Lumbar Support

1997ThunderbirdLXV6

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I do love my cushy velour chairs...but I admit, supportive they are not.

I drive somewhat regularly between Richmond and Brooklyn, i.e., up to 400 miles nonstop depending on route. On those drives, lumbar support would make a big difference.

I never looked at the stock lumbar bladders during my junkyard trips. Does anyone know if they can be installed in my seat frame? Or is the so-equipped frame different?

Has anyone done anything custom, albeit installed under the stock seat covering?

Lastly, is there a tech article or sticky anywhere which lists all the seats that are a direct fit for MN12?

Such as:
- Mark VIII front seats are a direct fit?
- Mark VIII rear seats?
- First gen Taurus/Sable front seats (minus the fold forward hinge)
- What about the oval Taurus/Sable?
- What about Continental?

I keep dreaming about that immaculate Mark VIII set that I find at the junkyard...but until then, I'd settle for lumbar support.
 
I'm pretty sure mark 8 seats bolt in just fine. There have been sevral folks who have used those. I'd expect the rear seats to be interchangeable too. But I cannot say from experience.
 
ALL 93-95 Cougar seats have lumbar support if you're looking for an easy source. The bladders interchange, all MN12 seats have the same exact internal seatback stampings with prepunched holes for the bladder hooks and even bolster mounts. 94-97 Tbird seats are actually recycled foam cores from the 92-93 XR7s, it's all very modular
 
I've never encountered a leaky bladder or bad pumps on the equipped sets of seats I've had. 94 Cougar, 93 Mark, 96 Mark, 98 Mark, and the 89 SC seats I have in the T-bird.
 
Do those bladders and pumps usually last? I wish I had picked one up from a good car when I had the chance...

I've only ever had issues with the rubber coupler portions of the lines degrading, same as vacuum lines(since that's basically what they are). Never seen a bad pump or bladder
 
Are '97/'98 Mark VIII seat frames the same, as well?

Meaning, could I take an entire Mark VIII seat frame and put my foam and covering over it?

I don't want to use the Mark VIII donor foam because it wouldn't line up with the seams in my velour covering.
 
I would love the addition of lumbar support also, I really miss my 30th anniversary seats. I'm watching this thread.
 
If you can find a good seat, you can change the entire back easily. I'd look for sc seats, the bolsters are bigger, and more comfy.
 
If you can find a good seat, you can change the entire back easily. I'd look for sc seats, the bolsters are bigger, and more comfy.

Yes, but those bolsters wouldn't work with my covering at all.

I want to...
- maintain my current look while adding power lumbar or potentially power everything, i.e., keep my velour and foam.
- or replace my entire seats with a Mark VIII set, but that's only an option if I find a perfect set - so unlikely.
- or replace my seats with a green set which would provide a great contrast; but again, I'd have to find a perfect set.
 
Every so often I need to take the seats of the Mark 8 and pull the covers off to repair the seat heater elements. I noticed this month the element in the seat base broke again (seat back still works) so I'll need to pull it out and apart sometime soon. I could check to see if the MK8 seat fits in the T-bird. The electrical connections are obviously going to be different (seat memory, for example) but the more basic functions should be easy enough to rewire.

I'm pleasantly surprised by how well the MK8 seats have held up. They are 25-1/2 years old, 211,000 miles and there is limited wear and are no cracks on them. I've been using leather conditioner on them on a semi-regular basis since I've had the car.
 
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I've got some 1991 XR7 seats that are pretty roached but the lumbar stuff was in working condition. I'd be willing to make them into donors if you needed the parts and you're not in a huge rush.

Edit: Mark VIII seats do physically bolt in. The wiring is kind of a pain in the ass as I recall. I put a set of 93 Mark seats in my 94 Bird way back in the day. I made a post about it then on the other forum. The 2nd gen seats with the heaters and memory module would be even more work.
 
if you needed the parts

Getting the lumbar bits here locally actually isn't a problem. But thank you!

My thing right now is if I even want to bother because chances are once I come across a really nice set I'd want to upgrade to all-power seats plus leather.
 
Answered my own question:

'97/'98 Mark VIII frame is entirely different and in fact doesn't use a bladder at all but an oddly flimsy looking mechanism.

20231024_123358.jpg
 
I was going to say the Mark seats are a different animal, I wasn't sure if they used bladders or not as I never dug into them like that but by the way they physically operate the frames need to be specific. 86-95 Tauruses share the seat frames with the MN12s, bucket seat Vrown Vics share the same seatback frames as well

So that looks to be an electric solenoid that pulls a cable to bulge out the lumbar, interesting, it almost looks like a compact version of the parking brake system on classic cars. The Tbird and Cougar air pump isn't exactly the most elegant sounding thing so maybe this was a more refined and quiet system for the luxury connoisseurs buying Lincolns
 
Meanwhile, I solved the mystery why my inertia switches don't work as designed. The original owner added a small spring to hold them forward.

Why in the world??!

20231024_141835.jpg
 
ALL 93-95 Cougar seats have lumbar support if you're looking for an easy source. The bladders interchange, all MN12 seats have the same exact internal seatback stampings with prepunched holes for the bladder hooks and even bolster mounts. 94-97 Tbird seats are actually recycled foam cores from the 92-93 XR7s, it's all very modular
My 94 has the half leather, half cloth seats with lumbar. We have had the car for 25 years and have yet to sit in a more comfortable car. Get some Cougar seats if you can but make sure they have the full electric controls, Lumbar, up and down and forward, backward. My Mark 7 had better seats in it, but that is another story and I do not think they will fit in a Tbird or Cougar. My Town Car seats are the best. But once again, they won't fit either in a Cougar.
 
So that looks to be an electric solenoid that pulls a cable to bulge out the lumbar, interesting, it almost looks like a compact version of the parking brake system on classic cars.
Maybe that is a Lincoln thing. Both my Navigators '03 and '16 have a similar setup. I have found it can give a much larger amount of adjustment over the air systems in other cars.

Also kind of OT but I find the cloth/leather seats from Cougars best. I would slide around in the all leather seats my Tbird had. The cloth middle really helps keeps you in place.
 
So that looks to be an electric solenoid that pulls a cable to bulge out the lumbar, interesting....
When I first bought my Cougar the driver side lumbar kept deflating. I tracked down the issue to the air line from the air pump under the seat to a bend between the top and bottom seats and a hole had worn in the line. I cut the air line at the wear and used some vacuum line to connect the two parts back together. That was almost 25 years ago. Still holding! There is an air bag in the top part of the seat at the lower back that inflates or deflates.
 

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