If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday 22 September 2011

Just call me Mr Upholstery

Actually, don't. It just sounded like a good title for a post.

The new seat cover is on the XT (previous post), and the seat is back on the bike. The bike hasn't been started for about six weeks (New Bike Honeymoon) and was a little slow to turn over, but was soon chugging away like a champ. Chain oiler filled, and a little turn round the garden just to remind it of what it is supposed to do. It's a fantastically relaxed and roomy riding position compared to the Sprint, or even the Bonnie.

The upholstery thang started with my third visit to Homebase to get a working staple gun. The garage pixies have hidden my 'proper' gun, so I went looking for a cheap substitute to get this job done. The Homebase 'Value' model at six quid was such good value that it didn't work. Not at all. So I took it back and got a much posher 'light duty' model, still trusting the Homebase brand. This turned out not to work either. Three clicks would bring three absences of staples at the business end, and then the fourth click would produce all four staples, or sometimes more, mashed together in a nickel-plated pretzel. So I took this one back too. I had unfortunately lost the receipt, so I had to accept a replacement rather than a refund, and I went a little further up the Homebase range and got the 'heavy duty' model. There were other staple guns there, but they were expensive and wouldn't handle the small staples I needed to use. This one worked, after a fashion. Staples actually come out of the end and stick into whatever you were resting on, which is good. However, even at its most powerful setting it wouldn't bang the staple into the seat plastic hard enough to lie flat. But needs must, and I had a job to do.

The back part of the seat is a nice square shape, and the cover went onto this no problem.

I got perhaps two-thirds of the way to the front, stretching as I went, and it was looking great. The front part of the seat, however, is a bugger of a shape, as it turns through nearly 90° and climbs up the back of the fuel tank. Great for when you want to move forward and boss the front end about, but not so good when you want to cover it with a non-stretchy material.

Eventually, with a lot of swearing and an old hair-dryer, I got it all in place and reasonably flat. I then went round the whole thing with an extra row of staples. Since none of them were lying flat, they can't be gripping the material very well, and I figured that an extra row of insurance would be a good idea.

Well, it doesn't look too bad. The back half is great, and I'm happy with it. The front part is a bit baggy and has a few wrinkles, but which of us could not say that these days? The hair-dryer didn't help to smooth it out (I was hoping for a heat-shrink effect) but perhaps a few miles being pressed into shape by my elegant form might do it. Anyway, here's the final result:

And here's a close-up of my wrinkly bits (parental guidance advised):

Even as amateurish as it is, it smartens the bike up a heck of a lot, and has turned it from a complete shed to a partial shed.

Winter? Bring it on.


  1. It is a good title: reminded me of the time I told my boss's boss twice removed that I didn't really need lessons on sartorial elegance from someone who dressed like a badly-upholstered sofa*. Not the smartest of career moves, but anyway...
    (* I have a feeling I may have picked it up from a book somewhere, but couldn't attribute it for the life of me).
    ...neat job, and like the grey colour. The front doesn't look too bad, in all honesty - but I suspect it might need to have the outer edges stretched rather than the inner panel shrunk to achieve true optical flatness. It may give enough on the edges for that with a bit of use...?

  2. Yes, I recognise the quote, but no idea where from!

    Thanks for the kind words. I have stretched it as far as I can from the sides at the front, but there is still a bit of bagginess there. Perhaps you are right, and after a settling-in period I can reattach the sides a little tighter. I think I need some proper tools, though, as stretching that material with fingers only is bloody hard work.

    I realised when I got near the end that I should have mounted the whole thing about an inch further forward. There is plenty of spare material at the back, and very little around the crucial 'points' at the front. Perhaps I should have stopped where I was and started again, but by that time I just wanted it finished. We shall see!

  3. You did well not to staple your hand to the seat base.

  4. Remember those pics were heavily edited.


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