Last month, we left off with the reupholstering of our '53 Buick Roadmaster seat backs. (See www.southernwheels.com and click the Archives button to read Part I.) This month, we will conclude with door panels, kick pads, robe rails and seat surrounds.
We chose to stay true to the original design on our door panels. On the Roadmaster, they are made up of three panels. The top is red leather with 1" channels; the middle is black leather with an extended arm rest and red leather piping, and the bottom is black carpet. We had the original panels to reference for design details. These were disassembled, the materials steamed to eliminate wrinkles, then laid flat to get exact measurements for making the new panels. We also duplicated the fawn thread that was used between each channel, copying the exact stitch length. New patterns were cut to match the original panels, all work being done by Sylvia's Upholstery as mentioned in Part I. She made paper templates from the original pieces, then laid the paper down smoothly onto the new leather, securing it with painter's tape (this tape does not pull or distort the fabric), then she cut out the pattern, numbering each piece in the order of disassembly. Reassembly would then be done in reverse order.
When choosing the door panel boards, Sylvia measured the thickness of our original boards. The thickness must match, or it can cause problems when installing door handles and moldings later on. We chose a 1/4" thick board and cut it about 1/2" oversized all the way around. This gave us a lot of flexibility when we fit the board to the car door, marking the placement for handles, fasteners, etc. We drilled holes and installed our door board mounting clips, but saved the screw holes for later. It will be easier to push them out with an awl after installation. We then traced the panel on the car and cut it to the exact size.
With the new door boards set, Sylvia now sewed up the leather for the top panels, making channels 1" apart using the fawn thread in between. Then the new material was stretched, glued and stapled. The rear quarter panels are a continuation of the front door panels, and were made the same way. We were able to use the original arm rests, which are part of the middle door panels, but are made separately. They would have been difficult to fabricate! They were covered in black leather, using a French seam around them. Red leather piping was used to frame the panel, then the material was stretched, glued and stapled to the door boards. The bottom sections were recovered in a medium-nap, black automotive carpet similar to the original, and glued to the door boards. Finally, all three sections were sewn together to make one panel, and stainless trim strips hide the seams.
The driver's side kick panel was missing on our car, so with a piece of artists cardboard, we made a rough cut out, using the other side as a pattern, then placed that into position on the drivers side, tracing the exact dimensions. The design for the pads was a continuation of the door panel, making the top of the kick pad black leather and the bottom, black carpet. Kick pads and deck mats usually require thinner, 1/16" backing boards, allowing them to be slid under trim channels, etc. The leather and carpet were sewn together, then glued to the backing board, the edges sewn all around to keep it all intact during installation.
The deck mat was done using the same board, covered in red leather to match the original headliner, stretching it and gluing down, wrapping the edges of the leather under. This left the seat surrounds and robe railings.
The seat surrounds being plastic, were faced and worn. We decided to cover them in our red leather. Odell suggested rough-cutting an oversized piece of material, then removing the center piece of stainless, then applying spray adhesive to the surround and backside of the material, letting the glue become tackybefore putting the two together ONLY where the stainless strip would go. With this done, we put the stainless strip back on, giving us a point from which we could pull the material. We pulled the material tight to the top of the surround, then the bottom, then side to side, continuing all the way around until all of the wrinkles had been smoothed out. Our efforts produced a smooth finish that matched the interior, and only needed our new Fisher Bodytag to make it complete.
Our robe rail were last. They were made by cutting a piece of red leather to length, about 2 1/2" wide, then folded wrong side out and stitched along the long edge and across one end. This was turned right side out and slipped over the original cord, which completed our interior! Our thanks to Sylvia and Odell Hancock at Sylvia's Upholstery!
Watch for the installation of our new interior in future issues. See you next month, and keep 'em driving!