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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Thu, May-17-2018, 03:08:00 PM   #1
bmwstephen
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Default Vader Leather Restoration Question

For those of you who restored the napa leather of vaders, for your top coat, did you guys use a matt finish or semi-matt finish? I particularly have mulberry color but over the years of body oil has given it a gloss sheen so I don't know what the original finish looked like?
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Old Thu, May-17-2018, 03:39:27 PM   #2
Earthwormjlm
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

If you're doing a full restoration, the coat should be in two stages, color and top coat. It's a lot of work to do a proper job, don't half ass it up by going with the cheaper single stage products.

Furniture clinic makes a nice kit. You can send them a sample of your undamaged leather if you want to match things up too. A small piece from underneath the seats would work.

I suggest using an air brush, a small one that model builders use would be OK.

Top coat should be a matte finish. There is zero gloss in the OEM leather. Any shine, is from whatever you or previous owners used to detail the leather.
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Old Thu, May-17-2018, 03:56:17 PM   #3
bmwstephen
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

Thanks! Actually using the furniture clinic kit now
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Old Thu, May-17-2018, 05:24:43 PM   #4
wgknestrick
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwstephen View Post
For those of you who restored the napa leather of vaders, for your top coat, did you guys use a matt finish or semi-matt finish? I particularly have mulberry color but over the years of body oil has given it a gloss sheen so I don't know what the original finish looked like?
Double check the condition of all the leather pieces. In my situation, the rear headrests were completely UV damaged and shrunk terribly on the back...so were the outside legs of the front headrests. The leather got really dry and ruined after closer inspection. My rear headrest covers had to be cut off they shrunk so much around the foam....like a good 1" shorter across the rear panel.

The original leather on my covers was incredibly soft and matte finish underneath the front seat backs (where it was protected). I imagine my original covers were once refinished and were cracking pretty noticeably. I was amazed at the difference between the sheltered leather and the exposed leather feel.

I am of the opinion, that just about all original leather covers are shot at this point unless they've been garaged for most of their life. I was also able to stop all the squeaking after greasing, steam the foam back to original form, and paint the rusted mounting brackets.
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Old Tue, May-22-2018, 06:50:01 AM   #5
trading10
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

Refinishing dove grey vaders using scratchwizard's repair kit - water based in aerosol can. Color is good, but my inexperience with re-dyeing and working with filler shows. I've had to sand down filler that was visible after applying the dye. Spraying the dye is fairly easy, but finding the right number of coats and how much to apply with each coat so that you end up with even coverage - that is harder than you might think.

I refinished the passenger seat first because it was the least damaged of the two, and required no filler, just sanding to take out most of the imperfections. I left a few crinkle lines in it to keep some character, and a 1" long deep scratch made by our dearly loved cat, Chewy who passed away this time last year. I left his scratch to commemorate his memory. So, that's my extra little story. Maybe your car has a mark of a fond memory too.

My suggestion would be to spray very light coats, and note how much is left in the can before you go crazy with 7 coats and run out before even coverage is achieved. Had to go buy a few more cans of dye. I started refinishing the drivers side, which was really trashed in the bolster as you would expect, but also in other places all over the seat. I went heavy this time with the dye and got even coverage after 3-4 coats with some scuffing with 3M scuff pad in between to get better adhesion. That was a mistake because it went on too thick and still showed the filler marks in spite of heaving sanding to get it level with the surface. When I thought I was all done, just one last coat on the drivers side bolster and then I ran out of dye. Just 6" of leather to cover, and it would have looked just OK. Not great, but I could live with it even though I'm OCD about such things normally. Well, not so fast, I found a couple of crack in the bolster and realized I was going to have to sand it down again and purchase some more dye. Right now, the driver's seat is the last piece to finish - rear seats came out fantastic, and passenger side looks fantastic too, though the surface isn't quite as smooth as I expected. I think this is due to airborne particles, possibly from using a hair drier for curing that might have stirred up dust on the garage floor. Anyway, make sure you have a ultra clean environment to prevent that from happening. Scuffing the leather first with their special chemical solution is critically important. Preparation is the overall key. Tape off everything with painters blue masking tape - it won't lift any color off the M3 stripes on the seat. Believe me, if you don't do these things I'm talking about, you'll soon regret it.

Others with more experience with using filler should chime in here to share tips and tricks. Like many of you, I did a lot of research on different 'repair kits', and scratchwizard is what I ended up going with. They happen to be a local business, so I was able to go there and have them color match the dye to the dove gray interior. I had him go slightly brighter (he added a little bit of red to do that), which really pops against the estoril blue exterior color. My seats were faded, so this little tweak to the color looks amazing. Too bad my skills in refinishing leave a lot to be desired, but maybe you can take what I've learned and avoid the same pitfalls.

If my driver's seat comes out halfway decent, I'll be ecstatic about the whole project. Don't think you'll finish this up in a few hours. I've spend several days over a few weeks time to do mine. Lots of elbow grease is needed, and if you're like me, the side benefit is that your shoulders and back muscles will get much stronger. Back is seriously sore, so place the seat up high on a table or something so you aren't hunched over while prepping the surface like I did. Don't feel my pain if you can avoid it.

Post if you want to know more or need additional details for your own project.
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Old Tue, May-22-2018, 12:18:27 PM   #6
wgknestrick
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

After seeing how "rich" feeling the leather was where it was hidden from the sun(and use) on my covers, I have a hard believing the respraying can ever come close to the original feel of the leather. It's probably a good solution for those just trying to quick fix it, but it sure seems like a lot of labor.
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Old Fri, May-25-2018, 12:19:05 AM   #7
trading10
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

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Originally Posted by wgknestrick View Post
After seeing how "rich" feeling the leather was where it was hidden from the sun(and use) on my covers, I have a hard believing the respraying can ever come close to the original feel of the leather. It's probably a good solution for those just trying to quick fix it, but it sure seems like a lot of labor.

It's a $200 fix vs $600 new skins that might not fit very well. You are right about the texture and look of a re-dye. It does have a slightly different feel, though leather conditioner has helped, especially considering I took off the top layer so absorption is possible. Otherwise conditioners just sit on top of the factory finish. It was recommended to use nothing more than mild soapy water to clean the leather after re-dyeing it. Not sure why unless it's more fragile than factory.

You are also right about the project involving a lot of labor. It definitely takes many hours. If my time was worth anything, I'd opt for the new skins if they look like factory skins. There was site someone mentioned in another thread that makes skins that are supposed to be as close as you can get to factory fit and finish. Their price is $299 for the front seats, and $299 for the back seat. Anyone have success replacing skins?
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Old Fri, May-25-2018, 01:24:44 AM   #8
bmwstephen
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

my motivation for this is not about the ability to get reupholstered material because that can be easily done $800 from autoberry for new skins that are as close to oem match is not bad.

That being said, I am trying to retain as much of the original material as possible. I have yet to run across an upholsterer with the same exact match of nappa grade leather or color that matches my original mulberry seats.

Furniture clinic is my best bet. Their color match is the best I have seen to the point where I am able to spot blend worn color areas on my existing mulberry leather. Its to the point where it took years off the leather wear. Now granted the goal is to make sure it matches with the rear seats and resembles some years of use.

It makes no sense for me to get brand new upholstery because my next step would be respraying the car and making everything else look as if it just rolled off the factory floor.
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Old Fri, May-25-2018, 11:20:05 PM   #9
trading10
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwstephen View Post
It makes no sense for me to get brand new upholstery because my next step would be respraying the car and making everything else look as if it just rolled off the factory floor.
I share your sentiments. I mentioned above that I decided to leave a few minor wrinkles/creases so the seats look appropriate for 19 yr old car. To go totally perfect, at least to me, is like tooth whitening when someone overdoes it and ends up with day-glow teeth, like Ross on Friends if you remember that episode.
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Old Fri, May-25-2018, 11:38:28 PM   #10
bmwstephen
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Default Re: Vader Leather Restoration Question

Btw all-secret to applying leather paint on touch up areas is using makeup sponges. Creates the near perfect blend with little no streaking to the surrounding area. For once I learned something from my wife that can be useful for automotive use!
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Discussing Are there any steering shaft extensions (cabin side) to get the wheel towards driver? in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)