Upholstery IX

Foam, Door Panels, and a Transmission Cover

I started the day off today by working on the forming the foam for the seats. To refresh your memory, I bought Latex Foam in the form of a twin sized mattress, and cut it down to size for my seats. Originally, the foam for the seats were molded, but making molds and molding new cushions would be too complicated, so I had to find an alternative. Cutting the foam with an electric carving knife works fine for cutting blocks, but does not work well when shaping the foam. The latex is too “squishy,” and moves as you try to shave a layer of it. Using a razor is no better. To form the rough shape of each cushion, I resorted to pinching chunks of latex off with my fingers until I had a good shape. It ended up being the fastest method with the best control.

With a rough shape to work with the next problem was how to get the surface of the foam smooth. One suggestion was to try freezing the foam to give it a harder consistency for cutting. This seems to work well with the more common urethane foams, so I tried it with little success. Unfortunately, the latex’s consistency did not change at all when frozen. The next idea was to try soaking the pieces in water, and then freezing the pieces. This worked a little better and allowed me to smooth out the rough pieces I made before they went into the freezer.

The left side of this cushion is what it looks like before freezing and sanding, and the right side is after sanding. The ice would soon melt, and the wet foam would grab the rotary sander. I soon discovered that if I kept the speed up, and the pressure light, the rotary sander would take even amounts of latex off. I tried it on a dry piece of latex that wasn’t frozen, and it worked well. It took a delicate touch, but things started to work.

I kept switching cushions between old ones and new ones to check for fit, and symmetry as I shaped the foam. After getting most of the dimples out of the surface of the foam, and the shape of the cushion the way I wanted, I switched from a 60 grit paper to a 320 paper. Keeping the speed up, and the pressure light, I got the foam smooth enough to work. Now all I had to do was fully defrost all the other cushions, dry them out, and use my new found technique!

The leather still needed to be removed from one of the door panel trim pieces. Since I had the sander out for the foam, I sanded the leather of the steel panel.

With a nice clean smooth surface, I was now ready to recover these pieces.

I skived two strips of leather for these panels so the leather would wrap nice an neatly on the these steel panels. If I used the regular thickness of leather, the panel would look bulky, and wrong.

After covering the edges with leather, I replaced the thin sheet of foam that had deteriorated from the center of the panel. This foam was to keep the decorative aluminum panel from rattling.

Although the aluminum trim pieces have yet to be refurbished, I mounted them on the leather panels to check for fit.  Another part of the door has been completed!

Last week, I promised you I would reveal a good replacement for these door panels. A 1957 Chevrolet Belair’s tail fin has a decorative molding that has an almost identical trim piece to this Ferrari panel! Now my dilemma, along with the other 2+2 owners that contacted me this week, is how to get our hands on a piece without buying a whole tail fin section for about $400 bucks! Any ’57 Chevy lurkers out there want to send me two pieces measuring 7X13 inches? For 330 2+2 owners, their piece is much larger, and actually requires a pair of tail fins to do one interior!

As I was working on my door panels, and seat cushions, Joe was plugging away at my transmission cover. The details to this piece are numerous, and required a lot of time and planning to get right. We kept referring to the tattered old pieces to see exactly how they were originally made so they could be accurately copied.

By the end of a long day, it was finally finished! I still needed to install a couple of snaps, but these will be done when it’s fitted to the car. The plan is to take this transmission cover up to my car, so I can drive it down for the carpet installation. I still have to finish troubleshooting the overdrive circuit, and run power to my radio before I bring the car down to Frank’s for the final push towards completion.

Every day, it’s getting closer!

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