Upgrade The Probax Seat Cushions on a Lotus Exige
As the OEM Lotus seats age the foam padding deteriorates into a fine powder resulting in discomfort for your spine, back, and butt against the fiberglass shell. This HowTo provides a walk through on the removal of the seat padding, replacement, and reinstall without destroying the seat and cosmetic traces of a modification being performed.
The results using the method outlined are dramatic on comfort and do not lessen the effectiveness of the side bolsters.
Remove and prep existing cushions
This can be accomplished with the seats in or out of the car. These instructions show how to do it while in the car.
Using your fingers reach under the front (closest to your knees when seated) of the seat. The leather is glued to the bottom, pull it up and peel the leather away from the seat. There will be a second layer under the leather resembling cloth, peel that away as well. Depending on the age of your seat the cloth may be completely deteriorated (doesn't matter, it will not be reused).
- Slide your index finger between the cushion and seat about 2" back from the front. Slide your finger forward to tear the cushion away from the seat. There is only a small amount of adhesive in the corner on both sides (A, B) gluing the pad down.
- Pull the cushion back and up until the next adhesive area is found. Use a putty knife to free the cushion and leather from the seat. Don't worry about minor damage to the existing padding during removal.
With the bottom of the seat separated move on to the back area.
Work your fingers up along both sides and free the leather from the seat. Moderate pulling should be all that is needed to separate it as shown.
- The 2006+ seats have a fastener in each corner at the top which has to be removed. Do not yank on it as you risk tearing it from the cushion. Use a small pry bar (as shown) to pry it away ensuring pressure is applied over a large surface area. The fasteners are standard automotive trim plastic plugs, they will just pop out with a little pressure.
- Remove the padding and liner from the seat.
Clean up all the remaining deteriorated padding, adhesive, and years of dirt from the seat.
- Use the Nyalox 120 grit Nylon wheel on a drill to gently remove the adhesive and foam remaining on the seat and leather edging. Don't be to aggressive with this as it will scrap away the fiberglass with too much pressure or holding it in the same spot. Wear a breathing mask and ensure adequate ventilation and air flow.
- Use a shop-vac to clean up all the debris left behind in the car.
Clean up the seat padding.
- Lay the center padding out on a table face side down.
- Back section: Remove the cloth and all padding.
- Seat section: Free the large seat pad from the leather and keep. This is molded to the fiberglass shell and works well to reuse as a base layer (depending on condition).
- Clean all the old adhesive off the leather edging. A good bond is going to be needed to reattach and that won't happen if old adhesive remains on the leather.
Install new padding
Note: The rest of this section is largely based upon personal preference when referring to the types, size, placement, and cuts of padding to install.
Take your time and test sitting in the car with different types of padding, numbers of layers, and even the shapes of the pads. Our bodies are all different an this is your chance to add more lumbar support, strength the spinal area, ribs, or whatever you fancy.
Determine where to add padding.
- Take note how the OEM padding is sculpted to match the stitching in the seats. You'll want to replicate that. The most important area is the spinal area on the backing, add additional support there.
- Determine where extra padding is needed the most. For me that was where the seat back meets the lower area supporting my butt and tail bone and the back of the seat where my spine tends to rub hard.
The best way to do this is put the pad back in the car and sit in it, take notes, then continue.
Don't be afraid to cut and shape the padding for testing. Just because it is sold in a rectangle shape doesn't mean you have use it that way.
Below, for reference only, are the three layers of padding I installed. It has been 2 months since install and every time I drive my Lotus I think this is the best mod I've performed yet. My back fatigue and soreness after a 3 hour drive to the track is only a distant memory now.
Install the padding
- Glue the surface pads (layer 1) down to the leather. This will ensure the OEM shape of the seats is maintained and follow the stitching of the leather.
- Use 3M Super 77 on both surfaces as the instructions state.
- Glue the large pad (layer 2) down over the first layer of pads.
- Glue down the Kemler SHOCKtec (layer 3) last. Ideally these should be the layer against the fiberglass seat shell.
Use a piece of cardboard or something to act as a shield while spraying to keep the Super 77 spray adhesive where you want it vs over spray where you don't.
Re-glue the leather to the back of the seat padding installed in the prior step.
NOTE: If cosmetics are important this step is critical, spend the time to do it right.
- To maintain the proper shape and fitment to the seat test fitting is required. Use packaging tape or duct tape to start testing where the leather should be glued down and test fit until it fits in the seat properly.
- Once a good position is found, use a marker to mark the edge of the leather on the foam backing (see picture). Remove tape, glue and replace, use tape to hold in place while glue sets.
Glue the new padding to the seat fiberglass shell.
NOTE: Gluing the padding in three sections will provide the best fit and allow for minor adjustments as you go.
- Place the padding in the seat and fold the top (back) down so it's facing up toward you. (See picture below)
- Use the 3M Super 77 to coat the center pad (A, B) and where it will approximately mate to the seat (C). Ignore the blue tape in the picture, that was used for test fitting.
- Use the Contact Adhesive and apply liberal amounts to the leather (D) on the back side of the padding and where it will mate to the seat (E). Allow to set for 5 minutes before sticking together (or as the instructions indicate).
- Quickly install the plastic press fittings into the seat and push the backing firmly against the seat back.
- Sit in the seat to ensure it doesn't move and it is where it should be when your body is normally pressing against it.
Gluing the seat bottom.
- Repeat the steps above for the seat portion.
Gluing the front flap that folds under the seat LAST!
- Glue the front flap separately and lastly once the rest of the padding is glued down in its proper location. Use Contact Cement to secure the leather under the front of the seat.
Once dry go back and double check the contact cement bonded to your liking. If not, add cement / adhesive as needed to ensure a good bond.
Check for any adhesive over spray on the leather and inside the car. Let dry and rub off with a clean and dry microfiber towel.