Traction Avant - Front Seat Base Springs

September 2017, 5 years into ownership and another Reasonably straightforward job as part of the 'rolling restoration' (there's not a lot left to do now).

At 65 years old the seat bases on my Traction sank when sat on and with closer inspection from the underneath showed some broken springs in both the drivers and passenger side. Now the seats had been recovered in leather before I bought the car 5 years ago and I thought it would be a simple job to replace the actual spring base... well it was, sought of.

The bases themselves are simply held in place by the backrest and sit on 2 'pegs' at the front to stop them sliding around so it really is a 2 minute job to take them both out of the car.

What I found underneath one was the original manufacturers label showing that they were 'Systéme Epeda', made by BERTRAND FAURE of Paris (who manufactured Bus and Car seat systems from the 1920's) and on the reverse was a date of 'DEC 1952' which ties in with the confirmed build date of the car. A Google search shows that the company is still around making Spring Mattresses for beds! The Company Now

Original Seat Label for Bertrand Faure - Systéme Epeda Seat Label Reverse Original spring V old

I sourced 2 new base springs from France and Holland which whilst the same basic layout to the original are of a slightly different construction. The original 'Systéme Epeda' are are continuous wire construction whilst the replacements are more of a 'pocketed' construction.

When the seats were recovered back in 2011/2012 the upholsterer used a commercial 'staple gun' to attach the covers so it was a slow and laborious task removing them from 3 sides. I left the front attached so I could simply peel the leather cover back with a view to simply pulling it back over (wishful thinking that was...)

Once the staples were all removed the first job was to strip the covers back to see what was underneath and how the seat was constructed.

Once peeled back there was a layer of cotton waste on top of a hessian/horsehair 'sandwich' which was sewn to the spring base with waxed string to stop it moving.

Under the padding on the spring it turns out it's a simple wooden base to which the spring is nailed to,

Then it was a case of cutting that string to leave the spring clear and get at the 6 securing nails holding the spring to the base.

Staples Removed Seat Stuffing off Removing the nails

Once the horsehair 'sandwich was off, the spring was removed to leave the top cover still fastened at the front edge to the wooden base plate.

The new spring was then fitted to the wood base using the clips from the old spring and new panel pins.

Now the old horsehair sandwich (on both seats) had holes where the broken springs had worn the hessian away (image on the right with the holes circled).

Old Spring Removed New Spring Fitted Holes in the old Hessian

Rather than strip the 'sandwich' which was itself sewn together, I simply fitted an additional layer of hessian over the springs before putting the padding back, securing both with string. The hessian came from a local furniture upholsterer's and 1 metre @ £7.00 covered both seat bases. The string came from our local Asda which, whilst not 'waxed' did the job.

Spring base covered in new hessian. Seat Bases back in place.

Once the padding was secure it was on to refitting the leather cover.

Once the leather cover was back in place, which was a mission in itself as the covers were made to fit the old 'squashed' springs, the seats were put back into the car. That again was a challenge due to the higher depth of the new springs as they have to go between the backrest cushion and a metal crossbar (I can't write my comments made during that process )

The difference when sitting on the finished seats is remarkable, but not surprising giving the age and condition of the original springs.

Last Update: 20th September 2017