Replacing the "Fuzzy" Interior Trim
Surfaces with Upholstery Leather
Many of the interior trim surfaces in the Range Rover are finished with an expensive-pooking "fuzz", which is susceptible to wear and abrasion. Brandon Caldwell had this experience on his 1999 4.6HSE Callaway. While disassembling the interior of his Rover to replace the heater tube O-rings, he removed the tan colored pillars next to the windshield and noticed that the "fuzz" was starting to come off. The fuzz was also becoming discolored from people using it as a grab handle. Brandon decided he would replace the fuzz with some nice tan colored leather. He kindly documented the process he used for Rangerovers.net readers.
Brandon's "A" pillar with the new leather trim in place
Materials and Tools
First I went to my local leather shop (Let it be known now that I have never done this before and I know nothing about leatherworking) and found a large piece of upholstery leather. The color was a littler lighter than the fuzzy surface and not quite the same shade as the headliner but I thought it would look good. I was able to purchase a 48sqr ft piece for $75.00 which is more than enough for all the vertical pillars (8 of them) in the vehicle.
I also purchased a safety beveller and some good quality contact cement ($5.00 for the beveller, $14.00 for the cement)
I assembled the following instruments to use for removing the fuzz
from the pillar:
I really only used the blade scrapper and the sanding block. The
other tools were not very effective
Carefully remove the foam backing block as it will be in your way.
Next, layout the leather and mark (using a pen or pencil) where your perimeter cut will be (remember to leave about 1" of extra length around the edge to wrap over the plastic).
Now you need to cut the leather. I used a pair of fabric scissors.
Next I set about to removing the fuzz from the surface of the plastic. The blade scrapper was the most effective tool (in retrospect I should have soaked the surface with isopropyl alcohol before scrapping and it would have been easier to remove but it all came off within 15 minutes of work.
Here is all the fuzz from the driver's side windshield pillar
Surface after scrapping (still has a lot of sticky adhesive on it)
Next - clean the surface of the plastic using isopropyl alcohol until it is free of all adhesive and fuzz
Next - "rough up" the surface of the plastic so the contact adhesive will bond better. I used a sanding block which worked quite well
Now you need to prep the leather prior to applying the adhesive, which encompasses the following steps
1. Use the safety beveller to scrape the back of the leather making it thinner and easier to bend. I recommend you use the beveller around all the edges and at places where the leather overlaps onto the back
2. Make triangular cuts in the overlapping leather at each corner or major bend in the plastic this will allow you to wrap around the corners. You will also need to cut slits where there are plastic ribs on the backside of the plastic
3. Use a pen to mark the edge (and corners) where you will start when attaching the leather to the plastic. This will help you attach it correctly the first time.
4. Attach the leather using tape just to make sure that it fits correctly
Now for the adhesive (remember to vent the area you are working in as the adhesive can get you light headed..... this is bad). Apply a thin coat of adhesive to the entire back of the leather and the surface of the plastic (remember to also apply adhesive to the underside of the plastic where the leather will overlap the edge). Now let this sit for 10-20 minutes until the coated surfaces are dry to the touch.
Next you need to apply the leather to the plastic surface
Make sure that you pull the leather tight when you are pressing the leather onto the plastic so you are not left with any bunching or wrinkles in the leather surface
Here is the final product
And the back:
And installed in my rover
Now I just need to do the other 7-pillars and I will be all set!
If you have corrections, comments or suggestions, email us.
Page revised February 2, 2012