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1930s Upholstery Cloth


Bluejeepnut
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Replacing the upholstery in my 1932 Chrysler CP8 sedan. Need help finding a source for headliner, seat, and door panel cloth.  Doesn’t have to be a perfect match, but I am wanting to get close to the original. It’s been a difficult search thus far. Thank you for any assistance.

 

 

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SMS-I really don't know if this is an advertisement or a condemnation, but the company seems to be a victim of their own success. They simply have an inventory like no other. What this means is that they are sometimes overwhelmed by the volume of orders, that that they feel obligated to fill. If you were to visit their facility in Canby, Oregon, you would get a feel for what is going on. There is someone  constantly on the phone, talking to overseas and domestic customers. They know their stuff and can show you what you are looking for in a matter of minutes. If a company does enough work they are bound to have some complaints. That's just the nature of the beast.They are not a big operation and it's staggering how much they can get done. IMHO the choice can be fumbling around in the dark, trying to get definitive information, or you can go to SMS and have to deal with their harried staff, knowing that you will have a better chance of getting what you need. 

 

If a customer needs stroking, forget about it. If you need a guided tour, the best that you can expect is a peek through the door. If you expect to sit around over a cup of coffee, go down to the Starbucks down the street. If you want to see samples of fabric that you won't find anywhere else this is the place to go. Count me as a satisfied customer.  

Bill

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18 hours ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

If a company does enough work they are bound to have some complaints. That's just the nature of the beast.

If a customer needs stroking, forget about it. If you need a guided tour, the best that you can expect is a peek through the door. If you expect to sit around over a cup of coffee, go down to the Starbucks down the street. If you want to see samples of fabric that you won't find anywhere else this is the place to go. Count me as a satisfied customer.  

Bill

 

For my money, I'll deal with Bill Hirsch anytime. Ask yourself this: Why do we in the antique auto hobby accept treatment by vendors such as described above? We seem to accept rudeness, extremely long wait times, sometimes poor service when it comes to our antique cars that we would never accept in other matters. To simply say that this is the nature of the beast is something I will never understand. I have been making antique car parts for over 30 years and can count the number of dissatisfied customers on one hand. I treat my customers with the same expectations I have with the vendors I deal with. Schmoozing the customer is part of the cost of doing business...

 

Frank

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Frank,

 

I agree wholeheartedly, I've always enjoyed my dealings with Hirsch. Especially some long telephone conversations that I've had with Bill. The hobby lost a fine gentleman when he passed. However it's like having the right tool for the job. Sometimes you just can't get it done the way it needs to be done, without that tool. So it is with SMS. If I'm starting with an all original car, and want to save the best part of the original upholstery, the right tool is SMS. My guess is that they will never miss your business.

 

Bill

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I don't doubt that SMS has or can get the right stuff almost every time. The stuff that I have received has always been high quality. That's awesome. Their door panels are beautifully done. They do have an extensive stock of rare fabrics and can make just about anything to order. They are often the last resort if you have something especially unusual. If you can afford it and/or are willing to wait as long as it takes, they can probably come through for you.

 

But the problem is when they tell you that they have it and they don't, or when they take your money and then you have to wait for other people to order the same stuff so that SMS can justify doing a run of that particular fabric. I waited more than a year for some fabric that wasn't terribly unusual (1941 Cadillac gray bedford cord)--they ran my credit card for $1500 as soon as I placed the order, but never delivered anything. After six months they said they were getting ready to run a batch. After 12 months they were still getting ready to run it. After 14 months, I called and asked for a refund and got 50% ($750) back but they kept the rest and said that since it was a custom job and they had to do it on a special run, I wasn't entitled to a refund. WTF? They never even made the stuff yet they were charging me for my place in line so they could justify making it for other people in the future? Really?

 

I understand busy. I understand that there are limitations to what can be delivered for a price. I understand unreasonable clients with unreasonable expectations. I think being quiet and not pestering them for six months is pretty good. I think only pestering them twice in 12 months is acceptable. But the rest? THAT is precisely why they have the reputation they have and why I prefer Hirsch and other sources.

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Matt, your post brought up an old memory, having to do with patience and such.  

 

I bought a 1910 Hupmobile in 1976.  I started restoring it, and realized it had the wrong carburetor.  The original is a Breeze, such a delightful name for a carb!

 

I called around, this was before instant access Internet, which I'm sure some people have a problem comprehending.

 

Found an older gentleman who worked on carbs, had one, said it's $200 (OK, sounds cheap, 1976, when that was a month's rent or more).  I said fine, he said I'll put your name on it, but I need to fabricate a couple of parts, call you when it's ready.

 

6 months went by.  Called him.  Still working on it.

 

At 12 months, called him, still working on it.

 

At 18 months, a year and a half, called, his daughter answered phone.  Explained what I was calling about, she said sorry, my father has passed (not PAST as I see and it drives me crazier), but I'll look into it.

 

She called me back a week later, yes, I found your carburetor with a tag and your name on it, want me to mail it to you?

 

Well, I said, it's not my carb.  Your father was working on it, and agreed to sell it to me for two hundred dollars.  Oh NO, she said, we've been selling similar carburetors for a LOT more than that, that can't be right.  We ended the conversation.

 

I wrote her a letter (I know, a lot of you are still reeling from the no Internet), but we actually used to do business with LETTERS, and always hoped the dinosaurs didn't step on the envelopes.  

 

I told her, look, I understand the carb might be worth more, but your Father had a deal with me, and I'm so sorry he's gone. If I'd wanted to lie to you, I'd have said yeah, send me the carb back, I was honest with you that no money had changed hands.  If you  don't want to honor my deal with him, that's fine.  But I did not make this up, that's the deal we had, and I don't know what else to say.

 

A week later I had the carb in the mail, with an invoice for the two hundred, which I paid immediately.

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I had a similar experience without the same outcome. Thirty five, or more, years ago I bought a part for a Pierce Arrow. I made the purchase from an ad in Hemmings, from a Pierce collector, whom I didn't know. I have forgotten what the part was, but I remember that it was somewhat rare, and at about $350, it was fairly expensive. In those days trust was a big part of the hobby, and we would send a check, and expect the seller to remit the part. I included that last statement for some of the younger people, who have never experienced our hobby without the threat of a scam.

 

I waited some time for the part. I had been told that the gentleman would be in Mexico for a couple of weeks. After about a month I began to get a bit nervous. When I reconciled my checking account, I got down right scared. My check had been cashed weeks prior to his scheduled trip to Mexico. Then the other foot dropped, when I got my PA news letter, and the gentlemen was being eulogized, after his passing, while in Mexico. I knew that I would have to confront the grieving widow, or other family member, but I was sure that whomever I contacted would have no clue as to who I was, and that would have to convince that person that I was on the level. By that time I had the cancelled check, so I could prove my story, but I really dreaded that phone call. Should I put off the call, and wait for an acceptable period of mourning, or look out for my interest and call right away. I think that I thought about it for about a week, and made the call. As I expected I got the grieving widow, who knew nothing about her husband's business dealings, and the last thing that she wanted to was discuss was my problem.  She doubted my veracity, and rightfully so. Sending a copy of the cancelled check with the gentleman's signature on the back, convinced her that I was being honest. But nobody could find my part, so I had to settle for a refund. I know that there is a moral to this story, but I'll be darned if I know what it is.

Bill

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