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Old 01-08-2020, 08:59 PM   #1
Solid Lifters
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Default Puttin' TMI interior package in my '55 is makin' me old

Oh but wait.......... I'm already old anyway.

So, I saw a '56 with a complete TMI package at Daytona Turkey Rod Run in Nov. of '2018 and not too long after ordered one for my '55 project. The quality is EXCELLENT, all the stitching is straight and cosmetically I like it a lot. The picture below is exactly the package I ordered except I went with red stitching instead of the contrasting black. I wasn't crazy about the 12 or 13 weeks it took to get it, but since I've been draggin' on finishing the car it really didn't matter aside from the excitement of gettin' it. To say the ordering procedure was complex would be an understatement and the part numbers got revised several time. But after all that, when it came it everything was correct. (the SERIOUSLY NEED to revise their part number system) and put it on their website so that stuff can be ordered by number instead of description.

So now come the issues that ARE kinda frustrating: I told the rep on the phone that we'd stretched the rear wheel wells inward 2 1/2" on each side and would this be a problem for the rear seat. He said no problem, they sell em to people with mini tubs all the time. The rear seat wasn't even close to fitting so I had to have an upholstery shop take the cover and the foam off of the rear seat pans (they build 'em from fiberglass). So the pan was cut all to pieces on both the back and the seat bottom and the foam had to be trimmed all up. The upholsterer doesn't do fiberglass work, so the picture below is what I spent the afternoon building for the seat back. Now the foam will have to be final fit and then the whole thing taken to the shop for final trimming and stitching of the seat covers themselves. Issue number 2: When trying to install the bucket seats I found that they were way too low for the car and of course the 1 1/4" difference between the outer seat mounting plane and the floor level near the center. So I called TMI to ask if they happened to have any type of seat risers since this package is specific for tri 5 Chevies. I was told on the phone that the seats are direct bolt in for tri 5's and no additional hardware was needed. Putting them in the car with a 1 1/4" wood spacer leaves them so low that I couldn't begin to see over the steering wheel. I'm up to 4" up on the outers now and 2 3/4 on the inners and it still feels way low.

So the points in all this are: I give TMI an A+ on quality and feel their complete interior packages at a little over $6K complete are a bargain compared to what some of my friends have paid for full custom, which I think the TMI stuff compares favorably to. Their tech support needs some upgrades and if you have anything other than stone stock rear wheel houses you'd better have a sho' nuff good custom upholsterer at your disposal, which unfortunately dulls the difference between package in a box and full start from scratch custom.
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File Type: jpg chevy 55 interior.jpg (491.1 KB, 15 views)
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Old 01-08-2020, 09:17 PM   #2
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Saw 1 of those "kits" in a 72 Chevelle...A total PITA.
Our shop saying goes something like: "Kits, one size fits nothing". That looks like what you got stuck with.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:16 PM   #3
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:01 PM   #4
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I have to chime in here. I've been in the auto (and aircraft) upholstery business for 47 years. These kit interiors are a great bargain compared to what a trim shop would charge, and as you said the quality and workmanship is good. But your situation is a textbook example of why a typical Tri-fiver might want to give it serious thought before buying one. The "one size fits all" interior kit (IMHO) is a crap shoot at best. They might fit one car okay, but with all sorts of issues in another. And with upholstery, many out there don't have the experience (or equipment) to make alterations if something is out of whack. As you also pointed out, your local upholstery shop doesn't do fiberglass work. So now you're stuck with another problem to sort out. Please don't feel that you're the only one who's having these issues. Over the years, I've had customers bring me upholstery kits for all types of cars, boats, motorcycles and aircraft that were advertised to be a perfect fit and easy to install, and were anything but. The new TMI kits might be better than others, but I suppose we'll see how long they keep selling them. Rant over.
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:19 PM   #5
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................... I suppose we'll see how long they keep selling them. Rant over.
Your rant is dead on the money. The guy who's done all my upholstery stuff for the last 10 year or so is a perfectionist. I'm scared to see his bill now when it's done. In another surprise today, we're not at all sure that we're gonna' get the molded headliner in the car without removing the front or rear glass. These kits might be great for a professional who simply doesn't want to do full blown custom interiors from scratch, but for a hobbyist it takes somebody with a lot more patience than what I've got these days.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:05 PM   #6
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From a professional point of view, I doubt many professionals would want to do an install like this.

Sadly you are spot on about the install on the headliner. If it was a 2dr HARDTOP you might could get in from the side windows, but for a 2 dr sedan.....not going to happen.

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Old 01-09-2020, 09:36 PM   #7
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I've only had one experience with TMI so far, and it was extremely positive. I spoke with their representative at SEMA 2018 and after half and hour answering all of my questions I walked away with a good impression. My interior is only a few years old, but I wanted a trunk kit, and I wanted it to match my existing interior, so after SEMA I called them and they worked with me to get as close as a match as possible. My new trunk kit is beautiful and a perfect match.

I haven't purchased an interior kit from them so I can't speak directly to that, but I appreciate the fact that they provide another option for someone who is willing to do the installation work themselves.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:46 PM   #8
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From a professional point of view, I doubt many professionals would want to do an install like this.

Sadly you are spot on about the install on the headliner. If it was a 2dr HARDTOP you might could get in from the side windows, but for a 2 dr sedan.....not going to happen.

Mikey
I agree, and consider that we're very fortunate to have this company who will. They are by no means cheap, but he's a perfectionist and I'm about as picky as any customer he has. One of my other cars, a '70 LS6 Chevelle had the headliner installed by two previous supposedly high caliber upholstery shops. Both of them left wrinkles where the rear sail panels meet the headliner, so I started looking at '70 to '72 Chevelles at the car shows and they were almost all wrinkled in that area. The ones that weren't were probably original. So I was complaining to this guy, and he said he'd order a new headliner and install it, and if I wasn't happy I wouldn't have to pay him for the headliner or his time. So it took 3 counting the first two failures by the others, but this one is exactly as it should be.

Back to the headliner on the '55, I hate the thought of taking the rear window out and re installing it so bad that I'm contemplating ripping the fiberglass pan of the moulded one down the middle, getting it in the car and glassing the two halves back together. Seems like TMI would warn that to use their headliner that glass has to be removed. Again, product quality is excellent but tech support is pretty weak.
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:13 PM   #9
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Two things are apparent to me without knowing any details other than what's presented here.

First is you aren't going to get a molded one piece headliner into a sedan without having either the windshield or the back glass removed. It just isn't going to happen. Shame on TMI if they don't make this known in their instructions or their marketing info.

Second is that if there is a custom molded fiberglass "piece" as part of the rear seat installation, one shouldn't be surprised that it's not compatible with mini tubs. But again shame on TMI for not saying so if they don't.

I guess I don't see why the fiberglass "piece" is required, but again I'm not familiar with what they're doing.

Just sayin' this is a 2 way street.
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