Lotus Elan

Home brew leather retrim?

PostPost by: vxah » Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:54 pm

Just been looking around the market in Morocco and found I could buy 8 square meters of leather for about £150, I was thinking of getting a relative who used to sew for a living to copy the old seat covers in the leather?
It's very nice soft skin from Lambs I believe, just not sure how hard wearing it would be?
Any thoughts?
vxah
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 290
Joined: 08 Nov 2012
Location: Cambridge UK

PostPost by: elanfan1 » Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:36 pm

Your car but I reckon the general consensus would be - don't!
Steve

Silence is Guildern; Duct Tape is Silver
User avatar
elanfan1
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1958
Joined: 13 Jan 2004
Location: Cardiff in Welsh Wales

PostPost by: vernon.taylor » Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:11 am

Salut

I was looking for covers for some X1/9 seats that I thought might look good in my +2. I came across someone in an X1/9 forum whose wife sews and sells. They sent me some photos and they looked home-made with creases in corners, i.e. it wasn't taught enough and didn't follow the contours of the seat/foam.

I suppose leather, being stiffer, might be easier to use in that respect. Let us know if you try ;-)

I'm trying to convince a family friend to make some in vinyl for the aforementioned seats (just the front part). She's afraid her machine won't be up to it, but I gave her some sample material to experiment with. I'm not holding out - I believe you need an industrial-type sewing machine.

@+

Vernon
User avatar
vernon.taylor
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 927
Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Location: Vaugneray, France

PostPost by: Plus 2 » Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:18 am

vxah wrote:Just been looking around the market in Morocco and found I could buy 8 square meters of leather for about £150, I was thinking of getting a relative who used to sew for a living to copy the old seat covers in the leather?
It's very nice soft skin from Lambs I believe, just not sure how hard wearing it would be?
Any thoughts?


Hi

Leather especially for seating has to be selected carefully.

Part of my responsibility before I retired was Trim Development in producing engineering prototypes for a luxury car company where we were all leather interiors.

A single hide can be split into various thicknesses, embossed and colour coated, so it is essential to know it is the 'seating quality' part you would be buying.

You would also need to know the hide is from a reputable source as unless the tanning process was correct the leather can smell really bad and rot very quickly. In addition some companies (China particularly) have been using chemicals in the process which have caused skin burn rashes, even on some leather steering wheels people have been complaining of itching palms after driving.

In addition you would need a special walking foot sewing machine for leather. Whilst there is also some twin needle stitching I have managed to duplicate this reasonably well enough for small areas with my single needle industrial sewing machine.

As most of the cost and effort in retrimming is labour intensive I would not suggest looking to save any money on some unknown hide because it is cheap............if you have the background of the supplier then you can ask. Leather generally has become a lot cheaper since the BSE scares and the Morocco leather tanning companies still use some of the old tanning processes.

Regards

Steve
The one and only genuine registered PLU5 2 Image
User avatar
Plus 2
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 162
Joined: 30 Jan 2014
Location: Uk & France

PostPost by: vxah » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:21 am

Hmmm, thanks for the replies folks, seems like I should give it a miss then? I still like the idea but don't want it to look a mess!
Of course the car will only get limited use so maybe durability won't be a huge issue? I might speak to the trader and see where it came from etc?
vxah
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 290
Joined: 08 Nov 2012
Location: Cambridge UK

PostPost by: vxah » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:51 am

Just talking to a guy in the hotel shop, he says the tanning is done in the traditional way. His brother has a stall at the market and will bring me a sample, not sure what to look for though?
vxah
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 290
Joined: 08 Nov 2012
Location: Cambridge UK

PostPost by: jimj » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:13 am

If it`s one piece, 8sq. mtrs. it`s from a giant sized lamb! As I understand it, leather clothing is made from that nice, supple, but thin, lamb or sheepskin. It`s scarcely thicker than vinyl. For car seats or furniture I think you`d need something stronger, i.e. cow hide.
Jim
jimj
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1131
Joined: 25 Feb 2008

PostPost by: theelanman » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:31 am

mine (+2) was done professionally to the tune of £3500....by the previous owner.....
User avatar
theelanman
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1529
Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Location: Peak District

PostPost by: gus » Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:11 pm

I had X19 seats retrimmed in vinyl to match the originals, including reshaping the headrest to look more original about 15 years ago, cost about 400 USD

Had my Seven done in leather that I purchased about 10 years ago and the leather has held up fine even though it is not car interior leather.

I would not do it yourself, the job my guy did was and is perfect, straight seams tight and flawless.
gus
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 617
Joined: 05 May 2011

PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:37 pm

Steve has given you excellent advice. Most of the money is in the labour used. I know it's tempting but you could put an awful lot of money and effort into the wrong material just because the initial cost is low.

Richard Hawkins
RichardHawkins
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 676
Joined: 05 Jul 2008
Location: Lincolnshire U.K.

PostPost by: holywood3645 » Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:09 pm

I live in a hot climate in the US and decided to redo my seats in leather. I also had the dash recovered and door cards done.
The company that did the work is in San Diego CA. When I visited the shop to drop seats off select the materials they explained there are several matching materials and leathers normally used in the same auto interior. They may all look the same, but have different specifications spec’s and manufacture methods.
They did a lot of Mercedes interiors and had matched materials leathers and vinyl’s. (4 different in my interior)
Seats center panel and outer seat panels: leather.
Door cards, door backing paneland dash: vinyl
Dash: vinyl
Center consol; section vinyl

So there was a leather and vinyl version on each material. Buy you could not tell the difference,

Be carfull, you may end up with a 'homebrew' hangover, Im never going to drink (re-trim) again!

James
Attachments
C6.JPG and
C5.JPG and
User avatar
holywood3645
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1062
Joined: 07 Oct 2003

PostPost by: vxah » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:15 pm

Well the man is bringing me 10 skins of 9 square feet each. Looks good quality to me and assured properly produced here in Morocco. £150 for the lot but I may be able to haggle some more! Her indoors bought some t shirts that started at 500 dirham and ended at 220 ( about £15)
In the grand scheme of restoring the car £150 is not a whole hill of beans if I end up not using it? Could do the patio chairs instead ;-)
vxah
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 290
Joined: 08 Nov 2012
Location: Cambridge UK

PostPost by: Plus 2 » Fri Aug 08, 2014 4:59 am

Holywood*,

From the pictures the quality of your retrim looks excellent. (what was the cost)

I agree there are certain advantages and disadvantages using leather or vinyl in different places and also the seat design has to be considered as to whether the covers are fitted over the foams like a sock where a vinyl backing is essential to allow some stretch or like the Lotus +2s where the wraparound is like an apron and the back fitted separately. The advantage of vinyl is it can be grained exactly like leather and the material backing can be varied to give strong rigidity or almost an elasticated weave which allows flexible trimming stretch on complicated contours or suspended headlinings.

I have either fully retrimmed or partially retrimmed all my cars apart from the Rolls Royce and Esprit Turbo which were just reconnolised.

Each was done for different reasons...........the Ferrari was originally all black seating and doors and a horrible black leather stuck on headlining. I fitted a glass roof in the removable top so as I could create a suspended headlining and much better for long journeys in case it does rain. The whole car was done in cream autolux with red inserts and piping

The MGB had been done by the PO although mainly leather the company had used vinyl over polyurethene cord for the piping and that just does not work as any slight nicks/damage cannot be repaired as nothing will glue together. I stripped the seats down and fitted leather piping over cotton cord so if the edge of the piping ever gets worn or damaged a perfect repair can be easily done.

Whilst my preference is leather faced seats and leather piping I could not find a leather grain that matched for the Lotus and the PO had been a smoker and there were burn marks on the drivers door, seats and centre console. I discovered MG used the same vinyl grain as Lotus so was able to pick up some old bits of material. I also used the seat backs and replaced these with a near match. This gave me enough material to sew in new panels where the cigarette burns were, so I avoided a complete re-trim. Albeit the carpet had all turned brown so this was easily replaced and at the same time I made myself some headrests.

Vxah.........10 skins at £15 each is definitely a bargain and I would buy them even if not for car seat use they would always do the pipng and other areas. When buying complete hides you have to look out for scab damage usually caused by barb wire fences and also big scars in the middle of the hide where a cessarian operation may have been done years before.

Leather does not really have a grain pattern this is rolled embossed in to disguise many imperfections so make sure they all have the same pattern as there are many different possibilities of grain. Top quality automotive leather referred to as 'autolux' as can be seen on RR, Jaguars, LR, Astons etc is generally sourced from parts of Europe that don't use barb wire fencing so skin damage is negligable so the leather does not have to be embossed.

Having visited some of the old tanning sites I can assure you the smell is awful. Great article here explaining the processes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanning.

One other tip is if you do have some 'puckers/ripples/loose spots in vinyl or leather it was part of the process for headlinings and seats when trimmed to place a tube into the inside area and push steam into the back. I have seen these devices made by DIYers just using an old kettle with a hose on the spout. Obviously we used to have a proper machine but the kettle works fine. The steam softens and relieves any tight areas and as the dampness dries the shrinkage is taken up by any loose parts and by the next day the seat will be nice an even. Works for leather or vinyl.

Regards

Steve
Attachments
DSCF1898.JPG and
DSCF1896.JPG and
MGB 021.JPG and
MGB 018.JPG and
DSCF1954.JPG and
DSCF1962.JPG and
DSCF1956.JPG and
The one and only genuine registered PLU5 2 Image
User avatar
Plus 2
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 162
Joined: 30 Jan 2014
Location: Uk & France

PostPost by: holywood3645 » Fri Aug 08, 2014 7:32 am

It was $1350 about 6 years ago. Seats, doors, center consul, and dash recovered (dash is amazing)
James
User avatar
holywood3645
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1062
Joined: 07 Oct 2003

PostPost by: vxah » Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:59 pm

Thanks Steve etc that's some good information especially about the piping, I had not thought about that!

The man let me down tonight but says he will be here tomorrow.

I will have a good look at it even though I don't really know what to look for other that holes, grain and damage. Did notice on the one I saw that the edges seemed to be more elastic... I guess it's because the skin is thinner?
Anyone point out what else to look for? Should I try and scratch the surface to see how resistant it is?
That said the leather on the Probax seats in my Europa s scratch very easily, it seems very soft leather?
vxah
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 290
Joined: 08 Nov 2012
Location: Cambridge UK
Next

Total Online:

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests