Miata Seat Conversion
March 19, 2017


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Past Improvements


My good friend Bob Danielson, who happens to own a far more famous yellow Mimosa TR6, recently converted to Miata seats.  Bob
took the time to document and post the process step by step on his great website and that gave me the initiative to start looking for seats.

I would be remiss without pointing out Bob's site and it's great review of his accomplishments and the well deserved recognition of his car.
Bob's TR6 Project

What I add here is to post a few different things that I've done, share some ideas that Bob and I talked about and to offer a few
new thoughts to those who may be considering a conversion with these seats.  But the beauty of this job today, is the availability
of ready made seat brackets made especially for fitting the Miata seats into a TR6.  Those were originally designed by "Uncle Jack Drews"
and Sean Alexander.  Following Jack's untimely death Joe and Sean Alexander have kept the project alive and are selling sets everyday.
You can drop them a line here to discuss price and availability:  Seat Track Information

The link to their other products is here:  Joe Alexander and ARE Products

Bob , myself and many other active TR6 owners frequent the 6-Pack Forum and British Car Forum daily.  It was there that I
expressed an interest in obtaining a pair of Miata seats to prevent an aching back on long rides.  I had my original seats re-padded and Eddie
did a  great job, but I wanted some lumbar support, better headrest protection, speakers that I could hear while driving and easily adjustable seats. 

So after posting a thread early one Sunday morning about wanting seats on the 6-Pack forum,  I was on my way within two hours to
New Hampshire.  There I would  to pick up a really nice set of seats to start the project.  I thank our good friend Tom in CT for pointing the way
to the newly posted link on Craigslist.  The forums and the guys who support and frequent them are the best asset we all have in this hobby.

The custom seat covers that you see in the final phase were made by Eddie at JT Leddy Upholstery in Pawtucket, RI.
Eddie has no web site, but he does fabulous work and can be reached at 401-723-9306

**** Viewers are warned that if they attempt any mechanical repairs or modifications,
or follow procedures referred to here, they do so at their own risk, and no liability will
attach to either myself or J.T. Leddy Upholstery, Inc.****


This is what I purchased from an ad on Craigslist.  Again, I got very lucky, as these were in very good condition.

It's almost a shame to waste the covers, but Eddie will need them to make matching Chestnut covers,
along with rolled and pleated inserts, very similar to the original TR6 pattern.

First step, remove tracks and get the surface rust off the seat cushion pans.

Words of caution and warning.  You NEED these tracks to make this work.

Do NOT leave the salvage yard without them or buy seats without them.

But first, I'm showing the proper orientation of the seat tracks and the wire cable between them.

This is the drivers seat and pay attention to the way the cable is run.  Bob points this out on his site as well.

This is the drivers seat with the track still bolted on.  There are four (4) 12mm bolts that hold the tracks
to the seat frame.  You can see the two forward bolts at the end of each track pictured here.  The
passenger seat is the same and the lever to allow the track to slide is on the opposite or inside of that seat as well.
The levers always face in and are on the inside. It is best to put a tag on each track so you don't mix them up.

While everything is still connected, you can use the lever to move the seat tracks to the front, which will expose
the rear bolts and remove them first.  Then I did the opposite and removed the front.  It is a lot easier to do this
if you let the seat sit upside down on the bench with the cushion facing down and remove everything while it is
flat.  Unfortunately, I could not hold the seat and tack the pictures at the same time, so you'll have to take my word for it.

This is the inner connection in the inner side and this is the easiest side to slide the hog ring over to separate the tracks..

This is the drivers side and you can see that you would have to bend the cable and there is no reason for that.

Once the tracks are off, you can easily push the wire down and slide the hog ring away,
allowing this end to be removed from the hole on the track release.

Now the drivers side is off and facing down as the seat would sit on top of it.

It's a little awkward, but I preferred to remove the tracks as a set to keep the cable rod from bending out of shape.

You can see the dirt, grease and crap in the tracks.  These will get a good cleaning and need some metal work done later as well.

Please note how these are bent down in the front and rear.  They will need to be straightened and slightly twisted to match
the custom  bracket kit from Joe Alexander at Alexander Racing Enterprises that make this all work.

More on those in a little while.

If you move this over while holding the track down, it is much easier to get these separated.

Once you turn it over the cable easily comes out or goes back in.

I try to label everything that comes apart, especially when I don't get back to it for a week or so.

Now for the bending of the ends.  I bent this before I realized that I didn't take the picture, but wasn't going backwards again.

This will show you how much the other side is bent to fit the Miata floor.  We need them to be perfectly
flat and that ridge around the circular opening will need to be ground down completely flat as well.

Amazing the amount of dust, fuzz, pet hair and dirt that sticks to grease after 20 or so years.

This angle needs to become 90 degrees or perpendicular to the vise, as well as straight across with the opening.

Once again, make leverage you friend and don't beat these into submission.

It's getting there,.  Bend slowly so as not over stretch the metal.

That looks a lot better, but there is still a twist on the ends that needs a little more tweaking.

The inner side is a little more tricky, since the track release can get in the way when you are bending it straight.

The stud that is a locator on the Miata needs to be ground down to about 1/8"-1/4" high.

DO NOT grind this off flush to the track because it acts as a big rivet and holds the two sections together.

It's getting there.  The straightness is OK, but the twist needs a little more tweaking.

Now the passenger side needs the same things done to them.

The hog ring is moved away from the other side.  I tied this one to the one in the right of the picture so it wouldn't fall off.

Now for the greasy junk removal.

A pointy toothbrush works well to get down in the cracks and low areas.  Bob had to take his
completely apart, but I don't so I'm just cleaning, grinding then repaint and re-lube everything back up.

For the final wash down, but do this outside.  This stuff if strong and flammable.

I put these away for a while to get the seats done, then did the other work while the paint was drying.

Next, let's get rid of the tracks and remove the hog rings that hold the trim on, so we can slide the cushion
away from the seat frame and check for any surface rust above.  This car was never flooded nor did it sit
 in a salvage yard without a top, so these are quite normal, or actually good for a 20 year old car.

These are hardened steel and do not move easily once crimped into place.

Leverage is a wonderful thing.  Use it to your advantage when you can.

These guys really help to cut hog rings easily and there are quite a few to cut.

That surface rust really bugs me and has to go, but I don't want to grind it off.

I used a commercially available product that I used on my frame and it worked great there as well.

This product is made by POR15 and must be used with great caution and common sense.  Eye, skin and breathing protection must be used
in accordance with the specified label instruction and good common sense.  Adequate ventilation and proper cleaning techniques are a must.

***** DISCLAIMER *****

I accept NO responsibility for any issues resulting from anyone who follows my procedures or uses this product.

This is purely a history of what I've done and I'm not promoting any process or product here.

The first coat is brushed on and I scrubbed these with a Scotch Brite Pad to loosen up the surface rust.

I went from one to the other, brushing on fresh as I moved back and forth.  I also used a small brass brush
to get the crap out of the little crevasses and cracks and to get any tough spots with some leverage.  the instructions say to keep it wet.

This is after three applications, scrubbing and a wash down with warm soapy water.

Both seats came out really well, but you can see the strength of the chemical took all of the shine out of the metal.

A few hours to insure everything is dry before painting.  These are etched and ready to be painted.

Two coats of Rustoleum Aluminum paint and they look great again.

It was cold and raining outside and I didn't want to smell up the house with by spraying these, so I brushed
each coat on.  I gave each coat 24 hours to dry at 70 degrees in my basement which is also very dry.

Caution must be taken so as not to damage the foam.  It is molded to each seat and fits down over the frames.

I had no rust above, so I didn't need to take the assemblies apart, but I didn't want to leave the rust below.

Enough of that stuff, time to move onto the next part and that is the tracks that I removed earlier.

This is how the tracks should look when the raised portions are ground down and the studs are cut off.
Remember to leave the stud about 1/8" above the metal that it helps to hold down, as you will see it is the
second rivet that holds the front bracket onto the actual slider mechanism and that should not ever come loose.

Next, let's look at the seat track bracket kit from ARE.  On a narrow towel on my bench, this
is how the brackets would look if laid out on the floor of a TR6.

The long brackets go on each outside rail with the angles raising them up and away from the carpet.
The short brackets go on the inner rear, in the same fashion and the thick round spacers go up front on the inner rails.

This would be the outer drivers side rail sitting flat on the outer bracket.  The seat would sit on top.

This shows all four of the tracks in their respective positions on the brackets.

Another view showing the levers always on the inside rail.

This will show how the fit between the track and bracket needs to be flat and tight.

A better view with both upside down shows the fit where the raised ring was ground off to be nearly dead on.

Just a little tweaking in the vise and this will be spot on.  There is 1/8" clearance between the track and
the bracket, so the seat assembly should always slide back and forth with no problems at all.

The reason that I didn't paint these yet was to make sure they were perfectly flat and to show what needs
to be removed.  You can see the former stud sticking up about 1/8" in the front of the track, as it should be.

Another view  of the driver outer sitting on the bracket as it should to.

And again, another nice tight fit.

Upside down for illustration only.  The seat bolts for the track to the frame are in the bag on the right.

These are the inner tracks with the levers.

This is upside down, but it shows how the bracket will lift the rear off the floor and the front has the spacer.

Another illustrative view of the same.

And a view of the ground down front and rear mounting holes and the stud cut down up front.

These studs are on both the inner and outer tracks.

Just so there are no mistakes, this is what I'm talking about with the cut off of the stud and what should remain.

Just keep them below this bend and it will be fine.  They will never come loose with that much metal on back.

And this is how the ridge should look after grinding flat on all eight (8) contact points.

And for the rear, these are lower than the contact point, so they are fine once the ridge is ground flat.

Two coats of primer and two coats of black engine paint should keep these nice for a long time.

Plenty of time to dry and harden for the next few weeks while the rest of this comes together.

Time to start the wiring harnesses. 

This is a picture of the seat foam with one of the original speakers and the original Miata wiring.

My new wiring is shown to the left of the original blue and white wiring.

The speaker box will go in the spot on the left and new speakers will replace these OEM units.

The wiring then goes through the center hole above the top of the radius in the center panel recess and out the back.

That is where the "V" is shown with blue wires coming out and then the wires follow a path that is cut out down the back of the seat

Just a shot of the bottom cushion and that is the way it was when uncovered.

Radio Shack connectors courtesy BobbyD instructions.

Pick any color combo together that you want, just write it down and make sure the opposite side matches.

Truth be told, I don't take all of the pictures just for everyone else's benefit.

The blue heat shrink was not near big enough, but the point is you need to do this before you crimp and solder
the ends on the wires.  Especially when one side is already done and there is no way to get it back over the connector.

The best way to break these off is by putting the strip in the vise then just move them back and forth.
After several moves back and forth, the snap off cleanly and no bent or crushed connector ends.

No damage to the connectors and clean even breaks.

Neatly crimped, but not quite done yet.  Solder comes next.

The vise makes just enough of a heat sink to allow the solder to flow nicely without melting the wiring insulator.

My trusty Blue Point is great for board work, but just not hot enough for these, so out comes the old Weller.

I like soldered joints.  Old school, but never will need touched again.

Obviously, one will be male and one will be female.  I suggest moving the packages off the bench that you are not using so as to not mix them up.

The barbs that stick out, snap right into the plastic connectors.  Like Bob, I too am a fan of heat shrink tubing over connectors.

Passenger and Driver lower harness ready to go.

Radio Shack part numbers are 274-234 & 274-224 for the male and female plastic connectors.

Finished now on both ends.  Heat shrink is a must over the solder in my opinion.

Dorman part numbers are 84546 for the .187" Female & 84547 for the .110" Female connectors.

And the mating harnesses to go to the radio output wiring.

All secure and shrink wrapped.

In order to get the speakers to all work properly, there has to be a crossover to each from seat for both
the left and the right side speakers as well as maintaining a connection back to each rear panel speaker.

I did go back and forth with BobbyD, since he did his prior to me doing mine and had the splitter wiring mapped out.
Bob is an old communications guy and he works well with wiring that all looks the same.  I don't trust myself, so I color coded mine.

Right Speakers = Red (+) White (-)   Left Speakers = Green (+) Black (-)  Of course, this will match the previously made harnesses shown above.

The front harnesses are now complete and ready to install just prior to when the seats are installed.
The four connectors in the bottom right will each go to the radio output leads for the rear speakers.

This is really not quite the mess it appears to be,

This shows the matching color wiring to each of the front seats for both left and right speakers,
with the separate wiring for the rear panel speakers off to the far left side of the wiring.  

And the final before these get connected.  Although I may switch to a plug in for each of the rear
speakers in the event I ever want to easily disconnect them from the rest of the system.

Now for the new Seat Heaters.............

Another electronics package arrived today.....more progress.

This is the entire package.  Switches on the left, heaters in the middle and modules on the right.

If you look closely, you can see the grids in there.

Controller and wiring for one seat,

These two connect the seat back and seat cushion together and into the main harness.

This will be the general idea but with the harness lower and out the bottom.

This one goes on the seat cushion. 

Now back to the upholstery shop.

And from this pile of patterns a set if new covers will emerge.  Now all I need is the seat heaters.

It may not look so great on this table, but it will when Eddie gets them completed.

The other seat patterns taking shape.  These will have the backing stitched in place then trimmed and ready to be fit together.

Just the plain backs of the seats, less backing.

This is one set of seat patterns cut and trimmed with the backing on.

Now I see what Bobby meant about the "pleating foam."

I delivered the seat speaker wiring harnesses today with the missing the boxes, screws and new speakers.

Eddie was busy sewing the inserts with the rolled and pleated affect.

This will be sewn first from the front and then from the back in what I suppose is called double stitching for a nice appearance.

Progress as the panels start to go together.

Now they're starting to look like seat covers.

And now they're actually on the cushions.

I had to listen to the "they're not done yet" as I was taking pictures, but I was happy to see the progress.

About one half done so far.  A little more fitting with these and tomorrow the seat backs get covered.

All in all, nice work and I'm happy. 

That's my seat heater wiring harness coming out of the bottom.  I'll make a grommet to go around that wire so it never
gets pinched and it will be tied down to the frame with enough travel to allow the seat to move back and forth properly.

The camera flash makes these look lighter than they really are as seen below without flash.

This will make for a nice warm back on those cold New England fall days.

The speaker wiring will be coming out of the channel made at the factory and the heater harness will come out of the bottom to plug into the cushion harness. 
We I did the fuse panel conversion, I installed a new under the dash to run the two seats to.  Each seat module has it's own internal relay, so they are protected.

Both harnesses looking for their mates.

Friday was seat pickup day and I'm very happy with the results.

Eddie did a great job and the seats look terrific.  My wife even likes them and she wasn't sure how this would all work out.

I have a little chalk to clean up, but the tracks have to go on and I have to get the wiring all secure and ready to install.

After these are used for a while, we'll iron out any wrinkles.

  Even map pockets on both like the Miata had.

First install the outer track on each seat as you do these one at a time.  The bolts that hold them on have 12mm heads.

After the outer is bolted on, install this wire with the left seat track loose and on your hand.  A little twisting will do it,
then you can bolt the seat track on the inner side.  Remember that the inners have the release levers and the outers do not. 
Don't forget to slide the hog ring back over the cable to keep it locked down.

Now you can see the finished track setup on the drivers seat.

This would be the passenger seat with the tracks all set to go.

A little talcum spray so that I don't mix up driver and passenger wires.

This will protect the seat heater harness from moving around and getting cut in the sharp seat pan.

Leftover from a TRF grommet kit for a TR6.  This one will go in the other seat.

Next stop back out to the garage for installation and harness hook up for the radio and seat heaters.

First step remove old seats.  Tilting the seats forward shows the forward two bolts that hold the seats onto the frame.

Take the two rear latch plates off to get easier access to the rear seat track bolts.

Slide the seat track back to gain access to the front bolts.  What is that sticky junk on the left track?

Over to the drives seat.

The bolts are staggered with the outer being a bit more forward than the inner.

These are the four (4) round spacers from the factory to elevate the tracks above the floor. 

Don't loose them, you will be reusing them.

That one is out, not to get the right side off the carpet that it's stuck on.

See what one can of Coke will do if left alone for a year?  This track was locked up solid and I had to chisel it off of the carpet.

One high pressure soap washing and three trips through the mat cleaner at the car wash and it is softer, but will not come off.

Time to tie in my speaker wiring harnesses that I made on the passenger side and I'll run the heater harnesses down the drivers side.

Tedious, but it will be worth it.

The top connectors split the rear speakers into three circuits, one for each seat and the original rear speakers in the rear panel.

The lower connectors are for the rear panel speakers only, in case I want a quick disconnect for them.

This is the speaker harness for the driver seat and the module for the seat heater.  I put these all to the rear, so I could bring the wiring in the seat right out the back.

Test fitting of one seat before I change the seat belts.  Which, I think, will help gain more room for the seats.

Those hard seat belt latches are a pain and are in the way.  They will be gone soon.


The ARE bracket kit finally installed, but only finger tight so it can all be moved slightly as the seats are lined up to the holes in the floor.

This is about the angle that the inner rear ends up facing when installed.

A nice flat, flush fit against the track.

This is why you have to grind off the raised edges and make sure the tracks are perfectly flat.

And a new set of Chestnut seat belts that have been sitting in the basement for a year waiting to go in.

Almost done!  Three bolts in each one, but my backs to sore to fight with the last one tonight.

But the speakers work GREAT.  I'll try the heaters later in the week.

These look better in the day light than in my fluorescent garage lighting.

Not a bad match, considering no one would promise a definite match for a 36 year old car.

I'll be happy when the last bolt is in each side of the front seats, but it won't be tonight.


That's about it for this project until I get the seat heaters hooked up.  Hung up for now on where to put the switches, but that's a minor problem.


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This site was last updated 03/19/17