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No Interior, No problem - 1920's Buick missing interior


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This is a sequel to "No Convertible top, No problem - 1920's Buick missing top bows and socket".   Phase 2 is to show what the previous owner and now what I am up against in putting an interior into a 1920's Buick.  There are several challenges when the seat spring assemblies are from another vehicle (unknown but assumed Ford).  As I am already part way thru this, I have to do a little back tracking.  So starting with what I was given.  The first order of business is putting the foundation wood in order.

      This is a stately automobile.   When the car arrived, you could barely squeeze into the front seat.  Larry DiBarry, Kevin Roner, and Don Burland provided details for me to understand what changes were needed to the front seat.  The seat base was level.  Buick angled the seat base at 15 degrees (lower at the rear).  So the back of the front seat was lowered 3".  The seat back was also trimmed and moved to the rear by 1 1/2 inches.   This is most noticible in the last photo when you look across the seat and see the passenger seat position relative to the passenger door.  Also notice how short the seat base looked.  It looked more like a perch than a seat bottom.  

 

This was my stopping point so that the car could be driven, and the top was installed.  Now I am moving on to the interior.     Hugh

 

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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The first thing I started on was installing sheet metal for the side curtain pocket behind the front seat.  This was painted black on the back side and nailed into place.  There was also a light fixture on the seat back that was incorrect for the car.  It was behind the robe rail.  Buick put a light on the side of the rear seat back, but we opted just to leave this out.  I covered the holes later with a sheetmetal plate and pop rivets.  Also added a tack strip at the base of the seat to hold the seat back upholstery.  Back in the day, the seat back was upholstered to the car.  Wood was also added on the door latch post as there needs to be a place to hold the seat side leather perimeter tacks.       

 

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This is a mock up using the JC Whitney seat covering that came from my 1925 Buick in the interior of this 1927 Buick.  I really should throw this stuff out, but for pattern making, it comes in handy, and I was saving it incase someone else needed it to do their interior.  I fit it over the backing spring set as a size check.  I have also installed wood panels on the seat sides as backing for that upholstery.  

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The next item to install are the front seat armrests and sides.  This is a leather face with a muslin backing.  It is stitched on the rear edge, and a pad of cotton batting is laid between.  It is then stapled or tacked on the bottom, top and front to the seat frame.  The next item is to put some panelboard as sound deadener on the sheetmetal to silence the seat back spring.

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Then I was able to set the lower cushion in place, set the seat back cushion on the lower cushion, and secure the seat back springs with four hanger straps across the top.   You will notice that the seat spring assembly is covered with burlap.  This is held on with hog rings.  Then 1/4" Jute covers the face and it is also held with hog rings.  Notice the "void" between the top of the springs and the wood framing.  That is because these are seat springs from another car.     

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A 4" x 4" cross section of foam was added at the top of the springs to fill this void.  Normally I do not use foam, but it is an inexpensive filler.  Foam also comes in various densities.  Seat backs are softer density than seat bottoms.  Same is true of seat springs.  Seat bottom springs have more and heavier coils than seat back springs. 

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Once the foam was in place, I was able to cover the top with the Jute.  I originally installed this foam as a square, but needed to soften the angle on the top of the seat.  I pulled the jute off and I profiled the foam - basically cutting a triangular section out before I reinstalled it.   Photo below is the square profile before cutting.  The foam should not be much taller than the back seat frame wood.    

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The seat covering is tuck and roll leather.

The next 2 photos show a comparison of the vinyl with foam and face stitched (left side), vs tuck and roll leather being cotton stuffed (right side).  The front side (photo below) and the back side (2nd photo below).  Face stitching is a whole lot easier, but you can see the difference.  I have covered how to do tuck and roll in previous posts, as well as David Coco and Mark Kikta, so I am going to skip that process explanation and just keep the uypholstery moving along.   

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This is the front seat back tuck and roll covering.   It is half stuffed.  The metal trays are used for stuffing the seams with cotton.    

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This is the attached seat back stapled in place with the older seat bottom cushion.  The backside of the front seat is usually covered first, but I wanted to have something in the car so that it could be driven.  I will be removing staples across the top of the seat back so that I can install the seat back covering in the next posting.  I also want to work on the seat padding a little more.  I would have preferred to do the interior in black, but the owner had already purchased 4 hides.  Because of the color, I cannot find matching hidem or binding, so this has to be made or the upholstery method changed to accomodate not using trim pieces.       Hugh     

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7 hours ago, Hubert_25-25 said:

...but the owner had already purchased 4 hides.

It's great to be able to see this car come together!  I'm  curious as to how 4 hides equates (roughly) to yards of fabric?

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Hides are interesting because of the irregular shape.  Then there is the quality of the hides.  Holes and scars and scratches that need to be avoided.  With a good hide and vinyl combination you can save money doing an interior.  Typically only the seat toppings are leather, and the seat back and door panels are vinyl.  Better vinyls are very difficult to tell from the leather.  

 

Whatever hide you purchase

- find a color that you can also get in a matching vinyl. 

- Better yet if you can find a matching trim material.  At some point you will need to hide the tack heads.   

- try to find hides where you could order another if necessary.  Some vendors sell 1/2 hides.

- There are "automotive" hides with UV protection and some are said not to stretch as easily.  

- always get a sample.  

 

When I did my 1925 Buick Standard Touring, I bought 2 hides and 6 yards of vinyl.  I had a half hide left over.   Tuck and roll does let you use smaller sections of hides.  You can sew a large panel using the tuck and roll technique as each pleat could be made from a strip of leather.   This does make a hide "go further".  Perhaps the reason automotive companies liked this technique.  It leaves less scrap.  

 

Here is the google answer to your question:

The industry-wide conversion formula states that approximately 18 square feet of leather is equivalent to 1 linear yard of 54” wide fabric. This formula is based on full cowhides averaging 55 square feet. Due to the irregular shape of a hide, there will always be a certain amount of waste.
 
So this looks like 3 yards of fabric = 1 hide.  I think that number is closer to 2.  
 
Hugh
Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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I ordered my leather and vinyl from a different place than Hugh did.   I ordered the leather and perfectly matching vinyl.  They sell wholesale only to businesses. It was automotive leather with a UV treatment.

 

I Placed two orders, 1st order was 6 yards of vinyl to match the leather grain, and 3 hides of leather (they called it 122 sq ft or 2.5 hides) and the 2nd order was 2 hides of leather (they called it 88 sq ft because they were seconds (1.00 sq ft) and full of holes and crayon markings).

 

I originally ordered 6 yards of vinyl because I thought I would cover all 4 doors and the back of the front seat with the vinyl.  My wife convinced me to cover the doors with leather instead, so I ordered the second order of leather.  Timing was such that they had a big sale on the leather I needed (it was only 1.00 a square foot sold as seconds.  The seconds had a lot more small holes and thin spots marked up with some kind of crayon that was very difficult to remove).  It all worked out well as I have about 4 yards of vinyl left over and just some small scraps of leather.

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Always interesting to see interiors like Larry posted of the 1927.  Large expanses of leather instead of tuck and roll.  My opinion on these is that the leather quality needs to be very stiff.  I have seen many old cars with this style and the drivers seat is very worn in.   That car looks to have a good looking front seat still so the leather quality is high.   

 

When I did my car, I also bought automotive grade leather with UV protection and "German vinyl".  I bought it from Bill Hirsch.  It matched really well.  I liked the sheen and the way the vinyl and leather matched.  The leather feel and smell was worth the cost.  Black leather hidem and black vinyl trim was available as well.       

 

I tried to purchase from the company that Mark used.  I should have gotten a tax ID to get the discounts that he got. 

 

So now that you have seen the car, I will post about the quality of the leather that I received with the car.   When I did the front seat back and sides, I started by making a newspaper pattern of the size hide piece that I wanted.  I searched thru the first hide rotating the paper pattern, I found a decent spot to cut out the seat materials.  I figured all the pieces were narrow and any small flaws in the leather would go unnoticed.  That is mostly true, but then I needed to do the seat back.  This requires larger expanses of leather.  I cut out the best piece that I could find that was about 12" x 30".  It was partly the light color that would cast shadows of its creases, but more importantly this leather was not stored properly and I did not expect it to be this big of a problem until I started working with it.  It stretched a lot too and appeared to have bubbles if not pulled on all 4 sides or glued down. This is not the fine Corinthian leather that I was expecting.  I eventually learned that I had to hot steam iron this leather to get the majority of the wrinkles out of it.  And this is not just running a quick iron over the leather.  It is a lot of slow work to really get the iron heat and steam into the leather.  Usually from the back side.  On the front side I cover it with muslin to prevent the iron from damaging the surface.  The time required to salvage this leather is significant.             

 

The leather was brought to me "as a pile".  4 hides bunched up like old laundry.  I was shocked that it was not on a roll when I first saw it.  The first thing I did when I received it was to put it on a roll, but it was all too late.  Some of this was rolled, but not on a tube, and then it was crushed.  Some of it was on a roll at one time, but the roll was shorter than the hide.  The ends that were longer than the cardboard roll got twisted and abused and smashed flat.  It put a lot of hard wrinkles into the leather.   Some areas were too creased and I had to cut them out altogether.    The last photo shows a section that I had to scrap.  It's a sea of abuse.  All the hides are typical of this hide shown.     Hugh

 

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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Wow another outstanding thread from Hugh that I must follow. I just did a leather ottoman with hydes from Tandy Leather. I was able to remove some significant wrinkles with a hot steam iron with a pillow case between the iron and the back suede side of the hide. Just keep it moving. If looking for vinyl that matches leather, I had good luck with Tops Online; although Vic does not have prewar patterns he likely can make it per your specs. I do not wish to drift this thread but here is a link to my 1987 Mercedes upholstery replacement with leather seats, contrasting piping and vinyl panels.

 

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On the front seat back, I started with the lower section of the side curtain pocket.  I used a piece of .060 polyethylene and I sewed the top and side edges of the leather to it.  Too many wrinkles showed so I had to remove the side stitching and iron the leather.  Still too many shadows on the leather, so I undid the side stitching again and adhered the leather to the poly with spray contact adhesive.   I ironed the surrounding leather and sewed the top section to the 2 side pieces.  I cut 3/4" wide strips of the .060 poly and used it with tacks to create a hidden attachment for the inner sides of the compartment.  This is how many home upholstery projects are done.  

Then I sprayed the seat metal with contact cement and added cotton quilt padding.  Another light spray with contact adhesive on the cotton and I was able to pull and apply the leather.  It is stapled on the perimeter of the seat back.  I am still working out the details of the seat compartment flap, so I moved on to start work on the back seat and the door panels.     Hugh               

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Having moved to the back seat I wanted to capture some of the interesting wood details on this car.  I am still fascinated by the quality sheetmetal work that was done on this car.  The wood parts function as intended, but no cross dimensional checks were done. 

Photo 1 shows the 3 vertical rear tub supports.  The back window and the straps are centered on the rear tub.  Notice how the left side wood is centered on the strap, while the right side is several inches

inside the strap. 

The middle wood is shown next to a level - that is level. 

All functional.  It will be covered by the seat.    

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This photo shows the length of the right rear arm rest wood to the latch post.  7 1/2 inches to the latch post.  

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The left side rear armrest is over 2 inches longer at 9 3/4 inches to the post.  Both do the same function, just don't know why they are different.  

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This last item is Yankee ingenuity.  This is the top rest support inside the tub.  Just showing another method of securing a bolt.  It does functionally do the trick.     Hugh

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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