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Leather seat renovation / recolouring

Pendric Lumpybeard
Regular
Posts: 87
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:36 am

Leather seat renovation / recolouring

Postby Pendric Lumpybeard » Sat Nov 09, 2013 10:37 am

My Eunos V-special suffered from what is a very common issue on these cars, i.e. worn leather seats, the driver's being particularly bad. It showed quite heavy cracking on the seat base and side cushions, some scuffing and the usual 'hole' where the leather had worn through on the back bolster after 110,000 miles of being rubbed as people got in and out. They also were generally a bit grubby looking, the leather was also very hard and 'biscuity', not at all soft and they showed signs of having been painted in the past. Fairly typical in fact!

I didn't want to go to the expense of recovering and had seen tired leather rejuvenated in magazines and on Wheeler Dealers, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I got 2 kits - one from Furniture Clinic http://www.furnitureclinic.co.uk/Leather_Repair_Kit.php to fill the cracks and repair the hole and another from Gliptone to clean / condition and recolour the seat. This was one of their Scuffmaster kits http://www.liquidleather.com/scuffs.htm. There seemed to be quite a lot of good press out there for the Gliptone one and Furniture Clinic didn't seem to offer a matching colour off the shelf.

Gliptone has an extensive colour including database including the '5 - apparently there are several shades of Tan Mazda used - I went for 'Common MX5 Tan' so called because that's the one they get most samples for. A perfect match for mine. They will colour match exactly if you send them a sample of the leather.

The Gliptone kit comes with a leather cleaner, conditioner, solvent cleaner, cloths, a nail brush, gloss enhancer to add shine to the dye if that's your thing and the dye itself. I bought the 500ml version and found that I used about half to do both my seats. It can do vinyl too apparently but not where there is likely to be wear, so it'd probably be OK for the door cards.

First step is to clean and condition the leather. The seats really need to be removed from the car. To do this, slide the seat back as far as it will go and prise off the plastic caps at the front of the seat runners to reveal the 14mm bolts. Undo and remove these - they may be a bit tight, but be careful - they apparently love to round off so it is generally recommended to use a hex socket rather than a 12-point type to reduce the risk of this happening. Slide the seat forward and tackle the 2 at the back. The seat can then lift out, best with the roof down to give you room to manoeuvre and make it less likely to take chunks out of your '5 with the seat runners.

These are mine as they came out, and a close up showing typical wear.

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If your seats have already got some leather paint or similar on them, you've got to clean this off first. You'll need some standard cellulose thinners and some rags and I'd suggest a decent respirator / mask too, unless you particularly want to be away with the fairies after cleaning for a bit…. You'll also want to do this in the open or at the front of an open garage.

I found the best technique was to work on a small area at a time, wipe over with thinners, then attack it with the cloth with more thinners, giving it a good scrub, changing the cloth frequently.

Next step is to attack it with the Gliptone cleaner, you put this on with the nail brush in the kit, wipe it on and swirl it around, leave it a few minutes then swirl again. It says don't scrub; I couldn't resist. The world didn't end. Wipe this off with a damp cloth rinsed frequently.

The cleaner also has glycerine in it which apparently starts the conditioning process. Next it is the leather conditioner. Wipe this on with the supplied cloth and leave it to be absorbed. I found I had to do mine several times over a period of 2 - 3 days, leaving it hours between each coat as they were so dry and hard. It leaves a residue which will need wiping off if you need to use the seats in that time.

The seats softened up remarkably becoming really quite supple, so it is definitely worth doing.
They've then got to be cleaned again with the cleaner, same process as before.

This is the cleaned up drivers seat, I think the cracks etc are more visible with the old paint out:

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I then moved on to the Furniture clinic kit. I used the leather filler (which remains flexible) on all the worst of the cracking, applying it sparingly with the provided spatula and wiping off any excess. Pic shows part way through doing this:

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On the crack on the seat base (which was actually a split in the centre) i used some of the supplied repair backing fabric. Cut a piece larger than the hole / split and work it under the existing leather using in the tweezers supplied. When you are happy, you can add some of the leather glue to this to stick the backing in place. This is heat activated, so you'll need a hairdryer to heat it up to get it to stick. You can then fill the crack with the filler.

I did the same with the hole in the bolster, first trimming off the leather around the hole with the scalpel in the kit to get a clean edge. I tried filling this, but after the dye was applied I didn't think it looked great, so later cut the area out around the hold completely and stuck a small leather patch in place, on top of the backing, blending it in with the filler.

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OK, final stage - apply the dye. You can do this with a brush, small roller or spray gun. Gliptone will sell you a little airbrush style spray unit with a can of propellant gas. I already had a similar airbrush and mini compressor, so used that.

First step is to clean the leather again with the supplied solvent cleaner to remove all traces of grease, otherwise the dye won't adhere properly and may rub off - and if you've conditioned it lots it will be greasy.

Next apply some neat dye into the cracks and damaged areas, using either a cloth or something like a cotton bud. Then you can move on to colouring the whole seat - make sure each coat of dye is properly dry before applying the next, or again it may come off. Each coat needs to bind to a properly dry previous coat.. Help it along with your hair dryer if you like! I did the spraying indoors in a warmish conservatory which helped.

If spraying, you'll need to filter the dye to make sure there's nothing that could block the spray gear Dilute the dye with about 20% water (even if not spraying I'd suggest, its thick stuff) and away you go. As always, the trick is many light coats, not few thick ones, and make sure it is dry before applying the next coat!

I did about 6 - 7 coats I think on mine and am very happy with the results!

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Bolt the seats back in (the runners have alignment pegs at the front to help it all line up) and torque the bolts up to 44Nm and the job's a good un! :handgestures-thumbup:

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1991BRG V-Special

New and figuring it all out!
When I grow up I want to be a proper Mazda Mender.

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