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  • Where to find skins/upholstery?

    Figured I should start a thread in this specific section... My dad and I bought a '91 prostar 190, and most of the upholstery is in fair to poor condition. We're not going to pay someone 3k to do it, as I am very cheap. I would like to know who has done their own upholstery on here and where they got material for it. I realize it may be difficult to find oem skins for this old of a boat, so we are willing to get an old industrial strength sewing machine and do it ourselves. I would like the colors/scheme to look as close to stock as possible. Since we have all winter to do this, we'll just pull the seats out one by one and pattern the material after each one. Any tips or suggestions welcome.

  • #2
    Bump, anyone?

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    • #3
      Do some searches on this site...i know there are a few upholstry threads including a diy one

      Sent from my Motorola RAZR MAXX using Tapatalk 2
      Everyone Dies, but not everyone lives

      2004 Prostar 197, ACME 843

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      • #4
        I applaud your gusto to do it yourself -- I'm that kind of guy too. But in the case of a complete upholstery job I would think long and hard about trying to do it all from scratch, especially if you don't have experience in this field.

        There's a reason upholstery jobs are expensive -- it's very time intensive and the supplies are not cheap. I know of what I speak!

        Five or so years ago I completely redid the upholstery on my TriStar. I found a good person in town who worked at an upholstery shop during the day and then did custom work at home in the evenings. She agreed to do my stuff for a good price as long as I supplied all the materials. I pulled all the skins off, and once the new ones were made, I reinstalled them myself.

        I used SurfSide marine vinyl which runs about $33/yd. Then there is thin foam underlay that is needed for some of the sections. Then there is special thread. Then there is the welting which has to be made to match. Then there is the Hidem strip material -- which either has to be made or, if you are lucky, can be purchased to match. Then there is the tack-down material to secure upholstery sections to the base between the seat foam sections. Then there is plastic to cover the foam so that the skins slide on nice and easy. Then there are stainless steel staples -- I likely spent $100 on staples alone! And on it goes.

        So when you add up all the supplies, and considering that time -- your time! -- is money, the amount that a professional upholsterer charges doesn't look so bad. And at $33/yd, learning how to sew vinyl can be an expensive lesson.

        Im not saying you couldn't, or shouldn't do this. I'm just saying . . . carefully count the cost before embarking on a task like this.

        (Just yesterday and today, I stripped the skins off the two bow seats and rear seat of my X5 which I'm planning to sell next spring. I'll be taking them to a local upholsterer who has agreed to do all three for $440. If you shop around you should be able to get most of your skins redone for somewhere in the $2000 range.)
        2005 X2, Viper Red, MCX, Acme 1285, PPass, rear 750 sacs, KBS, IBS, Bennett Wake Plate
        (previous) 2001 X5, 1991 TriStar 190

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        • #5
          Thanks for the detailed post, wheelerd! I did a lot of searching through old threads on the forum, and especially after you explained it, it does seem like quite a bit of work. I emailed a few guys that do boat upholstery that people on TT recommended, and so far copycat upholstery has responded. Depending on how much it costs, we may just go with the process of sending the old skins out and then put the new stuff on ourselves. We just need the three seats recovered, so I'm hoping it won't cost too much an arm and a leg...

          Copycat sent a quick and very informative reply to my request for a quote. They just need to see a few pictures of each piece, as well as dimensions, then they can give a definite quote. I'll do that this weekend since I don't get home til after dark during the week.

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          • #6
            I was thinking of contacting copy cat for a quote as well.. I got a local quote in Missouri to do a 1989 Tristar open bow and it came in at $4500 and that did not include any of the side panels , the rear bench seat because I didnt have it in the picture, so I was going to take measurements for copy cat. Would love to know how much copycat quotes...My seats are rough but $4500 is darn near what I paid for the boat.. Have a guy coming to look at the seats Thursday hope his are reasonable.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by mxhideout View Post
              Figured I should start a thread in this specific section... My dad and I bought a '91 prostar 190, and most of the upholstery is in fair to poor condition. We're not going to pay someone 3k to do it, as I am very cheap. I would like to know who has done their own upholstery on here and where they got material for it. I realize it may be difficult to find oem skins for this old of a boat, so we are willing to get an old industrial strength sewing machine and do it ourselves. I would like the colors/scheme to look as close to stock as possible. Since we have all winter to do this, we'll just pull the seats out one by one and pattern the material after each one. Any tips or suggestions welcome.
              If this is your first time doing upholstery, I may be the first to ask- how many times do you want to do it before the results are considered 'good'? An experienced upholsterer will know how to make new skins that fit well, not "kind of". Also, the foam will undoubtedly have collapsed over time and they know how to determine the resiliency, so any patching is unnoticeable, it won't separate or be seen from outside, after the skin in in place. Knowing which materials will last and which won't isn't something that just comes to you, like a new idea. Also, if you don't have a wholesale account, your options for finding a source will be very limited and even within one brand, they have several levels of quality. A consumer-grade sewing machine may not do well with multiple layers of material, either. Then, there's the thread- not all hold up well in direct sunlight and exposure to water.

              If you want it to look good, call around to A) find out who has a lot of very satisfied marine customers, B) who does this at a decent price and C) who will quote a price for a job that may not all be done at the same time. This spreads the pain over a longer time period but the thing to consider here is that the older vinyl will look a bit different from the newer pieces.

              I would at least check into having the skins cut and sewn for you, check out the foam to make any repairs and if you want to install them, you can do that to save money. You'll need to learn some of the tricks to making it look good- it doesn't fall into place on its own, looking like new.

              The first thing to do if you buy a machine- make sure it's not sloppy and worn out. If it is, have it repaired before you try to sew the skins- you'll never get the results you want. Go to an upholstery shop and ask if you can grab some scraps of material to practice sewing different types of seams. Pfaff and Singer are two of the main brands you may see but there are many others, including some Asian ones. A Singer 111 is a good bet- it's definitely heavy-duty enough for this and will work for many layers of leather. If you can, get one with a DC motor- the motor responds a lot more smoothly to the pedal's movement and the speed won't jump up so fast that you'll pinch your fingers (this is incredibly painful but not as bad as actually running the needle through a finger).

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              • #8
                Originally posted by lakeoz tristar View Post
                I was thinking of contacting copy cat for a quote as well.. I got a local quote in Missouri to do a 1989 Tristar open bow and it came in at $4500 and that did not include any of the side panels , the rear bench seat because I didnt have it in the picture, so I was going to take measurements for copy cat. Would love to know how much copycat quotes...My seats are rough but $4500 is darn near what I paid for the boat.. Have a guy coming to look at the seats Thursday hope his are reasonable.
                I was just going to say, some of these quotes I'm seeing are almost as much as an entire boat... I realize it's a tedious and rather time-consuming trade, but wow.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mxhideout View Post

                  Copycat sent a quick and very informative reply to my request for a quote. They just need to see a few pictures of each piece, as well as dimensions, then they can give a definite quote. I'll do that this weekend since I don't get home til after dark during the week.
                  I had Copycat do the observer seat on my X5 a couple of years ago. They did a great job and at a decent price . . . but it took forever. I understand they were going through some management pains at the time. (There is a Copycat thread somewhere here on TT.) As part of the job I had them insert the X5 logo that goes on the seat back. When they sent the completed skin to me the logowas upside down! I had to send it back and they fixed it at no extra charge, but start to finish, the whole operation took about 6 months.
                  2005 X2, Viper Red, MCX, Acme 1285, PPass, rear 750 sacs, KBS, IBS, Bennett Wake Plate
                  (previous) 2001 X5, 1991 TriStar 190

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                  • #10
                    A lot of people had problems with copycat...I didn't.

                    I asked for the heaviest vinyl that they carried and they sent a sample. The quality and weight was as good as anything out there.

                    My skins fit and they did what I wanted. They included all of the extras to match, hide-um, welting, etc. All I had to do was install.

                    Now, the price worked out to about $1,200 to do my 1993 190.

                    On the pain in the azz factor...it is very high. I am a very picky person when it comes to this kind of stuff. I could get the same results as a pro, BUT, it took me way longer. I got faster as I went along.

                    A major issue is getting just the right amount of tension or stretch on the skins so that there aren't any wrinkles. There was a lot of staple pulling and adjustments on the first few cushions. By the end of the job, I was pretty fast.

                    My major tip, is to leave the skin you are about to work on out in the sun, and get it really hot. Then when you install, you want it tight, but don't over do it, that creates its' own wrinkles.

                    Ths isn't the greatest picture in terms of showing detail, but it gives you an idea. You can see the fit of the skins and the seems etc.
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by Jorski; 11-14-2012, 03:03 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jorski View Post
                      A major issue is getting just the right amount of tension or stretch on the skins so that there aren't any wrinkles. There was a lot of staple pulling and adjustments on the first few cushions. By the end of the job, I was pretty fast.

                      My major tip, is to leave the skin you are about to work on out in the sun, and get it really hot. Then when you install, you want it tight, but don't over do it, that creates its' own wrinkles.
                      Good point to emphasize. When I first slipped the skins over the base I was disappointed -- What the hey! These don't fit. But gradually stretching (I used a blow dryer on low setting), adjusting, stapling and restapling, making sure the raw inner ends of the seams were all turned the same way, etc., the result was as good as any pro shop I've seen. Just be patient.

                      When you disassemble the seats you'll notice thin plastic between the skins and the cushions. It's really important to either save and reuse these if they're not damaged in the process, or just use some very thin poly plastic when you reassemble. This is to allow the backing of the vinyl to slide over the foam of the cushion when you are doing the stretching. You can just let it hang over the edges and trim it when you do the final trimming of the vinyl.
                      Last edited by wheelerd; 11-14-2012, 02:21 PM.
                      2005 X2, Viper Red, MCX, Acme 1285, PPass, rear 750 sacs, KBS, IBS, Bennett Wake Plate
                      (previous) 2001 X5, 1991 TriStar 190

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                      • #12
                        One more tip. You can source very light weight plastic (often for free) from your dry cleaner.

                        Mine gave me more than I required. Worked better than trying to reuse the old stuff.

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                        • #13
                          Another thing an upholsterer will do is use a steamer to plump the foam and make the vinyl more compliant and that's difficult for those who don't have access to one. It's not a little stupid one that's sold on late-night infomercials, either. It makes a huge difference in how the seats turn out.

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                          • #14
                            Here are a couple of pics from my Tristar. As I mentioned above, I stripped and reinstalled the skins myself, and found a local person to do the work privately. (As for the logos -- of course these were originally heat-stamped so no longer available. I created computerized images and took them to a local sports store that does sewn graphics. I was pleased with how they turned out.)
                            Attached Files
                            2005 X2, Viper Red, MCX, Acme 1285, PPass, rear 750 sacs, KBS, IBS, Bennett Wake Plate
                            (previous) 2001 X5, 1991 TriStar 190

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                            • #15
                              Nice job- the compound curves are tricky.

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