Armrest Recovering

Armrest Recovering

Ok, so I can't offer helpful tips on replacing timing belts and other technical info, I can offer a step by step on how to re-upholster your armrests. I just did both of mine (front and rear in the auto, front in the 5spd) and the look like the day they rolled out of Stuttgart. Here's what you'll need:

1. Enough leather to re-wrap the armrest. I used a treated calfskin. It's supple, thin, and upholsters beautifully. Make sure its not too thick or you won't get a nice job.

From the art/craft/hobby shop you'll need:

2. 1 can of 3M Super 77 spray Adhesive

3. 1 tube of 3M Super Strength Adhesive

4. 1 30x40 sheet of the most inexpensive cardboard you can find

5. 1 X-acto knife with a few brand new blades. You could use a utility knife, but make sure you have new blades!!!

6. Nail polish remover or acetone.

7. Approx. 6" x 14" long piece of black felt

8. 4 small plastic or metal clamps

9. 1 unused wood paint stirrer

First, remove the leather pad from the hinge. This can be done by removing the 6 screws that hold it in place. It will pop right out. Note: it's not necessary to remove the bottom part of the hinge.

Second, remove the black nylon cloth on the underside of the pad. More than likely, you'll have to replace it with a new material because it's glued with a foam backing and the foam doesn't come with the material very cleanly. I used a black felt from the art supply store to replace it with. You can go to the fabric store if you want a really cool "techy" looking material.

Third, begin to pry up the old leather around the edge. BUT, DO NOT RIP THE LEATHER OFF!!! Pull the leather to the edge then take the Xacto and CAREFULLY slice the leather from the foam padding. Try to keep the gray foam padding on the armrest. The foam is glued on, but the edge of the leather has been glued as well so it will take the foam with it if you're not careful. I have no idea where you buy the foam, so it's best to try to preserve it. One of my armrests had damage foam and I replaced it with upholstery felt, but it's not as good as the original stuff.

Ok, next...I took the original leather and worked it flat as best I could. Spray the back of the leather with the Super 77 spray glue then spray the cardboard. (Both glues I've listed work like contact cement: you have to spray both sides, wait for it dry slightly then clamp/hold together for a few minutes.) Glue the old leather to the cardboard. You've just made a cutting template. The template is especially important when doing the rear armrest...for those of us with no rear AC.

Place the template on your new material and trace cut with the Xacto. If your original did not fit properly, you may want to give yourself an extra 1/4" to be on the safe side.

Take the armrest and remove all the old glue/foam etc from the underside. Carefull not to damage the foam padding on top. I used a scraper, then the acetone followed by some 40 grit sandpaper...better glueing surface too!

You're now ready to glue. Place the new material finish surface down and place armrest top down on top of it. Center the material so all your edges have enough grip over the edge.

Note: Try to keep the glue off your will get on your finished side eventually!

I likened this to stretching canvas, so I started in the middle and worked my way out. one side in the middle. Using the glue tube, glue the plastic. Then glue the leather. Wait about 30 secs (per instructions on the glue) reapply on the leather. Wait 30 seconds. Then press the two together. I clamped the thing for a few minutes using the clamps and the paint stirrer on the finish side of the leather as protection. The stuff works pretty fast, you can take it off after a few minutes and repeat the procedure. Do not use too much glue...they recommend thin layers.

Work across out to the ends doing a half of each side at a time. Do the short ends after you've done the long sides. Stretch the material as you go...turn it over to make sure you have no wrinkles. Stay a half inch away from the those last.

When you get to the corners, dry fit them before you glue them to make sure they come out neat. You'll have to trim tends to bunch up in the corner. Also, you'll find it helpful to slit the leather to make it fit.

After the leather is on, carefully spray the underside of the armrest with the spray glue, you'll probably want to mask the finish edges so you don't get glue on it. Then spray your new material/felt whatever. Attach the material.

Re-attach the armrest to the hinge.

Badda bing, badda boom! You're done.

Good luck

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