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Swamp Witch
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6,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, this is what I did yesterday afternoon. Some of you already know about my seat saga for my CB100. Well, long story short, I got replacement foam and cover shipped to me to put on a stock CB100 seat base. This is the second seat I've reupholstered, and I'm posting what I did here because I see a lot of badly done seats, and there's really no reason for it. With a little patience, effort and some common hand tools you can do this yourself and achieve professional results. Believe me, if I can do it, you can do it! :)

Tools needed:

small screwdriver
needlenose pliers or dikes (wire cutters)
putty knife or plastic chisel (I used a plastic chisel)
medium or fine Scotchbrite or synthetic steel wool
spray adhesive (I used and prefer 3M Super 77)
staplegun with 1/4"-3/8" staples. An electric or pneumatic staple gun will make things a lot easier.
hairdryer or steamer
a small ball peen hammer for pushing down the barbs

I'm trying to keep all of the stock parts for my CB100, since it's all original, so the seat I used for this project is actually a reproduction seat:


I got this seat brand new for only $50, and it was almost a shame to take it apart since it was made so well.

What you need to do first is remove the cover. On old Hondas (I don't know about other makes), the cover is held on by small triangular barbs that are punched out of the seat base. You will need to carefully pry each of these up with a screwdriver and/or pliers so that you can slip the cover off. Or, if you don't care about the cover, just pull the edge of the cover so that the barbs tear the cover off. On seats that are stapled, you'll do essentially the same thing: pry off the staples holding the cover on using a screwdriver and/or pliers. Make sure you get all of the staples out!

Once you have the cover off, you'll need to get the seat foam off the seat pan. I used a plastic chisel and carefully scraped off the foam from the sides first, then worked the plastic chisel underneath the foam on the top of the seat until I was able to pry it all off. Once that's done, you will need to get as much of the foam residue off of the seat as possible. I did this by using the plastic chisel to scrape the majority of it off, then used the Scotchbrite to clean off the rest. This is what your seat base should look like when you're done:



Now that you have a clean seat base, you'll need to apply the new foam to it. Spray the seat base with your spray adhesive, then carefully position the new foam on it and press it into place.



Of course, it wouldn't be a day in the garage without an injury for me, so here's some band-aid porn for you:



Now comes the most critical parts of the project: getting the cover on straight and without wrinkles. Vintage seat covers like this one often have a vinyl edge sewn onto the cover. You want the seam to be at the edge of or slightly under the seat, depending on how stretchy the vinyl is. This vinyl edge is what you'll be pushing onto the barbs or stapling to the seat base. See photo below (enlarged for detail):



There is an order you need to put the cover on: first we start with the ends, then one side, then the other side. You can start with either end first, it doesn't matter. I started with the back of the seat since it seemed like that's where I had the least extra material to work with. Warm up the vinyl briefly with your hairdryer or steamer on the area you're working with. This will make the vinyl more compliant so you can stretch it well and get it nice and smooth. You will want to pull the center of the back/front snug first and immediately hook it on the barb or staple it into place. From there, you will evenly pull and hook/staple the vinyl on both sides of your center, working your way towards the outside until you have one entire end snugly fitted. To push the barbs back down I used a small ball peen hammer and gently tapped them until they were flat. Be very careful while doing this as you could potentially mar (or worse) the vinyl on the other side of the seat that's resting against your table or workbench.


This is actually the side of the seat, but it shows what I mean.

Once you have one end of the seat done, you're going to move to the other end of the seat and repeat what you did. Right now, both sides of the seat should not be hooked/stapled until after both ends are nice and snug and fully hooked/stapled. Once both ends are finished, you will start on one side. It doesn't matter which side you start with, just pick one. Just like before, heat up the vinyl a little, then pull and hook/staple the center-most spot on the side. Once you do that, work your way towards both ends from that center point, alternating between sides to pull it all evenly. By the time you are done with one side, you should not have any wrinkles at all on the front, back and the side you just worked on. If you do have wrinkles, you need to re-do that area. Here's what my seat looked like with the three sides done. If you look closely, you can see that the side towards the wall still needs to be done:



Now you'll just repeat the same process for the other side until everything is nice and tight and unwrinkled. Make sure you've bent all the barbs flat, or if you have staples, it wouldn't hurt to check to make sure all of the staples are in fully. You can tap them in with the hammer if need be. Here's what the underside of the seat base will look like when you're done:



Unfortunately for me, there were some small indentations/imperfections in the seat foam, which showed up after I had the seat cover on. Note that these are not wrinkles; they are in the foam itself, not the vinyl. I'm hoping that with time and maybe some warm weather these will smooth out:



And here's what it looks like finished and installed on the bike:



If you have any questions about the process, feel free to ask! :)
 

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Swamp Witch
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6,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks! :D The foam and cover were sent to me together, so I didn't have to do any foam shaping...although it could definitely use some foam on the lower part of the sides, but it's not noticeable. If you want to do your own foam from scratch, you need to use firm open-cell foam, which is designed for upholstery purposes like this. If it's too soft, it won't hold its shape and will be non-supportive and uncomfortable.
 

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Swamp Witch
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6,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good work!

FYI, Sargent sells blocks of their Atomic seat foam in 2 different sizes, for about $20. You have to shape it yourself though.
Nice! I didn't know that. Oh I forgot to mention that over the firm open cell foam, you can put a thin layer of softer open cell foam to smooth it out and make it look nice nice before putting the cover on.
 

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V4's FTW
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10,494 Posts
Nice! I didn't know that. Oh I forgot to mention that over the firm open cell foam, you can put a thin layer of softer open cell foam to smooth it out and make it look nice nice before putting the cover on.
Cotton batting works well for that too. :thumbsup:
 

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Perpetual Project
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3,695 Posts
Good thread Phebe, I need to re-do my seat for the bandit here soon. Unfortunately I can't get a pre cut/sewn cover for mine, have to do that from scratch.

A good tip to add is to let your seat cover material sit in the sun or in front of an open oven before you put it on. The heat makes it a bit more persuadable and more likely to stretch at tough spots instead of wrinkle.
 

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Swamp Witch
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6,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good thread Phebe, I need to re-do my seat for the bandit here soon. Unfortunately I can't get a pre cut/sewn cover for mine, have to do that from scratch.

A good tip to add is to let your seat cover material sit in the sun or in front of an open oven before you put it on. The heat makes it a bit more persuadable and more likely to stretch at tough spots instead of wrinkle.
Yes, putting the cover out in the sun is preferable (that's how I did my first seat), but it was a crappy day out, so I used the hairdryer and it worked well.
 

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Swamp Witch
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6,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Of course, nothing ever seems to go perfectly for me. The rear bracket on the repro seat that I used as the base for this cafe seat is not only about an inch too wide, it is positioned too far back. So, I had to make a new one. I just used a piece of dumpster-salvaged steel, a t-square, a jigsaw, a file, my little bending brake and my drill press and presto...a new bracket. The bracket and the bare spot on the seat base are in the process of being painted right now.


 

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Swamp Witch
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6,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good thread Phebe, I need to re-do my seat for the bandit here soon. Unfortunately I can't get a pre cut/sewn cover for mine, have to do that from scratch.
Btw, Candyman (and anyone else that needs to make their own cover from scratch) make sure you use vinyl that has 4-way stretch. You can tell this by pulling on the vinyl while it's still on the roll. It should stretch both in length and in width. If it doesn't, don't use it, because it won't work right for upholstery.
 

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Swamp Witch
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6,239 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Why would one want to use open cell foam rather than closed cell like neoprene?

Nice work, by the way.
Thank you! Actually, you can use closed-cell foam on areas where you would like additional stiffness, but you still need to cover it with open-cell foam. The reason why is because if you don't, the cover will not come out smooth. Or I guess if you wanted a really thin seat you can use closed-cell foam, cover it with a thin layer of open cell, and it'll smooth it out for the cover.

I know some people just throw a slab of closed cell foam on their seat pans and call it a day too.
 

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lb/hp is what it's about!
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10,448 Posts
My plan was to use ~3/8" closed cell as the base of the cushion and I figured 2"-2.5" of open cell on top of that with cotton batting covering it all up. My seat vinyl will also have to be custom but since the shape of the seat will be so simple I'm actually thinking about taking the seat base to a local upholstery shop to get a quote for them to do everything. It would save me time and frustration and they can easily do fancy designs in the seat cover which would be a bit harder for me. We'll see...
 

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Fast ZX-12R
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17,522 Posts
Great job on the seat.
 
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fail-o-matic
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3,913 Posts
nice work on the seat and an awesome write-up.. +rep

also this should probably be posted in the DIY section too :)

-Jeff
 
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