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Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car
Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car
Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

1955 T-BIRD CAR RESTORATION PROJECT

T-Bird Project Part 17 — We Rebuild and Upholster the 55'Tbird Seat

Aside from the fact that our original seat was turquoise (and we hate turquoise) and the new upholstery would be red, we knew that 50 years of use had taken its toll on the structure itself. It had to be taken down to the bare frame and rebuilt. Starting with the seat bottom (no particular reason) we commenced disassembly.

It's looking pretty worn out.

It's looking pretty worn out.


First, we turned the seat over and started removing all the hog clips and staples that held the old cover attached. Pliers, wire cutters and the occasional use of the grinder accomplished this task.

The old cover is starting to come off. Note the rusty end with a threaded piece coming through? That's the rake adjustment, and we had to eventually torch the thing out and restore the threads.

The old cover is starting to come off. Note the rusty end with a threaded piece coming through? That's the rake adjustment, and we had to eventually torch the thing out and restore the threads.


Once the cover was off we could inspect the frame and springs for any breaks or fatigue. The springs themselves were in good condition and the frame was coated with a thin film of rust. We cleaned everything up and took notes on how the individual upholstery pieces were attached, along with the order of assembly.

The cover is mostly off, revealing the springs and attaching strip for the bolstering.

The cover is mostly off, revealing the springs and attaching strip for the bolstering.


Upside down, the frame is ready to be lifted off the cover and padding.

Upside down, the frame is ready to be lifted off the cover and padding.


So how did we remove the surface rust, you might ask? Well, we simply filled our workshop sink tub with hot water and rust dissolver and washed it away. Once the frame was rinsed and dried we primed and painted it with Rustoleum black paint. We preferred brushing it on because it provided a thicker coating.

All it took to remove the rust was the right chemical and the use of rubber gloves and eye protection.

All it took to remove the rust was the right chemical and the use of rubber gloves and eye protection.


We had pulled off all the cracked, disintegrated tack strip from the frame so, we dropped by the local seatcover/convertible top shop and bought some tack strip. This stuff is generic and available in several thicknesses and widths, so we simply matched the original size. The original strip had been power-riveted in place at the factory, but we don't own such machinery. Instead, we drilled through the strip and into the frame every couple inches and hand-riveted the pieces in place. Aluminum rivets will eventually corrode, but we figure they'll last 25 years or more.

Another view of the tack strip, this time on the lower lip of the seat.

Another view of the tack strip, this time on the lower lip of the seat.


It's ready for reupholstering now.

It's ready for reupholstering now.