Repairing/replacing seat covers?

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cory58
Posts: 155
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 8:49 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC

Repairing/replacing seat covers?

Post by cory58 »

My E12 has black vinyl seats. The only things letting down the otherwise exceptional interior are the typical headliner glue stains and a small hole in the driver seat bottom cover. I want to fix the seat cover hole and am trying to decide on the best solution.

1. Can covers be removed and reinstalled on original 1977 horsehair cushions without them completely disintegrating? I see restoration shows where they reshape old cushions with pieces of new foam or create full new cushions from foam that match the original shape. Has anyone here done anything like that on an E12? World Upholstery can sometimes source replacement horsehair bottom seat cushions from Europe, but the price is outrageous. Has anyone purchased a seat cushion bottom from them (or another source)?
2. Has anyone purchased the replacement "OEM vinyl" from reputable places like World Upholstery? Is it a close enough match to just replace one piece of an original cover?
3. One E30 trick is to find a good condition passenger suite and just move the cushions to a driver seat frame, because the cushions are interchangeable. Is that possible on an E12 (I would only need the bottom cushion)? Are there even passenger seats out there anymore with almost perfect vinyl?

Any other ideas or guidance would also be appreciated!

Thanks, Cory
1977 530i
1988 320i Touring (euro)
1992 325i Cabrio
2000 M5
2015 328i (wife's daily)
HB528i
Posts: 111
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:53 pm
Location: Huntington Beach

Re: Repairing/replacing seat covers?

Post by HB528i »

The C pillars can be painted with SEM Ranger White vinyl paint after careful masking, I did this on my 79 and you can’t tell the difference.
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Robert Bondi
Posts: 362
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 12:33 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Repairing/replacing seat covers?

Post by Robert Bondi »

I just did an entire seat restoration using World UPH front and back seat kits in pearl beige. I bet it looks a little different to just do one piece, unless you do both sides for symmetry. Another trick if it's just color is get the new vinyl have someone vinyl dye match to your existing....that also turned out surprisingly well from a professional.

I basically determined finding original pads is a lost cause. I was determined to throw out all the horse hair, but my local seat guy advised keeping all the old cushions, adding some foam as needed, then encapulating it all in whatever adhesive he uses when building with foam. Keeping the original cushions helps with both shape and the right firmess (I've seen both too soft and too hard from foam replicas). The adhesive encapsulation strategy seems pretty effective in stopping the external disintegration issues and eliminating smell (again probably by just locking it all in there). Time will tell how long it holds up, but good solutions are certainly decreasing as this stuff is getting so old.


Robert

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cory58 wrote: Wed Feb 14, 2024 6:04 pm My E12 has black vinyl seats. The only things letting down the otherwise exceptional interior are the typical headliner glue stains and a small hole in the driver seat bottom cover. I want to fix the seat cover hole and am trying to decide on the best solution.

1. Can covers be removed and reinstalled on original 1977 horsehair cushions without them completely disintegrating? I see restoration shows where they reshape old cushions with pieces of new foam or create full new cushions from foam that match the original shape. Has anyone here done anything like that on an E12? World Upholstery can sometimes source replacement horsehair bottom seat cushions from Europe, but the price is outrageous. Has anyone purchased a seat cushion bottom from them (or another source)?
2. Has anyone purchased the replacement "OEM vinyl" from reputable places like World Upholstery? Is it a close enough match to just replace one piece of an original cover?
3. One E30 trick is to find a good condition passenger suite and just move the cushions to a driver seat frame, because the cushions are interchangeable. Is that possible on an E12 (I would only need the bottom cushion)? Are there even passenger seats out there anymore with almost perfect vinyl?

Any other ideas or guidance would also be appreciated!

Thanks, Cory
Robert
77 530i
77 Euro 528
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Mike W.
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Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2006 12:12 am
Location: Sonoma County

Re: Repairing/replacing seat covers?

Post by Mike W. »

I am emphatically not an upholsterer, but I've done a bunch of seat work. One thing in particular is repadding. I hate that blasted horsehair, aside from it always falling apart to me it's not very comfortable. So I've used foam, a variety of foam in a variety of places. It is hard to get it not to show the lines, but possible and it's much more comfortable to me. And my back like a different shape than BMW does so I've repadded the back to even if it didn't appear that bad.

On the vinyl, how big is the hole? There are vinyl glues and fillers if it's really small. Or consider taking it off and taking it to an upholsterer to have just the cushion vinyl replaced.
Mike W.



1980 528i, 3.5 euro, 5 speed conversion
1981 528i, 3.6, Recaros and more. Project
1998 328is, quick and efficient, but not satisfying
2000 528iit, Vacation mobile/wife's grocery getter
cory58
Posts: 155
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 8:49 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC

Re: Repairing/replacing seat covers?

Post by cory58 »

Thank you all for the replies! I plan to take the seat to a local upholstery shop that I've used before and get their opinion.

Cory
1977 530i
1988 320i Touring (euro)
1992 325i Cabrio
2000 M5
2015 328i (wife's daily)
cory58
Posts: 155
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 8:49 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC

Re: Repairing/replacing seat covers?

Post by cory58 »

Looks like BMW made a run of bottom seat cushions (part 52101841381). They're not cheap, but ECS says they can get one in 2 days. Schmiedmann is my go to resource to determine if obscure parts are truly available. They can supposedly get one in 20 days.
1977 530i
1988 320i Touring (euro)
1992 325i Cabrio
2000 M5
2015 328i (wife's daily)
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