We thought since our seats are getting a nice sunbath, we might as well get to enjoy the sun as well. The weather has been really nice recently and driving the Euro 318 Baur/TC has been a real treat! What's even more exciting about nice weather is the motivation that comes with it to get the cabrio in tip-top(less) shape! Now back to the good stuff...Below: Cardinal Red seat
after Leatherique treatment,
After allowing the Rejuvenator Oil a good soak, we brought them back in and got the Pristine Clean ready. Essentially, the same theory applies with Pristine Clean. Using a spray bottle, we coat the seat evenly. Then, using a cloth rag of some sort, wipe the Pristine Clean of the seats. The way the process works is really quite interesting. The Rejuvenator Oil permeates the pores in the leather, giving it some life, at the same time floating all the dirt that has settled in these 20+ year old seats. Since we are doing a dye process on these seats, it is especially important to get all the Oil off the seat. If you are working with extremely tough leather, you will want to repeat this process to your desired level of rejuvenation.
Donor seats to be made into a complete driver seat.
Now that all of our leather has been given the Leatherique treatment, it is time for prepping and dying. As you can see in some of our pictures, we have a couple of Lotus White seats that were taken from a '92 Cabrio. These are being used for "donor" seats. They have been nearly lost to neglect, but we didn't give up hope and decided the white would be a great "blank canvas" for matching the original Cardinal Red interior.
To prep the seats for dye we need the Leatherique Prepping agent, 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper, Leatherique crack filler, and of course the Leatherique dye. We can supply most OEM BMW interior colors by request!
Since we are mixing and matching various color seats and seat parts, we are going to disassemble a good portion of the donor seats to ensure we cover all the little corners adequately.
Start by removing trim. For the rear section, the side lever trim must be removed first. This is very easy to do using a screw driver to pry them off of the lever. Next, we remove the two screws at the bottom of the back of the seat on each side. After that it is a simple pull out (from the bottom) then a push upwards to slide off the retainer clips at the top. Once the rear cover is off you will see where the hinge/recliner mechanism mounts to the rear section.
We are removing the side bolsters and seat bottom from the driver seat and replacing them with the re-dyed bolsters and seat bottom (from the donor seats), then transferring this to the driver seat frame. It sounds pretty intense, but we feel the finished product will reward such work!
To disassemble the bulk of the seat, we start by pulling the leather from the metal tabs at the top of the seat frame. Then cut the hog rings in the back of the bolsters. Voila, one very bare driver seat, anxiously awaiting surgery.
I bet you never thought you would take a piece of sand-paper to your fine German Leather interior, especially in attempts to restore it! However, the concept is fundamentally the same as re-painting a car. The original finish needs to be broken down, in order for the new coat to fully adhere/absorb to the leather. Depending on the condition of the leather, the sanding will take a bit of finesse. As you can see, these Lotus White seats have seen better days. We even found evidence of a prior re-dye. The leather is as tough and dirty as a cowboy. Since we ain't no cowpokin' ranch hands, we want a little more supple seat in our BMW. Also, since we are changing the color entirely, they will need quite a bit of atten tion. For less worn seats, just a light pass of the sandpaper should do.
If you have ever wet-sanded a car, you'll know exactly what you're doing. Basically the sand-paper will need to be wet to allow it to evenly break down the surface of the leather as you work along the entire length of the seat. We are using 320-grit and 400-grit wet/dry sand paper and a sponge block to really go at these seats. We keep the paper good and wet, avoiding the stitching. (Sand-paper and 20 year old thread do not mix well.) We then apply a good bit of prepping agent and start wiping. You'll notice a lot of the old dye is just wiping away at this point. This is good news! For severely hard/dirty leather, another application of Rejuvenator Oil/Pristine clean is needed after sanding. Since the leather is that much more porous post-attack, the Rejuvenator Oil will soak into the leather very quickly.
We decided to do this black seat out of a 325es while we were at it!
Now that we have a good surface to work with, it is time we fill th
ose evil cracks. Again, depending on the condition of the leather, this can be quick and easy, or a little bit more time consuming for the really ratty seats. We like to think of it as "bondo for seats." We apply the filler in small amounts, then smooth it out with a business card. It is vital that this be done with discretion as we don't want to build up too much on the surface. We start with the deepest cracks and work from there. In some areas, building up the filler with multiple layers/coats is needed. Once the crack filler has dried, (6 hours or more, depending on the amount) we take a finer grit sand paper and lightly smooth out any uneven areas.
The leather is rejuvenated, the cracks are filled, all the prep work is done. It is finally time to dye these little gems! In the past we have used brushes, mostly to touch up faded areas or cracks that have been filled. We even used a brush to do the entire seat once. A good finished product can be had using these tools. However, can end up blotchy or streaky if you're not careful. So this time we opted to go with an airbrush. The dye is mixed about 40/60 dye-to-distilled water, allowing for a good flow. This will take several coats though. Again, this process is similar to that of painting a car. Thin even coats across the entirety of the leather. Start with the areas that need most attention like filled cracks and crevices.
We've finished the first few coats. We're going to let them dry and see if more is needed. Check back next week for the assembly and finished product!