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Bucket seat restoration and repair. (Lots of Pics)


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This should cover everything needed to restore a set of bucket seats to better than average condition. This write up is very long but should cover all the problems associated with bucket seats like fixing broken tilt levers, out of shape bolsters, headrest, and a few other things. It will take about two days to do everything in this write-up due to drying times but the results should be worth it.

First if you don't already have buckets, you need to find a good set from another MJ or 2dr XJ. These are courtesy of the CFC's program. They are in good shape but could use a little TLC.

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Best of all is that they are tilt forward and that the trim pieces around the tilt lever, is not broke.

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Remove the seat from the floor bracket. It's pretty easy but if you need help, look at my other write-up HERE to see how.

We'll work on the back cushion first since it has more things to do to get the slipcover off. First you should remove the headrest if you haven't already. To take it completely out you must turn the post that has the little arrow on it and then pull the headrest off.

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Next remove the back adjustment lever on the outer side of which ever seat you started with. Use a small screwdriver to lift the little tab that is holding it on. Be careful not to use too much force. It only takes a little to lift it up and then pull the lever off.

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Then remove the two screws that hold the tilt lever trim on. Be careful when working with this as they tend to break.

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Lift it up enough to pull the vinyl out from underneath it.

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Now feed the trim piece under the vinyl and out of the way.

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Now we are ready to start pulling the slipcover off. Flip up the back cushion so the bottom is up and undo the velcro. Be careful not to just jerk it apart as it might tare the velcro from the vinyl. Be sure to get the small pieces on each side.

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Now roll the slipcover a couple of inches like you would roll up a pant leg.

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You can know see the velcro that holds the cover onto the front of the seat. Again do not just rip this apart. Work you hand in between the two pieces separating the velcro easily.

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Now continue to invert the slip cover as you pull it up. This will get easier after you get past the side bolsters. You may need to separate the velcro again as you work this off.

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Now remember that you must slip the tilt lever through it's opening and also you will need to remove the headrest post prior to taking it all the way off. These can be a PITA.

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There are two push clips holding them in. You will need to push these together and then push the post up through the seat frame. You may need to use a pair of pliers to push them together and then while pulling from the top, push with the pliers from the bottom. Here's a view of this little PITA. Arrow point out the clips.

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You can now free the cover from the seat. Depending on your year of seats, you may have plastic trim around the holes in the vinyl for the headrest.

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Once the cover is off, you can reach in and pull the back piece off of the trim to get it out. Here's both pieces removed.

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Set that cover aside and now work on the bottom cushion. Flip it over and remove the six phillips head screws holding the slip cover on to the back.

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Then remove the two steel wires that run along the sides which the screws were holding.

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Flip the cushion over and using the same procedure you used on the back cushion, separate the velcro from the cushion and slip cover.

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You should now be able to slip the cushion right out of the slipcover. Once you have it off, remove the two other wires, one front and one back.

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Also take off the clip that holds the two sides around the back of the seat frame.

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Make sure you have all four wires and one clip off each seat. Washing machines don't like them.

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Prior to the slipcovers going into the washing machine, you need to scrub them down to get the heavy stuff off. Also, the washing machine will do very little for the vinyl, as water does not pass through it so the dirt and grime will still be there if you don't scrub it first. Being the unofficial spoke person for Purple Power, I use it to degrease and clean everything.

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Use a medium bristle brush so not to harm the slipcover especially the fabric. I use the scrub, rinse, scrub, and rinse technique. Here's some greasy grime.

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Now it's gone.

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Ok, now that you have scrub them all down, they are ready for the machine. I use the permanent press cycle as it has a slower agitation rate and will be less likely to harm the slipcover. This will be up to you as you know your own machine. Use a lightly scented detergent and no fabric softener. You will thank me later for that tip as the ones I put in the 86 had both and took months to get rid of the smell. Too much for such a small space. Hang them up to dry. The dryer will melt the vinyl and will probably shrink the covers.

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Try to keep them in a natural position to avoid creases.

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While the washing machine is doing it's thing work on the cushions themselves. The back can be separated from the frame. Just be careful when taking it off.

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The foam cushion can tell you a couple of things. First if you have a split at the side bolster,

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The rubber trim has probably come off of the steel wing

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Just fit it back on. Also if you have wrinkles in the foam,

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Then the wing has been bent out of shape

BEFORE
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Carefully bent it back out till it looks like they are even.

AFTER
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You may find that one side has separated from the frame all together. I didn't have that here but have seen it on others. I usually just drill a small hole in the wing and one in the frame and use a small sheet metal screw to re-attach it. This is a good time to fix the tilt releases. One of mine, the lever moved up and down freely. This is a good indication of a broken cable. ( I did the next steps prior to taking the foam off the frame but it would be better to do after you have removed the foam. ) Depending on the year of your seats you may have a cover over the seat tilt latch. There are two small clips holding it in. Just push them in and lift the cover off.

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Here is what I suspected. The cable has broken right at the latch.

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I pulled a cable from the JY off another set of less than desirable buckets. Here's the replacement and the broken one. You can see by the arrow the cable broke were the end piece attaches.

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Just route the cable back in as it came out and attach the ends through the holes. One in the lever and the other in the latch.

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Test it out. If it doesn't pull the latch far enough to release the back, that would indicate that you didn't replace the zip tie in the corner.

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This little zip tie could be the only thing not letting your seat back release and could be fixed without taking the seat apart as I have here. Here is the factory one. It's not that big and I will replace it with a stronger one to prevent future problems.

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Wash the cushions. I sprayed them with Purple Power, let it set for a few minutes and then rinsed them off until I saw no more suds. Don't use the brush on them unless absolutely needed. Set the cushions up so that they are off the ground to let the water drain out of them. This will probably take a couple days or one really hot one to be completely dry.

Lastly on our things to look at or repair, is the headrest. Scrub them down with you know what, and inspect the bottom of them. One of mine had the material loose.

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To fix this, remove the two screws and pull the rod assembly out.

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Now if your head rest is kind of floppy and slides up and down funny, it may be that the clips that you see in the above picture have come off allowing the rod to slide up and down in the headrest. To fix my problem, reseat the vinyl into the four tabs and tuck in the ends.

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Replace the rod assembly and put the screws back in. This can be put in backwards so note the way it came out.

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Now your ready to assemble everything back together. That is if it is all dry. First put the foam back on and make sure the plastic clips that snap onto the frame are attached. I had a couple that had come loose.

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They are only held in by a small amount of glue.

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I just used some spray adhesive and put them back in. Gave it a couple of minutes and put the foam back on the frame making sure the clips are were they should be.

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Now putting the slipcover back on is a little bit of a pain but you just have to keep working it till it's back on. You may have to work it around a bit to get it to look right. Also, important note, PUT THE HEADREST TRIM PIECES BACK ON BEFORE YOU PUT IT ON THE SEAT.

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Yeah, they are a PITA afterwards. You should now have something like this.

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Put the tilt trim screws back in and slide the adjustment lever back on. Also put the headrest post thingies back in making sure that the locking one is on the side that the headrest post with the notch is on. You may notice some white residue left over from the wash. Just use a mild cleaner and wipe it off.

Before
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After
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The vinyl will get a mild cleaning once more when done and a nice vinyl conditioner put on. After all the scrubbing, washing, and drying, they have little moisture left in them. Also, you may have a few pulled threads or fuzzies on the fabric. Use a lint shaver to take care of these.(Ask your wife or girlfriend, they will have one)

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One finally repair and that is on the foam. The one side was split so I used the spray adheseve to bond the halfs bactk together and then put a piece of duct tape to help hold it while it dried and also to help protect it during the slipcover installation.

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The cushions took a lot longer than anticepated to dry but all the seats are back together. I put a light coat of vinyl reconditioner on them. I'll get better pic's later but here is one set.

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All in all I think it was worth it to have a nice set of clean seats that function the way they should. Afterall, who knows what kind of people have been sitting in them for the last 15 years. :ack:

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Super job :bowdown: I just put my buckets in (replaced the bench) and used a rug scubber may have to take them back out to clean then right. Also my one does not tilt forward now I know how to fix it if I can just find a cable. Wounder if the dealer still has them? One is also missing the tilt leaver.

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  • 1 month later...

I went to a Junkyard the other day; seen nearly thirty XJs and only one MJ. This JY is in the middle of the city and is stripped to sell stuff for profit, so I couldn't find much of anything useful. I had a wide selection of 2 door XJ bucket seats but they seem to be all broken in some way.

:idea: :idea:

Do the springs and mechanical parts in them hold up quite well??? I would get the seat even if they where covered in nasty stuff from the great beyound if I knew that they where mechanicallu sound.

:yes: :yes: :yes:

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I went to a Junkyard the other day; seen nearly thirty XJs and only one MJ. This JY is in the middle of the city and is stripped to sell stuff for profit, so I couldn't find much of anything useful. I had a wide selection of 2 door XJ bucket seats but they seem to be all broken in some way.

:idea: :idea:

Do the springs and mechanical parts in them hold up quite well??? I would get the seat even if they where covered in nasty stuff from the great beyound if I knew that they where mechanicallu sound.

:yes: :yes: :yes:

 

I pointed out the major problem you may incounter in the write up. If you have wide selection to choose from, you could mix and match the best parts to make a good set. The frames tend to be pretty rugged so find a good frame, check the seat back release cables to see if they are broke or if they just need the zip tie replaced, and make sure the side metal wings are solid. Good luck.

 

:cheers:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great pictures and great detail! You seen to have done a number of these seats, so I will ask a few questions to pick your brain.

 

Can we "convert" a 4 door seat over to a 2 door, tilt forward seat IF we have a broken down 2 door seat? Sounds like this would be a "frame" issue.

 

Next, concerning the bucket seat backs. The Jeep Laredo had a special "wing back", meaning more chair back warp around near the kidneys than the normal seat. I want to "convert" the 4 door version of this seat to a 2 door version for my Comanche. Found a fantastic pair of these "Wing back" 4 door seats and a good version of the "non wing back seats" from a 2 door Cherokee. My question is should I pay $100 total for both pairs of bucket seats, in hopes of getting one great set of 2 door "wing backs" from the 4 seats? Or should I look for a Dakota bench/bucket seat with the center fold down console that is a BIG step above the Comanche bench or bucket. But the colors are a problem for the door panels.

 

Any additional insight you can provide would be great.

 

JJ

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Very nice post! Will the cover come off a bench seat in a similar fashion? Wouldn't mind cleaning mine up.

 

I pretty sure they do but, you have to be extra careful with the bench back because of the material on the backside of it. I've pulled one off but I didn't care as I was scapping the seat. Because of the size, I'd do the back and bottom in separate washer loads.

 

Can we "convert" a 4 door seat over to a 2 door, tilt forward seat IF we have a broken down 2 door seat? Sounds like this would be a "frame" issue.

 

Next, concerning the bucket seat backs. The Jeep Laredo had a special "wing back", meaning more chair back warp around near the kidneys than the normal seat. I want to "convert" the 4 door version of this seat to a 2 door version for my Comanche. Found a fantastic pair of these "Wing back" 4 door seats and a good version of the "non wing back seats" from a 2 door Cherokee. My question is should I pay $100 total for both pairs of bucket seats, in hopes of getting one great set of 2 door "wing backs" from the 4 seats? Or should I look for a Dakota bench/bucket seat with the center fold down console that is a BIG step above the Comanche bench or bucket. But the colors are a problem for the door panels.

 

I've not tried to convert but I guess with the right tools, it could be possible. I personally would be patient and wait for the set that I want. If you want the "wing back" seats in the long run but don't want to wait, put the 4 dr ones in and keep searching for the 2dr's. Once you find the 2dr's, sell the 4dr's to recoupe your $$. If they are in good shape, you should make a little on the sell as XJ owners are always looking for a good set. I thought for a little while on doing the 60/40 bench swap but even if you get one thats perfect, it still doesn't match the era for out trucks and looks out of place in my opinion.

 

:cheers:

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you can convert wing back 4dr seats to 2dr seats with a wing back 2dr frame. you *should* be able to use the "normal" 2dr seat frames, but you will probably have to cut the supports for the wings off the 4 door seat frame and put them on the 2 door wing back seat frame.

 

 

I just converted cherokee limited leather wing backs to 2 door wing backs.

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should I look for a Dakota bench/bucket seat with the center fold down console that is a BIG step above the Comanche bench or bucket. But the colors are a problem for the door panels.

 

 

here's the Dakota seats in an MJ,these are from a 97

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  • 5 months later...

Just want to say thanks for the write up. I finally found a set of 2 dr seats after a long search and they needed some TLC. I'll probably end up covering the set as they are grey and I want black, but I had to do something about the smell. Thanks for the detailed write up.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Here's another example of getting a set and cleaning them up. They were solid however, they really must of had a heavy driver. I've seen the cushion wore out before but never seen the metal cracked on the bottom. Luckily, I had a spare to swap for it.

 

 

Lots of nice grease from people wiping their hands off in the JY.

 

 

 

After cleaning them up.

 

 

They turned out pretty good. Definitely the best tan ones I've seen personnally.

 

 

:cheers:

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  • 11 years later...

11 years later, this post saved me a lot of time and frustration! Thanks for posting. I was able to replace the really, really bad driver's seat with a much improved seat I picked up recently. I used the info here to swap bottom cushions to make an even better seat overall. Thanks for the post and pictures, this helped a lot!

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  • 2 months later...

covered about everything except what I wanted to know: how to remove the roll pin used to attach the plastic handle on the backrest tilt release lever on bucket seats in a 2-dr xj (mine is  a 1990). my donor seat was grey and the seats in my jeep are red so am wanting to swap out the handle on the lever but don't know how to get the little pin out without wrecking the handles.

 

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