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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Almost a year ago I started on a full interior replacement on my '65 Galaxie. I finished it this summer but finally getting some time to post up pics. Hopefully this will help someone with their car, or at the very least I hope it will be somewhat entertaining.

My car is a standard 500, not an XL. So it has a bench seat and door panels without the big aluminum inserts. My car is not stock and I have no intention of it being a show car. But I like the look of the stock '65 interior so I ordered reproduction seat upholstery and door panels from Distinctive Industries, via MustangMarket.net. In the factory original two-tone turquoise. With a turquoise exterior I was afraid it might be just too much, but in today's world of black, gray, or tan interiors I decided to go with the full colors to represent the '60s in full glory.

Here's what I started with:

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The interior had already been redone once before I got the car. Apparently the car sat in a warehouse or something for many years after that. The interior didn't look too bad but it was faded and stained. And it smelled awful thanks to some rodents who moved in during its slumber. The front seat was very uncomfortable - more on that later.

The kick panels, dashboard, and windlace had been painted tan. The rest was vinyl.

I won't get into all the details because there are many places to see this kind of work, such as DesertXL's excellent posts and photos. I'll just post some pics and info of what I found different, challenging, or just interesting.

One piece of advice: take lots of photos and measurements (I even took photos of measurements!), and bag/label everything.

Next: the front seat - what a mess.

- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I started with the front seat.

I thought this was interesting: factory molded seat foam. I didn't realize they were doing that on the bench seat cars back then.

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You can almost make out the part number:
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Things weren't so good under that foam though.
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Turns out the perimiter spring and multiple other springs were completely rusted away in sections. That's why it sagged so much when I sat on it. I ordered some spring wire and prepared to make new ones when I remembered there was a guy on my local CL selling a 1966 Galaxie bench seat. So I picked that one up - it had its problems too but was in much better shape.

The "new" front seat also had a couple of broken springs. So I ended up making springs after all. The middle one below is an original. I think these were from the seat back. I also had to make some for the seat bottom.
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There's no magic to making these by hand. Just a lot of hard work and using different tools and holding methods to get the correct bends where you need them. The spring wire came from McMaster - same diameter as the original. Be careful - the bottom uses larger diameter wire than the seat backs.

I ended up making some additional springs for the seat bottom. I found it was too soft even after I replaced the broken ones. I shaped the new ones to work with the originals and add more support. Spoiler alert: it worked great.

Seat bottom repaired, prepped, and painted.
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It took a ton of hours to get to this point. No wonder upholstery work is expensive.

Burlap hog ringed in place and trimmed:
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New foam cut and shaped:
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And this is the way it stayed for a long time. Due to Covid shutdowns, my upholstery wouldn't show up for a few months. I used that time to tackle the other seat parts.

- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A little bit about the seat back. Here is the driver's side. It doesn't look too bad.
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But when you take the cover off, it's a different story. It's good that you can't download the smell.
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One interesting thing about the front seat back is the burlap that wraps around the top. DesertXL showed this in greater detail. The long edge is folded over and sewn so listing wires can run through there. I sewed new ones using the old ones as patterns. Here is the passenger side installed on the cleaned and painted seat frame.
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I tried to use similar materials and thicknesses as what I found on the originals. Wasn't easy to determine because some of the stuff was in such bad shape, but I did what I could. The front seat backs have a jute padding attached to the back. I used 3M Super 77 adhesive to hold them in place. My originals weren't even good for patterns so I just traced the seat frame onto the jute.
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The jute after I glued it on:
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The front side gets burlap hog ringed on, then I glued the foam to it using the 3M adhesive. The seat backs got 1" foam, the seat bottom used 2". I went with a high density foam that will supposedly last longer. The foam overlaps so it can wrap around the sides and top.
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And that's how that one stayed for a while.

Next: a step back. Sort of.

- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Moving backwards - to the back seat. Some interesting things with this one:

The rear seat bottom had the tan upholstery installed directly over the original. This was the only seat that still had the original underneath. I wonder why they left that one and not the others?
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The rear seat back didn't have the original cover, but the padding was original. You can see rust stains where the original chrome buttons were, along with the original vinyl pattern.
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Lots of wrapping on the rear seat back, and burlap sewn for the speaker area. This burlap had channels for listing wire so the hog rings have something to hold. I duplicated it and used new wire.
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Like the others, this one got new burlap and foam to make it ready for the upholstery. I guess I should be happy that the long upholstery delay gave me time to work on other parts of the interior.

- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The convertibles have a couple of panels on each side of the rear seat. One is a large piece, molded from some form of reinforced plastic. This part gets a thin foam layer glued on, then it is covered in vinyl. Here is a comparison of the raw part with the covered version. If you look closely, you might be able to see that the black part is broken. I found several cracks and a couple of pieces broken off completely. The good news was that all the pieces were still glued to the covering.
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I think this is the original foam because of the circle you can see here. Probably gets cut out for an option - perhaps a light or something on the XL models?
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After removing all of the coverings and thoroughly sanding near the cracks and broken edges, the parts were ready to be repaired. Here's my 16yo learning some fiberglass skills.
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I followed the original method of applying the foam in three sections. I can't remember the foam thickness that I used. Might have been 1/8 inch. Glued it down with the 3M Super 77. Strong stuff.
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The other rear side panel goes just below the quarter window. It consists of a curved metal top that is attached to a masonite panel. I can't find any pics of this panel before I tore it down, but here is the masonite part which I traced to make a new panel. That turned out to be a waste but I'll cover that in a bit.
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Masonite has a smooth side and a rough side. I kept the orientation the same as Ford used. The curved metal top part has some holes punched in it so that the hole edge has metal points that stick out. These get tapped or pressed into the masonite. I tapped this one (from the masonite side) but on the door panels I found a C clamp was a better approach. The rectangular-ish hole is for the window crank and the smaller slot takes a retaining clip.
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Ready for the vinyl.
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Speaking of vinyl, at this time I was about to get a delivery. And learn why I didn't need to cut out the masonite. Stay tuned...

- John
 

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Hello gearheadct,

That's very nice work you are doing. Isn't amazing the "find" we uncover when tearing into these cars. :oops: Ug, there is nothing worse than rodent damage and as you say, that "smell" that no matter what you do (beyond total tear down) never goes away.

Keep up the very nice work.

Cheers
 

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Very nice! Looking forward to seeing more pics. I'm curious to see the metal "buttons" on the seat backs. Did the DI upholstery include those? I have had to go to some trouble to find replacements for mine in the past, but now have a parts car that has a decent set. I was planning to purchase upholstery for future seat recovering from SMS Auto Fabrics, but I figured I'd have to reuse the buttons.

Thanks for sharing this, looks very well done so far!
 

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GearheadCT, posts like this (and of course, just about ALL of DesertXL great step by step posts) are a big reason that I really respect and admire- and even LEARN from other well informed members.

I have done simliar work, down to the seat frames, welded them back, new foams and covers, burlap, hog rings, the entire setup- on much easier 66 Mustangs that I have/had owned. Big job, but I think your work with the Galaxie was harder probably, bigger seats, bench seats to boot and adding those extra springs pushed you way over the top in craftsmanship!

Great post- love the details, keep it up!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all for the kind feedback!

After a long wait my upholstery kit finally arrived. It actually came in multiple shipments, separated by several weeks. It took multiple phone calls but I learned that some of the items were complete pre-Covid so I had them send a partial shipment and then follow up with the other items.

I was very happy with the quality from Distinctive Industries. One minor problem with the "chrome" seat buttons - I'll get into that in a bit.

Here's the seat upholstery out of the box. Front seat bottom:
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One of the rear seat backs:
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Rear seat back:
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Notice any differences between the front seat back and the rear seat back?

The front seat backs came without the "chrome" buttons installed. They were shipped loose in a bag. Turns out these are actually plastic buttons, probably vacuum metallized for the chrome look. They have posts that go through the vinyl and then a metal speed nut type fastener slides over the post to hold them in.

For some reason the rear seat back came with the buttons installed. But as you can see in the photo above, several of them broke during shipping. The company was great and sent me replacement buttons and retaining clips - twice! The first shipment wasn't well packed and every one of them broke in the mail. :(

So, it is a bit nerve wracking to poke holes in brand new (and not inexpensive) front seat upholstery, but it had to be done. I used a small diameter pick for the pilot. Thankfully the proper location is obvious.
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Here are the clips that hold them in place.
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With that cleared up, I actually started on the front seat bottom because it was easier than the seat backs. The upholstery inside out and sitting in place. Take your time on the alignment here.
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Installed. Lots of hog rings, pushing, and pulling to get everything tight and aligned. I worked from the center out toward the sides. Good hog ring pliers are a must.
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Similar process for the seat backs, but a little harder because of the tight fit. I started with the cover completely inside out and kind of rolled it down onto the seat back. Lots of careful adjustment, pushing, and pulling involved. There are channels sewn into these for listing wire. That's what the hog rings hold to keep everything in place.
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Finally something I could put back into the car!

- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Some things to note. There are various brackets and things that need to get installed after the upholstery is on. Take good pictures and measurements so you know where these go. You only want to poke holes once! Below I was making holes where the upper aluminum trim bracket goes. Also, try to take the upholstery out of the box as soon as you get it. That will help avoid wrinkles - you can see some on the seat back here - I ended up buying a steamer from ebay to help eliminate these.
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I took the front seat out as a full assembly but I decided to install it in pieces. Much easier to handle that way.
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The rear seat process is similar to the front, although I found these a bit easier.

Next: the rear side panels.

- John
 

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Finished product looks great!
May I add some other tips I learned?
In the summer, this is a much easier project. Letting the vinyl sit out in the sun helps soften it up to help with getting the wrinkles and the stretching is alot easier.
Of course, also living in the Northeast part of the US like you, I also do work like this in the wintertime.
I utilized a hair dryer to warm up the vinyl when pulling over the foam, it did seem to help.

Interesting story on the buttons, and yes, I saw right away on those pics they were missing. Glad you had a fairly easy outcome with those and you know they are going to stay installed, because you installed them yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The rear side panels need to go in before the rear seat can be installed. Confession time: I started driving the car with just the front seat in it. By this time it was summer - despite starting the project in January!

In an earlier post I showed how I cut new masonite boards for the upper rear panel. Turns out the upholstery kit came with new boards die cut and ready to go! Somehow I misunderstood what was included. The door panel kit also came with new masonite panels - at least I learned this before I cut my own.

Anyway, here is the upper panel with the vinyl glued on. The vinyl comes pre-cut, although you will need to do some trimming after you roll it over to the back. Especially on the corners and curves.
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The larger plastic panels were a bit harder because there are more angles and curves to handle. The vinyl comes cut and sewn to fit but it still takes some work to get it right. Unfortunately I don't have any pics of that process - I don't know where they went.

I do have pics of the rear windlace. This is the part that covers the door opening pinch weld. On the Galaxie it looks like a thermoformed part. Mine were broken in multiple places, with pieces missing. This one took some thought, and much trial and error. I considered repairing them with plastic welding, but I didn't think that would look good because it would be obvious where I fixed them. So I wanted to make new parts.

Thin, textured ABS sheets are available from many sources. I got mine from ebay. But how to form them to shape? I considered making a vacuum forming setup. A lot of time and complexity for two parts. The thin ABS is pretty easy to form with a heat gun. I even went as far as making a separate forming fixture, but it had issues and the first part didn't fit the car very well. That was when I realized I already had the perfect forming fixture - the car itself! I started by tracing the original part onto the ABS sheet, and added some additional material to fold over for the other side.
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The ABS is easy to cut with tin snips or good strong scissors.
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I cut up some scrap sheet metal to hold the main part of the ABS in place, with material extending beyond the pinch weld.
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Then the hard part. Lots of time with a heat gun, carefully bending a little bit at a time. I worked my way up and down the entire piece trying to keep it as even as possible. I tried multiple ways to push the plastic sheet - in the end I was most successful using just my hands (with some thick welding gloves on). In the end it came out OK. Far from perfect but I'm probably the only one who will ever notice the small wrinkles and wavy edge.
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The top took some work to look like the original. Some more heat gun and a little plastic weld at the very top had it looking acceptable. Then I prepped and painted with some vinyl paint ('66 Mustang turquoise - not a perfect match with my upholstery, but very close).
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Getting there! Next up: finally the door panels.

- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I forgot to include a pic of the windlace in place. Not the best lighting but it shows how much of the windlace gets covered up. Way too much work for a tiny part that is mostly hidden!
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Now on to the door panels. These are like the upper rear panels, just a lot larger! I must have been tired of this project by this point because I don't have a lot of photos.

Passenger side door panel below. It doesn't look terrible.
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But flip it over:
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Good thing I don't have mold allergies. The door panel also has a curved metal top attached to the masonite board. Much larger than the rear upper panel, but same principle. Here's what was left after I removed the upholstery.
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Not much of a template left here. Thankfully the door panel kit came with new panels. First I took care of the rusty metal top. Sanded, prepped, and painted the outer surface so I won't get rust bubbles showing later. Here you can see where the metal points stick into and through the hardboard. I found the best approach was a large C clamp to press them together - with tape on the other side to avoid damaging the paint.
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For some reason I don't have any other pics of the door panels. The Distinctive Industries vinyl was easy to install and fit well. The "chrome" trim strips are some kind of thick but flexible vinyl or plastic. I ended up wrapping it around and trimming it so the window fuzzy strip could rivet back on. Another gut check moment is when you start cutting brand new vinyl for things like the door handles and the interior lights.

My car was missing most of the metal door panel retaining clips so I bought a box online. I also added a few chrome trim screws at the bottom. I'm not sure but I think the factory did this too. Without them the bottom was flopping around a bit.

- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So, this may be a bit anti-climactic but at the moment I can only find one poorly lit photo of the interior after I put it all back together. I know I took more but I can't remember where I stored them. :oops:

I am super happy with it and I really like the turquoise. The front seat is nice and firm and comfortable.

And it smells WAY better than it did before!

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- John
 

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tremendus job. especially for someone without upholstery experience. i have one suggestion for others that do this. large garbage or leaf bags over the foam/ cotton batting makes the covers so much easier to put on, and they make the seats a little waterproof. good for ragtops
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
tremendus job. especially for someone without upholstery experience. i have one suggestion for others that do this. large garbage or leaf bags over the foam/ cotton batting makes the covers so much easier to put on, and they make the seats a little waterproof. good for ragtops
Extech, thanks for the compliment.

Brilliant idea - I wish I had thought of it! That would really help with installation, and it's good for people like me who have a habit of leaving the top down even during marginal weather.

- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
A couple of small items I forgot.

First, the arm rests. My arm rests were shot. The plastic bases are structurally OK, but the "chrome" is all gone. And the pads were pretty poor. I have only one ash tray and it is rusty. So I went with the lowest cost solution I could find - I ordered a set of Mustang armrest bases and pads (in the '66 turquoise). They are a direct bolt on to the Galaxie and look good to me, despite being a little narrower than the stock parts. They are also shorter and don't have the ash trays. I don't have any pics right now but I'll post some up soon.

Second, the kick panels. Mine had been painted tan and the paint was flaking off. I used lacquer thinner to soften and remove the paint.
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I then prepped and sprayed them with the '66 Mustang turquoise color.
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And put them into place.
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- John
 
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