Saturday, October 27, 2012

Auto Upholstery Bay Area - What is Steering Wheel Restoration - Cooks Upholstery & Classic Restoration

Steering wheel restoration involves many different techniques to bring a battered steering wheel to like-new condition. Often older steering wheels become cracked and broken around the hand-grip perimeter and the chrome becomes flaked, dull and peeled. With steering wheel restoration, the outer diameter is repaired, any chrome is removed and re-plated and any other steering wheel component is brought back to new condition. Older steering wheels were commonly wrapped with leather that also benefits from steering wheel restoration with replacement leather, sewing and dyeing or staining that is required much in the same manner wooden steering wheels are stained.
One of the finishing touches on some vehicle restorations involves the steering wheel restoration. Reproduction steering wheels are typically less expensive, however, they lack the original flavor that the original component offers. A practice that was once performed only by experienced repairmen, steering wheel restoration can now be achieved by the novice in a home garage setting. Cracked steering wheel material is easily repaired with only common hand tools and minimal skill. Home powder-coating kits allow the home mechanic to coat the steel steering wheel components with a myriad of colors, including chrome-like finishes.
To repair a cracked steering wheel, the material surrounding the crack is removed with a file, sandpaper or grinding wheel. The steering wheel restoration kit contains a epoxy-like substance that is mixed and packed into the crack; once hardened, the filler is sanded to the final shape and readied for paint. Any chrome components are removed from the wheel, if possible, and chemically dipped or sandblasted to remove the old plating. The clean metal is then prepped to receive the new plating and begin the series of chemical baths, which result in a new finish. Many of the world's best automobile and collector vehicle restoration shops also have a division within the shop dedicated to the practice of steering wheel restoration.
By restoring the original steering wheel, many vehicles can be valued much higher than a similarly-restored vehicle using an aftermarket steering wheel. High-end steering wheel restoration can involve the repair of Bakelite, plastic and wood steering wheels. Exotic metals such as brass, silver and nickel can often be repaired and polished, however, gold is commonly substituted in some steering wheel restoration processes. Many older steering wheels use components made of pewter that commonly pits and corrodes. These pieces can also be cleaned, plated and polished to match the luster and brilliance of the original.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Auto Upholstery Bay Area - How to Fix Your Car's Weatherstripping - Cooks Upholstery & Classic Restoration

Weather stripping keeps the inside in and the outside out. When these rubber seals go bad, your car will leak heat and air conditioning as well as face assault from wind and rain.
Weather stripping keeps the inside in and the outside out. When these rubber seals go bad, your car will leak heat and air conditioning as well as face assault from wind and rain.
by Gregg Delman

Read more: How to Fix Your Car's Weatherstripping - Popular Mechanics 

Into every life a little rain must fall, but it's best if it doesn't fall into your car. When weatherstripping—the rubber seals that keep water and air from infiltrating the cabin through the doors and the trunk lid—starts going bad, that rain eventually ends up on your seats, floorboards, carpet, and trunk. Sometimes when weatherstripping fails, you'll find a slow leak that can cause water accumulation—cars have been known to end up with a wading pool where passengers' feet should go. The good news is that identifying problem seals isn't very difficult and neither is replacing them, although it can be a bit expensive. 

Finding a seal breakdown might take some detective work. Just because you find wet carpet in the rear passenger area doesn't mean the failure is in the rear passenger door—water has a funny way of sneaking around in a car. The wind noise you hear while driving is a good indication of the source of the leak; follow it to narrow your search. Inspect the seals around the doorframe and the perimeter of the door itself. Many times you'll find that the seals have cracked with age or that a hole has worn through from use. Sometimes the rubber will have lost its pliability and can no longer do its job. Check by squeezing it between your fingers; if it doesn't squish or spring back, it can't make a proper seal. If you're having a hard time pinpointing the source of a leak, run water from a hose to find it. 

Once you've found the problems, you have several ways to address them. Really enthusiastic owners will see bad weatherstripping in one part of the car as a sign that all of it is failing and will replace all the stripping as preventive maintenance. Frugal owners will fix just the problem areas, and that's fine too. Cheapskates will break out the silicone sealant or duct tape; this is not recommended. 

Weatherstripping comes in two varieties: factory-replacement and generic. Generic can be a little sketchy and is best suited for a very old car or junker you won't be keeping long. If you want a proper fix, and judging by your pride in ownership, you do, factory-style replacement is the only way to go. Cross-shop your VW dealer against aftermarket retailers to find replacement parts you're comfortable with. Most of the time aftermarket replacements are just fine, but it's up to you. Before you start ripping stuff out of the car, though, compare new pieces with what you're replacing to make sure they're all the same size, with appropriate cross sections, holes, and joints. 

If there are any screws holding the old pieces in place, take those out first and set them aside for reuse later. Peel away the stripping; be sure to remove the adhesive layer holding it on. You may need to use an adhesive remover to get it all. Next, wipe the weatherstripping channel and the new seals with a gentle cleanser and towel them dry; they may still retain a bit of mold-release agent. Apply a very thin bead of weatherstripping adhesive (available at auto parts stores) to the channel and install the seal lightly at first. Be sure everything is properly aligned, then press the stripping firmly into place, ensuring good contact with the adhesive. Replace any screws and allow the adhesive to dry as directed. This should solve your whistles and wetness and prevent any undue carpet sogginess in the future. 


by Ben Wojdyla

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Auto Upholstery Bay Area - w To Sound Proof Your Car? Noise Blocking Tips And Materials - Cooks Upholstery & Classic Restoration

How To Sound Proof Your Car? Noise Blocking Tips And Materials.

Types of Sound Insulation / Sound Proof.Bonnet insulators

– these comprise foam rubber backed on one side by a woven cloth (or aluminised polyester) and on the other with pressure adhesive. As the name suggests, they’re suitable for mounting under bonnets and also under bootlids.

Noise barriers

– these materials use compressed layers of cotton-waste (or similar) sandwiching a thin layer of bitumen. They’re used both to absorb noise and also to prevent noise transmission. They can be mounted on the firewall within the cabin (ie under the carpet), under the boot carpet and behind the rear seat in booted sedans. This noise insulation is held in place with applied contact adhesive.

Anti-vibration materials

– these insulators comprise low resonance (acoustically ‘dead’) materials which are designed to stop panel vibration. In use they’re glued to the panels. It is important that the join between the insulator and the panel is continuous, with large amounts of contact adhesive therefore needed.
What is Sound Proofing? How Can I do It In With My Car?Sound Proofing starts with some means of damping. A number of products are available for this, and they all have various degrees of effectiveness. The best results are always obtained from using a combination of these products. There are mats, sprays, foams, and insulation available from a number of manufacturers

Mats are usually either Styrene-Butyadine-Rubber or asphaltic sheets backed with an adhesive of some type (although other materials are used in some cases). Installing mats in your vehicle is a simple way to reduce vibration, and is effective as well. The way mats work is that they are used to cover panels. The material they are made of absorbs vibrations in the panels, and turns them into heat, or it may simply lower the resonant frequency of the panel. Mats can also be placed between panels to reduce the amount of vibration between the two panels when they are in close contact. Many times, the mats will also have a metal foil backing to improve the heat resistance of the matting (thus allowing you to use it in an engine compartment). The matting also adds weight to a panel, reducing it’s tendency to vibrate in the first place. Some of the more popular mats are Dynamat and Road Kill, but there are alternatives.
Sprays are also used for damping. These sprays normally come in a professional can, which require a compressor and paintgun to apply, but many companies are starting to market aerosol cans of sound deadener spray. The spray is often used in places where matting would either be too difficult, or would add too much weight/bulk. Door panels are the most common application for sprays, as well as highly irregular crevices (like inside kickpanels). Sprays are suitable for large panels as well, but they tend to be messy, and require taping/masking off of upholstery and windows.

Foams come in two forms: Sheets of foam, and foam sprays. The sheets of foam are used much like mats are; They are laid over panels to reduce and absorb vibration. Unlike mats, which absorb the vibration and convert it to heat energy, foam sheets disperse the vibrations throughout, reducing its total energy. Foam sprays are used to fill in crevices. As they dry (or rather, cure), they expand slightly, pressing against the nearby panels. The individual cells help to disperse energy away from the vibrating panel, and absorb them. Foams can be expensive as well, and there is a low cost alternative here, as well. The first is Styrofoam©, which can be obtained in a spray can. Styrofoam© is the brand name for the polystyrene foam we are all familiar with (and somewhat annoyed by at times). The fumes given off by Styrofoam© are noxious, and many communities have laws banning its use due to environmental concerns. Another alternative is insulating foams like Great Stuff©, which is used in home construction. Great Stuff© is cheap, fireproof when cured, and readily available at any hardware store for about three dollars a can. Great Stuff© is also shapeable when it cures, and can be used to smooth sharp corners. The downside to Great Stuff©, like Ice Guard, is that it is messy. Once Great Stuff© is sprayed on upholstery, your clothes, your skin, etc, it’s all over. You hands will be stiff and sticky for days, if not weeks, and your clothes are forever ruined. Great Stuff© also expands voraciously, so spray it carefully.

Finally, there is insulation. Jute is the most common insulation. It is laid under carpets in both cars and houses, and is basically a thick mat of fibers which absorb sound. Though less effective than the other methods, it adds a plushness to carpets, and has very good thermal insulation. Micro Jute is recommended, because it’s much thinner than jute, and has about the same level of effectiveness. Jute or Micro Jute can be gotten from a number of manufacturers, and is available at any carpet supply store.
First of all sponge is not gonna work. If you want to DIY super cheap, get the Insuflex from KHGuan (I think RM15+ a large sheet) and cable tie the thing (or glue it). If you want a medium alternative go to KFAudio and ask them to use Sikadamp (RM30 a piece) or go to Soundblok and ask them to quote on their stuff. If you want ultimate dampening get Dynamat Extreme which sells from RM60 to RM100 a piece and front doors only required 3 pieces to cover (meaning approx 6 to 7 pieces for 4 doors).

Otherwise mix and match. Doors use Dynamat, floor use soundblok, roof use Insuflex, bonnet use Insuflex, Boot use Dynamat.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Auto Upholstery Bay Area - Car Carpet Replacement Tips - Cooks Upholstery & Classic Restoration Redwood City

Car Carpet Replacement Tips - matthew_hull (
Car carpet replacement is an update option that few car owners consider when rejuvenating an older car. Let’s face it, with the cost of new cars today, it pays to drive an older car and keep it fixed up. Car carpet replacement is a sure way to give your car and new feel and smell, and make it a joy to drive again.

Rather a car, truck, coupe, or sedan, a car’s carpet does much more than provide an aesthetic look to the interior of a vehicle. It also serves as sound proofing to help reduce road noise inside the car while driving down the road. A carpet also becomes loaded with hidden dirt and grime over time, contributing to that unique smell a vehicle gets after a while.

Purchasing Car Carpet for Replacement
There are numerous sources for aftermarket automotive parts available. Online sources are by far the most popular for many aftermarket fix-up parts for slightly older cars and trucks. Automotive carpet made specifically for your make and model automobile is likely available through multiple online sources.

Perform a search for interior automotive carpet, and you’ll be presented with a long list of vendors and online stores sell every color and grade of car carpet imaginable. One of them is sure to be the perfect fit for your vehicle.

Shop around and look for the best shipping price. What may appear to be a less expensive option from one online store may in fact cost much more to ship than another source, which offers free shipping. In addition, check out the sites returns policy. An online store that doesn’t provide a straightforward return policy is not one that you want to do business with.

Preparation for Replacing Car Carpet
For the most part, standard tools are all that is necessary for preparing a car or truck for installing a new interior carpet. In some cases, the bolts holding the seats to the floorboard may be star-shaped, or 12-point, headed bolts. It this is the case, you can pick up the correct socket or wrench at the local parts store.

If the car has electric seats of any type, disconnect the negative battery terminal on the car before attempting to remove the seats or the center console. This will prevent an inadvertent ground or shock while working with the electrical connectors and plugs hooked to the drive motors or heaters for the seats.

Removing the Seats and Molding
Remove the front bench or bucket seats by first unplugging the electrical plugs from beneath the seats. Once these are disconnected, locate the hold-down bolts that fasten the seats to the floorboards. The seat rails may be partially covered by a plastic cover. These are for looks only, gently pry them loose by hand or with a flat-head screwdriver.
Remove the hold-down bolts and snake the seats out of the vehicle. Place the bolts in a safe place so they are easily accessible when reinstalling everything after replacing the car’s carpet.

If the rear seat is a bench seat, pry the upper and lower section apart by hand and look for two small bolts on either end of the seat. These bolts secure the rear seat bottom to the seat frame. Remove the bolts with a socket and extension. Pry the seat forward and lift it out of the vehicle.

Take out the side molding around the bottom of the doors with a Phillips screwdriver. With the seats out of the way, and the molding removed from the bottom of the doors, the old carpet is ready to come out.

Removing the Car Carpet for Replacement
An adhesive holds the carpet to the floorboard of the vehicle. But, it will pull loose with a little effort. Pull the formed carpet up and remove it from the car. Cutting the carpet into smaller sections may help in removing the old carpet.

Installing the New Car Carpet
Clean the floorboard area of the car before applying carpet adhesive for the new carpet. Slightly fold the pre-formed car carpet to get it through the car door for installation. Position the carpet in place and pat it down all over to help spread the adhesive.

Ensure the electrical wiring and plugs and pulled through the pre-cut slits in the new carpet before completing the installation. With the new carpet in place, reinstall the moldings and seats in the reverse order from which they were taken out.

Replace the negative battery terminal onto the car battery and check the seats for proper operation. If all the plugs are correctly installed onto the seat connectors, all should work as before.

by Damon Hildebrand

Friday, October 19, 2012

Auto Upholstery Bay Area - Dashboard Repair and Replacement - Cooks Upholstery & Classic Restoration Redwood City

Cracks and Splits in dashes are a common problem.  Often due to sun damage or because of human error, dashes
become damaged and need to be repaired.

At Cooks our repair method seeks to stabilze your dash first by reinforcing the damaged ares. The area is then
cleaned, prepped and retextured: giving your vehicle a natural look and that does not attract attention. the final phase is to custom color match your dash's unique finish with our high quality Dyes.  In most cases the repair is not apparent to the eye.

In some cases, it is not possible to repair large cracks and splits. In these cases, we may be able to install a dash cover.  These covers fit like a glove and come with a one time manufacturer's replacement warranty for the life of the cover.

Auto Upholstery Bay Area - Car Restoration Vinyl Top Installation - Cooks Upholstery & Classic Restoration Redwood City

Nothing looks worse than your worn, old vinyl top, and you’ve been putting off replacing it because of the cost and knowledge needed to install it. You could look up an experienced interior trim and upholstery shop to install your new top or because you’ve done everything else on your car restoration, you may want to try your hand at replacing the top too.
Well it’s not necessarily difficult, but it does take some skill and ability to follow the directions. The materials you will need, you may already have them in your chest of tools. Although you probably do not have, is one of the most important items. You will need minimally three to four cans of Contact Cement Spray Trim Adhesive.

Other items that will help will be a tucking tool, felt tip marker, razor blades, screwdrivers flat tip and Phillips, measuring tape, and a straight edge.

Before you even get started to do the job, you need to mask off the body of your car with plastic and cover the difficult quarters with a heavy blanket. Do this to protect the paint on your car's paint job, and it will protect it as you tug and pull the cover into place.

Then you need to remove the old top. The old glue needs to come off too, and you need to buy some wax and grease remover. The remover needs to soak into the old glue for at least five minutes. This will soften the glue. Remove the remaining glue with a razor blade, then wash the roof with soap and hot water to be sure the old glue is completely gone. Then you need to be sure the top is completely dry before starting the next step.

If your pre-made new vinyl top came to you from an installer in a box, if you haven’t already inspected it, you need to take it out and it is probably covered with wrinkles. The best way to remove them is to steam them out with a  Commercial Steamer using distilled water. The distilled water helps you avoid residue during the procedure.
Using roof side reference points determine the center of the roof, and the center deck between the two seams. At these points, with your felt tip pen, draw a straight line on the roof from the front edge to the rear edge. Before you continue place your new vinyl top on the roof to make sure it will fit properly.

Another trick from the professionals is to use disposable pull sheets of vinyl, and leave them in place to keep the top from sticking down during the initial fit and adhesion of the center section. You will remove the sheets when you have each section in place.

Keep in mind that when the glue adheres to each area you will not be able to reposition your new top, so be careful.
Now is the time to thoroughly spray your glue to one seam on your vinyl top and the same area on the roof, and don’t skimp with the glue. Let both sides dry until they feel dry to your touch, but are not totally dry.

Now align the seam area, press down at the center and smooth the area with your hand. Now pull and stretch to get out all the wrinkles and to remove bubbles.

Follow this same procedure with the remaining sections.

Trim excess vinly around the edges and it would be a good idea to mark the location of your chrome trim before you cut the excess material. Tuck and trim the vinyl top and install all moldings.

If you’re nervous about installing your own vinyl top, then give us a call at Cooks Upholstery in Redwood City.

This entry was posted in Classic Cars.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Auto Upholstery Bay Area - Top 10 Tips for Classic Car Restoration - Cooks Upholstery & Classic Restoration

While this is a very exciting activity a car owner must know how to properly evaluate the condition of a car and then establish the level of restoration to be performed to such vehicle. There are 4 levels of classic car restoration, each one should be applied individually depending on the kind of project, budget and purpose. These are the top 10 tips for those classic car aficionados who want to reverse the effects of 'the sands of time' on their vehicles:

1. Sit down, grab a piece of paper, a parts catalog which would be relevant to the model you want to restore and run some numbers within your budget. Never deviate from it, otherwise the results will be obvious.

2. Inspect your car very carefully, top to bottom, inside and out; use strong flashlights to inspect the trunk, the engine area, etc. This will help you see the kind of repairs needed to be done to this vehicle. If possible take it to a car shop where it could be lifted to take a good look at the condition from beneath. Here you will determine if a the restoration process is worth the time and money.

3. After inspecting the vehicle, it is also important to decide whether you have a 'solid' car which can be restored without replacing the entire frame, floor, axles, etc. It would amaze you how this step can save you major dollars. By 'solid car' we are inferring that the car structure should be strong, as well as the floor; a little rust can be repaired but a completely rusty car which has the entire frame compromised will eventually crumble.

4. Decide whether you want to work with a "friend who knows how to repair cars" or a professional. It is often recommended not to involve friends and family on such projects as the time and money invested on this process may cause some trouble if the right procedures are not followed. Cars restored by people other than professionals tend to run well for a couple of years and in some cases start to breakdown thereafter.

5. Have a car restoration professional run some numbers and make sure they match or are close to the numbers you ran on step 1.

6. Decide the level of car restoration:

* Driver restoration: is often performed to get a car back to a fully functional and operational condition, they often include part replacement and minor cosmetic adjustments.

* Street Show: this restoration level involves getting a car into a fully working condition and repairing all major cosmetic problems (body work is required). If judged by a professional it should fall within the 80-89 point range.

* Show Car: restoring a classic car back to this form often requires professional work, if judged by a professional, there restorations and labor quality will fall within the 90-95 point range.

* Concours: this is the highest level of car restoration possible. All the work should be done by professionals, from part replacement to body work. These type of cars are intended for auto shows or private collections and not to be driven. Obviously, the original car to be repaired must be in quite optimal condition to achieve this stage, otherwise a major investment is necessary.

7. Start the restoration process, if possible follow a 2 step procedure (part replacement and chassis adjustments). Visit the car shop as often as possible to make sure the right work is being done. If this is not possible then have your mechanic send you periodical picture updates through email.

8. After the part replacement process is done, visit the shop again to re-inspect the chassis repairs needed, if sheet metal patches are necessary then remember to document the places where they are to be applied.

9. When all major restorations are done run a close and detailed inspection just like it was done during the second step to make sure everything is OK. Take it for a ride and see if it works correctly.

10. Remember to give proper maintenance to your newly restored classic using all the recommended parts and products.

The trick to getting newly restored cars to last for a long time lies within the last step, if the vehicle is properly maintained, in time, it will become a valuable asset and a sure head turner.