Dec 282012

The seats had been a nightmare to remove from the car as the securing bolts were rusted solid and it was virtually impossible to get any penetrating oil into the threads due to the hardura trim beneath the seat. It also became clear that there was a fair amount of movement between the seat bases and the seat backs which would need to be invesitgated and addressed.

The seats in the S2 had the benefit over the earlier cars of being able to recline. The seat base and the seat back are joined by reclining mechanisms at each side, which are operated via a chromed lever. In normal use the seat back is locked in position by the engagement of toothed components within the mechanism.

The operation of the lever disengages the teeth, therefore allowing the seat back to move relative to the seat base. A connecting bar runs behind the seat so that the reclining mechanism is activated on both sides simultaniously and return springs ensure that the mechanisms return to the locked state when the lever is released.

The reclining mechanism showing the connecting bar which operates a toothed locking mechanism and also one of the return springs

The reclining mechanisms are attached to the seat backs by two countersunk screws at each side

Pressing out the connecting bar guides

There were two causes for the excessive movement. The first was as a result of stretching in some of the countersunk holes, for connecting the mechanism to the seat back. The second was due to the loosening of the pivot joint between the two halves of the mechanism.

The pivot joint consists of a round metal cylinder which is lipped at one end. This passes through the outer half of the mechanism until the lip is flush and then through the inner half of the mechanism. It is then MIG welded to the inner half. The pivot joint is cylindrical as it also acts as the pivot for the connecting bar, which has protrusions at each end which pass through the pivot centres.

The pivot joint was very loose on two of the mechanisms and had obviously been meddled with by a previous owner, probably trying to address the excesive play. So I thought it would be a good idea to dismantle them so that they could be repaired and painted.

With hindsight I don’t think they are designed to be dismantled as, to do so, requires the welded pivot joint to be pressed out to provide enough movement to disengage the various parts. I think this must have been what the previous owner had tried before giving up. However I’d reached the point of no return!

Dismantled at last Damage bolt hole In need of repair

The dismantled reclining mechanism. The reclining connecting bar interlocks with the toothed wedge piece to lock and release the seat back

The two parts show where the attachment hole has been stretched, causing excessive movement in the seat backs

The parts were shot blasted and the damaged ones repaired by adding new metal and then grinding back to the correct profile

The welds securing the pivot joints were ground down so that only a small amount of weld remained. They could then be pressed out using a vice. This provided sufficient movement of the connecting bar to disengage it from the interlocked toothed, wedge shaped piece (above left) while withdrawing it from the mechanism. In doing so the two halves of the mechanism then fell apart.

The individual parts were then shot blasted before new metal was added to the parts requiring repair to the stretched bolt holes. They were then ground back to the correct profile. All the parts were then painted in POR15 in preference to powder coating as I felt POR15 would give a much tougher finish.

Painting with POR15 New spray booth! Ready for rebuild

The parts were then painted with POR15 to give a tough coating which should be better at withstanding the abrasion

Hanging the parts to dry

The parts ready for the rebuild, which I wasn't looking forward to! Note: new machined joints and circlip to replace the need for welding

I wanted to avoid the need to weld the pivot joints to the mechanism. Fortunately a local from the pub runs a machine shop and offered to make up some new joints in stainless steel. Rather then being welded, the joints were machined with a groove so that they could be secured with a circlip. If they need to be dismantled in future it won’t be such a difficult task next time around. A week later four shiny new joints were delivered all for the cost of a pint!

At the same time as sorting the reclining mechanisms, the seats were stripped back to the frames as these were going to be sent away to be professionally re-trimmed. It’s possible to purchase re-trim kits which include new leather seat covers but most on the E-type Forum who had rebuild their cars recommended getting the seats and the central console done professionally and I was happy to take their advice!

Seat cover removed Seat back padding Edges covered in cotton

The seat back cover is secured at the base by stables into a plywood strip

The firmness of the seat back is provided by interconnected elastic rubber rings. The black plastic head rest guide had been snapped off.

A fibrous material provides the padding for the seat back

The removal of seat back cover was simply a matter of removing the securing staples around its base. The seat cover can then be slid off to reveal the metal frame and internal padding, covered in a plastic protective covering. The spring in the seat back is provided by a series of interconnecting rubber rings connected to the metal frame and the seat padding is an odd fibrous material. The edges were also padded out with compacted, loose cotton. All of this would be replaced during the re-trim.

The seat runners were removed from the seat bases but the release arms were scrapping on the underside of the metal frame. I suspect this might be due to incorrect shimming or the arms have been bent. I’ll have to sort this out when they are refitted.

The S2 seat runners differ from earlier cars as they have a connecting wire so the runners are released from both sides

The runner release arm was fouling the seat base. I think this is most likely to be incorrect shimming between the runner and the seat base

The seat base covers are similarly secured by staples into a material strip on the underside of the metal seat base frame. This time the padding is provided by a dense foam moulding and the spring by a rubber diaphragm. Both the rubber and foam had started to perish due to age but again these would be replaced.

The seat diaphragm rubber had started to perish

The seat foam was no longer bonded to the seat base so the seat foam and cover could just be lifted away from the frame

One other problem that wasn’t immediately obvious was that the front mounting points were broken. The mounting points are captive nuts which are welded in place however the metal had fractured almost the entire way round the nut. The seat bases were sent off to be repaired by Hutsons, who were doing the bodyshell work as I didn’t have the necessary metalworking equipment …. or the skills!

The seat frames, centre console and some other interior trim were then sent off to Suffolk & Turley to be re-trimmed. I had always envisaged that the car would be painted in British Racing Green and trimmed in a cream leather.

However a late change in paint colour to Oparlescent Dark Blue meant that I now needed to decide on an alternative interior colour. The colour choices offered by Jaguar for the interior for Oparlescent Dark Blue cars were Black, Light Blue and Red. Although I believe it was possible to specify any interior colour in their range when the cars were ordered.

I didn’t want black as I wanted some contrast to the black of the dash. I wasn’t that keen on the light blue …. probably biased because I’d never liked the original light blue exterior. So red it was! Although Eric Suffolk did try to tempt me with the light blue as he said it was his favourite colour. I must admit that Oparlescent Dark Blue with a red interior was probably the last combination I would ever have gone for so I hope it looks alright at the end. Too late to change my mind – I was committed now!

The rebuilt reclinging mechanism with freshly zinc-nickel plated return springs. Boy were the springs difficult to fit without destroying the new paint!

The completed seat, console and trim kit were picked up from Suffolk & Turley. They'd done a fantasic job - just like new!

The hard work and lengthy repair of the reclining mechanisms were worth it. I'm so pleased with the seats and console and now really eager to fit the interior

There was quite a time gap between sending the seat frames and console off to Suffolk & Turley and my finishing the repair of the reclining mechanisms. Work and other things were taking precedence. However I was now holding things up as the seats were awaiting re-covering and Eric was insistent that he needed the mechanisms to make sure the stitch lines in the seat back and seat base were aligned. So I made a last push to get the mechanisms rebuilt before posting them off to Eric to work his magic.

The reclining mechanism also has larger springs ro return the seat back to the upright position. I still need to source the bakelite knobs for the reclining levers

A good view of the connecting bar between the two sides of the reclining mechanisms

The seat frames were powder coated in the correct grey and new diaphragm and seat foam used in the retrim

Dec 042012

Overall the dash was in reasonable condition. There wasn’t any significant damage to the vinyl covering the three dash sections which was a relief. Although it’s possible to have them re-vinyled, I’m lead to believe that the textured finish isn’t the same as the original. All mine needed was a good clean. Unfortunately the dashtop vinyl hadn’t faired so well and had taken a fair amount of abuse in the past, so that it was now sporting several long tears around the central console area and needed to be replaced.

It looks as if the tears had started on the underside where the vinyl had been cut to allow it to be shaped to the curvature of the dashtop frame. Over time these tears had propagated to the top side of the dash. Fortunately replacement dashtops are readily available from the usual sources and have a generous excess for bondcing to the underside.

The vent surrounds had all started to rust, presumably from airborne moisture carried into the heater blower

The plastic vents on the underside could be withdrawn once the surrounds had been removed

There’s not much to the removal and dismantling of the dashtop. It’s secured to the bulkhead in four places; at the outer edges and brackets either side of the central console area. The map light fitting was simply removed by drilling out two securing rivets.

The underside had only slight rusting

Central mounting brackets

Map light fitting

Bemusingly both end air ducts had paint overspray.

The plastic ducts can be deformed sufficiently so they can be removed without damage

Removing the excess glue from the metal frame

The heater vents consist of plastic ducts, which are pushed through slots from the underside of the metal dashtop frame, and painted air duct surrounds. Two self tapping screws hold the surround and duct in place. All the surrounds had started to rust, presumably from airborne moisture carried into the heater blower from the engine bay, and so were to be lightly bead blasted and then powder coated. Annoyingly the powder coaters gave them a gloss finish rather than the requested satin. Hopefully they won’t be too distracting by reflecting too much sunlight.

The various dashtop components ready to be rebuiltI decided to powder coat the metal frame in light grey rather than re-plate it. All that was required was to remove the old vinyl top and clear off any remaining contact adhesive. At some time in its history the car must have been resprayed as there was quite a bit of overspray on the outer two air ducts. I still can’t work out why, as it would have been harder to get overspray there than not! However the overspray came off fairly easily after a good scrubbing.

First the plastic ducts must be refitted into the slots in the metal frame, before bonding the vinyl dash top to the metal frame using high temperature contact adhesive. Once glued in place the edges were softened using a heat gun which allowed them to be moulded to the shape of the frame before being glued to the underside. The final tasks were cutting slots in the vinyl for the air vents before refitting the surrounds and riveting the map bulb holder back in place.

Map light bulb holder

The vinyl only needed cutting at the dashtop ends to enable it to follow the curvature of the dash

Heat can be used to make the vinyl more pliable so it can be wrapped around the edges

One of the popular upgrades many owners are making is to improve the dash lighting by replacing the incandescent bulbs with LED strips. The backlighting of the gauges and the map lighting were fairly poor at best and the bulbs also generated a reasonable amount of heat. Therefore my next task is to install white LED strips to replace the map light and install coloured LED strips in the gauges.

Completed dashtop

Air vent surrounds refitted