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richard5933

Re-upholstery Tales: 1974 GMC

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I'm about to start doing a re-upholstery job on the 'rear parlor' of our 1974 GMC. The furniture is really in great condition and doesn't need to be done, but the fabric is just not working for us. Over the next months I'll be re-configuring the two side couches into twin beds and re-upholstering the rear couch. The rear couch makes into a full-sized bed if needed.

We've got a good friend that is a carpet installer, and he's going to lay new carpeting as well. As much as I'd love to keep the full 70s vibe going, the shag carpet is too busy for our taste and is actually really uncomfortable to walk on barefoot. It's in good condition, but it just is not really well made carpet.

I thought I'd start a thread on the re-upholstery to see what others have done and how things turned out. It would be great to get ideas from others' projects and maybe learn something along the way. I've done a few pieces of household furniture including a sofa, easy chair, and an older Barca Lounger. This will be pretty straightforward compared to those, and hopefully the foam is in good condition and can be reused. All that said, I'm sure that I'll still have a learning curve as I start working on this project.

Here's a photo of the area as it sits now. More to follow as the project moves forward.

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Richard,

The three couches as you said look fine, but the carpet:wacko::o

Many year ago we had a small cruiser. We had a V bed up front and two couches in the saloon. The two couches made into bunks. The back cushions were hinged and had a small extension that folded back under when down. This gave the slope to the back. When unfolded the extension would flip up and make the bed wider. The bunk was held up by two rods the hooked under the top bunk and a strap to the ceiling. (the designer must have been a seaman because it was like the bunks on the US Wasp CV-18) The rods stored behind the back when in the couch position.  Just a thought

We look forward to the finished project.

Herman 

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I like the color red,  but that's a little to busy and the carpeting? :blink::rolleyes: An old friend had a 1985 Blue Bird DP 35 foot with your kind of sofas in back.  He hinged them, so at night they slid into each other and made a queen bed, they used the Travasack Bedding (don't know if that company is in business anymore, think now you can get "bedding in one" at Bed, Bath & Beyond) ! 

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OH MY :blink:. That's gonna keep you busy. You leaving the back like that are installing a regular bed back there?

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Richard,

Every time I see the picture of your coach (I think it's called and Avatar?) I want to see what the interior looks like.  I enjoy looking at the vintage coaches and trailers and especially the neat things that imaginative folks do to them to restore.

Thanks for sharing and looking forward to updates and more photos!

Blake

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16 minutes ago, blakeloke said:

Richard,

Every time I see the picture of your coach (I think it's called and Avatar?) I want to see what the interior looks like.  I enjoy looking at the vintage coaches and trailers and especially the neat things that imaginative folks do to them to restore.

Thanks for sharing and looking forward to updates and more photos!

Blake

Here are a few more photos of the interior. Other than carpeting, we're not doing any real modifications to the rest of the interior. Maybe some new lighting and updates to the electrical system, but the decor should work once the carpeting is toned down a bit. The drapes are original and in pretty remarkable condition for 43 years. We had them dry cleaned and then held up with only minor damage to the linings. The Venetian blinds in the rear window are electrically operated, and there is a window on the inside of the them to keep them clean.

The galley is fully functional, as is the bathroom. The fridge is a 12v/120v Norcold. And yes, that 1st-generation Thermodor microwave over (with browning option!) works and appears to be safe to use. The cooktop is a made-in-the-USA Presto 2-burner hot plate running on 120v. We've also got a portable propane burner for use while boon docking.

The whole thing looks very much like the inside of a small yacht. I suspect that in 1974 there were only so many places to get parts and supplies, and apparently Custom Coach pulled mostly from the marine supply houses for their parts. Replacement parts for many of the items in the electrical panel are marine parts. Same for the hardware in many areas of the cabinetry. About the only thing that came from the RV world are the ceiling vents - they appear to be from the Airstream catalogue.

I included one photo showing the side couches in the rear made up into bunks. We are taking them out and will reconfigure the two side couches to become twin beds with the center isle. The coach in the very back will remain and is the one I'm going to re-upholster. The long couch in the front can be folded down to be a bed, and the dinette also can be made into a bed. There are two wardrobes in the hallway next to the galley and lots of storage everywhere.

The original owner was a bus collector and a bus purist, so the driver's area is bone stock GMC. The seat was covered in the same fabric as the front parlor, but otherwise is stock. Surprisingly it was quite comfortable on the drive from Philly to Wisconsin. The co-pilot seat (not really visible in the photos) is basically a small one-person couch. There is a pneumatic cover for the steps for use while on the road.

I'm happy to brag about this coach, so please feel free to ask if anyone has questions. I feel very blessed to be the caretaker of this piece of history and love sharing what I know about it.

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Can't say that I have seen a copper shower before, that is copper right?  Is it copper trim on the wall went also?  Fit and finish is fantastic and I can see a lot of marine parts!  There are times that I wish I was 5' 8" and not 6" 8"!  That's a tight fit in  the driver compartment.

Looking forward to seeing more!

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6 minutes ago, manholt said:

Can't say that I have seen a copper shower before, that is copper right?  Is it copper trim on the wall went also?  Fit and finish is fantastic and I can see a lot of marine parts!  There are times that I wish I was 5' 8" and not 6" 8"!  That's a tight fit in  the driver compartment.

Looking forward to seeing more!

Shower pan is stainless. Poor lighting and lots of build-up don't help it look its best. I'll post better photos once the project is complete, things are clean, and the lighting is upgraded. The trim in the bathroom is some kind of antiqued bronze thing that was popular in the 70s. I guess it went with the bottle glass windows back then. Not my favorite look, but I'm not sure if replacements are in the budget for this year (especially given that everything is still working).

The driver's seat is almost all the way forward since I'm only 5' 2". There would be lots of room for you - you'd be surprised how much adjustment they built into these things to accommodate a wide variety of drivers.

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Richard...LOVE IT!!

I/We have been bus conversion fanatics since we started this part-time lifestyle. Maybe the next one will be a bus conversion, between you and Kay you got me thinking again :)

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Carl, you would be right at home in my bus, 6'10" head room up there also.:rolleyes: Richard the updates won't hurt the antiquity of the coach, the outside shows that. Anything done inside just increases the value, and you can use the update date for those snippy people with the 10 year rule. LOL

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Kay.  Those "snippy people" don't know a 1990 anything from a 2018!  I have no use for those parks.  I just go by how folk treat me...I'm the furthest thing from the Country Club or Social scene you'll find.:angry::rolleyes:

Richard.  You beat my best friend by an inch and his DW by 3.  Got some photos in my album that was taken off Randy, Gail, Rudy M. (he was coach of Houston Rockets) and me.  Back then both Rudy and I was 6 foot 9 and a quarter!  We shrunk. :lol:

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Update time...

I spent the past few weeks removing and redoing the upholstery on the pieces in the rear parlor (bedroom). The couch in the rear was kept as a couch, and it still has a working mechanism to make a full-size bed. The two side couches were reconfigured to be permanent twin beds. They are considered 'bunk' size - 30"x75". Slightly smaller than we'd like but we already had the memory foam mattresses from our last conversion and decided to keep them for now.

The carpet has already been purchased and is on hand. We've got a good friend who is a specialty carpet installer who is going to do the install. Just waiting for it to be warm enough for him to be able to cut it in the unheated work space available. It's a plush in a mottled beige color. We wanted to tone things down a bit from the current red/orange shag carpet.

We've tried to keep the 70s vibe by keeping the upholstery in the front and in the selection of the bed spreads in the rear. The new carpet should modernize things somewhat but still allow the 70s to show through. I found a few great tidbits underneath things as we pulled the couch out such as napkins from the Carnegie Deli dating from the 70s, a few pieces of school work printed on a Ditto machine (yes - I did give it a sniff to see if it still had that smell), and a few Polish language church bulletins from the 70s.

For anyone into sewing, the upholstery work was all done on a vintage Pfaff 260 sewing machine which is mounted in a power head sporting a modern servo motor. No problem plowing through multiple layers of upholstery fabric, including installing the welting (which we made as well). I've done projects like this on my old Singer machines as well, but the Pfaff was handy and has a larger work table. Fabric was purchased from JoAnn Fabric while it was on sale. Had to special order it but it arrived in just a few days. Bedding came from Amazon. We were able to save and re-use the original foam since it was in really great shape and not damaged by water, mold, or mildew.

More photos once the carpet is in place.

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Hi Richard, just sent you a private message.... and found this.. photos of your interior... nice.... take a look at my reply and you can respond to that....

--MARK

 

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Just finished the bathroom updates today. I was able to keep the original vanity fixtures, but I changed all the 120v bulbs for 12v LED bulbs and added a dimmer. The Merkel heater was just a box of rust, so I removed it and added a small 500-watt baseboard to take the chill out of the bathroom. It's controlled by the thermostat over the sink. The light switch plate was made on our LASER engraver and runs the ceiling and vanity LED lights. The finishing touch was the Moen faucet I found on deep discount. It's so much nicer than any of the RV faucets being sold and looks great.

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Quote

 

Richard.

Looking good.  A true work in progress and it should help with the wintertime blah's!  Keep posting, please!

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Out with the shag, in with the new. Our new carpet installation is finally underway. Last stage of a long project.

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Job well done!  I was wondering about the rug.  A final picture would be great to see! :)

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Was hoping to post photos of the completed job today. Apparently it takes a long time to carpet a 35-foot bus. Who knew. Between the tight quarters and the constant rain things didn't get done today. Should be wrapped up tomorrow and I'll post a few pictures then.

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