Eames Aluminum Group Lounge Chair fix?

Hi All,

Looking for some collective wisdom.

I recently picked up 2 authentic HM Eames Aluminum Group Lounge chairs in mint condition on craigslist. Less than 6 years old, flawless polished aluminum and leather. Less than half of retail.

I gave them a quick once over when picking them up (didn’t want to spend too much time, was worried the guy would not want sell for so cheap). Seemed all good.

When I got them home, found 2 issues.

  1. The chair is a bit wiggly where the seat post goes into the base. I’ve tried everything I can think of- spinning the chairs repeatedly clockwise and counter clockwise. Looking for some kind of nut to tighten, etc. No luck. Seems as if there is a washer of some sort inside that (visible with two little holes in- shown fitting into place when upside down) makes things stable if I pull up on the chair by 0.125", but with gravity, it’s not fitting into place.

  2. There is a screw that holds the arms on through the main side frame that is 1/4" loose. Thing is, I can’t tighten or loosen it. Seems stuck, binding in the metal thread, perhaps.

Any ideas? I have a contact at HM, and they can come out to check it out but will cost me $100 + any parts/labor. Seems though like some sort of obvious fix and not like something is broken. I swear when I tried the chairs before I picked them up, they were not wobbly.

Will add a sketch of how I think the assembly inside the seat post is. Thing is, I can’t figure out how they assemble/disassemble which would at least allow me to see how the mechanism works or if something is broken inside. It’s like put together with magic.

Any ideas would help. Next plan if no ideas is to go to a vintage shop that sells lots of these as they must know how they work, but figured would try the well-knowledgeable core crew first.

R
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Pretty sure thats a snap ring in the last shot. Not sure if that would hold the whole thing together, but could be a good place to start

Some sort of a special tool like super sharp needle nose pliers to get that out?

R

Something similar to this should do the trick.

  1. Your steel screw and aluminum arm can create what is called a galvanic bond. Very common in the bike world. Try soaking the threads in ammonia.

What would the world be like without Sheldon Brown? Glad he was around to keep a history of the bike industry for the rest of us.

Not sure exactly how to pull apart the stand or unscrew the arms … but nice chairs :wink:

I used to work on Alum group chairs - at an old workplace, a weld in the base would break and a couple times a year a broken chair would get tossed. I’d fish them out of the dumpsters and re-weld them. I’ve definitely taken the arms off before with those screws, and I think it’s just lock tite they originally used.

In your case, it seems you could either force it, possibly damaging the threads or carefully put in a spacer to take up the gap.

One other suggestion, Just in case you might want them as perfect as you can get and try polishing them - there is a protective layer on the mirrored aluminum that gets scuffed up over the years. If you remove the layer to polish out any imperfections in the metal, make sure you clearcoat it again right away - that aluminum tarnishes really fast!

Thanks for the ideas.

I have a older soft pad group chair where the weld broke and I did the same (found someone to weld it). The arm on that has the clearcoat peeling, but I don’t mind that with the patina on the leather. Very authentic for more than 30 years of use.

These aluminum group chairs are perfect though, so no need for polishing!

R

I have 2 of the same, have owned them since new in 2000, and one has a wobbly base connection like yours. I looked at the circlip/snap clip on mine and thought it might be possible to find a shim/washer that could fill in the extra space. I have yet to take it apart and try.

The arm connection has always bugged me, not sure if it always used those plastic tube spacers, I doubt it. I think the originals had that spacer cast in the aluminum, which would have been fragile. You should be able to tighten that up, I’d try to take it out in case the hole isn’t drilled and tapped deep enough.

If yours are new, call HM. They have a 12 year warranty. Mine don’t qualify since I’m not the original purchaser. Odd that yours have a wobble too since so new.

I can CFM the original had the spacers as part of the same cast aluminum as the arm. It’s like that on my Soft Pad Group desk chair which is from the 80’s.

Oh, also, BTW I just found out that in the lounge chairs, they just returned to the original 4 star base. I believe it was originally designed as 4 star, at some point (I have an 80’s HM catalog) it was offered as both 4 or 5 depending on the model, then recently was only in 5 star. Now back to 5.

I believe the desk chairs are still only 5 star though originally 4 star. Think it’s a law of some sort to prevent tipping. Not sure when that came into effect.

R

I just checked and mine didn’t have a spacer, though it’s not the ‘executive’ style you have… and it’s definitely original - has the 4 star base. I can confirm that it tips too :wink:

Good to know, I have had our Aerons repaired many times so I probably knew that but sometimes the ID brain’s instinct to fix myself overwhelms the rational.

I can CFM the original had the spacers as part of the same cast aluminum as the arm. It’s like that on my Soft Pad Group desk chair which is from the 80’s.

I checked our library of HM books, its interesting, most of the original product shots have the connectors cast in the aluminum (like Travis’s), but there are a few images of our particular chair that has the plastic spacer, some in a group shot with the other arms in the same photo. 80s products are still decades into the lifespan, when they cost reduced everything to death. I’ll ask next time I am there.

Oh, also, BTW I just found out that in the lounge chairs, they just returned to the original 4 star base. I believe it was originally designed as 4 star, at some point (I have an 80’s HM catalog) it was offered as both 4 or 5 depending on the model, then recently was only in 5 star. Now back to 5. I believe the desk chairs are still only 5 star though originally 4 star. Think it’s a law of some sort to prevent tipping. Not sure when that came into effect.

Yep, when they launched the collection last year they went through all the classic pieces and looked at what has been cost reduced or altered since launch and undid a lot of changes that were made. They had no real valid reason why they switched the non-task chairs to 5 leg bases, and they still make the 4 leg casting for the ottoman so they reverted back to the correct base. Things like the soft pad chairs had become overly padded, minor details that no one really thought would change things but over 50 years of them they add up.

Grr. Just tried a pair of clip ring pliers. Can’t fit them into the recessed space. Guess I’m calling HM.

R

Might be able to snap some super skinny ones online. http://www.toolsource.com/doublex-external-snap-ring-pliers-p-110344.html

Maybe. With shipping I’m probably half into what it costs to call the HM tech. And might get it apart but not back together:)

I knocked $100 off the price the guy wanted on CL, so figure it’ll pay for it. Even included less than half retail by far so an ok deal.

R

Let us know what they do, I’m curious how they deal with it.

Hmmm… Just called a product specialist at HM. They said if there is wiggle, it is a cracked press fit inside the base and the only way to fix is replace the entire base (cast aluminum and all). Dunno how much that is, but can’t be cheap. Now I’m thinking I might have to live with it. No sense calling out a service rep if they will just look at it and tell me the same thing for $100 a call.

R

Aha! Fixed it!

Here’s the instructions to save anyone else the hassle.

To fix the arm, I had to take off the bottom seat support, then remove all the other screws and use a screwdriver to hold the screw and turn the arm to maximize leverage. When I got it out, I saw it was slightly bent, and I suppose had been half put in to a point where the threads were catching. With the arm off, I screwed it back in, making new threads by applying a bit of force. Then I could put it all back together (putting the seat support on is a pain though as all 4 screws must go in perfect or they get caught on the soft aluminum threads).

Fixing the wobbly was easy, with the right tool. I first got a pair of adjustable (replacement head) spring clip pliers, but they were too bulk to fit into the recessed seat post. Then I tried small nails, but impossible to get leverage. Then I tried (4 times) crazy gluing pins onto the end of a needle nose pliers. I tried fishing around with forks, knives, jeweler screwdrivers…

…finally found a proper tool shop and got a very pointy needle nosed pliers.

It was working, but the width of the handle made it impossible to spread the pliers to remove the external spring clip. I trimmed the handle plastic with an exacto.

Once off, I could see the seatpost assembly. I dunno what HM was talking about, there is no permanent press-fit plastic part. Instead. There are 2 plastic collets. Both seemed in good condition (the slit is not a crack, it is the exact same on both chairs and both parts).

I have honestly no idea what the problem is, as everything looked intact, only thing I can thing of if there was somehow some part missing, but have no idea how it would get out. The spring clips and inside did not look tampered with. Just seemed like a tolerance issue.

To fix, I just wrapped a few layers of plumbing teflon tape around, and… done. Now the fit is tight, still swivels, no wobble and the teflon tape should hold up well to the bit of friction I think. I didn’t replace the spring clips (apparently also called Jesus Clips, becuase when you try to get them off they go flying and make you say “Jesus!!!”), incase the teflon tape wears over time and I need to add more tape.

Total cost of fix.

$12.99 for pliers
$0.69 teflon tape

$13.68

I have no idea what HM would have said if they came, other than to try to get me to buy a whole new base or something. I am going to speak to them on Monday and see if I can get an exploded view of the assembly to at least figure out what possibly could have gone wrong. I know they can supply exploded part views to order replacement parts.

If anyone has an idea why there was an issue in the first place, I’d be very interested to hear. Even though it’s fixed, I’m curious.

R

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