Saturday, February 20, 2016

Corvette Seat Bolster

The leather covering the drivers seat bolster started to crack last summer, so I decided to replace the seat back leather this winter while the car was parked. Its not an uncommon problem with how the seat is shaped and how you enter the car. Its also fairly easy to replace, the seat took about 15 minutes to remove from the car and another 15 minutes to remove the covering. What I didn't count on was the seat back bolster area being broken. The drivers seat always felt different to me than the passenger side. I always put that off to it being adjusted differently or a different amount of air in the bolsters. Seeing how it was broken now explains why it felt so differently.

The structure of the seat is made of some form of  Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP). The bolster ear broke off right where the fiber ended. The holes in the material were put there by me as part of my repair. A new seat back structure was close to $300.00 and would have no reason not to break in the same manner. I could not find any conclusive information on repairing the FRP so I decided to sandwich the FRP between two metal plates.

 On the inside I had to sand some of the stiffening ridges smooth, the plate going on this side was thin tool steel to aid with the rigidity without adding a lot of thickness. The plate on the outside was 0.187" thick and I tapped the holes for the fasteners.

This shot shows the stainless fasteners going through the tool steel plate on the inside of the seat. The white piece folded back is some type of mylar that protects the the bolster air bag..

This shot shows the fasteners threaded into the outer plate, because the area is not totally flat I cut the plate bent it as needed and welded it back together. Once everything was clamped together I was able to determine the correct length of fasteners to use, (much shorter than those pictured).

 The foam on the seatback was splitting where it went over the bolster, to help prevent this from happening more I split a piece of clear tubing and routed it over the edge of the seat. I also used some 3M adhesive to repair the areas of foam that did start to split, once that dried I used some old denim to reinforce the opening around the foam.

Strangely enough now the seat feels like the passenger seat. If my repair fails now I probably wont look to replace the seat back, there are a few reasonable aftermarket seats out there with far less problems than these have.

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