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Trimming & Interior Care

Trimming & Interior Care Published: 29th Aug 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Trimming & Interior Care
Trimming & Interior Care
Trimming & Interior Care
Trimming & Interior Care
Trimming & Interior Care
Trimming & Interior Care
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There’s simply no excuse for roughing it when out in your classic if you heed these top trade tips that needn’t break the bank either…

If there’s one thing that marks out a good restoration from a great one, it’s the state of the interior and yet it’s the area a lot of DIY rebuilds sadly fall down on. Don’t fall into the same trap although be warned, renovating tired trim can cost as much as bodywork repairs. On the other hand don’t skimp needlessly on an interior. After all, you’ve got to live in it while out driving…

Leather lore

Older hides need to be kept clean and well-fed or they deteriorate easily. Oil-based dirt can be carefully removed with white spirit and common stains can be tackled with sparing quantities of warm water, after which the leather should be thoroughly dried. The use of such products as washing-up liquids should be avoided, as their saline can draw out the natural oils and prematurely age the leather.

Once clean, the leather should be fed with Connolly hide food or other such proprietary product. The container should be heated with a hair dryer so an even layer can be achieved. Any unwanted build-up on the seat can easily be removed simply by localised heating and rubbing with a soft cloth. Once cool, the surface should be thoroughly buffed.

Early cars may well have had their seats connollised. This process of ‘painting’ leather to restore its colour was originated by the now defunct leather supplier Connolly, but has become a generic term for such treatment. One such company is Leather Forever who markets a range of over 20 base colours and says, unlike waxed products like boot polish, its products will not leave a residue that will come off on clothing. Each base colour will cover 2-3 shades either side of the base colour within the spectrum, so an exact colour match is not required – you simply choose the nearest shade from the colour chart to match your requirement, it adds. A 250ml pot will generally treat a set of seats up to three times.

Extra care is needed when cleaning seats that have been treated in any way, as inadvertently removing the coating can make the items look worse rather than better.

While wholesale DIY painting of leather is not recommended, localised coating can come in handy for touching up the piping, squab bolsters etc that suffer the most wear and tear. Once the seat is clean and the colour matched, the appropriate dye should be carefully stippled-in.

Rubbing the surface with a finger will help achieve the gloss effect common in older leather. Smaller areas, especially on black or brown leather, can be successfully treated with boot polish. The container should be preheated with a hair dryer so the polish will readily soak into the damaged area. Once buffed, the repaired section will not be a problem to clothing etc.


Vinyl values

This should be kept clean and prevented from getting too cold in winter as once it’s cracked or faded, there is not much one can do other than retrim accordingly. There is no point in using leather food or suchlike, as the material is not porous. Small areas can be touched-in with the appropriate colour of leather paint, boot polish or even an indelible marker however.


Wood wise

Wood veneers are prone to attack from the sun’s powerful rays. The best way to prevent problems is to keep the relevant area clean and covered whenever practical; especially if the car concerned is likely to remain unused for some time. The most common problems are cracking or fading of the top surface – ie lacquer. Minor deterioration can sometimes be overcome as follows:

Fine scratches can be removed with a fine grit paint polish

Small discoloured areas can be touched-in using carefully matched model paints by applying with a fine brush Boot polish can also be handy for restoring very small areas. The colour needs to be matched with care, and pre-heating the polish will help it flow onto the crack or blemish concerned. Once buffed, it will not come off on hands or clothing

Once wood facias, door cappings etc are beyond the type of minor reparation described, they will need to be removed, stripped and professionally re-lacquered.


Clued up on cloth coverings

If cloth interiors become dirty, then vacuum well to remove any loose dirt and dust, before using an interior cleaning product from a recognised supplier of car valeting products. Stubborn oil and grease stains may be possible to remove by way of careful application of brake/clutch cleaner would you believe – put some onto a lint free cloth and using a dabbing/twisting action try to remove the stain (don’t be tempted to rub at the stain as this can cause it to spread). Best though to first test the brake/clutch cleaner on an inconspicuous area of the trim to make sure that it doesn’t stain or discolour it!

Hiring domestic steam cleaning equipment works a treat (we found-ed) to remove very difficult stains or dirt (do your home as well to make it cost effective), but at the end of the day if cloth interiors are too badly marked there’s not much that can be done.


Plastic fantastic

The types of plastic employed in car interiors are prey to the effects of UV radiation, and once cracked or faded there is little one can do to restore them. To save them from deterioration, they should be kept fresh with a mild proprietary cleaner and away from the sun’s rays as much as possible.


Metal mettle

High traffic areas such as sill kick plates are prone to scratching. As a deterrent these should be regularly cleaned with a soft cloth. If necessary, the offending parts can be professionally stripped and re-lacquered. Any ongoing problem can be largely prevented by coating vulnerable areas with Defendall (or similar protection film), a rubbery, transparent product used by specialists like Allon White Sports Cars to protect any metal parts (interior or exterior) that are exposed to regular abrasion, bombardment with stones, gravel and so on.


Help a hoodie

Hoods should always be stored on the car and fully tensioned to prevent damage to the fabric, rear window etc. Everflex ones should be washed (on the car) with soapy water. Leaks along the joins can sometimes be sealed with beeswax. The wax should be heated and applied sparingly to the problem area alone. Any excess should be removed with a clean cloth.

Mohair hoods should be cleaned with an appropriate proprietary product, rinsed off with an ordinary hose – never a high pressure washer – dried and re-proofed. Particular attention should be paid to the seam lines and ensuring the re-proofer is thoroughly dry before the vehicle is used. Beeswax should NOT be used on Mohair hoods! Tiny areas of discolouration can be successfully touched in with an indelible marker!


Suitably carpeted

When carpets in convertibles become wet, they should be removed, hung vertically and allowed to dry naturally at room temperature – using a heater will cause them to shrink. The footwells should be thoroughly dried before the carpets are replaced; absorbent paper is good for this, but newsprint should be kept away from light coloured carpeting, as the ink can rub off and stain. A proprietary trim cleaner should be used for individual marks, while oil and grease stains can be removed by careful use of a brake/clutch cleaner.


Top trim tips


  • Some owners prefer a nicely aged interior to give their classic a pleasing patina. And it has to be said that some beautifully renovated interiors can look a wee bit false as many were never that good when the cars were brand new! It depends what you’re after.

  • Trim inevitably wears but both pvc and leather can be invisibly mended by ‘smart repairing’ (see your local Yellow Pages or go on the web) and you can buy quite effective DIY kits. However, badly damaged areas will need to be properly recovered. Shop around and you’ll net a god deal.

  • Any good upholsterer can replicate the original design so it looks authentic as well as rebuild sagging seats. These items shouldn’t be overlooked because a rebuilt seat with new springing improves comfort no end, and along with a restored steering wheel, gives the impression and feel of a new car.

  • The job is made a good deal easier on the more popular classics because tailored ready-to-fit refurbishing kits are generally available off the shelf and can save you a lot of time and effort but at a cost. An all-new interior pack for the likes of an MGB or TR can run into thousands: a new veneer dash alone costs in the region of £250.

  • Renewing carpets is one of the simplest and cost effective jobs, although it may be hard to match the original pile design. Spend a bit extra and renew any deteriorating or missing underfelt and sound insulation. Not only will it make the interior quieter, it will make it smell better by removing that horrid aged musty smell.

  • If you are contemplating an inside job yourself then you’ll require an industrial sewing machine, plenty of practice – and a swear box! You can buy hides and do your own thing. Autojumbles throw up complete hides from £65, or less if you haggle! To give you an idea, half a hide is ample for two MG Midget seats.

  • Without doubt, the worst job is reviving tired headlining especially if you are after originality. DIY kits are available, but you’ll rarely get it as good a fit as a professional will.

  • Trim is one of the rarest commodities on a classic so consider buying another identical car with good trim to salvage or even keep as spares for the future. And never throw anything away…

Apart from renewing, only way to tackle tired wood is to strip it right back and re-varnish and polish it – a tedious job but one that’s well worth the effort as anybody who has seen a wonderful Jag Mk2 dash close up will testify!

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