By Jon Maib
In an attempt to put off doing body work on Project Oh Deer, I decided to tackle the seats that were falling apart. My buddy Shane recently replaced his rotted out seats for his 7 with some the Bestop Trailmax front seats. These were super nice and sure made his Jeep look good and cost him around $206 per seat.

While I liked these seats (because I put them together and did the install) and they looked great in his Jeep, I wasn't sure that is the way I wanted to go because I like the original style look of the current seats I had in 'Oh Deer'. I began researching and learned the original seats are actually just an upholstery kit over the top of the seat foam. I slowly pulled up some of the fabric that had been falling apart to see if the original foam was in decent shape. Sure enough, the original foam was all intact, so the search began for an upholsterer that could reupholster these seats. After searching all over, reading forums on what other Jeep guys have paid a shop to re-do their seats, it seemed that it was going to cost as much if not more than a new Bestop seat.

On my continued internet search, I happened upon a company that makes an upholstery kit for the high back CJ7 Jeep seats. Seatz Manufacturing out of Anaheim, CA. makes their kits in 8 different classic CJ7 interior colors and they sell for only $260 a pair! However, these are a true upholstery kit and not a cover, even their website states: "Installs like original, no install instructions provided. We recommend an experienced installer do the installation." I thought to myself. $260 for a pair, that saves me $152 not buying brand new seats, challenge accepted!

After much back and forth on what color interior I wanted to go with (Current color of seats or black) I finally decided that the black vinyl was the way I wanted to go based on the color we will eventually be painting the 7. But wait, Im saving $152 and Seatz Manufacturing also has a kit for the rear fold and tumble seat for only $200. That was an easy sell for me, so my cart was loaded with 2 new front seat covers and a rear seat kit. Compared to buying 2 new front seats, for an additional $48, I could reupholster the entire Jeep!

The kits took about 2 weeks to get to me even with a shipping mishap (they mixed up my order with someone else's, but fixed the issue pretty quickly). Installation was really not that difficult, just time consuming and will really make your hands sore and tired from all the stretching and pulling to make sure everything is tight. These kits includes hog rings and limited use hog ring pliers in order to attach the new fabric to the seat frame. You will want to remove your seats from the Jeep. I decided to start with the rear seat because it didn't require any hog rings to be installed and just uses a zipper/Velcro system to remove and install. When taking the old covers off, it is important to move slowly as some seats may have glue holding points of the fabric to the original foam. With the seat taken apart and the old covers removed, it was time to re-install the new rear kit. This was simply placing the cover over the seat sections and pulling it snuggly all the way down and zipping up. The rear was very easy to replace!

The front seats will be much more time consuming for you, but in all reality, they were not that difficult to reupholster. I began with removing the 40 or more original rusty hog rings from the bottom of the seats. Once those are removed, you can begin to peal the lower half up of the upholstery. It is important to be patient and take your time as these are most likely glued down to the foam to keep them from moving around. If you find they are glued and not coming up easily, grab a sharp knife or razor blade and slowly slice away at the glue between the fabric and the foam.

As you get to the upper section of the seat, note that there are a few more hog clips that hold the upper section in to give it the contour of the seat. It has a small metal bar that will be removed, do not discard because you will need this for the new covers (Just remember the way everything is removed because installing is just in reverse). Once the old covers are removed, you can start putting the new Seatz covers on. I recommend turning the new covers inside out so you can work it down the upper portion of the seat. You will get to the upper section where you removed the metal bar and hog clips, so you will reinstall the metal bar into the pouch on the new covers and install the new hog clips. Work the Seatz covers down and begin stretching and pulling till everything is snug and tight and install a ton of hog clips (don't worry about over doing this as they give you plenty of them to complete the job). Stretch, pull, yank, tug and clip all those crazy hog clips and you are done. It wasn't difficult and this was the first time I've ever done anything like this. I've had these on for several months now and they are awesome, high quality, look and feel great! Definitely would recommend these and trying to tackle them yourself if you feel up to it. Now the interior of the Jeep looks brand new and I can't be happier going this route!

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