Sam gets back to work on our 1967 VW Beetle. He rebuilds the seats, covers them in new TMI Sport Upholstery, and installs new seat belts.


JBugs Video Blog, VW Tech Tips

Watch the video to see Sam's progress on this 1967 VW Beetle.

In this video, putting safety first, Sam starts by installing some seat belts. Then he moves on to seats. With some scrounging around through our little fleet of VWs, some cleaning and some repairs and welding, he managed to get a full set of seats for our 1967 Beetle. The seat frames were then prepped, padded and upholstered with TMI's brand new Sport Upholstery.

Video Transcript

Hi guys. We're almost there. 

Okay, Friday November 3rd. The last Friday before I've got to have this thing completely ready to go to the show. Friday the 10th I'll be down at Nitrocross watching Kyle, the guy that we bought all these cars from, racing the class 11 car. So, I can't work on this car Friday. It's got to be ready to go by that point. 

I did get the sunroof working. I will go into depth in this. I'm still waiting a couple new pieces. Mainly that guy right there is just absolutely destroyed and not holding the cables in well so I need to replace this guy. But once I get that piece I'll pull everything back out and I'll go over all that with you. But needless to say, our sunroof does work so that's good. 

I had to take the car up to the MVD yesterday to get it inspected because it hadn't been registered for so long. Had them verify the VIN numbers. I do have registration on the car, collector's car insurance. In driving the car I felt completely naked because I didn’t have seat belts. So right now I'm going to get some seat belts in this car. Before I get to the last step which is basically seat upholstery so I’ll bring you guys along for a little bit of that.

So I’m start with the back cause that's easiest, on this side and then I'll flip over that side once we are done with this side but. We've got these plastic plugs that are threaded in place. This car obviously didn't have seatbelts back here from the factory and nobody ever put any in. 

I’ll grab our chrome lift and because the center is much more prone to falling in between the seats than the outer I'll put the non-buckle side on the inside and I’ll put the buckle side on the outside. And because the way these things are made I always end up flipping the belt over inside, which is sometimes easy sometimes difficult. Flip the belt over. There, that's a little bit more suitable for our back seat location here.  Lock washer through the bolt. Make sure we are clear of our rear seat hinge. 

And then these actually have a little plastic cover to protect the chrome during shipping. That can be peeled off. A lot of people don't realize that and they just stick the sticker on top of that. So make sure you peel that protector cover off before you stick on your sticker. We'll get to those at the end. 

That’ll give our rear seat passengers a seat belt. That’s nice, very safe. And then our tunnel seatbelt. We’re gonna flip this seat belt over and bolt this guy in place in the tunnel here. Lock washer and a bolt. Caution with these guys. You got to be careful about dropping them down into the tunnel when you take them off. Maybe just rest them on the top of the parking brake. That way they don't fall down in between the seats and get stuck. 

From there we'll work on our retractable mechanisms. Pop our cover off right here. And then for some reason, don't ask me why, our three-point retractable belts just come with standard bolts not shoulder bolts for a bolt with a collar. So that when it’s bolted in place it's still pivots. So keep that in mind. Our 3 point non-retractable hardware does come with collars or shoulder bolts. And that's what I prefer to using. A shoulder bolt works well on our upper mount. So that when the bolt is tight the pivot still pivots. 

Now we can get to work on a retractable mechanism. And standard hardware that comes with a retractable belt is L brackets. And you could hold the old bracket here, drill a hole, mount it to the floor, and then come back and mount this here. And that would meet more modern seatbelt standards. I, however, like to share them out with an original style Volkswagen bracket. Bolt that there and that there on the stock mount, but that does not meet current motor vehicle standards. But it was good enough for Volkswagen, good enough for me. 

Start by popping that off. That bracket keys in there. Snap that cover back in place. Pull off the tag, cause ain’t  nobody want to see that. One more bolt at the bottom. Make sure that bracket comes up vertically. And now  I'll feel safer in the front seat. 

And we got a lot of hardware left over. They give you a lot of hardware, just sometimes not the right hardware, for two seat belts.The stickers, I'll wait till the end. When I put seats in, I'll get those positioned. 

I've got a seat belt here, seat belt there. Now I’m going to go put the seat belts on the other side. And then I might get to work on vacuuming out the interior, yet again. And then I got some other floor mats for the rear. Nothing fancy, but figure spruce up the back, just to touch. 

In the car got an original seat bar back in place. I've got our power cable routed on it, run over to the battery like it should be. This cable doesn't need to be this long. That's why I never went through and heated down that connection. I'm actually going to shorten this cable and get rid of this excess wire. Just to clean things up underneath there. 

We don't have all-weather floor mats for the rear, but we do have some nice little rubber EMPI mats. I just threw those down there. Once the seats are in place, it'll cover all this area. I'm going to take a look at some of the cars in the back and see if we have some original kick panels I can put in place underneath our crossbar. If not, I'll just leave it open. I want to say 62 and earlier cars or thereabout, maybe 61 or earlier, they didn't actually run kick panels here. It was just open, so I might do that. We'll see how it goes. 

Anyway I got to work on these seats because we got a week left. And I still want to put a couple miles on this car before I have to drive it almost 200 miles. 

So this is what I've got for seats. I borrowed these from the ‘65 sunroof we have outside, that I borrowed the sunroof parts off of. Sorry, that's what you get for just sitting there. 

This bottom seat works all right. Apparently somebody got our seat release lever pieces installed incorrectly. So I have to pull that apart and get that all put together properly, take off these old seat covers. 

This seat, however, doesn't move all that well so I'm going to see what I can do to get that freed up. These are, well this is something we've had lying around for a while, but this is what was attached to one of these seats. And this was attached to the other one. 

But A, we can see that they are both much like this seat framework, this crimped seam has a way of just breaking apart. That's just common. These are all 65-66 seats that have broken apart here. This lever even broke. However, this lever from this seat was still in good shape so I will reuse this and put this on here to rebuild this guy. 

This one's still in good shape so I'll use that as my correct model to build this one back. I've got work to do. Pretty involved and not really normal, although I guess on cars this old that is kind of normal now. But I just don't have the ability to film all this stuff. It's going to be so long and time consuming. I will just get them broken down, get them repaired, show you the repair, and then I'm going to get all the seat upholstery put together. 

On the rear seat I grabbed these out of one of the many cars that we picked up from Kyle. This carpet is actually still in kind of usable condition, along with the mat on the rear seat. So I'm actually going to try and reuse this whole set up from here to here to here to here. On the new upholstery, on this, so this is going to get new padding, new upholstery, new padding, new upholstery. And that's going to go back in the car. 

Hopefully this comes out well enough. Got that hinge pin welded in place. I got the brackets on this guy all lined up properly. I even just got this guy freed up. I braced this piece here and then PB Blaster and beating on it with a hammer. We've even got that seat back in shape. These hinge pins are obviously a common issue with them busting out. So I’ll have to weld that guy back in place as well.  So this one seems good. Obviously we need to clean the rails up a little bit. I'm not going to go through and touch them up and make them pretty. This is still an old patina style car, or an old patina car period.  There's no style about it. This is all legit. As I'm going along I'm going to finish her and this guy down and then I'm going to get to work on our back rest over there. 

I’ve got the backrest pulled apart. I’ve got this guy swapped. This is the original lever from the driver side still in good shape. But obviously the seat frame is not. So I’ve got some repairing I've got a weld. This bar, this bar, this bar, and this bar back in place. And then I can weld this crossbar right here back in place. This spring right here on the corner is broken. Not a whole lot I can do about that. I'll try and hog ring this spring back to this point here if possible. Not certain what I'm going to be able to manage that. A lot of the intertwining pieces here completely rusted out. Most all those springs across the face there are rusted out. 

This seat’s in a little bit better shape. Still have a broken cross bar, but everything on this side still in place. And this side I've got a weld those bars back in place there. So we're getting there. Oh and then this lever is actually twisted and bent and actually cracked right there. So I don't know how long this is going to last. It is what it is. They don’t make them new so we’ve got to run what we’ve got to run. I'll be back in a few. 

So this is what we've got. I had to weld. This was our seat frame that was broken basically in half. So I had to weld here and here and here and here. Obviously, I had to weld that joint as well. And then I had to repair, kind of, this seat spring where this one had broken loose from this guy. Well that had broken loose. This was actually attached. This spring was attached to that corner. I bent it over and kind of pushed it in place there to get some support for that corner. And this tie on this side is broken off so I took some old seat wire wrapped that in there. And other than that, she's ready for a good bath and then we'll put her back in service. 

This seat frame wasn't as bad. Obviously we had to weld that joint there. I needed to weld that spring there, or that seat frame tab right there. These are not spring steel, but they are high tension compared to, they're not just mild steel. I don't believe. So you can weld on these, but you cannot weld on these. Obviously, I welded it in place there and this spring. This is the passenger side seat so not as worn, not as much damage but. 

Two backrests are both good to go. The bottoms are over drying from getting washed off. I'm going to wash these guys off now and then I'm going to. Well that's the pile from the front upholstery. I am going to rinse this one, rinse this one,  throw that in the trash. I'm going to tear down these seats and then I'm going to call it a weekend here at work. Monday we’ll start afresh on putting new upholstery on both these seats and those and the front backrests.

I’ve got all of our upholstery frames stripped down, cleaned up, ready to go. I'm going to start installing some new upholstery which starts with some new burlap before I put on some new seat pads, before I finally get on some upholstery. So I'm going to get started on that starting with this backrest. 

The process of putting on burlap is not all that fancy. And honestly nowadays with the high density seat foam I don't know that it's all that essential. But we've just got so accustomed to doing it, I keep on doing it. All this is is a base for our seat padding to sit on. The burlap just prevent the spring from cutting into our foam. Hog rings are really sharp. They got really pointy ends. They like to cut your fingers so be careful. I've already cut myself this morning. Every couple of inches or so. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just roll it over on the edges. Make sure that you're actually coming around the frame and not deep spring or otherwise. That'll do. 

In lieu of burlap  I've seen people use old pieces of carpet. I've seen people use old sheets, pillow cases, old upholstery. Just something to give some sort of flat kind of surface to your seat foam. Or, if you prefer, your horse hair. Although even a horse hair, they actually didn't use a burlap. Again you don't have to go crazy. Just every six to eight, nine inches or so. Just around the perimeter like so. 

All right so this one's all ready. I'm going to do the bottom. I'll do the back rests on the bottom for the front before I set on some new padding and then put on our new upholstery. 

We’ve got a molded seat foam, high density foam. It sets over our seat springs like so. And ideally we would glue this to the burlap, but we don't have spray glue anymore and I forgot to pick some up. I've done it without, not a big deal. 

One thing that does help a lot, however, is silicone. Silicone just helps the upholstery slide in place over the top so these corners. As opposed to using the old plastic bag methods like everyone used to do back in the day. A little silicone spray does the same trick. You can tell I like silicone spray. 

Take our new upholstery, set it on the corner, make sure everything is pulled out and around. I think the general consensus is this is considered the sport upholstery, in line with TMI’s Pro Series seats, their complete seats. TMI named this their sport upholstery. So I'm trying to get that set there. Make sure our pad is in place still which it's not. Neither is our upholstery for that matter. Slide that up in there. And this is our center. This is our center spike. We want to make certain that spike is centered so that as we work around our upholstery is all centered. Sometimes a set of pliers or snips can be helpful to get our upholstery poked through. There we go. That looks good. That looks good too. Too long, but doesn’t matter.

So you can see that top side. Corners look good, seams look even. So we'll just keep on rolling it over this way. Coming in over the upholstery seam at the bottom down here. And I can't tell y’all enough be careful about these spikes cause they are sharp. 

On this piece of upholstery we've also got all these screws for the masonite board and the metal strip here. So once this is all in place we're still going to end up screwing on top of this. So, a lot easier to come in right now and mark those holes.

The fun ones are this seam and this seam. This guy needs to stretch up over those spikes and then this just gets tucked in around there. And then whatever's left let's get tucked in underneath that. But also along those lines you got a bunch of screws across this top set that need to go in places as well. Kind of use this as a guide real quick, at least get our outers identified. Once those two are lined up on the outside everything across the face really self-identified. After I get the side pulled over that spot could change. 

Back to these guys here. Let me show you guys what we’re working with here. Not too shabby. 

And don't be afraid to cut off any excess foam that sticks out. Cut off these corners here. All right, let’s get to work on guys here. These guys are fun right there. Just a regular old pair of pliers. Grab, stretch to get through the material not just the backing. There we go.

That just pulls over that. We’ll try and roll that, just get it to look nice. And then this seam right here, you roll it over. Just don't know I'm going to make this look decent. Just roll up and over that way which really isn't factory, but it will work better I think. Less prone to pulling out. 

Because of the length of this seam I find it's just a lot easier to roll it back. Make sure that they are tucked under. And I'm still going to use the hog ring over here to hold that in. Maybe even one there.  

That's how we're looking on the front. This has been folded in the box for the last month or so. So I expect that these seams will come out. Do that side the same way that I learned on that side and then we'll call this one done. 

And then this seam right here. A, we'll tuck that that way. And then B, we'll roll this over as needed, tuck in behind those spikes, and that will tuck in there. Take a hog ring. Hog ring that down. Seat points right here and right here. 

1,2, 3, 4, 5. And we got a whole bunch down here. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 for our seat board which is going to go on in just a little bit here. We got a little strap. That holds our rear backrest up in place. Now I'm going to get to our rear seat backrest board. And the original carpet pieces. 

And this has seen better days, most definitely, but only original once. I wish I had some duct tape, something that I can get this stuck a little bit better, but we're going to hope for the best. That piece isn't going to last. Hopefully the rest lasts. That hole’s in shape. 

This is ready to go back in the car. Let's do that. All right, put in place more or less. That side started. Can’t tell if that side started or not. There we go. This strap will hook on that hook and keep our backrest in place. 

At least the off white here ties in with that. The brown rust here ties in with that rust color there. It is what it is. It'll work. And I just do that to tuck the seat belts out of the way. 

All right up next, rear seat bottom. 

And just like that we are ready to go. I like it. That'll work for me. Go throw that in the car now. 

Note that we do have our power cable shortened. Rear seats bottoms are often times a pain in the neck to get in place. Kind of just got to get past the B pillar. Then the fun part, getting it over the seat belts. Easiest thing to do is get the front set. Looks like that corner is good. There we go. Yeah, that’s cozy. That’s comfy.

And that is what our rear seat is going to look like cause there she is. It definitely wouldn't have been my first choice, but it don't look half bad. I'm glad I decided to go with the off-white trim on the windows just hoping to get some of that off-white on the upholstery to try into the interior. Between that and are off-white visors, but all the off-white we've got on the inside. But I think it's going to be enough to tie this interior in ever so slightly. Could be better, but it could be a heck of a lot worse. 

All right, I got super sidetracked yesterday. Couldn't get to the front upholstery. Today I'm going to get that front upholstery in, get the car all cleaned up, throw a couple stickers on here. But before I put the seats in, I want to put a parking brake boot on because you actually get a lot of noise coming through the little cracks here and whatnots out to the tunnel. So I'm going to put a parking brake boot on and then I’ll get to the upholstery. 

One of the most important portions of putting in a parking brake boot, screw clip. And you can often times you'll get these with speakers and stuff know just a metal clip that you can thread a screw into. And there's a hole at the back mount. We'll get to that when the time comes. I don't want that falling off into the tunnel. 

As always. lots of silicone. Hopefully I can get these knobs off. Ew, maybe not. Ideally we'd pull those off, but at fear of breaking them, I'm just going to try and split the boot and get them through. 

We'll put a clip on the back side. Then we'll put that screw through the back to hold that guy down. If we had carpeting or the rubber floor mats or anything else that would sit on top of that and hold that down. That's how you put on your boot. 

So we've got our two seats here. This is our right seat with the backrest release right here and the backrest adjustment knob right here on the outside of the car. This is our driver's seat, or our left seat. We've got the backrest release lever in place cause this one's not broken and the backrest adjustment knob on the outside or the left side of the car. I'm going to start with the passenger seat. I'll finish with the driver's seat. And then we'll put those in the car. 

All right a little bit more up close and personal so you can see what happens here. Basically we've got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 spikes that hold on the skirt around the seat. And then you've got the metal bar that goes through the upholstery seam right here. And one spike, two spike. And that's the majority, not majority that's basically all, that holds the upholstery in place. That's all she wrote. 

So the bottom's done and we’ll get to work on the backrest. 

Now when it comes to these metal spikes, I think they're going to do us more harm than good at this point so I'm going to bend those back over. I'm going to trim some of this excess foam so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. And then we'll get those flaps pulled together. 

This guy's ready to go on the bottom. Usually the easiest way is to come in the back, drop down, hopefully get in front of backrest release lever. At least on one side, clear there. Come on. There we go. 

All right, now get one side set. We'll just start a cap nut just to make certain this doesn't pop off even though it's under a lot of tension. Here the same. There we go. We got to grease up our seat tracks. Let's see if I have a seat release knob as well. 

Blacks are back ordered. I've got billet aluminum in stock.  

This is officially ready to go in the car. And I did a couple things. Made sure that I shifted our upholstery using that plastic strip so that our seams on our seat lines up pretty well. And that original bottom cover we have lying around. With that, try. Apparently got one side, not this. Come on, come on. There we go. Seat rails are just a little bent out of shape on this seat over here. There we go. Let's attach our seat spring before it gets too far back. There we go. 

Sometimes I find that when I sit down the solution presents itself. 

Never mind all the shaking, rattling, and rolling I got a seat in here. It's comfy. Now I got to make certain that the seat release lever locks the seat in place. 

Now we're locked in. 

Still enough room for people to hop in the back seat. Is it the biggest back seat in the world? No, it's not. It's also not the biggest car in the world. So what do you want. And there we go. That'll do the job. Nice, very nice. I'm happy the way it is sitting. All right, let’s do the other one. 

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we're done. 

I got a couple minor things to do still. I want to get a spare tire in the trunk. I want to get together a spare parts kit to take with me. If nothing else, make sure you have a roadside assistance card like AAA. That's probably the most important thing to have when you're driving a vintage automobile. Want to get an alignment done because the car is kind of darty. Obviously, I put new spindles on there, new suspension, new tie rod end so a lot has changed in the front end. I want to get it aligned professionally. A couple of stickers and she's ready to go to the show, don't you know. 

On that note, the world's full of good people. If you can't find one. be one. Later guys.

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