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Today we finished one of the front seats, the worst of the two.  The end result is not perfect and, as has been stated before, that's actually not a problem with this particular car.  We could have invested more time and different materials to attain a more perfect finish, this is instead conservation so the repair is not invisible.  After getting all of the splits and tears repaired with the glue and bridging fabric, a small piece of new leather was cut to fit the hole from the cat damage.  To try and hide the repair as much as possible, the piece of leather cut was done to follow the shape of the hole rather than making it a square or circle.  The theory was that this would mean the edges looked more like the other cracks on the leather.  We then applied the leather filler - seems to be some sort of latex or rubber base to this, it's a bit annoying to work with and shrinks - a couple of times to lessen the severity of the worst areas of repair on the seat.  You can go further than this and then smooth the entire surface, following up with dye, we didn't want to do that since we want as much of the original leather to remain in the condition it is as possible.

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After that's done, use a combination of a sharp blade to scrape across the surface where the filler is thin, and fine sandpaper where it's thick, to blend it out into the original leather.  This takes a while, the cat scratch damage in particular required several rounds of filler until it was somewhat even looking.

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After that, apply the dye of choice.  I was using a dye pen which was good for the cracks, but could have done with something I could have applied with a cloth for the cat scratch repair.  I made do with the pen, a small paintbrush, and some kitchen towel so that I could dot on the dye and blend it out in a few layers.  The original dye on the seat varies quite a bit and the new dye looks very dark in places because of it.  After the initial round of dye I used one of my alcohol based Copic markers in a different brown to blend out the new dye and repairs.  It's very ad hoc in approach, you just sort of layer and feather repeatedly until you get something like a uniform look without it being a uniform single colour.

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A bit more effort and time and layers and it was about as good as it was ever likely to get.  You can see in the daylight tha the finish between the Copic, the dye, and the original leather is variable in shininess, it's not so obvious in artificial light.  The camera is also picking up on imperfections that don't jump out so much at you in person.

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To mellow this out, a couple more rounds of conditioner were used and that made the finish much more even as well as improving the general feel of the leather even further.  We've now got to the point with this leather that the conditioner doesn't soak in straight away so we're pretty close to how it should be.  We've probably given the leather 7 or 8 applications of conditioner now, which seems like a lot but has saved us a fortune on getting the seat recovered with new leather.  The end result is quite remarkable, especially when you compare it to where we started.

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Next up will be the driver's seat.  This needs much less repair, and another repair kit because it took two kits to do the passenger seat.

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All in, repairing and conditioning the seats has cost about £50-60, the door cards about £35 (plywood, glue, and escutcheon), and a few mornings and evenings of fiddly work between waiting for materials to dry.  Even when you factor in the materials for the woodwork, the interior revival will have cost us £100, give or take a tenner, and that's an enormous saving on the conventional way of doing these things.  The carpet is going to cost more to do than the woodwork and seats combined and that's usually the cheap bit!

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That there is nice and sympathetic.

Hopefully the repairs last- keep applying conditioner until the leather is fully supple over the next few months and I think you'll be good. It should settle in as the weather changes.

I'm leaning toward having to unpick and then redo the door cards on mine, something I don't relish. The cards look to have been sewn using a leather machine because the fabric is textured and sewn direct to fiberboard...

What's next after the interior?

 

Phil

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Immediate items are going to be removing the dashboard to redo the wood on that, and cutting out the new plywood we bought to redo the door cards.  We've ordered some cedar blocks to keep the moths out, the other day we noticed one in the car and we'd like there to be none.  After that probably the wiper motor since that's going to be easiest to get to with the dashboard removed, try and find out why it's gone from working to not working properly.  Then it's going to be radiator, dynamo, and starter motor all being refurbished and repaired if necessary, and measuring the heater core to see if that one Christine offered is the correct sort or if we'll have to repair the one that's fitted.  We need to get the heater out anyway to try and sort out the noisy fan.  Once we have all that done the new wiring loom should have arrived and be ready to fit, which is just as well since some of the wiring is literally falling apart.  We'll also flush out the block to get as much sediment as we can out and then adjust the brakes before we try and drive the car again since they're pretty dreadful, the book makes brake adjustment sound very easy.

There's lots of jobs and most of them are really cleaning, a bit of repainting, and servicing.  There's very little in the way of really big jobs.

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Today on the Lanchester, it's time to backwards engineer a door card.  There's a lot of different ways to redo door cards, and this is one of the more involved approaches since we're trying to save and reuse as much of it as possible.  The thing that makes this more difficult than it might be is that we're having to replace the board itself so that means stripping the whole thing into the component pieces to understand how to put it back together on a new board.  The first stage of the process is to take a lot of photographs so you have the best record you can of construction.  You'd be amazed how often something is confusing on assembly that a photograph will help explain, even if you weren't deliberately taking a photograph of the confusing item at the time.  We've opted to go for the least damaged of the door cards, they all follow the same basic construction and this will give us the most accurate reference point since it has the least amount of missing or damaged parts.  This approach can help if you're trying to rebuild a door card that's pretty far gone, it allows you to make educated guesses.  The damage on this door card is limited to water damage along the bottom edge, the glue coming unstuck on the top edge, and a couple of missing tacks.

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When you take your detail shots, pay special attention to where materials overlap and how they interact.  You'll find as you unpick each layer you'll need to take more images.  If you're reusing the original material, as we intend to do, it's easier to see where things go because generally they want to go back where they were.  Understanding the original construction means you're less likely to put undue stress on the fabric, and retain an original looking finish, especially when it comes to things like the way the end of the piping trim is closed, or the way it hooks around bracketry to keep a good clean line when the card is refitted.

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I also make a rough plan as I go along, marking all the details as I find them.  I don't worry about measurements every time I do it, and I didn't in this instance either.  I'll be transferring the measurements from the old card to the new pretty much by tracing, so the measurements aren't that vital at this stage.  If the door card was more badly damaged then a to-scale diagram would be the choice.  I also generally draw what I see to save on annotation and a confusing diagram, this used with the photographs gives me a very clear idea of what goes where and saves some time plotting everything out.

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The whole panel is held together with tacks and some glue and the cover is a layered construction.  It makes for a quick assembly and a smart finish without need of specialist tooling.  The only stitching is on the edge piping, the binding edge for the carpet panel, and the piping seam for the pocket elastic, that's a benefit of Rexine not fraying, you can save a lot of time by not having to finish raw edges.  The first task was pulling the tacks I could see, this removed the edge piping and revealed some more tacks underneath holding the main cover in place.  Once those tacks were removed the carpet panel could be carefully folded up so it lid face down on the rest of the door card and that revealed the three tacks holding it down.  To get a nice sharp edge, Barker opted to tack the panel and then fold it rather than sewing and pressing, and that makes the job of removal a lot easier.

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With the carpet panel tacks removed there were several more tacks holding the bottom of the pocket in place.

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With those removed, the pocket panel could be opened, again up so it's face down against the door card, and that revealed the doubled-over cotton wadding used to give the pocket shape and softness.202009-168.thumb.jpg.5b67d6a2e4953ae73ef52552f292ccbe.jpg

After that, fold the fabric upwards again until you get to the elastic cord.  The cord is held in place by both the knots in it that stop it pulling through the door card, and two half inch tacks that are driven through the board (through the pocket fabric rather than the cord itself) and then bent over.  This will be reduce strain on the corners of the pocket panel and prevent it tearing, also to prevent overstretching of the elastic cord that would result in saggy pockets.  All of that removed we could carefully lift the rest of the cover free and reveal what was underneath.  From the carpet panel up, the door card has a single layer of cotton wadding glued on.  This is to give a smoother finish and a 'soft touch' to the rexine.  It's understandably quite flat now and water damaged so will need replacing.  Fortunately, this is a readily available material both from automotive suppliers and craft stores, the latter selling it for use in quilting.

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We will be using the same material rather than a modern foam equivalent for a number of reasons.  The first is cost, there really isn't any saving to be had by using foam over the original cotton wadding.  The second is smell, the interior of this car is almost entirely natural materials and as a result has a complex combination of smells that give it that 'old car smell', as soon as you start introducing modern materials like foam, you start getting 'new car smells' and we don't want that.  The smell of a car is just as important as all the rest of the details.  That said, there was one other item underneath the wadding layer and that's a felt pad for the door handle.  There doesn't seem to be one for the window winder, it doesn't look like it's fallen off or worn out, there just isn't any evidence that one was there, so we shan't be fitting one unless the other door cards suggest there should be one there.

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Finally, we have all our pieces separated and ready for the next phase.

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In all, I removed 55 of the shorter 1/4" or 6mm tacks, and two of the bigger 1/2" or 12mm tacks.  We're undecided if we're using tacks or staples to put everything back together, tacks are more original and possibly easier to remove should we have to, but staples do the same job and are easier to install.  We'll figure it out when we try and acquire suitable hardware of either variety.

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After all that, the plan of the door card had evolved somewhat.  There's still a couple of items to remove from the backing board, we've opted to leave them in place for now so we don't loose them, we'll remove them when we cut the new card so they can be transferred straight over.

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Given how easily the carpet sections come off, and that these are the most badly damaged portion of all the doors, we're considering replacing all of them when we fit the new carpet.  That way it should blend in since the change between old and new is also a point where the materials change in type and texture so, in theory, it shouldn't be that noticable.  That does give us an element of Project Creep since it means to finish the door cards we've got to get the carpet, and to do that we've also got to replace the missing kick panels since the carpet goes onto those and if we're doing that we should really get the front speakers for the entertainment centre... so we'll probably just redo the old door cards and leave the carpetted section off for now and then do all the carpet and kick panels later when we have the materials for that and have completed some of the other jobs instead.

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Will you be able to get a direct match for the carpet? It may be that you could approach a carpet factor (somebody who sources specialist carpets) who may be able to scout about for an exact match. An expert may anyway be able to tell straightaway where it was woven. Fascinating stuff all these sub-components. Daimler/Barker probably procured all their carpets from the same source. Presumably all the trimming was done in house - possibly by women workers - thats how work tended to be divvied out in them days. Great work.

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Woolies are the go to for a lot of trimmings.  We'll be using them for the carpet, have already placed an order for cotton wadding from them today since they're pretty cheap and we know the quality should be good.  Woolies do two brown carpets, the one we'll probably go for is the more expensive one since it's likely to be a closer to match to what the car would have had. https://www.woolies-trim.co.uk/product/2004/8020-wool-carpet-brown

We'll also need to get some matching edge binding (contrast binding isn't very Lanchester), some press studs to match or replace the ones in the floor (this is for keeping the carpet from sliding about), and possibly some underlay of some sort to make the carpet feel a little more plush, even if it's just felt glued to the floor boards or something.  The carpet does seem expensive until you realise just how little is needed, I doubt we'll be looking at more than £300 for all the materials for the carpet and we've the skills and tools needed to do it ourselves since it's all very simple small shapes and no hardship for the sewing machine.

 

 

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