How to Restore Your Fold Down Seat

 

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Parts needed to Convert to Fold Down Seat by Model Year

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How to restore your Fold Down Seat

Restoring main panels

Salvaging a Trap Door

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Reproduction parts evaluation

Trap Doors

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How to make use of 65 panels

Cutting a 65 Seat

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I start off with the premise that I will reuse anything I can as practical, and everything else I will replace with new.  
 

This is what we start with.  Old faded carpet and rusty chrome trim, usually some missing parts here and there.  First take a note of how everything fits together.  Its not hard to figure out, and I have plenty of pictures here to help if you get lost.  But, its always easier to get it right the first time going back together if you take note of how it came apart.  Disassemble the panels to remove all the brackets, hinges, chrome trim, and finally, the carpet.  Sometimes the carpet comes off easy with a tug, other times it takes an hour scraping with a putty knife.

After disassembly, you should have something like this.

I use a local media blaster to blast my seats, and he charges $20 each.  These panels are slightly too big for my TiP blast cabinet, and I have done them before in the backyard.  It takes me about 3-4 hours with my little pressure pot to do all 3.  Ugh.  For $20, I don't bother anymore, its not worth my time.  After blasting, I treat the panel with a rust treatment.  I use Picklex 20 sold at the autobodystore.com, others use Ospho or Eastwood's Metal Conditioner.  I prefer phosphoric acid based treatments, but use whatever works for you.  Its not always necessary, but if you have any surface rust that wasn't completely blasted off, you will want to do this step.

Ford painted these panels with lacquer directly on the bare metal.  Yikes!  Some restorers will paint these with black primer or go right to Krylon 1613 that I'll talk about next.  Personally, I prime each panel in red first for 2 reasons.  1), I like to drive my car (yes, even in inclement weather, and assume anybody buying my restored fold down seats might too, and I don't want to risk having the panel rusting again.  2), I like to know that I have good coverage.  The next step I use is black, so by using contrasting colors, I am assured of having at least 1 good solid coat of paint in all areas in case I shoot it a little thin in some spots.

Here we have the second coat of paint, the Krylon 1613 as mentioned.  Keep in mind this is for a 67 or later car with a Charcoal (black) interior. 

Lastly, the panel is painted with the correct Charcoal metallic paint.  I see a lot of black interiors painted black.  Seems easy, right, a black interior is painted black.  Wrong.  67 and later cars are actually Charcoal.  The NPD code for this color is AP-4464, the PPG code is 32586 if you prefer not to use a spray can. 

For other colors, paint the panels the color to match the rest of your interior.  One notable exception (among others) is white interiors. White interiors will still paint these panels Charcoal.

Here is a paint guide that may help you with your color selection.  I am not sure where I got this, but I'd bet it was from a post or link at Vintage-Mustang Forums.  If you know the source, or have the pages for other years that I may use, please let me know.

Here is the new carpet as it is unrolled.  See the wrinkles?  Yes, they are as annoying in person as they look in the picture.  Roll the carpet out flat in a spare bedroom a few days before you want to glue it and it will make installing it a little easier.

The original carpet is used as a template to cut the new carpet to the exact size as the original. While it may be easier to simply glue the large carpet piece to the panel and then cut the excess off, if you've ever taken an original fold down seat apart, you know that the carpet doesn't always extend all the way to the edge.  In this case the carpet size was duplicated true to the original.

The carpet is cut out and ready to glue to the panels.

A nice shot of some of the detail I get by copying the original carpet.  This will come in handy when I go to fold the carpet over the back for 69-70.  For earlier models, it doesn't really matter, most likely it is easier to glue first and trim the excess since all the edges will be covered by chrome trim.

At this point I am ready to install the carpet.  I use heavy duty 3M carpet adhesive, and follow the directions.  Spray two coats in opposite directions on the panels, and 2 coats on the back side of the carpet.  Then comes the tricky part.  You need to lay the carpet on straight.  If you put the adhesive on right, it will not let go so you will not be able to reposition the carpet.  I do pretty good with this since I've done it a lot, but if this is your one and only time doing this, you may want to glue the carpet on first and trim the excess off.  One thing to still be careful of regardless of when you cut the carpet though, is that the rows of the loop pile are straight across the panel.  This may be anal, but I position the carpet so those rows in the carpet are parallel to the panel. 

Next I install the chrome trim.  See my commentary on the reproduction chrome trim for the specifics on what modifications need to be made to use it on various years from 65-70.  For 67-68, and 69-70, I have the original latch trim pieces replated.  Below is what they look like when they come off the seat.

10-12 weeks later, they come back looking like this.  If the seat has the metal latch guides, I have those replated too, since they are one of the few parts it is still cheaper to have replated vice buy new.

So now the trim goes on.  I have a tendency to want to try to hook the side of the trim that goes over the carpet first and then snap the other side over.  Unfortunately it doesn't work that well in most cases.  Just slide the trim on square and it will slide over the carpet.

(Insert pictures of just trim installed, close up of each panel)

Here is the trim installed.  Take a good look at the pictures, if you get mixed up, you should be able to figure out which piece goes where.

For 65- mid-68 cars, the rear edge of the rear panel gets a chrome trim piece installed.

For late 68-70, the carpet is folded over the edge and stapled.  I use 1/2" staples and push them by hand through the carpet, through the hole from the original staple, and bend them over on the back side.  This is painfully time consuming, and much like sewing with a needle and thread, can be painful to the fingertips when you slip.  This is the one spot in doing this project you need to watch for profanities.

At this point I need to step to the side and do some clean-up work.  I blast the other misc parts I will be reusing.  Again, for longevity, I prime all of them and then topcoat with the correct color.  This includes the seat mounting hinges, the rear panel retaining brackets, the trap door, trap door prop, hinges, etc.  I will spare the space to show you bare metal and primed parts, suffice it to say they look just like the other panels above at each stage.  The seat mounting hinges are painted the interior color to match the seat.  The rear panel retaining brackets, trap door prop rod and bracket and natural.  The trap door hinges are semi-gloss black, and the trap door latch catch is cadmium plated.

Back to installing all these parts.

Starting at the front, install the rubber stop bumpers.  You can also install the small rubber bumpers in the chrome trim.  These protect the fiberglass inner quarters when the seat is down. 

A quick note about these hinges.  The ones pictured only have 1 hole in the small tab for retaining the rear most panel.  I will show more detail of this later.  Some of these hinges I have seen with 2 holes each and 3 holes in each location.  Apparently if the bolt that holds the rear panel did not line up right the factory just drilled another hole to make it fit.  That's my guess anyhow.

The middle panel gets the mounting hinges and 2 more of the small rubber bumpers in the chrome trim.  This is one of the few cases where AMK got it wrong, and I choose to use the original hardware instead of the replacement hardware. (The AMK hardware has a standard slotted head vice the philips head the original hardware has, the original is shorter, and also has a star washer attached).
 

Now to the rear panel.  I install the chrome support plates first.  Take a small screwdriver and poke it from the underside up into the carpet.  Most likely it will not poke through, but that's ok.  Use a utility knife to make a small X slit where the screwdriver is.  Now I do the other hole too so that both holes have slits in them for each oval plate.  Then place the oval plate in position and push the shorter bolt through.  The shorter bolt goes towards the front of the car, and there is a nut in the top of the panel that this bolt threads into.  This is the harder of the two to install because you are pushing the bolt through the carpet and right into the threads of the nut.  I then flip the panel over and install the retaining brackets on the underside.  Now flip the panel up and hold it on its side so you can reach both the top and bottom.  Take the longer bolt and push it through.  This bolt goes all the way through the panel and threads into the retaining bracket on the bottom.  You will need to remove this bolt from the retaining bracket when you go to install this panel in the car, but putting in place now keeps you from losing any parts.  Glue the rubber bumper on the middle ridge of the back side of the panel, offset towards the front of the car.  I use headliner glue and it holds it well.  Lastly, back on top, install the trap door latch catch.  Similar to the oval plates, start with a screwdriver through the back side, cut a slit with a utility knife, and then push the new bolts through. 

 

 

 
   

 

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Copyright 2007 Sam Griffith