A few years back we upholstered our '32 Ford highboy using an EZ Boy upholstery kit by LeBaron Bonney. Since it was a driver we never bothered to upholster the trunk. The idea was we could just throw our tools, chairs, and spare tire in the trunk and not worry about tearing up the upholstery. Recently we updated the car with new paint, chrome wheels, and wide whites. Since the EZ Boy interior was still in great shape, we only replaced the carpet. However, tiring of everyone looking in the trunk when we opened it only to see a stack of "stuff", we decided to upholster the trunk as part of the overhaul. The key issue was where to go with all of the stuff. After some thought, and a few sketches, a plan was developed and we would build in hidden compartments to hold the stuff and when it was all buttoned up it would be a fully upholstered trunk.
The project started off with Cabinet Building 101. A false floor with a hinged door was constructed. This allowed the stuff to pretty much remain where it was, under the false floor. A hinged door would allow access. A storage box was then constructed in the front area of the trunk between the false floor and the top of the trunk area. This box, with a hinged front door, would contain the battery, a bottle jack, and other stuff we may choose to store there. The framework was constructed to hold panels in place on each side of the front storage box. The decklid hinges determined the size of the storage box, as well as the design of the framework. Remember when the decklid comes down the hinges have to have some place to go. The hinged doors were secured using compact, simple, push-button latches we found in our Speedway Motors catalog. While we were in the catalog we added a couple of stainless steel braided battery cables, and a simple battery box/hold down to our order.
With the woodworking complete, it was on to upholstery. We contacted EZ Boy by LeBaron Bonney and explained what we had in mind, and that the upholstery for the trunk would need to match the interior. The people at EZ Boy are knowledgeable, friendly, and very willing to help.
LeBaron Bonney is best known for their restoration upholstery kits, tops, and so on. The EZ Boy brand is their custom upholstery line. Panel design, size of pleats, and color of piping is up to the customer. If you can design it, they can probably send you the materials to complete your own interior. They have over 6,000 seat cover patterns. If you know what your seat came out of chances are good that they have a pattern and can sew you up a custom cover for your seat. You can go online at lebaronbonney.com, click on Custom Interiors, and design your own interior using the sample material swatches and panel designs on their website. You can order your interior package right there or call their customer service department to get answers to any questions and make sure you have everything you need. They even have complete interior packages for most popular street rods.
In our case we wanted a red bolster on the top, and black, 1-3/4-inch-wide pleats on the bottom, with black welting separating the two. The plan was to match our EZ Boy interior. We also wanted carpet for a decklid underside cover, as well as carpet for the trunk floor. We sent samples of our existing upholstery material and they matched it exactly. The carpet in our recent update was black Daytona Weave and they matched that as well.
We ordered enough upholstery material to cover our three front panels and two side panels. We also ordered enough carpet to cover our real trunk floor, the false floor, the storage box interior and top, and the underside of the decklid. For panel board we chose ABS. ABS panels are far superior to cardboard or wood product boards. ABS boards are easy to cut with a utility knife or jigsaw, and they can be sanded, drilled, and heat-formed. ABS boards are completely waterproof and will not delaminate or warp. Pieces can be joined together to create larger panels, if needed.
While we were waiting for the material to arrive we began to cut cardboard patterns. Pattern making is a major part of any upholstery project and is critical, as the patterns will determine the actual size and shape of the upholstered panels. We made paper patterns for the carpet.
Once the EZ Boy material was delivered we began by cutting carpet pieces to fit the inside of the forward storage box. Contact cement was used to attach the carpet panels to the inside of the box. The top of the box, as well as two small side tops shapes were cut from the carpet and taken to a local upholstery shop to have a black binding sewn on, with a flap left to wrap around the wooden top pieces. The decklid cover carpet and the false floor carpet were also cut to shape and dropped off to have a red binding sewn on.
We used our patterns to cut the ABS board into our required shapes. Using a sharp utility knife you can cut through the board, or score it deep enough to break it off at the score line. Scoring and breaking can be tricky on small curves and intricate pieces.
Next we marked the ABS panel pattern on the backside of the pre-sewn upholstery panel. It is important to remember what panel is the left side and what panel is the right side and also what side of the ABS panel is the finish side. We then removed the foam from the upholstery panel up to the area that would be the actual panel. Contact cement was applied to the edge of the backside of the ABS panel and the areas where the foam had been removed from the pre-sewn upholstery panel. The upholstery was then wrapped around the ABS panel and stapled in place. This process was used for all panels. The finished upholstered panels were all attached using industrial-strength Velcro. The Velcro allows the side panels to be removed for additional storage areas.
A piece of carpet was cut to fit around the false floor opening and was contact cemented in place. The red bound floor carpet, which was cut over size to overlap the surrounding carpet, was then attached to the false floor door with Velcro. The decklid cover was attached with Velcro as well.
While paint and upholstery are two of the most visual parts of a street rod, they tend to be outsourced by most do-it-yourselfers. EZ Boy by LeBaron Bonney has made the upholstery part of building a street rod a lot less intimidating, and when completed you can be proud that you did it yourself.
Per design, our finished trunk area offers more than ample storage space and now when we raise the decklid the onlookers will not snicker. And we can proudly say, "We did it ourselves."