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Technical Cost of new interior

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by treeman53, Jun 7, 2022.

  1. Slick Willy
    Joined: Aug 3, 2008
    Posts: 3,026

    Slick Willy
    Member

    #TRIGGERED
     
  2. MikeRose
    Joined: Oct 7, 2004
    Posts: 1,579

    MikeRose
    Member
    from Yuma, AZ

    Not sure, but I am in Mexicali, Baja California a lot, and talented labor is still very cheap compared to the US. I've gotten quotes on a paint job (by a good painter) and it is NOTHING compared to what body shops in the US get.
     
  3. No, they are an auto upholstery in North Hollywood Ca.
     
  4. 51box
    Joined: Aug 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,035

    51box
    Member
    from MA

    Here’s a good example, @slickwilly found someone to do his seats “cheap and fast” well neither ended up being the case. 54 chevy seats literally fell apart before he even put the car on the road.
     
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  5. Slick Willy
    Joined: Aug 3, 2008
    Posts: 3,026

    Slick Willy
    Member

    lets not forget...they were not done "fast" (over a year) and he didnt want to give them back because he had "too much time into them". Basically held them for ransom after his bill was 4 times what he quoted me! and yes they fell apart less than a year later without being sat on more than twice. (no fat jokes!) Lesson learned o_O
     
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  6. Whoamel
    Joined: Jul 22, 2007
    Posts: 55

    Whoamel
    Member
    from So Cal

    I've always hated turning my cars over to someone else to work on, so around the first of this year I got a great deal on a nearly new used machine. I've done the trunk, carpet, and all the interior panels on my '40 Ford, and I really enjoyed my first project. The machine has more than paid for itself, and I'm not at all embarrassed with the work. It will only get better from now on.

    Best of all, the bright red '90's tweed material is all gone!

    [​IMG]
     
  7. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    I wonder how seats just fall apart in a year being sat on twice? Something doesn't add up at all here. What materials were used... or reused? Please post pics of these seats! I could see a guy feeling "expected" to cut corners, to use inferior, old/used, or customer-provided materials(99% always a bad idea), or they were a total hack with no idea how to upholster. As for the latter, why use them? Even the worst job ever would last a year with no use.
    From experience, and I will add some pics later, people often ask for short cuts or say they aren't looking for a "show interior", etc. If a craftsman isn't allowed to use or do what he sees best due to a request to save money, it can leave the upholsterer to do anything and everything to cut costs, especially things unseen and often even using cheap materials that are seen. Seldom would friends who have said this to me say they were actually wanting me to cut corners so it does put it all back on the upholsterer. What they are really doing is trying to set the expectation of a low price and letting me take the hit - not very friendly. It is funny how the favor always goes one way. Who has paid extra to someone because they are a friend? Many of us(and I'm no pro) are people pleasers and can't say "no" when put into that position so there is a great undiscussed tension the whole time. If we get what we ask for, we might be shocked.
    Not saying this was your situation at all but what I deal with more than not.
    Any pics of those seats?
    D
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2022
  8. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,928

    denis4x4
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Colorado

    95E32D8F-D450-4CA9-9A18-33383D2D844A.jpeg
    B9D0DE27-9B1E-405B-B869-D28FA9FB2FD8.jpeg

    I've replaced the CJ-5 sears with CJ-7 seats in the CCPU. The Zipper interior has been done three times and this was $2000 about 6 years ago
     
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  9. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 1,453

    X-cpe

    Yogi Berra?
     
  10. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    So here is a seat I did about 8yrs ago. Before and after. There were 4 of these I did from one aircraft. Most see 4 seats. I see 12 individually patterned and fit cushions that all had to line up to each other. They were done in leather that the owner provided. He is the only friend who gave me more than I asked - over 40% more without saying anything. I would have done it for free. He was a patriach type guy at our airport and we all miss him a lot!
    The foam was 45yrs old and starting that "turning to dust" thing. Replacement (certified) molded foam for these seats was about $400 per seat at the time so those were not going to be replaced! The plastic backs were also pretty brittle. Can't remember if I painted them or what. There is a lot of little things you do to make a job fit the bill. I steamed and did what I could to maintain the foam shape but it was a battle. I weighed each one before and after as that matters in an aircraft for W&B. He gave me some decent leather hides and said "keep what's left over" which was another hide or two. Still have them and they would cost a lot to anyone who wanted something made from them as he was a great old school Chinook pilot friend of us all.
    Example of having to deal with what is given. If I was a pro I would have insisted he needed to buy replacement foam and use FAA certified materials. The cutoff year for that fireproof requirement is somewhere in the early 70s. Each seat had to be disassembled down to individual pieces and patterns made with consideration of the foam of each seat. What do you think I charged him? I spent several weeks on the 4 working part time. Now I tell people that if there available a pre-made cover online there is no need for custom upholstery as it would be more money... which is what this is all really about - guys wanting custom made upholstery when something cheaper is desired.

    Left is before. Right is after. X 4
    thumbnail.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2022
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  11. nrgwizard
    Joined: Aug 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,671

    nrgwizard
    Member
    from Minn. uSA

    So, Dmar;
    How did you get the disintegrating foam to not "dust/crumble"? & how long did(does) it last, as something now-useable? I seem to have old seats around, & I've scrapped a lot of the foam due to the foam "going away".
    TIA for any info.
    Seats do look nice.
    Marcus...
     
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  12. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    Marcus, First, remember, I do this along with many of my hobbies - I'm no pro upholsterer.
    As for crumbling foam, there really isn't a hack. IIRC, this set had "twinkie-like" foam - turned orange and was super soft since it had been abraded. Often foam is hard and crumbly. Depends on what it started as. Sometimes I stabilize foam by gluing a layer of thin foam over it - preferably scrim foam which has a layer of synthetic mesh on one side. But this gets me to the point. Such measures are not seen and only show after a few years of use in the collapsing of the foam and the appearance of dust on your carpet. Scrim foam is also expensive and time consuming to pattern, cut, and install so you are floating from "budget" fast. The "correct" and often more cost effective method would be to replace the foam. Since that is more money few want to do it and strap the upholsterer with doing magic tricks to hopefully make the job look great.
    Something many don't know is that leather and especially some fabrics directly applied over foam is like sandpaper. Since what lies below isn't seen, many jobs(read: budget jobs) skip any type of layer to protect the foam from the seat cover. You don't even see it suggested with premade replacement covers for muscle cars, etc. As far as a custom cover, which is what we are all asking for, sewing scrim foam to each seat panel first and then joining the parts of the cover is what pros do but it takes much more material and time and requires more manipulation and skill. I can count on one hand the times I've done it because... budget. I've lost money on every job I've done as I could seldom give back the product someone actually asks for . Some can, and they are the one's who are being complained about.
    This is what I mean by saying we are actually asking for shortcuts and lesser quality when we say "...we don't need it perfect or anything.", or, "It's not going in a show car or anything."
    I'd still love to see pics of the failure mode of SlickWilly's seats. Is there a thread out there?
    D
     
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  13. I always wonder if guys tell their engine builder/machinist that "it doesn't need to be perfect."
     
  14. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 6,320

    stanlow69
    Member

    Good nylon upholstery thread rots on the roll. Could have been 20-year-old thread. Or they could have used fabric store boughten thread. But you would think they would have fallen apart when being installed. Unless they were really loose.
     
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  15. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    Documentation? I think that might be a big generalization. So if nylon thread is sewn while fresh it doesn't rot in the project but if not sewn it will rot on the spool? Nylon does not have great UV protection so won't last as long as polyester in the outdoors but I haven't had anything fall apart with any thread from any source in just a year. This includes vintage cotton thread I used to seek out for clothing projects. We have all had 70s clothing with nylon threads and materials that didn't just fall off us due to nylon thread content. Yeah, it isn't the best and sucks to sew with IMO but...
    I remember the first denim jeans I made. I was afraid to wear them out to a restaurant the first night as I thought they might tear and fall off me in public - seriously. I have abused all my DIY clothing, traveled overseas with them having no backup and - cotton thread has never failed. Pics of abused and sweat-rotten DIY clothing available for proof.
    Sorry if I'm getting too pushy or opinionated in this thread but I guess I'm looking for real world evidence. Obviously slickwilly's seat did fall apart but there has to be a reason. If someone asked me to do some seats but make them so they fail once put into service, I would not be able to tell you how to do that. What was used? Paper bags? Must be a post somewhere.
     
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  16. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    Here's a cheap job. It was cheap not because of the time involved but the materials used. The owner said, "It isn't a show plane", "It doesn't even need to match the rest of the interior." "Can you do something with them?" It was completely up to me what path to success I would take.
    [​IMG]
    I chose to go cheap(as expected) but to at least match the interior. Well, they got "better in appearance" but I'm not sure how long it will last. That's been 5 yrs or so and they are still together but the materials couldn't be any more inappropriate IMO. One sharp object, one knee on a hot day and maybe it would fail. If I had said the proper materials would be about $500 not counting new molded foam at about $600. They would have laughed as most just don't get it.
    [​IMG]
    The webbing on the frame was even junk but the owner never knew that or that I had replaced it. I did all sorts of time consuming tricks to glue in new webbing, repair the foam, reinforce the tweed, etc. Still zero money spent by the owner. I was 4 hours away and found some discount vinyl and tweed at a fabric outlet store. It matched really well but was pretty thin and obviously not for heavy use.
    My instructions were, with no other real expectations, to just make it better than the brittle old torn blue vinyl. Sounds like I could do anything and he'd be happy, right? Was I the bad guy then for trying to match his interior even though I used cheap materials to do it? Should I have ordered hundreds or dollars worth of auto grade vinyl? I was provided with no materials, not given money, no budget, etc. On these jobs, anything you spend time and money on is time and profit gone. Should I not have painted the metal side hinges to match either? If I did what I was asked, I would never have posted the results here!
    [​IMG]
    There were no backs at all. Just holes from the old plastic backs. Those were over $100 apiece to replace so nope. You don't drill into aircraft tubing - even seats. So I spent hours making backs for them. Should I have left them open as they were given to me?
    [​IMG]
    Squeezing expectations from my buddy would have been seen as putting him off or trying to get tons of money from him(he had seen work I had done for others). If in a storefront, you better believe they would know exactly what I was planning to buy and why but that often talks them out of doing anything. They also see upholsterers they had used in the past as having ripped them off. I think he offered me more than I wanted to take but still we are talking a couple hundred bucks. They did nothing wrong here - it's just the expectations.
    The point to this post is even with good appearance, a request for a "just make it adequate" job puts tons of labor on the upholsterer and, if a good business person, they will charge for that time. The extras on this seat in my time would easily have paid for the purchase of certified materials. It's just that my time isn't valued. :)
    For the record I now say, "Unable" unless I know they want good - not cheap. Interestingly the requests have dried up!
     

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  17. Pretty much everything is more prone to rot when it is clumped together as opposed to when it is spaced out. Thread would be much more prone to holding moisture on a roll than as two threads in a sewn piece.
     
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  18. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    Not on cotton, only nylon? I have lots of cotton spools too.
    Sorry to press the point. There are guaranteed fail things you don't do out there and there's best practice. Between are a lot of interiors. I'm just not sure I would assume slickwilly's seats failed due to rotten nylon thread use.
    I guess only he can say. I suspect there is more to the story. If anyone else has some upholstery that failed with little used, please post some pics. We can all learn.
    D
     
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  19. Can't say I have ever seen anyone recommend using cotton thread for automotive upholstery which is what we are talking about not making pants.

    And yes I have had an old spool of thread that would separate as you sewed and if you didn't notice it while working or ignored it to save the time of redoing a seat could very easily have fallen apart inside the seat with minimum use.
     
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  20. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    Wow. That'd be a bummer. Do you know what type thread it was? My point was cotton is well known to rot but can still take a lot particularly if stored correctly. Sorry to give off topic examples but the blanket statement based on what could happen and has happened doesn't mean all such materials are verboten. Clothing was just an example. Outdoor aircraft had all cotton/linen materials into the 60s and stored mostly outside. They rotted for sure eventually but also lasted for decades. I saw a 1950 that still had it and a few on our field one from around the war that still fly with it. I wouldn't but they do. Even today the rib stitching I've done is with waxed cotton. I think UV is what does the damage.
    I tend to use poly on upholstery as it sews well. Too strong and it can tear the material.
    Learned more and it appears thread type wasn't an issue as far as Slickwilly's seats.
    'Bout all I got. I better go wipe my spools with a baby diaper. A clean one!
     
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  21. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 1,453

    X-cpe

    Lesson I had to learn when teaching H.S. Auto Shop. Faculty and community coming in, "I know it isn't worth it, but if you could just ...." Didn't take long to figure out I was spending my and the student's time to save THEM money, with little useful learning happening. Answer became, "If it is not worth it, no." Would spend my time to help the kids keep their shitboxes on the road and safe.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
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  22. nrgwizard
    Joined: Aug 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,671

    nrgwizard
    Member
    from Minn. uSA

    Hey, dmar;
    Thanks.
    So far, I see you care about the work & end-product, instead of slop-work, just to say it's done. Good on you.

    I've heard of, but not seen or used a technique that "re-expands" foam, lasts a couple yrs, maybe, then re-collapses. AFAIK, it can't be used on rotting foam, only "fat-assed" flattened foam. Also only works a couple of times, I've been told it's usually for a quick-sale. I can see using it if oem foam is literally n/a. Cutting/shaping foam is out of some folks comfort zone. & of course, getting the correct density... When I worked at the bus-company, we changed out driver seat cushions that had been ruined(flattened & "broken") by 300+lb drivers, & the sweat + "other" stains caused the foam to start getting hard/breaking-up, in less than 1 yr. Supposed to be very high quality seats.

    Would appreciate any feedback, &/or comments (list?) on what you've found to cheapen jobs, also what shortens the life of upholstery. Partially to figure out iffen the job is a rip-off, mostly to avoid short-changing myself when I eventually do my own. They take enough time as it is, I absolutely *hate* redoing work, esp for no good reason. Cutting corners is just that. Doesn't mean the best of everything/top cost, just good materials & care.
    Even though I've only done a couple interiors, none quite finished(carpets n binding), I was taught to use muslin as a 1st cover prior to any other covering. Gave up trying the "no-stitch" diamond button-tufting. I think I had used the wrong kind of vinyl, as iirc, it only stretched in 1 direction, not 2, + I was attempting 4-5"+ deep tufts.. Have to try it again someday, as I really like the look.
    TIA.
    Marcus...
     
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  23. North Hollywood Auto Upholstery 11576 Vanowen North Hollywood Ca 91605 818-765-0511
     
  24. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 6,320

    stanlow69
    Member

    Nylon thread. You should be able to grip it in both hands and pull as hard as you can. It won`t break. Older Nylon thread will rot on the roll. Grip it and pull. If it breaks. Throw the spool away. No matter how much is left.
     
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  25. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    When good guys do good work, they want it right! Great tips on some conscientious upholsterers. As I mentioned, the struggle is real. Fabricating is the same. Nobody wants to pay what an item costs so they look for friends who have skills.Just buy it from those who have economies of scale.
    Recent quote from a pro upholsterer here who I reached out to for advice. I was asked to replace a headliner in a '35 XXXXXXXX. Never done one of those but everything is new or it'd be dull! He said, "Plan a whole week" and then, "Sometimes friendship is worth not doing something for." I will remember that forever! Not doing that job as I would have to charge a couple grand.
    Back to fabricating as you guys might relate more. If something is being made and sold online, why ask a custom fabricator to make it? Custom one-offs cost more - not less. I've done it over and over and it really isn't fair to all involved.

    nrgwizzard, the magic is real! It does work but for how long I don't know. Not sure I should give it up but I did mention it earlier and it is magic! I don't think it hurts but it doesn't reverse time. It falls in line with those things you do to help the customer not spend money. May not last forever but I can't say. Guess I need to check on some old jobs! It's like a cortisone shot - it only masks the problem until you recognize it and fix the real problem. How many of us voluntarily ask for the hidden foam to be replaced? I'll PM you.

    My only advise, after sounding like such a know-it-all and as one who has dabbled in the dark arts (and always will) but who isn't in the biz, is to become an informed buyer. Ask what the upholsterer thinks. What material they use and why. What they honestly think of what you might provide. And especially inspect their thread spools for spontaneous rot! Sorry guys, had to.;)
    D
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2022
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  26. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 6,320

    stanlow69
    Member

    A guy dropped off a set of seats that had just been redone. The worst work I`ve ever seen. Broken springs. Cracked and broken seat frame. Both back and bottom. 60 year old cotton and burlap. 3 different kinds of black vinyl was used on all 3 parts of the seat faces. Skipped stitches and stop and go stitching. Misaligned sewing. No welt used on seat bottom but was used on seat back. Metal spring edges were showing thru the vinyl. Missing parts and holes cut to big for parts being installed on the seat. Ect...... This work was from a shop that`s been open for 3 years.
     
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  27. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    So sad. I wouldn’t pay. There should be no such thing as taking seats hostage, etc. If your work looks like that, you certainly know it! You were either told to make due with what was provided or you are a hack. Makes you wonder what kind of work they showed the owner when selling the work. This reminds me though, there are times when a customer is so aghast at a bid that they may be given a discount if an apprentice, trainee, son, whatever, “can get some guided practice.” I’ve seen aviation guys do anything to not pay the going rate for just about anything. One guy dug a rusty, pitted cylinder out of a wet, abandoned hangar and took it to the mechanic on the field asking, “Will this fit my plane?” I had a plane painted with obviously “return table” paint. Took forever to unscrew that plane into a decent flyer.
    So many variables but if it’s just shoddy work, don’t pay. There’s a contractual agreement there.
    D
     
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  28. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 8,589

    wicarnut
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here's a story of a good friends interior nightmare, 2 years ago had his new and last car finished, his last one and wanted a show stopper, he had been looking shopping for a quality job, price was not an issue. Shop #1 met delivery of 4 months, picked up car, pretty nice job IMO, but he's very disappointed for 20K. Shop #2 good reputation/references, same 4 month delivery, a Very nice job, 30K, he's happy now and 50K total in interior cost. My friend also paid 30K for the paint job, around 150K involved in total car. This not a HAMB style car, a beautiful street rod type car, he built it for 6 years, just farmed out paint and interior, car has every high dollar item than can be purchased, it is a show stopper car, I'm happy for him, not really my cup of tea. I had a complete interior put in my 32 3 window, marine grade vinyl in 2012 a very nice job IMO, pics in my albums, man had the car winter months October/May, 4K total, times/prices have changed some, approaching crazy again IMO. As typing reminded me of another story, another friend working on his 57 Pontiac, restored classic type car purchased a complete replacement stock type interior, Very pricey IMO, took a year + to receive all the materials including headliner and he could not find a shop to install it, so.......... did it himself with some youtube help, turned out beautiful.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
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  29. dmar836
    Joined: Oct 23, 2018
    Posts: 196

    dmar836
    Member

    Interesting for sure. Today, paint and interior are judged by luxury standards rather than utilitarian standards. Race cars at Pebble Beach are nothing like they were really raced, etc. If we could magically sneak in an NOS car that was somehow just as it was the day after production, it would come in last place among the restored. I think we are in an era where we really don't want an "original" interior(thus, custom) and we see so much that is so well done(read: show cars), meanwhile, we drive around in our new uber comfortable, leather, modern interiors that are always showing off new annual styles. We have become desensitized.
    I think our ideas have us not knowing what we really expect in the end except to be "wowed". It's hard to satisfy such an itch - especially if the customer wants to keep cost down. And I'll reiterate, providing your own material, unless it was purchased due to rarity or it's enormous expense, is almost always going to cause unexpected negative results....... in a budget setting. I did a midget racer interior and had a vision of aged, thin, russet leather but was provided with a thick, maroon, surface-corrected hide. The end result could have been so much better for the period and use of the car but that was just my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
  30. It was nylon. It was old stuff I had gotten for super cheap from an upholstery shop that was closing. I was only using it for test pieces so wasn't a big deal. It finally became apparent once I got further into the spool as then it started shredding as it went through the machine and causing birds nests and breaking. That's when I looked at the test pieces closely and saw what was going on.
     
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