Friday, August 18, 2017

Interior Modernization Project, Part 15. Custom Center Console Modification

Because the Alcantara I ordered took so long to reach Cesar, he had meanwhile gone ahead and started work on another project - modifying the center console to accept the OEM Toyota Aristo rear center vent. This is something that had bothered me for a long time - I mean, are there really people driving around with their smoking buddies in the rear seat? If there are, I guess that explains the Puratron air purifier dealer option Nissan had, and without rear windows that roll down, I suppose a rear seat ashtray is needed...but as I don't smoke and I don't allow smoking, drinking or eating in my car, this ashtray is useless.

Does anyone actually sit in the BACK and smoke in these cars?

As before, I'll let the photos do most of the talking.
First, Cesar cut out the center part which previously held the ashtray
You can see that he crafted a metal frame for support. 
So that's what those round rivets are for.
Here you can see that the center console has a tray which the air vent will have to clear.
Test fitting the air vent. So far, so good.
Close up view. 
The next step was to apply some epoxy to smooth over the rivets 
Once the epoxy was dry the vent was test fitted again...
View from the side...
You can see how rough the epoxy texture is at this stage.
And when it was sanded down to a smooth surface.
From the side, you can see how the epoxy follows the curve of the air vent.
Another view point.
And so by now, you must be asking, how did it all turn out with the leather? Indeed, I had the same question and had to wait a few days for Cesar to send me pictures of the finished center console. So I will also tease you with those photos in my next post, ha ha.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Interior Modernization Project, Part 14. Alcantara Mix-Up But a Hidden Blessing?

So as I mentioned in my last post, the roll of Alcantara that I had ordered and sent to Cesar back in early August (2016 - during the build), seemed to have been lost in the mail.  So after a couple of weeks, I ordered some more, and had it sent to me so I could then in turn express mail it to Cesar.



I had learned, in my research, that Alcantara (Italian produced and marketed) was essentially the same as Ultrasuede (made in Japan, but not as well marketed), but also found that Alcantara seemed to be more geared towards automotive use (in terms of durability, etc.).  I was also careful to order the proper type ("Pannel") which is thin enough and without any padding like the other type the seller offered ("Cover").

Of course, Murphy's Law struck, meaning that even though I sent Cesar the Alcantara immediately upon arrival in Japan, the ORIGINAL batch that I had ordered from him, arrived at his place one day before the batch I sent arrived.

So even though the original plan was to have the glove box and the gauge surround covered in Alcantara, with double the amount of material, we had to decide what to do with the excess.  I'm sure you guys already know, we ended up using the material inside the center console as well as the door pockets, but STILL there was some more left over... to this day, I am still wondering where I can use the excess material...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Interior Modernization Project, Part 13. Where Should the Stitching Go + Where is the Alcantara?

Decisions, decisions.

Once we had decided to go with 3mm for the stitching length, the next step would be to figure out how and where the "french stitches" would be placed.  Because the leading edges are angular, Cesar recommended placement 3mm from the edge.

To show me what 3mm from the edge looked like, he sent these photos.
Left of the main gauges, but to the right of the HVAC controls
Leading edge to the left of the main gauges
Leading edge of the lip above the main gauges 
Lower left side of the central dashboard, to the left of where the stereo and ashtray sits

He also sent me a preview of the video he was going to post next, Part IV, showing how he tested the leather we decided on, the Wildman & Bugby Cardinal hide.  I've already posted the video in an earlier post, here.

Meanwhile, the package of Alcantara cloth I had ordered and sent directly to him, appeared to be lost in the mail....

Incidentally, while researching Alcantara, I learned that it's really an artificial type of suede, very similar to another synthetic suede called Ultrasuede, originally invented in Japan at Toray Industries, a large corporation specializing in industrial products centered on synthetic organic and polymer chemistry.  In fact, the difference mainly being WHO makes the products, Alcantara being made in Italy by Alcantara S.p.A. (70% owned by Toray...) and Ultrasuede in Japan...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Interior Modernization Project, Part 12. Stitching Length and some Completed Leather Parts

On a visit to my Lexus dealer back in late August last year during this leather interior project, I decided to see how large the stitching was on their cars. In particular, the GS-F. Luckily they have an orange one that hasn't sold for some reason so I climbed in and measured with my new digital micrometer.

So Lexus has a single line of 4mm stitches - this stitching is more visual than functional I bet
Not only did I report these findings to Cesar, I also told him that one of my inspirations for this project was this photo on Speedhunters:
From Speedhunters.com



In response, Cesar sent me photos of not just some more parts he had done - the glove box, airbag lid and the ignition key surround - but he also had some samples of 3mm and 4mm stitching.

As before, I'll let the photos do the talking:
First, he creates a mold to fit where the latch is
Using a weight, he uses the mold to stretch the leather to fit the glove box door
That is, he makes sure that the leather wraps into the latch nicely
You can see the outline clearly here
Then it's just a matter of lining it all up, gluing, and using clips, while using the mold to ensure the square hold stays square
Using clips to hold the leather in place as it dries


That is gorgeous!
If you remember from this prior post, the glovebox was one of the first parts Cesar fixed up! I guess he wanted to start with something familiar and which WASN'T easy...

Here is the airbag flap - another part that had to be repaired:
Can't really tell from this photo, but upon closer inspection...
Cesar said he had to special order the metal mold to imprint this.
Close-Up. Very nice. Looks OEM! But that is real leather!
You can see how the leather was stretched over and glued.
Finally, the ignition key surround.
Look closely and you can see yes it's real leather...
Another angle
Again you can see the intricate work here. And how it was folded over and glued.
As I mentioned above, Cesar also asked me which stitch length I preferred - 3mm or 4mm.  He also sent me the following photos to help me decide:
Side by side comparison on the glovebox surround
This is 3mm
And this is 4mm on the right.
But I noticed something - the gap between the stitches looked fairly large. At this rate, I would want the 4mm because the gap is proportionally shorter compared to the 3mm.

Cesar followed up in an email saying that I had "keen eyes" as I had spotted stitching on the "closing sewing" where he had used a 90-14 needle, then on the "oversewing" he had used a 120-19 needle. However, on the actual project, he said he would use a 110-18 needle, and would send me photos later to show the difference.

Here are those photos:
3mm stitching, with 110-18 needle
4mm stitching, with 110-18 needle
Side by side comparison, 3mm on top
As how it would look on the gauge cowl overhang. Here is the 4mm stitch.
And here is how the 3mm stitching would look on the gauge cowl overhang.
Cesar recommended 3mm, but I was not so sure. It's hard to tell from photos of other cars, and nowhere could I find anything about what the OEMs use. I asked around, but in the end I had to make a decision...so I went with the 3mm. I hope that this is the right decision....what do you guys think?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Interior Modernization Project, Part 11. Some MORE Parts...

In my last post, I mentioned that, while waiting for some Alcantara that I had ordered to arrive at Cesar's, I had sent him a vent to fit into the rear of the center console. But, I had also sent him some other parts - parts that most people might not bother with. But we probably both have OCD...

In his previous emails to me, as well as watching one of the videos, it became apparent that a few more parts and pieces would be needed for Cesar to have enough of the dashboard and center console, to be able to begin work on application of the leather.

So while it took a few days, I was able to find the pieces I needed (either buying used on line or taken from my car).   I also took advantage of the need to send another box, to pick up a few extra parts.

First, Cesar had insisted we needed to have those seat belt guides I had left on the car after sending him the rear seat side panels.
These seat belt guides were a pain to remove, as they required some strategic cutting
First, I wanted to show Cesar as to how these are attached to the inside of the B pillars.
Someone with a keen eye will realize there is no way to remove this piece unless I disassemble the entire seatbelt system.
Some cutting is thus needed - but where?
I used a grease pen to mark where the seatbelt lays - everything outside of this area is visible normally.
So once this is wrapped in leather, we can perhaps have a cut on the hidden inside to allow the seatbelt to pass through?
My thumb is hiding where I had to use my Dremel. Once cut, I slipped it off the seatbelt.

These are clips that Cesar said he needed, taken from my own car
From this area around the shift boot
So I found an OEM parking brake boot (made of pleather) [LEFT] and then my old Redline shift boot (to fit the 5 speed) [RIGHT]. Cesar had implied he was going to make some new ones...
...which is why I took this photo, to show how the Getrag has the collar that has to be pulled up and thus the Velcro closure.
I could definitely use new leather on the parking brake handle though. So I found this on Yahoo Auctions. I still need to drive my car around.
I don't want or need this wrapped in leather, but Cesar had told me a week earlier (18th) that he needed to have this piece in order to check to see his leather work wouldn't cause interference by being too thick,
and preventing this from snapping in.

As for the optional extras:
That's right! I want leather wrapped overhead grips. Just like on the Bentleys...
Clever as I was with those grips, I decided that, for the center console, we needed to modernize a bit.

In my last post I showed how I had found the perfect rear vent:
Why not? I can probably direct a hose from the A/C system... if not oh well. This is off an Aristo, by the way.
And I know it fits, too:
Ok so the console box has to be adjusted slightly but...
And here is what it looked like, all wrapped up and ready to be shipped out!

So it took a few days, but it finally arrived at Cesar's place on August 31st (Japan time). Meanwhile...