Hazel's Place

Hazel's Place
Picture modified by Pete C (W650 rider)

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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Batavus HS50 - seat renovation part 1

I posted some pictures of the Batavus project a while ago and it was clear that the seat needed some attention, the cover being held together by lots of conspicuous re-stitching in now-rotting thread and bits of black sticky tape.

I've never restored anything before, just bits and pieces of things so I'm still unsure how far I'll go with this one.  I think I'd like to do a reasonable job over time but I'm not aiming for an over shiny and perfect finished article.  I really prefer things to look their age ('cept me!). What I have decided is that I want to do it at no cost at all.  Now this clearly isn't realistic unless I go out robbing things so I've decided that if need to buy anything for it (which I certainly will need to do) I have to fund it by selling things, mainly on ebay I expect.  Wherever possible, I'll use things I already have.

So far, I've paid £80 for the moped and £26 for some engine spares.  I'm allowing myself the original cost and I already had a balance in my PayPal account from selling some biking gear to pay for the engine spares.  Today, an item I was selling on ebay went for £68 (I'd been expecting about £40 so this was a good result).  I placed an advert on the local Freecycle about a week ago to see if anyone had any vinyl offcuts to cover the seat with.  I didn't get any vinyl but I did get a helpful email pointing me in the direction of Dunelm, so today I splashed out and ordered a sheet of black leatherette/vinyl with which to re-cover the seat.  That's £10 spent, including delivery.  I could have paid £2 extra for next day delivery but, tempting though that was to an impatient sort of person such as I, I opted for the economy 5-7 days delivery in the interests of being frugal.

This afternoon, I started to carefully take the seat apart, in readiness for the arrival of nice, new vinyl.  I haven't seen a seat constructed quite like this before.  There is a metal framework for the base, with seat springs.  Over that is a rubber covering, made from four pieces of rubber stitched together.  The rubber is fairly thick and holds it's shape when not fitted to the metal base but a lot of the stitching is rotten and most of it will need re-stitching.  A thin layer of foam is glued to the top and back of the rubber layer and then the vinyl seat cover is fitted over the top.  This is made from three pieces of vinyl stitched together.  There are three holes drilled in each side of the metal frame and once the vinyl cover is in place, with the edges folded up inside the base, three tiny bolts each side go through the vinyl cover, then the rubber layer, then the metal seat base and then through the vinyl cover again before being secured with a washer and nut.  Some of the original bolt heads sheared off when I tried to unfasten them, then the nuts had to be hacksawed off the inside of the seat - lots of rust!

Once the vinyl cover was removed, I was able to pull the rubber cover away from the frame and then start very gently prising the foam away from the rubber cover.  It was glued in place but I wanted to keep it in one piece so I can use it as a pattern for the new foam (I will probably use an old camping mat for that).  The pictures below show what I am left with.

The metal base will need a lot of work with a wire brush, then some rust treatment and some black paint.

The rubber cover needs restitching.  Because it is quite thick and some of the old thread is stuck in the holes I will probably need to go round it all with a needle making sure all the original holes are clear before I do the actual stitching.   I plan to use clear, plastic thread for this so that it won't rot.

I will then stick foam to the rubber cover.  Because I'll be using camping mat it will probably need more trimming and shaping at the edges than the original foam, which is a lot softer.

When I make the vinyl cover I will probably try and save the middle panel from the original as this has the ribbed pattern and the Batavus logo on the seat hump.  It's had a hard life and there are several splits in it so I'm thinking I'll glue it to a piece of the new vinyl before stitching it all together - this should give it more strength and some degree of waterproofness! Using part of the original should also mean it doesn't end up looking too Brand New - I don't want to have to make the rest of the bike too perfect just so it matches the seat!

The original seat foam.  I didn't do too bad a job of removing it - it will serve it's purpose as a template for the new foam.

The inside of the vinyl cover, showing the numerous repairs it has undergone.

The "Batavus" name on the seat hump and a bit of the ribbed effect I want to keep on the finished seat cover.

Rough looking vinyl seat cover

The rubber seat cover, showing just one of the places where the stitching has completely rotted.

Inside the rubber seat cover.
..and this is the metal base and springs.  It must have been a fairly plush seat for a moped.  Lots of work needed with the wire brush though.


  1. Getting brave there. Have never tackled a sprung frame seat. Looks like you are on right track. So you are going to re-use the top and rear material.Don't know about over there, but over here some fabric stores carry a pretty fair range of vinyl material.
    Sewing that stuff can be pretty tough. I'm lucky my mother has a heavy duty Singer machine that will handle canvas and leather, and leather like materials. Good luck with that.

  2. I've started hand sewing the rubber layer. It's a very slow process that involves holes in my fingers and some bleeding!

  3. We just picked up a Batavus today. I'm thrilled to see you posted the innards of the seat as I was curious about what was in there. Thanks so much for posting this. 'Very informative.

  4. Is it the same model Batavus as mine? Glad you found this interesting and hope you found the various Batavus links on my earlier posts.

  5. How's that seat going? Have your fingers healed? Did you see the "push bikes" I've posted? Ran into a moped rider who told me to look up "Moped Army"..."... "America's toughest moped gang. Uniting the moped community through discussion and information". Whole 'nother world going on there.

  6. Seat is going very slowly for various reasons. I've stitched a cover but not yet fitted it. I do like the Moped Army website...swarm and destroy :-) Gonna have a look at your push bikes now.