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Old Mon, Apr-09-2012, 03:02:24 AM   #1
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Default 99 Estoril on Sand Beige - Front Vader Leather Replacement

This is my procedure for fixing the Sand Beige leather seats in my newly-acquired Estoril.
I bought this Estoril M3/2/5 on March 12th of this year. I couldn't resist the color combo on LTWs. With 155k on the clock, many problems existed. The worst of it, after a few months of refreshing, turned out to be obvious. The interior.

This seat had been redone once before. It is a thick leather. Maybe thick leather is bad and it looked like vinyl. It had to go.

A hole on the left side? Typically it's on the right. The PO had a slipper dog.

There were dog hairs everywhere. That little bastard did this. It rode up front too. NO PETS ALLOWED.

After seeing Leatherique in person, I didn't want to sit on shiny cardboard, so that was OUT. Sanding and painting sounds like body work, not leather.

So the search for real leather began. Since the dash was black, I could have found some black vaders and been done, but the build sheet under the back seats said Estoril (335M) on Sand Beige (N5SN), so I had to stick with that if I wanted this car to be worth something in 10 years.

Here are the SAMPLES I had to work with.
BMW Nappa (sheep) Sand Beige N5SN - No Longer Available NLA
BMW Montana (cow) Sand Beige P8SN - Found some $20 donor seats for the rear seat tear. #837 - Slightly thinner, slightly more texture, slightly lighter color of the correct shade. $861 shipped
Global Upholstery BM 1740 - Fair color but texture too heavy. Bottom too furry. $2,100+
GAHH #0515 - Fair color but texture too heavy. $2,300+
(prices based on complete front seats only)
After all the samples arrived, I made my decision. at 877.767.1300 for $761 shipped. Thanks Dave!

Wire cutters (for hog rings)
Hog Ring pliers $12 on Ebay
Scissors $8 at JoAnn fabrics
25 torx screwdriver
Pliers of all kinds $8 at Kragen
Staple gun G50 $20 at HomeDepot
Small hammer
Leather hole punch $9 at HomeDepot
The Bostitch P7 ring stapler is a nice idea, but you can't reach into the crevices. You have to use the hog ring pliers to squeeze down in those tight places.

Leather skins (already made by AutoBerry)
Polyfil for quilting (has glue in it)
Light polyester fabric
11/16" galvanized hog rings from
T50 staples for the headrest
1/4" JoAnn fabrics foam headliner

First, remove the seats from the car. (4) 16mm bolts
Un-screw the seat bottom. (2 small torx screws towards front)
Un-screw the back cover. (2 small torx screws at bottom back)
Pop off side levers and covers with large screwdriver.

Un-hook the back leather from the hooks on the seat frame.
Un-hook the leather from the seat bottom removed from above.

Shown here is the original polyfil layer on the 14yr old foam bottom. The holes are where the hog rings go. If you look closely, you can see some of the leather stuck to the Polyfil. At JoAnn Fabrics, I found some Polyfil that is for quilting. Quilting means it has glue in it so light ironing (with steam) will get 2 pieces of fabric on each side to stick. Since my weight and sweat will be on it, I felt no need to get out the iron. The hog rings hold the materials in place anyway.

I used the original Polyfil as a template for the new stuff.

Fish the wires back in from the old seat covers. I straightened them out by hand first. Nice strong spring steel. These are the wires that have to be ringed to the wires embedded in the foam in the seats. Making them straight helps the final look appear slightly more sorted.

I bought 11/16" wide, 16 guage hog rings. Any heavier guage and they get too hard to cut off when you make mistakes. Any larger and they don't wrap the 2 wires close enough.
I wore latex gloves to keep the leather clean. I wear them anyway because washing my hands lot so I don't have to wash my hands either.
Putting in some rings took upwards of 10 minutes each. You squeeze and release, only to find you missed joining the wires. Cut and fish out the old ring and try again.

I also used a light polyester fabric layer to protect the foam (only on my seat and back surfaces). I saw this used on the rear side bolsters when I tore some old seats apart.

Hog ringing is a process where you start in the middle and work out. Do the ribs first, then the sides. The sports seats were obviously more work because of the 3 ribs. The non-sport seats would be quicker and probably have less wear overall.

This is before I punched the holes for the hooks on the bottom.

This step is critical in how tight or loose the leather will be. I pulled/wrapped the leather up and against the hook, marked where I wanted the hole to be, then punched the final hole with a leather punch. Then pulled the leather over the hook. The crucial thing is this. If the hole is too far/tight, you can punch again to loosen it. If the hole is not far enough or loose, you are screwed. You can't relocate the hole to tighten it! Choose wisely.

In this picture, the 3 ribs are loose. I have since added some foam in them but the wires embedded in the foam were no longer embedded well. More foam will not fix it but rather make it pillowy. The fix here is to find a new BMW OEM foam base. If I ever find another, I'll redo it. If you have non-sport seats (no ribs), you can still find the base foam 52-1-08-122-076 at for $110 shipped.

The driver's seat bottom on the left is with the new BMW OEM foam. The old one is with original foam, padded extra in some areas. I have since added some foam to the passenger ribs.
If I could have found foam for both seats, I would have. I found the new foam from a Nick at BMW-Honda in IL. The only set I could find in the US.

The right side has new a new foam back. The left does not. They don't look much different yet. Therefore, new foam on the bottom makes the most difference. Once it is stretched over the seat frame, it will be much tighter, of course.

As you can see, the headrests have the wrinkle at the bend.

The passenger bottom was lacking foam in the ribs, so I supplemented that shown here. It helped a bit, but not great. I really would need to spend a month finding 2 dozen different foam densities and thicknesses and foam adhesives. That could yield better results.

The driver's seat.

Driver's seat installed.

Back seat. I bought donor leather back seats in BMW Montana Sand Beige for $20. It cost another $40 to have Francisco DeVille sew it in.

Driver's seat.

Passenger side.

Passenger seat.

Overall, I think I did better than average. 20 hours of labor preceeded by 20 hours of research.
Getting the seats to look like factory originals is not possible. The foam gets beaten down and is not readily available anymore. If you do find foam, buy just the bottom. Also, the leather samples are all different. Pick what you can live with.
How it looks in the end.....
The pillow effect is from supplemental foam or polyfil on the bolsters. The alternative is to leave it baggy with wrinkles. Pillows or wrinkles or somewhere in between.
Sure, maybe the leather could be cut and sewn to accommodate worn foam cushions or you can stretch the leather more or less, but you can't wrap new leather on old foam and expect it to look crisp. AutoBerry is smart to laser-cut the pieces to original size. The wrinkles could be heat-shrunk, which can be done after all is done. I think I'll let wait for a warm day in the sun first.
761 front cover set
60 rear seat fix
261 new driver's seat foam (good luck finding more!)
100 in tools and materials
1282 Total

96 Boston on Grey 2dr - Sold 10.28.17 Benny and Suad
98 TiSilver on Black 4dr - Sold 7.19.17 Jono driving it
97 Byzanz on Magma 4dr - Sold 7.7.17 Jerad in CO
98 Estoril on Grey 4dr - Sold 9.23.13 Garrett driving it
98 Arctic on Grey 4dr - Sold 3.18.13 Brandon driving it
98 Estoril on Grey 2dr - Sold 8.6.12 Thy sold it
99 Estoril on Sand 2dr - Sold 7.31.12 Eric modding it
98 Arctic on Grey 2dr - Sold 3.10.12 Kyle driving it
96 Techno on Black 2dr-Sold 6.13.09 Ross totaled it

Last edited by egebhardt; Tue, May-01-2012 at 10:28:03 PM.
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