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Triumph TR3 - TR-3A Seat Renovation

My TR3-A seats are in need of renovation. I can still use them but it's time; the cover is rotten and tearing in places. I took one apart today to look at it. Somebody redid them once in the very distant past; there are no springs, just old fashioned yellow foam. This kind of foam is very uncomfortable as it is not very dense like new high density foams and sags with little support.
Roger Williams claims in his TR3 book that unless one is really interested in authenticity, foam is the way to go, modern high density foam I presume. Ok, but I see no foam available for a TR3 seat in either, Moss, The Roadster Factory or, Victoria British catalogues. There is foam available starting with TR4's after a certain date.
So how is this done? I suppose I could carve my own foam but the old foam seats I have are not very well made and the foam is not necessarily accurate in shape to use as a pattern. One seat does looks much better than the other, so maybe it would work as a pattern. Is there a drawing out there somewhere for the correct foam shape with dimensions? Or should I just get new covers and let an upholsterer make the foam to fit the covers. I feel I could do this jogb if I had the foam; the covers in and of themselves are already expensive enough. Any ideas from you guys that have been over this ground before?

Howard Petri

Seems I have heard of using a harder foam for the lower and softer for the upper part.

But I think the cars deserve springs for the seat bottoms. Your back and the seat bottom is a big part of the ride, the suspension just does half the work and the seats do the rest. They bring high prices used, but I've seen them many times on ebay.

I came across a couple of theater seat springs during the restoration of what I originally thought was a parts car, but ended up a nice driver. They were a little more square than the original spring boxes, so I bent the corners down to get the curve on the front. Then padded the tops with foam to get the shape. I also padded the covers a bit more than stock in the pleats (with regular foam rather than cotton batting). At first, I thought they looked a little too bumpy, ripply, whatever. But they have settled into very natural looking seats. The seat bottoms ended up a little shorter than stock too, which I like very much. They still have a spring feel, nice support for the thighs.

If you can find some spring boxes with a few bad springs, it's possible to wind a few replacements, or Triumphs Only in California will do it for you. There are sources for horsehair padding and cotton batts are pretty common. TRF used to sell foam seat bottoms, if I remember right, maybe still do. There are new seats for sale on ebay pretty regularly, I'm guessing they use foam for the bottoms.

Anyway, I wish I could tell you that I have done what you wish to do, but I haven't. But there are lots of ways to do it, so maybe you (and the local people that rebuild chairs?) can come up with a better way.

I hope you don't mind if I slip a question in here. Was there a change in the seat pattern during the TR3 run? In either the leather or vinyl?
I see that my car has 6 equal spaced horizontal bands, roughly 4in wide, all the way down the seatback and 6 across the seat bottom. These are bordered on either side by a single band roughly 5 in wide, top to bottom. The Moss catalog shows a quite different pattern.
Also did any of you combine the colors? For example, red seats (front and rear) with everything else black?
On topic - I see that Revington TR in the motherland has foam seat kits.
Thanks, Steve
Steve Crosby

According to the Moss catalogue the first seat pattern with vertical bands went from TR2-TR3 TS22013. The horiz banding was used on TR3A/B into some of the TR4's. TS22014-15273ct. So I would assume from this that all TR3A's were horizontal banded. Seat foam is available for the later TR4 seats, not TR3. I hadn't thought of Revington. I'll take a look.

thanks all,
Howard Petri

I just looked at Revington and they provide no picture of the seat foam so it's hard to tell exactly what they are selling. I suppose an email would be get the answer. I expect shipping would be a bit expensive from England. The parts, while not heavy, would be fairly big.

Howard Petri

I'm not sure of the commission # of the change, but yes. The early 3's had vertical pleats, the 3A's and early 4's had horizontal. All 3's had spring seat bottoms, later TR4's had foam and a rubber diaphragm, they look a lot different, more square cornered.

All Revington's stuff seems to be good quality, never ordered from them. They seem to use what they sell, so I'd trust their products.

When I restored the TR3B the seat springs seemed to be shot. They pretty much compressed to the seat frame. Maybe the springs were rebuildible but I choose to replace them. First, I ordered from TRF but they were experimenting with a new supplier. As the car got closer to "on the road status I orded springs from Moss. They are very stiff and perhaps should "give" a little. I sit fairly high on the seat. Nonetheless they work fine and are much better than the ones that came with the car.
GG Krafft

During its first life (80,350 miles) from 1958 to 1972, the seat cushions in my 1958 TR3A developed a permanent sag of about 2 inches at the center. It may have been caused by all the rallys I did on rough rocky and gravel roads from 1959 to 1963. My seat, the driver's seat was worse than the passenger's seat. And I only weighed about 160 pounds at the time. When I restored it all from 1987 to 1990, I put in all new interior. The person who sold me the new interior (Jim Hawkins - England) gave me a box full of seat springs that I sprialled up in with the weak ones. Then I bent a loop back on itself at the bottom of each new spring coil so they would stay in place. They have been fine for the last 15 summers (87,000 more miles) with the correct height and comfort. I drove home from TRA in Springfield, Ohio in June, 2004 in one day (892 miles) and arrived home tired but it wasn't uncomfortable. I weigh 172 pounds now.

Don Elliott, Original Owner
Photo taken in 2001 at VTR in Colorado - 5225 miles round trip
Don Elliott

I just finished rewinding 12 springs that were broken in my seat cushions. It took about 4 hours with vice grips and piece of 1 inch water pipe. I used .063 piano wire from Afflect. The piano wire cost about $40 for enough wire for probably 50 springs. Each spring(three turn springs) took about 24 inches of piano wire. The piano wire bends fairly easily and it is easy to make the hooks at the ends of the springs with vice grips and a little hand strength. If you can find some seats with a few broken springs, this seems a good fix although I have not finished covering the springs with burlap, horsehair, cotton, and foam(part of new covers) yet.

Steve, I don't care for the mixing of colors, but it's your car. I think what you have now is a J.C. Whitney reupholster kit from the 60's or 70's. There are a few cars I've seen that have this pattern, but it's not original. It might be an easy fix using a material that already has pleats in it, I've seen that too.

I may have misunderstood your description, and it may be early 3 original, so research it well before deciding what you need.

Thanks Tom,
.. for shedding some light on that mystery. I will replace the seat skins on my 1960 with black leather as shown in the catalogs and noted on the heritage certificate. Do you have a preference for the supplier?
Cheers, Steve
Steve Crosby

This thread was discussed between 10/02/2006 and 21/02/2006

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