial cat when it comes to the interior of older trucks and SUVs. You could rip out the carpet and spray the interior with a bedliner material or lay down rubber material, both of which would make the floor easy to clean. But we like the comfort, insulation, and quietness of having carpet. Carpet also keeps the “Eddie Bauer” ambiance somewhat intact, and it’s relatively easy to install. (We didn’t say anything about the time it takes!)

Replacement carpet kits are also easy to find: Just look on the LMC Truck website, which makes sourcing interior parts simple. They have complete carpet kits for the fullsize Broncos (and every other truck) in a wide range of colors, with and without backing.

LMC Truck’s carpet is patterned off the factory, so it’s already contoured to fit the Bronco’s various humps, bumps, and bends just like the original. The carpet doesn’t have the holes and cutouts for the various items such as seat brackets, transfer case shifter, and rear seat latch mechanism.

The molded carpet is also longer and wider than the factory carpet, so cutting/trimming will be required. Those are the small details that add the time element to carpet replacement. We pulled the seats, center console, side panels, and edge trim before rolling up the old carpet. After wiping down the interior with cleaner (1 cup bleach per gallon of water) to get rid of any mold/mildew that might be lurking, we put on our carpet layer hats and tackled that task.

Take A Seat

When the seats are out, it’s a perfect time to consider an upgrade. Eddie’s bucket seats needed reupholstering and one arm rest repaired. We checked with several local automotive upholsterers who told us the cost would be $500 to $700.

Instead of spending money to get our OE seats redone, we turned to Corbeau—well-respected for their seating expertise in the performance, street, off-road, and racing circles. Corbeau’s Baja XRS buckets seats are designed to provide superior comfort and support over factory bucket seats, all the while making it easy to get slide in and out of them without feeling like you’re strapping in to run the Baja 1000. The seats have a special bottom design that adds “suspension” along with support, providing an added level of comfort.

We also noted the reclining Baja XRS seats use injection-molded foam, which will stand up far better than the cut foam that would have been used should we have went the reupholstered route, or went with lesser-quality aftermarket seats.

Another slick part of using Corbeau seats is their seat brackets are direct bolt-in. We lost the tilt/slide component of the factory seat bracket that maximized access to our Bronco’s rear seat, but we gained a stronger seat base and a one-handed slide adjuster.

Corbeau also offers three-point seatbelts that are a direct replacement for the factory belts. We jumped on those as well. Keeping the factory-style seatbelts made it easy for kids and others riding in Eddie to get buckled up, and using them instead of more traditional harnesses meant no modifications were needed keep us securely strapped in the Baja XRS buckets.

A broken armrest, moldy, stained carpet, worn-down seat cushions, and non-functioning seatbelts promoted our decision to redo Eddie’s interior. Getting the OE seats repaired and reupholstered would have cost almost the same as the Corbeau’s we used as their replacements.

Adding More Security

The last modification we made to Eddie’s interior was replacing the flimsy plastic center console with steel version from Tuffy Security Products. The black powdercoated console is built from 16-gauge steel and includes a push-button lock system.

The 34-pound (yup, it’s built stout!), 12.5x18.5x20-inch console is spacious enough to keep our beloved Midland CB radio secure along with any other valuables we might have along. It’ll also keep our insulated drink bottles upright in its forward cupholder.

Mounting is straight-forward, too. It fits perfectly between the Corbeau Bajas, and the four Grade 8 mounting bolts keep it snug on the floor. Our plan is to later install our light switches and internal winch control to the console, so everything we need for lighting the trail and winching operations is at our finger tips.

We still need to address replacing the sagging headliner (a common problem with these older Broncos and Ford pickups), and take care of the cracked door panels. But for now, we’re just going to sit back for a bit and enjoy the ride.

Dirt, stains, and moisture in our Bronco’s cargo area necessitated the removal of the old shag. We found a full replacement kit at LMC Truck.
Hazmat time. Years of sitting idle out in the weather resulted in moisture getting into our Bronco’s interior, creating the perfect environment for mildew. A strong water/bleach mixture helped clean this up.
Removing the old, wet, dirty carpet isn’t glamorous work. But it does go quickly once the rear seat, trim panels, seat hold-down, and rear sill plate are removed.
After laying the old carpet over the new to trace the patterns for the holes and cutouts, we used razor knives and carpet scissors to make the initial cuts.
After we wiped down the rear with the water/bleach mixture to get rid of the mildew, we laid down a piece of scarp carpet as a pad for the rear section.
LMC Truck’s rear carpet kit was easy to install and is of a high-quality material. The refurbish makes a big difference in the overall feel and comfort of our Bronco’s interior.
We opted to replace our worn and broken factory Eddie Bauer high-back buckets with Corbeau Baja XRS suspension seats, and used LMC Truck’s molded carpet kit to replace the factory rug. We also ditched Ford’s plastic center console for a steel one from Tuffy Security Products.
The hardest part removing the front carpet was getting the lower seatbelt anchor bolts out. Everything else comes easy. Our carpet was wet around the driver-side A-pillar, which we have to locate the source.
Corbeau offers two different sliders for their seats. We chose the dual-slide version, which locks the seat on both tracks with a center release. Seat brackets are a direct bolt-in replacement for Ford pickups and fullsize Broncos. We pre-fit just to make sure before installing the carpet.
LMC Truck’s molded front carpet kit is about 6 inches longer and wider than the factory rug. We used carpet scissors and a razor knife to trim it to fit. When laying the front carpet, start at the transfer case shifter (or the trans tunnel hump) and work forward and out, then to the back. Use an industrial-strength carpet adhesive, and pull the carpet as tight and smooth as possible before replacing the side panels.
The secret to the Baja XRS suspension is how the seat bottom webbing and spring-attached cords are arranged, providing cushioning when hitting bumps. The seats are far more comfortable and supportive than the OEM Bronco seats.
Replacing the front seats and seatbelts with Corbeau’s is the easiest part of the interior redo. Well, that is if you can get the OE three-point seatbelt’s retaining anchor bolts loose. They’re in the body track along the floor at the foot of the Bronco’s B-pillars and tend to rust in place. We had to use a lot of penetrating lubricant and a little heat to break the passenger-side free in Eddie.
We will be mounting this Tuffy Security Console in Eddie after we finish mounting switches and a Midland CB inside. For the moment, we have it sitting in place as we tidy up the last of the interior.
Keeping the mud and sand from our boots getting ground into the new carpet is helped by using these molded Husky Liners, which we also sourced from LMC Truck.
The difference in comfort, security, and looks after our interior refresh was done is just as big as the difference between the new Corbeau seats and the factory Eddie Bauer that were in our ’91 Bronco.

Sources

LMC Truck
Lenexa, KS 66219
800-562-8782
www.lmctruck.com
Corbeau Seats
Sandy, UT 84070
801-255-3737
www.corbeau.com
Tuffy Security Products
800-348-8339
www.tuffyproducts.com

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