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Thread: Lseat.com seat skins / covers: Review, notes, modifying for heat + ventilation

  1. #1
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Lseat.com seat skins / covers: Review, notes, modifying for heat + ventilation

    This will be a multi-headed thread, but to start, a basic review of the Lseat leather covers from https://www.lseat.com/

    Project Goals
    -Recover seats economically
    -Integrate ventilation and heating pads
    -Control heat/fans using some kind of modern control scheme


    Product
    Leather Color: S002 Dim Grey
    Thread Color: L004 Silver Grey
    Additional Option: Perforated Insert
    Cost: $368 delivered ( February 2018 )


    Background
    I don't have any real background in upholstery. 9 times out of 10 I can't even spell it correctly. I can sew decently.

    Philosophically I like a "little wear" on my car. Maybe the stainless grain isn't perfect, or the paint isn't quite right, or it's just dusty. I feel a little relieved about that first door ding as I can finally relax and enjoy the car.

    I feel the same way about seats and once these seats have some mileage on them, I'll feel better about not spending $1000+. Plus I wasn't sure what kind of creative butchering it might take to make ventilation work (very little actually).


    Initial Impression
    Out of the box these covers really do look pretty good. Honestly when you consider the price they're remarkably good.

    S002 Dim Grey is a super-duper close match to the original grey and the silver thread provides comparable contrast stitching. The leather itself seems fine but I don't know how to grade leather. There is a plush sew foam backing which is good and bad (more about this later).

    The stitching isn't always perfect or parallel but you have to scrutinize closely to tell.

    The Lseat covers are full leather, and include full leather covers for the backer board. The added bonus here is that I'll have two large panels of original grain vinyl to store for future spot repairs or projects.


    Attachment reference photos
    Seat bottom:
    https://imgur.com/a/I3YcIKA

    Seat back:
    https://imgur.com/a/EpukLXL
    Attached Images
    Last edited by FABombjoy; 08-29-2019 at 10:23 AM.
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  2. #2
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Installation
    I'm just going to wholesale reference the "slip me some skin" PDF article that's floating around out there somewhere.
    For the most part it's totally applicable here with a few exceptions, noted below.


    Pre-install caveats
    I've seen several of the current options installed on various seats. The first thing I tended to notice was that the bolsters seem to lose definition, and the little roll between the seat back and headrest might disappear almost entirely. Once I was finally putting the covers on I finally understood why.

    The original covers have a simple backing fabric. The backer reinforces the stitching and seaming and most aftermarket covers appear to use a backing foam (called sew foam) that has a layer of foam.

    Adding this sew foam makes the cover feel more plush, and likely less likely to tear along seams, but also seems to reduce the definition of the seat.


    Seat form foam rehab
    Steam treatment of the yellow seat foam will help to clean the schmutz and puff the foam up a bit back to its original shape. A basic garment steamer for wrinkles will not work well here. I used a pressure steam cleaner which provided results. It took a while as it only holds 1ike 300mL of water and several refills were required. Lots of youtube videos showing the process out there.
    Attached Images
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  3. #3
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Seat Back Notes
    To give the back bolsters definition, the original covers have vertical metal bars that are hog ringed to the "bbq grill". This pulls the cover flush to the foam.

    The Lseat covers have a thick heavy-duty plastic channel instead. This is nice as you don't have to keep the metal bars in place as you hog ring them. But they might be too long. Compare the backs to the original and trim as needed. You can see the ventilation holes I opened in the backer foam here. Ugly but effective.

    Lseat Mod - Upper - Ribbing difference.jpg

    Lseat Mod - Upper - Ribbing trimmed.jpg
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  4. #4
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Seat Back Headrest Notes
    Lots of tricks to get the seat back over the headrest. But you can also stuff the headrest into the cover first.

    Two small cuts decapitates the foam from the seat. You might even notice that it was originally made in 2 parts and glued on.

    Now just stuff it into the cover on the bench and slip the cover over the seat frame. Once the cover is attached to the seat frame that sucker ain't movin'
    Seat Foam - Decapitated.jpg


    Small headrest roll definition - I don't know what to call that part / feature
    The thick sew foam robs you of definition here. That little roll is likely to disappear.

    I cut a piece of random carpet foam that I have and slid it in over the original portion of the seat form. It actually worked well, not perfect, but I did retain some definition.

    On the other seat I'm going to try and cut/shape/glue in a piece of half-round trim to give the cover its form. Yes I'm serious.
    I might cut out the backing foam too. You'll never feel that part of the seat, so some kind of rigid insert should be fine.

    Seat Upper - Extra foam for neck.jpg
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  5. #5
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Seat Bottom Notes
    These are fairly identical in install approach to the stock covers.

    I think the fabric for the metal ribs is too long. With the ribs pulled in to place the metal is right up against the lower rubber pad.
    When I recover the other seat I might shorten them up first so they can be pulled tighter.

    There was a missing cutout which causes things to bunch up around a spring. On the left is what happens, and on the right is the original cover w/ cutout
    Lseat Mod - Lower - Before.jpg


    Install the cover as provided. Once you can see the spot that needs help, just mark and cut a notch and things will fall in to place
    Lseat Mod - Lower - After.jpg

    Lseat Mod - Lower - After and installed.jpg
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  6. #6
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Circulation Fans
    There are some all-in-one seat circulation kits. They look pretty sketchy to me. The controls look cheap and the fans look cheap. It's a lot more intrusive than a heating kit so I didn't want a brand X fan.

    I've never done this before but I followed several conventions used by these kits, along with an exam of OEM methods.
    Keep in mind that I've never done this before.
    Also this is my first time.

    I settled on the Delta EFC0812DB-F00 fan. It's 80mm, was reviewed favorably on a Mercedes forum thread as a replacement for the OEM Mercedes fans.
    Technically it tops out at 12.7v so I'll use a cheap "buck" regulator to drop 13-14v down to 12v.
    These fans also have integrated driver transistors which allow for PWM control. Makes speed control easier.
    More about these last two points later once I document the controls.


    To have circulation, you need:
    -Air in: Unobstructed access for the fan so it can do it's fan thing and move air from point A to B
    -Air through: Air needs to be channeled through the seat and spread over a reasonable area
    -Air out:
    --you need perforated leather
    --Either flow-through sew foam OR make your own perforations


    The seat sandwich of materials looks like:
    --Perforated seat cover--
    --Flow through foam (Leather backing)--
    --Flow through foam (to replace the dense seat foam & distribute air)
    --Distribution channel--
    --Fan--
    --Hole through seat foam--


    Bill of materials:
    -Fans
    -Metal fan grilles (top side of fan)
    -Metal or plastic fan grilles (bottom side of fan)
    -Hole saw
    -Razor blades
    -Some kind of dense but flow-through foam to replace the seat form foam

    I found that dryfast foam, used in outdoor furniture, seemed to be about the best material to act as a distribution layer. An 18" square by 0.5" thick material will cover about one seat.

    I was concerned that you might be able to see the areas where I modified the seats. That might be true if you had an OEM cover punched to add perforation, but the thick closed cell sew foam negates any changes in destiny. I mean density.
    If you cut out the closed-cell sew foam and replaced it with flow-through, I think there would be a greater chance of the air channels being visible, so I just added holes to the closed-cell foam.


    Bill of materials: Deleted Items
    In these pics you'll see a black netting over top of the dryfast foam. I added this as an anti-chafe layer but after installation I don't think it's necessary.
    Attached Images
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  7. #7
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Installation: Seat Bottoms
    For the seat bottoms I installed the fans toward the front, out of the "butt zone" if you will. The holes emerge in front of the big lower rubber seat bottom and can pretty freely draw air without obstruction.

    Wiring is loomed and tied off along the edge of the frame. There is a full coil of wire inside of the channel through the seat foam. ALWAYS CONSIDER wire movement as people get in and out. There needs to be a lot of strategic slack to prevent wire breaks.
    Attached Images
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  8. #8
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Installation: Seat Upper
    Seat uppers is a little more challenging.

    It's easier to drill the holes, but with the back installed, that chamber is somewhat airtight if you're trying to move a large volume.

    Lots of wire and fan blade pinch hazards being situated behind the seat BBQ grille.

    The seat back also has a huge hole in the board as the guts of the seat move around quite a bit when someone is sitting in it. That needs to figure in to the positioning strategy.

    I just took some wire mesh and mounted the fans to it. That made it easier to stay in place while the grill went back on and the seat skins were hog ring'd in place.

    It seems that I never took a pic of the wire looming, but was all taped up and incorporates strategic S bends and zip ties to keep wire stress in check.
    Attached Images
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  9. #9
    '82 T3 FABombjoy's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Lansing, MI

    Posts:    877

    My VIN:    10270

    Seat Back Modifications
    Step one was to remove all of the staples and original vinyl from the seat back.

    The vinyl has a foam layer that had turned into sticky dust.

    Rob Grady posted a procedure for reinforcing the seat backs with aluminum bar and rivets, which I think I might have done correctly. It's easy to do with the vinyl removed. I steamed the backs, flattened them, and added support aluminum bars.

    For the air inlet vent solution, I modeled up and 3D printed a vent in ABS plastic, then riveted it in to place. The backer leather has 2 small cuts but otherwise attached the same. It's subtle and should permit lots of airflow to the fans.

    Staple trick for the new backer: 1/4" staples are slightly too long. Pick up a 6 pack of a good quality local beer and cut the cardboard into strips, then staple those in place. They add just enough space that you can use a T50 staple gun but not poke through the opposite side.

    I went out of my way to reuse the holes for the backer board but that was a waste of effort and I should have just drilled 2 new mounting holes into the frame.
    Attached Images
    Luke S :: 10270 :: 82 Grey 5-Speed :: Single Watercooled T3 .60/.48 :: Borla Exhaust :: MSD Ignition :: MS3X Fully SFI Odd-fire EFI :: DevilsOwn Methanol Injection

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  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date:  Nov 2013

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    My VIN:    Formerly 10372, currently 4728

    Super cool...nice write-up!
    Livin' the dream....

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