Seat Rebuild with Kemmler Air2Gel Foam - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 116 (permalink) Old 07-20-2006, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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Seat Rebuild with Kemmler Air2Gel Foam

Like a bunch of people here, I wasn't really satisfied with the seats on my '05. For short periods they were ok, but after a couple of hours the thin butt-padding and poorly placed lumbar support was really detracting from the fun of driving the car. I sat in a couple of '06 (both Elise and Exige) cars and wasn't impressed by the Probax seats. I've been playing around with my seats for some time and am REALLY pleased with them now. What I did was to reposition the lumbar bladder and use Kemmler Air2Gel foam in 3/8 and 1/8 inch thicknesses to pad and contour the seat.

First, I slowly peeled back the upholstery from the top (unsnap the fasteners first). The bottom cushion had foam that was easy to rip up when separated from the seat, so I used a utility knife to slice it away from the seat shell, almost like scraping a sticker off of the inside of a windshield. I covered the foam with duct tape to keep it from disintegrating (just separating it from the seat made a huge mess) and to give me a stable surface to reattach it to the seat base with tape or glue. Next, I moved the lumbar support. There is an old post showing that it can be slid down an inch or two, but this wasn't going to work for me. I wanted to move it down by drilling a new hole and re-attaching the tube, but it didn't seem to be possible without destroying the bladder and having the dealer replace it. So what I did was to flip the bladder over. The surface facing the upholstery was folded down, and became the surface attached to the seat shell. By doing this, the inflation tube didn't move. For my frame (5'8" and 160lbs) this was 1000% better:


The "x" is masking tape to make it easier to see the new position.

This is a little hard to see, but it shows how the tube from the bladder goes straight into the existing hole in the seat:


I started the padding by using 3/8" Air2Gel (it's brown) on the bottom of the seat, beginning with a strip over the metal which is molded into the shell. The larger piece goes from there to a spot part-way up the backrest. The first try used a piece all the way up to the fiberboard; what I have here is the last of about 25 configurations. This shows the metal strip in the seat, its foam covering, and the front edge of the big piece:


I cut the original foam piece into several sections to play with the positioning and to test where (or if) I would double them up. The foam is amazingly dense, and one layer would be fine- except in the lumbar/backrest. area. I tried a second layer, but had two problems: 3/8" was too much padding, at least in this density, and second, the foam is impossible to cut on a beveled angle. I was able to make a partial cut, but the foam crumbled under the next cut. a straight-through cut is no problem, though. It is so dense that it can dull a utility knife blade significantly after only one pass of the blade. So the chance of my butt wearing it out is about zero. This behavior of the foam was confirmed by Kemmler. (I can't remember the name of the guy I spoke to several times, but he has been a great help in doing this).

The rest of the padding is 1/8" Air2Gel. It is much softer, even when stacked up to make a 3/8 or 1/2" piece. It can also be cut with scissors. This picture is of the first piece of 1/8" foam, which goes from the top of the thicker sheet up to the spot where the fiberboard support for the leather begins. There is a lot of masking tape visible which I used as reference points:


Next, I ended up placing strips of the thinner foam in overlapping positions to build up the back. Surprisingly, the edges of the leather on the frame helped contour the foam upwards to cradle the sides of my back. This shows all of the thinner padding in place from above. On the left, the duct tape covering the OEM foam is visible:


Here's the reassembled seat:


And the stock seat:


This is easier to see the difference; the modified seat is the one farthest away:

It may look a little strange, but the lumbar support (not inflated here) helps a lot on the bottom, and the combination I ended up with makes me feel like I'm sitting up straighter like the Probax seat is supposed to.

Finally, here are all of the pieces laid out in their order of assembly and in their final positions, except that the far right piece ended up being an inch lower:

Now, I love my seats. The impact resistance of the 3/8" foam makes the car seem like it is smoother on bad pavement, and the 1/8" layers make a night-and-day difference- the seats almost seem cushy compared to the way they came.

A few other details:

I used contact cement for the final assembly of my foam, the reattachment of the lumbar support and the leather. The upholstery was reattached with double-stick carpet tape. It will allow easy removal of the leather in case I want to tweak the seats later.

Pull the leather towards the center of the seat when reattaching it after moving the bladder. It will prevent wrinkles on the side bolsters.

I found that UPS type packing tape worked best to position the foam in place when experimenting. It comes off easily without damaging the foam, unlike duct tape, and holds well, unlike masking tape.

The cost including the tape and glue was less than $100. It did take a Long time, but after a dozen tries, it fell into place pretty quickly. It may not work for everyone, but I thought it was worth a try.

Brian

PS-I can't seem to make the photos appear in the thread...anyone?

edited to fix image links, randy
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post #2 of 116 (permalink) Old 07-20-2006, 12:03 PM
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I, too, am very happy with my Kemmler Air2Gel foam.
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post #3 of 116 (permalink) Old 07-20-2006, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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Chococar's experience with this material sold me on checking it out.

Thanks again, Joe
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post #4 of 116 (permalink) Old 10-25-2006, 10:36 AM
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So is that one 1/2 roll of 3/8" Air2Gel and one 1/2 roll of 1/8" Air2Gel?

How close to the edge of the seat sides are the pieces cut - or are you leaving them at the 15" width the 1/2 roll comes in?

I'm guestimating about 3.7 lbs. of extra padding for both seats. Does that seem right?

Thanks!

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post #5 of 116 (permalink) Old 10-25-2006, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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David-

That's correct, 1/2 roll of 1/2" and 1/8" each. Mine did not come in 15" wide rolls; they were almost square. I know that the 1/8" piece was odd shaped because I took a piece that had some discoloration (which was hard to see) and they gave me a bunch extra.

The width of all of my foam pieces is 11.5". Any wider looked like it was crawling out from under the upholstery to me.

I didn't weigh my foam (oh no, maybe I'll be banned from the forum for that!) but would guess that 3.7 lbs is an overestimation. My guess is a little over 2 lbs at most.

Brian
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post #6 of 116 (permalink) Old 10-25-2006, 02:50 PM
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Brian,

Did you keep sizes of your pieces? I want to do this during the winter to my seats. It'll make my wife much happier with the car...

Joe
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post #7 of 116 (permalink) Old 10-25-2006, 05:13 PM
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I gelled my seat. I couldn't get use to the change/difference. I ended up removing the gel. $100.00 down the drain.

The seat felt rock hard after I removed the gel. I keep thinking I should have given it a little more time.

FWIW
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post #8 of 116 (permalink) Old 10-26-2006, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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I kept the final templates for the foam and I'll post the sizes within a few days.

I thought about using the Gel also. It's really cool stuff- I used the samples to teach my kids about super-cooled liquids- but it wasn't going to work for the seats.

The varying density of the foams makes it possible to do a lot of tuning to your personal needs. For example, instead of using the harder 3/8" foam, I could have used 3 layers of 1/8" foam to make a much softer pad.
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post #9 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 05:04 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry for the delay...

The final measurements of the foam in my seats are (in the locations shown in the picture):

8.5 x 11.5" / 6 x 11.5" / 9 x 11" / 8.5 x 11"

12 x 12" / 5 x 11.5"

1.75 x 12"
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post #10 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 05:35 AM
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Where did you buy the materials? I read it quickly and did not notice a source.

Tony Vaccaro
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post #11 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 05:45 AM Thread Starter
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post #12 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 07:36 AM
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So it's like this?
Attached Images
 

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2005 Midnight Silver Lotus Elise (www.darksol.com)
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post #13 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 08:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the labels, David.

This is correct. The photo does not seem accurate with respect to the measurements (check the dark 12 x 12" piece), but it is due to the camera angle. I measured the templates and peeled the upholstery back on the seats to confirm the sizes.
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post #14 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 03:59 PM
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Were the amounts that you ordered enough for both seats,or just one?

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Last edited by peck555; 11-02-2006 at 04:19 PM.
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post #15 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-02-2006, 05:55 PM
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Nice write-up. Added to Uberpost.

How would you describe the difference compared with the Probax seats? Do you think the Probax seat would benefit from this as well?

-Shawn (2005 Elise) || New England Members of Lotus Ltd. (NEMOLL) - PM me to join local info list or NEMOLL || UberPost - Elise/Exige info: common problems/fixes, etc.
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post #16 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-03-2006, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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The amount of foam was for both seats with some to spare. You might want to order the next size of the 1/8" foam so you'll have a lot extra to play with. Although it does come down to personal preferences, I can say that none of my passengers have complained about the modified seats, and most people have commented in some way that it's a lot more comfortable than they anticipated (in some part due to my kids spreading the phrase "The Lotus? It's dad's race car.").

It's been a year since I sat in the Probax seats (5 minutes in the showroom and a 10 minute drive) so I can't be really specific. I was disappointed with the quantity or maybe the density of the foam, and thought it would be more comfortable. I'd really like to see and handle the Probax insert itself to compare. I also thought that the shaping would be more extreme. For me, my seats now seem to facilitate sitting up straighter (at least for my frame) like the Probax seats are supposed to. One definite is that the lumbar supports are entirely in the wrong position for me, so if they could be flipped in a Probax seat I'd have them out of the car asap.

I'm glad to see that this may help some other owners.
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post #17 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-03-2006, 04:40 PM
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Seat Rebuild with Kemmler Air2Gel Foam

Seat Rebuild with Kemmler Air2Gel Foam

Main thread: http://www.elisetalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=429460
Material Source: http://www.kemmlerproducts.com/products1.html
Material Quantity (Enough for both seats):
  • (1) 1/2 roll of 3/8" Shocktec Air2Gel (HD (Tan) recommended by Kemmler but many have used the softer white material)
  • (1) 1/2 roll of 1/8" Shocktec Air2Gel (HD (Tan) recommended by Kemmler but many have used the softer white material)

Template Measurements: http://www.elisetalk.com/forums/show...86&postcount=9
Pic with Template Measurements: http://www.elisetalk.com/forums/show...9&postcount=12
Kit Weight (3.05 pounds for both seats) info: http://www.elisetalk.com/forums/show...9&postcount=20

-Shawn (2005 Elise) || New England Members of Lotus Ltd. (NEMOLL) - PM me to join local info list or NEMOLL || UberPost - Elise/Exige info: common problems/fixes, etc.

Last edited by Keeper; 03-31-2007 at 12:57 PM.
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post #18 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-03-2006, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian 111
The amount of foam was for both seats with some to spare. You might want to order the next size of the 1/8" foam so you'll have a lot extra to play with. Although it does come down to personal preferences, I can say that none of my passengers have complained about the modified seats, and most people have commented in some way that it's a lot more comfortable than they anticipated (in some part due to my kids spreading the phrase "The Lotus? It's dad's race car.").

It's been a year since I sat in the Probax seats (5 minutes in the showroom and a 10 minute drive) so I can't be really specific. I was disappointed with the quantity or maybe the density of the foam, and thought it would be more comfortable. I'd really like to see and handle the Probax insert itself to compare. I also thought that the shaping would be more extreme. For me, my seats now seem to facilitate sitting up straighter (at least for my frame) like the Probax seats are supposed to. One definite is that the lumbar supports are entirely in the wrong position for me, so if they could be flipped in a Probax seat I'd have them out of the car asap.

I'm glad to see that this may help some other owners.
The Probax seats don't have the inflatable lumbar supports at all.

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post #19 of 116 (permalink) Old 11-04-2006, 03:48 AM Thread Starter
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originally posted by peck555:
Quote:
The Probax seats don't have the inflatable lumbar supports at all.
I'm sure that has something to do with my not liking them.
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post #20 of 116 (permalink) Old 12-22-2006, 05:51 AM
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I received my Air2Gel form last evening.

I did the most rudimentary "stuff a folded piece on the existing seat" test and plunked my butt on top... It felt MUCH better... great stuff!

Looks like a Christmas/New Year's project to me

Edit: Actually I'm completely insane. I'm sitting on both pieces at work now in my "already pretty comfy" desk chair.

Piece1: 3/8" thick = 18.75 x 34.625 = 4.51 sf = 3.345 lbs.
Piece2: 1/8" thick = 26.25 x 32.625 = 5.95 sf = 1.425 lbs.
Total of 4.77 lbs. for both sheets.

I'm estimating a 3.0 lb. weight increase by performing this mod - but ohhh the feeling...

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2005 Midnight Silver Lotus Elise (www.darksol.com)
388hp (342whp) BOE RevX 1676lbs.

Last edited by darkSol; 12-22-2006 at 06:41 AM.
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