Reupholstering the Back Seat – Part 1

For some reason the front seats were in good shape but the rear seat was not.  Mice had gotten to it, and although it looked ok at first glance, it was really in pretty bad shape.  I decided to try reupholstering it.

The first step was taking lots if pictures to document how it was put together.

Then it was time to strip the old stuff off and clean up the frame.  Luckily there were no broken springs or other significant damage.  I wire-brushed the frame and gave it a quick coat of paint.  The paint is mostly to make it a little nicer to work on.

Installing Carpeting

With all of the mounting points for the shifter and console established, it’s time for carpet.  First step was removing everything.

Last out was the seats and belts.  I also drew a map of the holes for the seats and seat belts, with measurements.  I put reference marks on the sills for all of the holes also.

I purchased a one-piece molded carpet from Auto Custom Carpets (ACC).  The one I used has extra sound deadening backing, in addition to underlayment.

The first step was putting it in to get a rough position so I could work in the cutouts for the shifter and front console bracket.  These pieces are bolted directly to the floor and the carpet is cut around them.

After smoothing the carpet out into the footwells, I added some holes for the shifter and console bracket, and slowly cut them larger until it was laying flat on the floor, and sitting correctly in the footwells

The next step was locating the inner seatbelt mounting points, and cutting holes for the bolts.  Once those were in and the carpet was smoothed out into place, the outer seatbelt mount bolt holes were located and cut.

Next was the holes for the seat mounts.  To find the holes, I used a hammer and a common nail, tapping in the area where the hole should be until it hit the right spot.  Once all four holes were located for each seat, and the carpet was laying smooth, the carpet holes were cut, and the seat was bolted into place.

The rest of the install is trimming the outer edge of the carpet on the sides to fit underneath the sill plates, the kickpanels, and the rear side panels.

 

Fixing the console

The plastic console is a bit beat up.  The worst part was a hole in the bottom of the storage tray, and the light that had been added by cutting a big hole in the side.

I decided to try fixing it with some bondo.  First step was to clean it up a bit and Put masking tape over the damaged areas from the inside.

Then I put bondo on from the other side…

…and peeled the tape off when the bondo had cured:

A little sanding, and ready for final clean and paint.

 

Console Progress 1

want to put the carpet in, but first…I have to get the console sorted out.

This car was not originally a console automatic, and PO did a quick eyeball of the shifter location and nailed it down with a mig. The console was not attached, just sitting on top.

I got the bottom half of the console located properly using the factory floorpan dimples, and that dictated where the shifter needs to be mounted. New hole locations show it used to be about 1/2” too far left, and crooked.

 

Headliner

I finally got a chance to install the headliner.  I still have to install the sail panels and the edge trim, but the hardest part is done.  It should tighten up even more when it gets through a few hot sunny days.

Before:

I marked the bows as I took them out so they’d go back in the same locations.

After some cleaning and paint…

Then on to the headliner install.  First step was masking off the windows a bit to protect against glue overspray.  Then a good coat of glue sprayed on all the mouning surfaces.

I had let the headliner warm up in the sun for an hour, then started with the bow that is held in with the triangular tabs, then worked forward to the next one.

Once i had the bows in, I trimmed the excess white sleeves off, and sprayed glue on the back of the headliner.

After the glue had set up, I started stretching and sticking the edges down.  Lots and lots of medium binder clips from the office supply store helped.

During:

After:

Not perfect but pretty good if I do say so myself!

After some trimming and installing edge trim:

Keeping it Cool

I decided to get a new radiator and avoid the drama.  After some research, I settled on a Cold Case radiator.  It’s a stock fit bolt- in replacement with a lot more capacity.

It’s a two row core, but the tubes are very wide, so it has a lot of surface area.

Out with the old one core:

…and in with the new.  Fit is good, it bolted up to the stock mount points on the radiator support.

My only slight criticism is that the brackets were about 3/8” deeper than they needed to be, so the radiator body was a bit closer to the firewall than I’d expected.  This caused a misalignment at the shroud mount bracket.  Not a big deal since drilling a second mount hole isn’t too difficult, but it may matter to other people.

 

I also got the CORRECT temp sender to work with the idiot light.

I am waiting on the new power steering pump before I do the final assembly.

Power steering

My last classic car had manual steering…and at the time I wished I had power steering.  Now I have power steering, and kinda wish I didn’t.

The problem is that the pump is leaking for some reason.  The fluid level was very low, so I put in almost a pint of fluid.  The next day there was a giant puddle of something under the front of the car.  You guessed it, nearly a pint of power steering fluid.

Part of the problem seems to be that the engine has a mix of 68 (short water pump) and 69 (long water pump) accessories and brackets.  For the pump, it looks like it’s a 68 bracket with some spacers and washers added to make the pulleys line up.  That’s not a great plan.

The pump is leaking from the mounting hole on the back of the reservoir. (Next to the ‘notice’ sticker.)   I’m not sure, but it looks like there’s a boss inside the reservoir, and an o-ring between it and the sheetmetal of the reservoir.  Fill it up above that, and it leaks out there.  Not a great design.

The trick now is to figure out the combination of pump and brackets that will work.

Made it to the show!

After the ‘overheating’ fiasco, I decided to risk it, and we went to the show at Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, NH.  It was a decent turnout, probably 200 cars.  Oddly…we were the only 1st gen Camaro there.  In fact, the only other Camaros in attendance were a 79 Z28, and a 2018.  There was a 69 Firebird, and a 73 also, but that was it for F body cars.

Still overheating…sorta

The engine in the 68 is a 73 350. The wiring needed some work, and when I got the temp light hooked up, it came on after a few minutes of running.

I figured out that the sender was for a gauge, not an idiot light, so that’s why the light would show dim, and gradually get brighter. I hit the local NAPA and asked for a new sender for an idiot light, and a new thermostat…but the light still came on.

There’s a show on the 6th I wanted to make (castle in the clouds, moultonborough) so I wanted to solve the overheating before then.

Next up on the hitlist was a new water pump. I mail ordered a new one and a few other bits. The parts arrived on the 1st.

I stripped the front of the engine down on the 2nd to discover I’d mail ordered a short pump by mistake. I called NAPA on the 3rd and they said the long pump wasn’t in stock, but they’d have it by 3pm. My wife stopped by at 3:45…to find a sign in the window saying they closed early at 3pm, and would be closed on the 4th.

A 45 minute drive to the nearest place that was open got me a pump. I spent a few hours on the 4th pulling the rest of it, including pulling the dampener and putting a sleeve on, and a new front seal in the timing cover to (hopefully) cure an oil leak. Then it was clean/paint/reassemble with the new water pump, and wait for the rtv to cure.

Tonight I finished the last of the assembly, put the coolant back in, and took it for a drive around the block…

..and then the temp light came on again…

Something wasn’t adding up. The engine didn’t seem that hot, and my infrared temp gun showed 185.

I pulled out the sales slip for the new sender, and looked up the part number. Sunofabich…it’s for a gauge not a light.

Sooo…going to the show Saturday anyway, temp light and all.

We’re legal!

Finally got through the punchlist for the inspection, and got the sticker!

Off to the ice cream stand for the maiden voyage.  Temp light came on after a few minutes, have to investigate that, otherwise a very smooth first trip.