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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:50 am 
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Location: Southern San Joaquin Valley, California
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After looking at these butt ugly yellow and red seats on my shop shelf for the past four years, it’s now time to tackle prepping them for refurb. The metal work and paint is done and I’m scheduled with Autobahn first of August. Tony said I could expedite the upholstery process if I wanted to disassemble the seats, clean up the springs and shoot some primer and Rustoleum on them.
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I took the hinges off and had them and the large, oval-head slotted machine screws re-plated a couple years ago, so I’ll just pull the old upholstery off and clean-up the springs. Looks simple from the bottom…
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Lots of hand stitching to get that distinctive crease in the seat bottom.
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Not too bad for 64-year old frames. Lots of upholstery tack holes; mortise & tenon joints are a bit loose; a few age splits and most of the screw holes for rail mounting are half-filled with wood putty (never a good sign).
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:03 am 
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Location: Southern San Joaquin Valley, California
(part 2)
Original captive nut technique – primitive but effective.
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…and the first bit of trivia: the whole chassis number is inscribed with red lumber crayon on the bottom side of the wood frames – not just the last two or last three digits. Definitely the original frames!
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Looks like the car made before mine had green upholstery.
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A quick phone call to Ted Capps in Washington confirmed he has made these frames in the past and he has a pattern from a ’57 T1 car. I forge ahead with renewed confidence that my seat frames will last as long as the rest of the restored car.
Disassembly of the seat backs is much less dramatic. The frames are all steel, and there is much more bolstering installed in the springs. These seats were reupholstered in the ‘70s by the PO, so it’s hard to know what was original or not.
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The metal seat frames were sand blasted clean, primered and sprayed with Krylon rust proof paint; reattached to the wood seat frames and shipped off to Ted in Washington.
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The original springs showed signs of some surface rust, but were otherwise in great condition. I found only one spring that was broken and Tony at Autobahn said he regularly welds these back together rather than replacing.
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Jim Smith at Smith Engineering in Bakersfield made me aware of this product a few years back. It’s basically a mild HCL solution and great for rust removal - $7 per gallon at Smart & Final stores.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:13 am 
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Location: Southern San Joaquin Valley, California
(part 3)
Using a 24” x 24” plastic storage container the springs are soaked for 2 hours then flipped and soaked for another 2 hours.
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The springs were thoroughly rinsed with fresh water and the acid solution was stabilized with aerosol brake cleaner.
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A coat of primer and two coats of Krylon top coat were then applied.
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This logo is stamped on each of the corner pieces of the frame assemblies. It is somewhat similar to a Bosch logo & must be the symbol of the company who made spring assemblies for the factory. Anyone recognize this?
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And the final bit of trivia – why are there four weld nuts on the seatback frames when the early non-reclining and later reclining hinges each used only three machine screws? Maybe if they hadn’t wasted so much on weld nuts we could’ve had two horns on ’53 cars =)
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:21 am 
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Location: Southern San Joaquin Valley, California
(part 4)
I cannot say enough good things about the extraordinary craftsmanship of Ted Capps. Ted has made top bows for both my cabs, the rear tack strip for this ’53 and the wood mailslot window frame.
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There is no dimensional difference between the pre-A frame and the later T1 frame. The new seat frames are perfect and identical to the original frames with a few exceptions: the captive nuts are secured with epoxy rather than upholstery tacks; the rear piece is 9/16” thick rather than ½” for a little added strength and the metal frame is attached with brass wood screws rather than steel. My original frames only had captive nuts for the rail attachment in the front positions. The T1 frame that Ted reproduced a few years ago had nuts & 5mm machine screws front and back of each rail. Tony told me all the seats he’s seen had front & rear captive nuts (in 30-years that’s gotta’ be pushing 1,000 or more), so Ted installed captive nuts in the front and rear of the new frames.
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Last edited by Spencer Harris on Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:30 am 
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(part 5 - check your local listings for the HBO mini-series)
The rails fit perfectly with new 5mm screws…
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and the seat springs are a precise fit.
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I plan to mount the rail supports and tunnel rails to the car before drilling the middle holes and completing the rail mounting to the frames, but I’m confident there will be no issues.
I’ve committed to having Ted make a wooden-hull Kettenburg 40 for me when I get my car projects finished.
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In the meantime you can contact him here if you need superior quality top bows or seat frames made for your 356:
Unique Woodcraft by Ted Capps
Camano Island, Washington
tedcapps@earthlink.net

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 2:20 pm 
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Great work, Spencer !! George

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:46 am 
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Wow Spencer. Thank you.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:32 pm 
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Cool, and there's ole' 60441!

I didn't mention that I gave my original frames to Ted for his collection of patterns. Much as I'd like to somehow display them with the chassis number, I'd rather him have them to help save another 356.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:53 pm 
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Wow Spencer! Really nice work. Ted's woodcraft is excellent, and your attention to detail is great too. Thanks for sharing all the detailed photos.

You'll have noticed that the steel springs are brass or copper plated, just like the fuel lines on our cars. Does the HCl solution remove the plating as well as the rust? I guess it's good that you painted everything afterwards. They really cleaned up nicely!

As for those captured nuts on the seat backs...

Spencer Harris wrote:
And the final bit of trivia – why are there four weld nuts on the seatback frames when the early non-reclining and later reclining hinges each used only three machine screws? Maybe if they hadn’t wasted so much on weld nuts we could’ve had two horns on ’53 cars =)


The 1952 through mid-1954 seats came as reclining or non-reclining. The non-reclining used the boomerang-shaped hinge, and were often on the driver's side for USA-delivery cars. The boomerang hinges attach to the seat back in the lower three nuts. The recliners (both Reutter and Keiper) attach on the the upper 3 captured nuts. All hinges have the same spacing between attachment screws.

In mid-1954, recliners became standard on all seats, so the lower set of captured nuts went away. Though the boomerangs came back on the Conv D and roadster seats.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:06 am 
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James,
Figured there was a good reason for the extra weld-nuts on the seatback frames. My seats (Euro delivery) had the non-reclining boomerang hinges on both seats. The hinges and bolts plated out nicely, and I can't wait to see them against red leather.
After the HCL cleaning a lot of the copper plating was evident. I think the HCL solution only affected the iron oxide as the springs that were rusted were clean steel and the ones that had little or no rust were shiny copper color. I was very attentive when soaking the springs for fear of leaving them too long and finding a pile of dust in my soaking tray!
I installed the rails and frames last weekend to confirm the fit, and everything's perfect. I also managed to get the door glasses installed - multiple times on both sides.
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