Reattaching Neoprene Mounts on an Eames Lounge Chair

These well-known, valuable chairs seem to have an Achilles heel a neoprene part that ages and fails. Here's advice on fixing it. January 20, 2010

If anyone is familiar with the Eames lounge chair, I need advice on what type of epoxy to reglue the shock mounts with. It's really an adhesive problem. The companies that make the chair have tried different adhesives over the years. My current choice is 7522 Bostik epoxy. I am trying to adhere a hard rubber mount to wood. I am concerned about the expansion coefficient between the two materials. I believe an epoxy that dries hard will not allow this; it needs to be able to give a little. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Adhesive Forum)
From contributor D:
I'm not familiar with the chair, but your local Ace or True Value should have a pretty good selection of epoxies for different applications. I have seen some for underwater, quick and hard, vibration, etc. The vibration one may be for you. It flexes just a little.

From contributor F:
I tried years ago to glue these rubber mounts to the backs of these chairs with various types of adhesives with no luck. They would always break off. Get in touch with the Herman Miller Company in Michigan. They do all of the repairs and they are closemouthed about the process. These chairs are very high value... especially the original ones.

From contributor E:
These are pretty tricky to repair. They are wonderful chairs and very comfortable but that mounting plate is an obvious problematic design flaw. Over time the neoprene hardens and loses its flexibility. They come apart every 15 years or so and I believe they are constantly trying different epoxies. If at all possible I would suggest sending it to Herman Miller.

Considering these chairs are worth several thousand dollars, whatever they charge might be worth it, especially if you want to keep the resale value. I never could get a straight answer from Herman Miller or the other guy in California as to what epoxy they use for repairs. If someone ever brings me another one to repair I'm going to pass on it and tell them to send it to Herman Miller!

However, this is what I wound up doing before I knew better. I bought some neoprene washers and epoxied them to some wood. One with PC7 epoxy from the hardware store and the other with Bostik 7522. I let them dry for three days and then tried to pull them loose and see which one was stronger. (Quick drying 5 minute epoxy just isn't as strong as the longer drying stuff.)

The Bostik 7522 was a little bit stronger and also dried not quite as hard as the PC7 so I think it will give a little with the stresses of the chair. I also put new 1/4" dowels in each mounting pad, countersunk partway into the chair panel. You have to be very careful not to drill all the way through!

I read on another forum about using E6000 industrial strength multi-purpose adhesive from TAP Plastic, made by Eclectic Products, Inc.

From contributor P:
Old neoprene shockmounts oxidize, the neoprene rubber becomes stiff and powdery, and is irreparable. They should be replaced. Glue will only hold the surface of the neoprene, but when the neoprene oxidizes, it lacks internal cohesivity, and the surface of the neoprene pulls away from the neoprene below, so that it cannot possibly hold for long. People trying to reglue an old mount are risking a much more serious problem, because when a shock mount gives way, the back of the chair can swing backward and rotate around the "ear" of the lower shell on the opposite side, snapping the plywood ear off, and creating damages that are much more complicated to repair, and involve partially re-laminating the inside of the lower shell, saving the outer veneer to retain the flitch pattern. A routine conservation repair, but invasive and expensive.

Concerning the shockmount types, we can use the neoprene/steel threaded plate sandwich design that Herman Miller uses, but our opinion is that that design is the biggest flaw we have ever seen in modern furniture, and should not be repeated. Their new lounge chairs carry a 3 year warranty, all other furniture a 15 year warranty. There is no mystery as to what they are telling us.

A superior, proprietary design we developed is to use ebonized solid beech wood plates with the same radiused shapes (in three dimensions) as the neoprene originals, with holes drilled into the beech plates, into which T-nuts are inserted, with neoprene bushing around the T-nuts, to provide the shock mount flexibility, without its fallibility. The glue joint between beech and the plywood is trouble free for many more decades than Herman Miller's design. We have repaired many Eames lounge chairs since the early 1960's with our original shock mount design, and have not had any failures. You cannot tell the difference by looking at or feeling the improved mounts; they are finished by our artists to match the original neoprene.

You can send the lower back shell and the seat shell to us (Olek Lejbzon & Co.) disassembled in a box, and we will repair and ship disassembled, for you to reassemble (simple screws).

From contributor A:
Over time you will find that your Eames Lounge chair may start to sag. This is the time to have the old shock mounts removed and replaced. Over the last decade Humemodern has made the whole procedure as simple and failsafe as possible. No "nut and block" alternatives are used, just quality tried and tested parts are installed using our formulated bonding system.