Creating a Functional Arm Rest for a BT7
A number of people have asked about the arm rest installed in The Bloody Beast, so I decided to write up a little summary of the build process.
I began with the standard upholstered arm rest pad sourced from Heritage Upholstery and Trim. However, the pad as original, is virtually useless as one would never “rest” their elbow on a pad mounted as low as an inch or so above the gearbox cover. I also thought, “well, if I am going to raise the height of the arm rest pad, then why not build a little storage into the new design?”
I first prepared a mock-up using a cardboard shoe box and some masking tape. The pad is wider at the front then in the back so the appropriate alteration needed to be made to the measurements of the cardboard model.
My plan from the beginning was to cover the box with matching black carpet and hinge it at the rear of the pad. For me, 2 3/4” appeared to be the proper height of the box, with the cushion on top of the box. Each person fabricating a similar console might want to check the vertical measurement to arrive at a comfortable “at rest” position for them.
I don’t own any woodworking tools so I asked a carpenter friend to finish my box. We did a few trial and error fittings along the way. You really have to do this because the shape of the gearbox cover means that that the angled and curved cuts for the sides as well as the front and back are all different. Would you expect anything else with a Healey?
These are the dimensions of the box we ended up using. I made the box slightly shorter (3/8”)than the upholstered pad so that you would have a “lip” to grab hold of to lift the top away from the box. The box is glued together using Elmer’s Wood glue and it has held up just fine, although I am careful to not put too much weight (stress) on it as I enter and exit the car.
I used brass piano hinge for the rear of the box and a pressure clip cabinet catch for the front. I used the clip rather than a magnet to keep the top centered on the box.
I cut an opening in the fabric on the bottom of the upholstered arm rest and slid the wood top of the box into the arm rest pad and stapled it in place.
I had ordered some extra black carpet from Heritage Upholstery and Trim and I used it to then cover the box. I used a little vinyl piping for the front edges where the carpet edges meet to give a finished appearance. Now I have something that looks almost as original, and it also is comfortably functional! The little box is great for gloves, tire pressure gauge, car registration and insurance cards and etc.