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Project Rolla, Replacement Seats and Human Filth

It stopped raining. This was a good thing, as it meant I could finally get to Pick A Part and grab some bits for the Corolla.

The plan was for me and a fellow Corolla friend to head there and pillage an E110 wagon of its sweet sweet manual bits to use on my car, but whilst there I knew they had a liftback like mine and I wanted to see what state the interior was in. If it was good, I wanted it.

It turned out to be a cracker of a day, only really let down by the fact I’m an idiot and didn’t use any sun protection so got slammed by sunburn.

The liftback was good. Someone had attacked some bits on the dash already, but the seats were good. That’s what I wanted. Mine were filthy, torn and generally worn out.

Being a Japanese built car, unlike mine which is NZ built and full of “local content”, it had some slight differences, such as different seats with more padding and better bolsters. The fabric appears more hard-wearing too.

In a jiffy, we had the seats out

These were bulky, so after a trek to find a trolly I loaded them into the car before heading back in. I really like the tumbling seat base in the Corolla which gives a nice flat load floor with the seats down. Lots of space

Then we spent the next couple of hours tearing into the wagon to relinquish it of its manual parts, since some bits are E110 specific. No photos because some of it was shitty, hot and hard work. Nothing like working in the foot wells of a car that has a thick layer of animal fur hiding the carpet 🤮

Once home I unloaded the car, and set to work on a couple of things. One of them was to replace the stupid bodged passengers mirror glass with a replacement from the liftback.

This is what the tape was hiding

Removal of the glass is easy, just pull outwards from the bottom of the glass to unhook the two bottom clips, and the. push it upwards to disengage the two hooks at the top.

Unfortunately, this is one of the localised content I mentioned above. The mirror is different, which means the mirror glass is different. Who knew? 😩

They look very similar, but the spacing of the clips is different and cannot be interchanged. Stupid.

I was a bit annoyed at this fact, so deciding I had nothing to lose, I peeled all the broken bits out of the backing of the NZ mirror, and hacked the backing off the glass of the Japan mirror to create something of a hybrid with the Japanese glass in the NZ mirror backing.

It’s not perfect, and the glass appears to be curved which I don’t like, but it works in the meantime. I might have to try and track down the proper NZ glass. Hopefully Pick A Part gets an NZ built one in soon.

Pulling the Corolla out of the garage I got to have a look at the seats I picked up.

Originally I didn’t think they looked that dirty, but looking at the photos now I can see where they hide the filth. The good thing is that they are all in good condition with minimal wear and no rips.

Using my Bissell Little Green I started the task of cleaning the seats. There was no point going to the effort of replacing the seats if I was just going to throw in 20+ years of someone else’s butt sweat.

This was the first seat I tried. The RH bolster has been cleaned. Some filth in there for sure.

I thought this was bad at the time… little did I know…

…that I was going to come across this. The whole back of the seat base, and a couple of areas on the bottom of the seat backs, was full of this brown liquid. It took a lot of passes for it to stop coming out dark brown.

I left the rear seats to dry overnight, and the next morning set about fitting them to gain some space back in the garage (its easier to store the seats I don’t care about than to try not to get the new seats dirty again). I vacuumed everything from the front seats back, and fit them. I had to swap one of the buckles as the Japanese center seatbelt is different to the NZ one and wouldn’t fit the buckle. I’m glad we grabbed that. It does mean I have one black buckle now, but oh well. When I find myself at PAP again, if it’s still there, I might grab the matching grey buckle. I have gained a (useless) center headrest now though.

Bit of a difference from the old ones

The fronts were a bigger job to clean. They were dirty from use and bulky to work on.

The passengers side came up well

The drivers seat was dirtier. Here’s a 50:50

There is still some marking and staining on the seat, but considering its age I’m happy. It smells fresh now, which is a result.

The method I used on all the seats was to saturate the fabric with the solution (a mix of water and Bissell Spot & Odour remover) in the Little Green, and vigorously scrub with a medium stiffness brush. Once scrubbed I would spray the fabric again, and then work on extracting the liquid. I worked on a small section at a time, and used both push and pull, in multiple directions, with varying pressure, to extract as much as possible. I’m not a pro, but it works. I love the Little Green, it’s such a handy tool. Its almost like I have talked about it before.

Anyway, enough about awesome machines. Before I fit the seats I thought I should check the belts work with the Japanese buckles on the seats, sure enough, no. I had to swap them from the old seats too.

To swap the buckle over I had to remove the old seat. That revealed this


A vacuum, more Little Green work, and I had a half decent carpet that didn’t smell anymore

And here is the new passengers seat next to the original drivers seat. This clearly shows the difference in bolsters and padding. They make the NZ made seats look quite low cost in comparison.

The drivers side wasn’t much better.

This tool is brilliant for this sort of work though. Its a powered brush head that runs on the suction from the shop vac. Works really well. I got this from Supercheap with a pack of other attachments which I have misplaced 😂

A vacuum got this carpet a lot better, but there was a lot of staining in various places

I spent quite a bit of time with the Little Green on this side, just getting rid of as many stains as I could. It came up really well

The side of the console got a clean with Valet-Pro APC, and the new seat was fitted

Much better than this

I’m very happy with how the interior is coming together. I still need to clean a bunch more things, especially around the well used cup holders, but it’s getting there.

After fitting the interior, since the carpet was still wet and the car will be in the garage overnight, I had a chance to fix a couple of other small things too.

Like the missing positive terminal cover

And I tensioned the alternator belt correctly as this was far too loose and squealed on a cold start or when at full lock. I haven’t driven the car since but it was silent when I started it before.

I could turn the belt completely over. A properly tensioned belt should turn about 90 degrees and no more when twisted. The tension is adjusted by a threaded adjuster under the alternator, and backing off the pivot and locking bolts.

One last little teaser I will leave is the spare rocker cover I picked up, all stripped, cleaned and masked, ready for paint.

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