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Written by David Duncan Wednesday, 07 September 2005 Repadding the stock '02 seats is a time-consuming but worthwile procedure. While most people will simply upgrade to some nice Recaros when their original seats have had it, many prefer the original look or simply can't yet afford to go with some replacement Recaros. For these people, restuffing the original seats is a great option. In my case, I repadded the front seats in my 1975 2002 for about $35 worth of foam and a few evenings of work in my spare time. The first seat I tried took about eight hours, and the second one was
My '73 tii retains its original seats -- I'm at least, thus far, convinced they are original. But, planning for the future, I also have two "spare" front seats for the '73. The two spare seats came from different sources, but they appear to be identical in all respects except for chrome recliners on one and black recliners on the other. I will swap out the chrome recliners on the one seat -- for black recliners -- so that the spares match each other and match the original seats in the '73. The point of this post, however, is that, as I disassembled the spare seats in order to commence their restoration, I noticed quite a few dates on the seats, a means of not only verifying their dates, but also the relationship of '02 seat style to manufacturing date. The spare right seat came out of a 1972 model year tii, VIN 2762204, which I parted out in 1974 -- no, wiseguys, I didn't wreck that one, I bought it wrecked. The seat was sitting in the basement from 1974 until a year ago. ("rechts Liegesitz" per the spring tag, or "right reclining seat.") The first four photos below show this spare right seat. The Colorado tii from which it came was manufactured July 10, 1972. Moreover, the inked date on a tag attached to its backrest springs is June 20, 1972 (20. 6. 72), another inked date on a tag affixed to its backrest horsehair pad is May 1972 (? MAI 1972), and yet another inked date on a tag attached to its seat cushion springs is June 30, 1972 (30. 6. 72). Given the relationship of these three dates to the car's manufacturing date -- relatively close to it and preceding it -- I have no doubt this seat was original to that 1972 tii I parted in 1974. Moreover, these three dates also evince chrome recliners being installed on a July 10, 1972 tii. The last two photos below show my spare left seat. I knew nothing of its history except that "it came out of a '73" per the seller, who had owned it for over fifteen years. But, sure enough, an inked date on a tag attached to its backrest springs is October 12, 1972 (12. 10. 72), verifying that it came out of a relatively early '73 model -- and eerily close to the October 19, 1972 manufacturing date of my '73 tii, VIN 2762757, the car for which it has now become a spare. Beware, who will believe 50 years from now that this spare seat was NOT original to VIN 2762757, but was randomly found 43 years after the car was manufactured? I don't know how consistently these inked dates were used over the full ten-year term of the '02, but I'm suspecting they were at least consistently used during this 1972 period, So please check your seats, backrests and seat cushions, and post your findings here. Regards, Steve
Written by David Duncan Wednesday, 07 September 2005 Repadding the stock '02 seats is a time-consuming but worthwile procedure. While most people will simply upgrade to some nice Recaros when their original seats have had it, many prefer the original look or simply can't yet afford to go with some replacement Recaros. For these people, restuffing the original seats is a great option. In my case, I repadded the front seats in my 1975 2002 for about $35 worth of foam and a few evenings of work in my spare time. The first seat I tried took about eight hours, and the second one was about six hours. Although it took a while, the results are great and I got to clean and condition the seats while they were out of the car. Parts/Tools Needed: Foam pads from upholstery shop or crafts store (more on these below) X-acto knife Needle-nose pliers Flat head screwdriver Phillips screwdriver FAT Phillips screwdriver for the side screws Sockets, spanner set, or crescent wrenches Optional: some 1/4" car headliner foam to put under horsehairs (if you are refitting them) For new foam pads, I bought some 2" foam from a fabric/crafts store. Measure your seats & backs and add a couple inches either way- you will be trimming them to fit. For me, it cost approx. $35, which isn't bad compared to the cost of Recaros. This was the very flexible upholstery foam...the kind you can squeeze to "zero." They had white and green, and I went for the green, which seemed denser. The thickness of the foam will depend on the condition of your existing horsehair pads and whether you want to reuse whatever is left of them. Mine were close to gone, especially the driver's seat, but still all one piece. I chose to refit the horsehairs under the foam, so I only needed the 2" thick stuff. If your horsehair pads are completely gone, then you will want to get thicker foam. Restuffing Procedure: The following assumes that all '02 seats are constructed basically the same, but as I mentioned my car is a '75. First you want to take the seats out, remove the rails, and then dismantle the hardware. There is a reason why this took so long, and that is because you want to be careful with your old seat materials! Pull the covers off slowly...they are attached by a series off metal hooks on the frame. Pry the hooks up to make it easier, and be careful, they're sharp 'n' rusty! I just used my hands to pull the vinyl back, afraid that pliers would tear it. Cut the foam to fit, with a little overlap. If you want (I didn't think of this till after I was done) you could get even thicker padding & custom cut the "wings" of the seats, for a more "Recaro" feel. I took some car headliner foam (about 1/4" thick and a few extra bucks) and sewed it to the spring frame to make a base for the old horsehairs so they wouldn't shed into the car. Refit the horsehairs (if you are re-using them), then place the foam into position. Putting the seat covers over the stuffing is a wrestling match, so get yourself pumped up! I managed not to tear the vinyl, but you should check your covers and their seams and make sure they're strong enough for the stretching. If they're dry & brittle, it might be a different story. I wasn't able to repad the headrests (the stems were pretty rusty & didn't want to move...and they are still semi-comfy, so I skipped 'em). Start with the front of the seat, and then work your way to the back, hooking along the way. You have to work with the material and the foam to keep it in place. When you're about three-fourths of the way back, grab the front of the seat and pull the cover towards the back, coaxing it into place. At first, I didn't think there was much leeway at all for stretching. Then I got a little brave and figured out how to coax the cover. It does give a bit...you just gotta work it along. By far, this was the most aggravating part; I found talking to the seat helpful! Before you put the seats back into the car, it's a good time to clean 'em up a bit with a brush and your cleaner of choice... not to mention a GREAT time to crack a cold one! Reassemble the rails hardware, then bolt the seats back into car. I used a couple of washers under the front rails to 'lift' the front of the seat slightly (provides a better driving support...a cool tip I got from the message board). If you want to try extra padding in the lumbar area, go for it. But the funny thing is that when the seats were back in place, the lower half of the seat back felt much thicker and supportive. I don't know how that happened, but the lumbar support was instantly built-in and noticeable! It was such an extreme difference at first, I didn't think that I could lean all the way back and drive at the same time! Shows how bad off the original padding was! Now, I sit upright and drive, and it feels GOOD! Anyway, one size of foam did the trick for support and comfort. Though I did think of getting 1/2" or 1" pieces to add to specific areas, I just went for one size and it worked out fine. It also followed the natural design of the original seat, which isn't exactly the most ergonomically fine specimen, but it's adequate enough for straight posture (and the '60s design rules!). I do want to try beefing up the bolsters sometime, especially now that I've done it before. It's a "crazy" project, but well worth it on that next drive...very comfy! I plan to do the rear bench next...and can't wait! I'm just amazed that I took on the project, and it came out nice! I still dream of Recaros, though. I hope this helps and if you have any questions, please post them to the Message Board! COPYRIGHT 2002, BMW 2002 FAQ, Rob Shisler and Steve Kupper. All Rights Reserved. Additional detail for beginners like me (mataku527): - I used a combination of the green foam mentioned above and nu-fiber, which is reportedly similar to horsehair. - Detailed breaking down of the seats procedure below, I found this order to be best: First take the seats off the rails, there are two 10mm bolts on the front and 2 on the back rails: Remove the side covers on both sides. They are quite fragile. The upper is held by a small tap, pry it off carefully. Remove the larger screws on the upper half: Remove the wired connection from the upper half to the bracket. For this part, it is easiest if you keep the upper half of the seat upright and open up the bracket away from the seat: Pry up the circled part, it is only pressure inserted into the bar going across the bottom of the seat. You have to line it up when reinstalling.: Remove the spring clamp: Once you do that, you can pull the whole bracket off and remove the rails. View full article
I am looking for replacement seat pads? Are there suppliers with reasonable prices? If not, can an upholsterer make a good foam replacement. I have 74 and 76 seats and the Horsehair pads are totally disintegrated. The 76 frames are not usable due to rusted pivot bolts. Any ideas? Thank you David