fitting non-late bay seat (without drilling any holes in your bus)

Discussion in 'How To' started by rob.e, May 2, 2017.

  1. Ok, so here's the background: i have a 78 bay, with stock seats, recovered, re-padded etc and all as good as they can be, and they are still not comfortable on a long trip. A combination of the shape of the seat (you sit ON rather than "in" bay seats plus the 70's technology consisting of pads and bouncy springs means i just can't get comfortable on a long trip. I always had the feeling i was slipping forwards too which doesn't help - even tried fitting some washers under the front of the seat rails to raise the front but it still didn't resolve the problem.

    I have read all of the threads on here about aftermarket seats - some great options out there but i wanted to have something that was 100% reversible and did not involve drilling any new holes.

    As my bus is a westy with a passenger swivel seat the approach of drilling holes in the tub and bolting through wasn't going to work.

    Looked at what others had done (saab - maybe too high? also the mgf seats which are popular, involves drilling and may also be higher than stock).

    First job was to get some parts from a similar age bay seat - you need the "pan" that is at the bottom of the seat, plus the two rails and the handle you pull to move the seat backwards and forwards. I sourced mine from the usa, postage wan't cheap but the parts were very tatty in appearance (just surface rust though) so pretty cheap.

    You need to modify the runners first before fitting. This is what they look like when removed from the seat - you can see they have an upwards bracket used for mounting the seat back - you won't need this so the bracket can be removed:

    stock:

    [​IMG]
    Rails
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    start grinding like this:

    [​IMG]
    Remove side bracket1
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    .. looks like this when you've got the bracket off:

    [​IMG]
    Remove side bracket2
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    Now's a good time to clean everything up, removing surface rust with you preferred method:

    [​IMG]
    rust clean up
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    .. and paint it all before assembly. i used hammerite satin in a can - no need for primer.

    [​IMG]
    paint
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    First go at this was with some mk2 gti seats. These where cheap and look great, they're also OEM vw which i like. Trouble is that the gti seat is height adjustable so has a lot of that gubbins underneath. That had to be removed with the grinder. A few riv nuts into the base of the gti seat and the pan bolted up fine.

    height adjuster mechanism -needs to come off:
    [​IMG]
    gti height adjuster
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    Drill some holes in the pan and it bolts up to the GTI base once the height adjuster mechanism is removed:

    [​IMG]
    West base bolted to GTI seat
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    Seat will then slide straight on to your rails in the bus like this:

    [​IMG]
    GTI seat fitted
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    I decided at this point not to proceed with the GTI seats. They're a great seat in a GTI but the lower cushion side bolsters are pretty big so getting in and out you sort of have to hop over them - not a problem but i think it would niggle after a while. Also, as you can see in the pic above, you can still see a lot of the westy seat base under the gti seat - i guess this could have been covered up by the trimmer but it would have made that job a bit more complex.

    So.. after some consideration i decided to ditch the GTI seat idea and buy some seats from Newton Commercial. These are lovely seats - i tried them out at Volksworld show - very comfy. This lasted all of a week, til i saw sense and realised it was nuts to spend over £1,000 AND i'd still have to drill holes in the bus to fit them. they do look good though:
    [​IMG]
    Newton Commercial
    by Rob E, on Flickr
     
  2. Third time lucky:
    so, having had a minor coronary when researching the costs of re-trimming, i had a brainwave on how to save some cash; buy some second hand OEM seats that are ALREADY BROWN LEATHER - that way i'd only have to pay to get the centres trimmed.

    Some more research (measuring height, width, style, construction, base design etc) i got myself some mazda mx5 mk 2.5 seats. These are from a PHOENIX limited edition so are factory trimmed in brown leather. Other reasons why these are a good choice:
    - relatively flat bottoms (insert relevant gag here) so easy to fit vw rails
    - manually adjustable
    - heated
    - no height adjust complexity
    - from a two seater so no "flip forward" mechanism
    - looks like a porsche tombstone but lots cheaper
    - already has 4x well placed m8 captive nuts in the base

    [​IMG]
    Mx5 Phoenix Edition brown leather seats
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    To fit these, i cut the VW seat pan down to the minimum i needed to bolt to the base of the mazda seat.

    Original pan below, cut down pan above:
    [​IMG]
    base
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    you just need to retain enough to be able to support the rails and the forwards/backwards adjuster mechanism.

    [​IMG]
    rails fitted to mk5 seat
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    Next stage, get the centres re-trimmed. I had some OEM westy fabric left over from my interior refit so this was used. Not an easy job as the trimmer guy has to line up all of the stripes. He's copied 100% how the fabric was on the oem mazda seat - great job. Not cheap, but less than a full trim.

    [​IMG]
    MX5 seat with westy fabric centre
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    Trimmer guys: http://www.herbertellisonupholstery.co.uk/


    Fitted:

    [​IMG]
    Seats
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Seats
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Seats are in
    by Rob E, on Flickr

    Verdict: very pleased with how this turned out - these are super comfy and i love the way they look. they are also perfect dimensions - my centre box fits perfectly between them. seating position is about 1" lower thank stock, i have retained the passenger seat swivel function, no new holes, and when i'm ready i can hook up the seat heaters too :)

    final point: high back seats will conflict with a hammock - not really an issue for us as both kids are now too big to use it, passenger seat can be reclined to clear, but drivers seat is in the way - as i'm using the original runners though i can just slide the seat off if necessary if i ever want to use the hammock again in the future.
     
    Valveandy, paul2590, GaryC and 5 others like this.
  3. Very nice mate, I like it when people think outside the box.
    When I get round to it i'll do a write up of the smart car seats which I fitted to my bay!
     
    rob.e likes this.
  4. Great job. I thought they were tombstones when I saw the picture.
     
  5. I use a memory foam cushion and stow it behind the seat when not needed!....just a quick fix! and doubles as a pillow.
     
  6. Great job they look as though they were a factory fit from new


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  7. Hey,

    that's a nice set-up you have here! I would like to try and achieve something similar at some point for my van.

    Can you tell me where did you put the control fro the heated seat?
    Also do you have a picture of your swivel system

    thanks,
     
  8. Heated seat isn't wired up yet but i will get around to that at some point. Planning to re-purpose the heated-rear-window switch i have already on the dash. My HRW doesn't work and isn't' connected so it makes sense i think to use that switch.. i've tested the seat heater elements and they appear to work so its just down to finding the time to do the wiring.

    sorry no pic of the swivel, but its just a standard westfalia passenger side swivel base - was standard fit in my 78 us westy - it has the same rails on the top of the swivel as the driver side tub has so both of my mx5 seats are prepared in the same way underneath (and are side-to-side interchangeable if needed).

    v happy with how this worked out, they are super comfy compared to the stock seat :)
     
    agaric likes this.
  9. Heated seat control is a simple on/off button then? That's convenient.
    Thanks for all the info.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018

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