Well, I think
it’s fair to say, the seats are not in great shape.
The rear seats are, in all honesty, beyond repair. They are fit for the bin I think. So what am I going to do about the front seats? Well, firstly I need to give them a good clean…and then chuck them in the bin too! If they were unique, or even very rare, then they could be salvageable. I’ve seen some great videos on Youtube of this being done, BUT….These seats are not unique, very rare or even that expensive. So, I’ll look for a better set. Well, to cut a very long and boring story short, I have found a complete set of leather seats in great shape and they didn’t cost a fortune. However, going from having no decent seats, to where I have a really good set, at one point I did have almost enough seats for a cinema. (but like I said - long story).
So, just what
are these new seats like. Well, they’re blue, and that doesn’t really
fit in with my interior design for the car, but it’s a relatively straight
forward process to not only repair and refurbish them, but also to change the
colour too. Anyone who’s painted the
interior walls of a house before, will just know how difficult it is to cover
dark paint with a lighter colour, and will no doubt be scratching their head in
confusion. But the method I’ll use to
recolour the leather is slightly different.
Firstly, I’ll be removing all (or as much as I can) of the existing
colour. Let’s face it, leather itself
doesn’t come in all colours of the rainbow.
It’s brown. So, if you remove the
majority of the unwanted colour first, then recolouring it shouldn’t be a
problem, just as if it was the first time it was being coloured. There are many
specialist companies that sell kits to perform this miraculous
transformation. The one I’ll be using is
from a firm called ‘Furniture Clinic’.
What I should just mention, is that all of the previous paragraph was
based not on my own experience or knowledge, but on the promotional material
I’ve read from these leather treatment companies websites. But, I will endeavour to prove them
right. Or wrong…in which case I’ll be
looking for a refund.
What exactly am I starting with then? Well here they are.
OK, so if you’re comparing these to the ones in your car at home, you’re probably thinking ‘hey, you said these were great!’, well, for their age I’d say they are great. I’m the same age and I wish I had so few wrinkles. They do however need a little bit work. The eagle eyed amongst you will also be thinking ‘hey, but they’re different seats!’. And you’d be right. They are different seats. So, here’s the thing. These seats are from the Jaguar version of the car rather than the Daimler. The difference being that the Daimler, being aimed at the more discerning driver, almost invariably came with an auto gearbox. So, because the gearstick didn’t need to be considered, and to add to the Daimlers already overflowing luxurious-ness, they made the seats even bigger. So wide in fact, that they took up the whole width of the car. Some would say that the office based senior management that this car was aimed at, would need those wider seats. The Jaguar on the other hand, offered the manual gearbox as standard, so had to be designed to accommodate this. There was a long centre console which obviously made it now impossible to fit the same seats. Oh, one neat thing that these seats also have is a small wooden picnic table that folds down for the rear passengers. Some Daimlers also had these, but mine didn’t.
Now, I need to fill in that gap so have sourced a suitable matching Jag console to fit. I’m kinda glad in a way, that they are Jag seats, because I always felt that the large void between the footwells looked a bit unfinished. The console finishes it off nicely. And, of course, I personally don’t need the extra girth of the Daimler seats, no siree. Just to prove a point (not the point about not needing the extra girth) here are the two versions for comparison.
That’s as much as I’ll be doing on the seats for now, other than feeding them some nourishing creams to soften the leather in preparation. The re-colouring and restoration needs to be done in the warmer weather and my wife’s patience would, I fear, not extend so far as to allow me to do the work inside the house.
In order to
get the car moving under its own steam, there are lots of little jobs that need
to be completed first. Two that I’ve completed are the gearshift lever/linkages
and the throttle pedal.
The gearshift is an altogether overcomplicated system of gates, levers, cables, pivots and ball joints. The steering wheel linkages and under-dash components look like they’re off an old steam engine!
The problem with mechanical linkages and joints, is that the more there are of them, the more slack you introduce. Fortunately, despite the antiquated design and the wear added over the years, the shifting is still satisfactory, even if not as slick as more modern cars.
The throttle pedal was the next ‘little job’. The floor had been replaced under the pedal, so there were no existing holes to mount it. But after I had stripped and refurbished the hinge component, and after a few mock-ups to find the correct location, it was fitted without too much hassle. It operates via an equally over-complicated system of levers and linkages as the gearshift. Automotive systems certainly have improved in the 55 years since this old girl rolled off the production line, sometimes more than we give credit for. Hurrah to all the engineers out there!
Before I can drive the car anywhere, even if it is only a 20 yard amble forward, followed by the same in reverse, I’m going to need to sit somewhere. So, those Jag seats I mentioned above, the driver’s one of those at least, has to be fitted to enable this to happen. So, here’s the thing. Not only were the Daimler seats wider and more luxurious, but the frame and mounts needed to be equally larger in size. When I attempted to fit the Jag seat, the mount was unfortunately nowhere near the size or shape. Here are the Jag mounts (red and grey) alongside the existing Daimler mounts (Black).
The old ones were cut out and the Jag mounts offered up for fitment. Some kind soul on a car forum group was able to give me the correct distance from door inner sill.
some forward mounts were fabricated (the Jag had these welded in, so it’s
impossible to re-use them) they were all drilled and fitted with bolts through
the floor and rivnuts to the cross member channel.
Repeat for the passenger side. Although there’s no rush for the passenger side, it makes sense to get them done whilst the tools are out and the method is fresh in my mind.
So, after two and a half years I finally got the chance to sit in the car and pretend to drive it. Next thing, I have to take them back out again. As you know, the leather needs some treatment to rejuvenate it. This means taking them out in the warm sun to maximise the effectiveness of the leather conditioner. So my pretend-driving enjoyment was short lived.
Update July 2022.
So, the hot weather arrived at last, albeit a little too hot. I spent a few days lathering in the oil and conditioning balms and bathing the seats in the glorious sunshine.
Well, what a waste of time that was. They were exactly the same as they were before. Hard as nails. Maybe I need a re-think.
Weather is too hot to even think about block sanding the bodywork at the moment. UK has reached an unheard of 40degs! Time to consider a more leisurely activity instead. I’ve bought a few interior trim items over the last couple of years as mine was almost completely wrecked/missing. One of those things was a mis-matched centre console/radio panel. At this point, I was finally forced to decide on a colour for the interior. I had always intended to trim it in cream, but had a few changes in opinion as I considered the practicalities of such a light colour. But, I decided in the end to go with what I wanted in my heart, so I bought a few metres of cream faux leather to re-trim the console. No going back now! Stripping off the old leather was easy enough. I kept the original bits to use as templates, but the shapes were simple enough that I didn’t actually end up using them anyway.
The ashtray had seen better days.
……and the radio speaker grille was a bit rusty.
Out with the old, and in with the new.
The mid-section had been butchered with a pair of ill-fitting switches at some point in its life, so I completely replaced that bit with a new piece of wood. The padding under the leather had completely disintegrated over the years, but replacement from upholstery outlets was extortionate. Instead I used some 2mm foam normally used for laminate floor underlay. It’s very cheap, readily available and easy to use. Perfect! I re-used the cord for the piping however, as this was still intact. I soaked the grille overnight in the dynamic sounding ‘EVAPORUST’. (Listen, I don’t make up the names for this stuff, I just buy it!). But, as luck would have it, it did indeed live up to its comic sounding name, and the rust from the grille had...well, evaporated!
The rest of the re-trim and assembly went straight forward enough (although the ashtray was a bit tricky), and I was rather pleased (in fact a little too pleased!) with myself when it was complete. I then had to pack this all away the next day when the weather returned to its usual British dreariness, and continue with the postponed manual tasks in the garage.