I’ve been looking at original model T seats over the past two years and see that the black rubberized cotton is very different than the vinyl upholstery material used for restoration. Has anyone used actual rubberized cotton duck for upholstering seats?
Mark, I hope this will open discussion on the subject that will enlighten us all. I believe there have been posts to the forum in prior years that discussed the nature of the "leatherette" material originally used by Ford.
It would be instructive to know if there are cover materials currently being manufactured that are closer to the original stuff than the run of the mill vinyl covers currently used.
The modern vinyl materials are thicker than the typical rubberized “leatherette” and fold differently. I suppose the modern upholstery material is more durable and puncture resistant.
Exactly. The original material was a thin flexible coating applied to cotton drill. Modern vinyls are often "expanded" to appear sumptuous and more "leather-like" (who are they kidding ?) Fabric backings are synthetic (polyester ?) and often appear to be a sort of knit, not unlike tee-shirt material.
I have an NOS roll of camera bellows material that looks very much like the original seats on my ‘23. But there are also companies that manufacture rubberized cloth for ground cloths and ponchos.
My opinion is that original Model T Ford open car upholstery is a form of oil cloth. The coating is derived from linseed oil.
Fun discussion for you:
Henry Ford loved experimenting with soybeans. I bet they are involved in the coating on that cotton drill. Maybe it is the prerunner for Fine Corinthian Leather.
I have some old material that I planned on using to restore those seats (it was pretty close to the feel of the original material as I recall). I'll check tonight to see if I still have it.
I’d like to see some samples of off the shelf alternatives to the typical vinyl. This rubberized bellows material is designed for tight folding and to be resilient. There must be other stuff out there.
Back when I finally upholstered my speedsters vintage bucket seats I installed tied springs covered with burlap, cotton and horsehair .. and sewn leather outer covering. Prior to that I had foam covered with cloth. Man, what a difference in the ride and comfort. Smoothed out the bumps.
My wife and I had just purchased new easy chairs for our living room. She asked if I could rebuild the new chairs to be as comfortable. Furniture, like autos has gone from real high craft upholstering to just covering foam padding over the years.
Thanks Erik ... that is very interesting reading. So, I’m not the only person thinking about this. I decided that that I couldn’t afford the seat and top kits and since I can sew will do my own. Now I have to find the right stuff. I’m not in a hurry; enjoying driving the car with no too and original seats. But eventually the material on these seats will dissolve.