Front Seats


The first modification I carried out to the van seats was the modification of the bench seat so that it could be turned round.


Shown above is the original passenger seat. Undoubtedly other people have encountered the same problem as we did when wanting the seat to face the opposite way, as its not easy to fit it with a turntable, especially if you haven't got a swivel base in stock.

We were due to go away on our first trip in the van, so had many lose ends to tidy up, the passenger seat being one. Rather than try and find a seat turntable with a day before yesterday delivery, I had to come up with an alternative, otherwise it was deck chairs around a table in the rain (Ireland being our destination)!



I found the seat was held on its base frame using two location studs and two bolts on the opposite side. 

What I did was to remove the original location studs on the seat, and weld on some stronger ones, but about three inches long. Where the original bolts screwed into the base of the seat (horizontally). I replaced them with some toggle clamps which are normally used on things like trailer tail gates. Obviously as the seat is going to be reversible, the centres of the new fixings must be the same on the front of the seat, as those on the back and square with each other.



The shot above shows the toggle clamps fixed to the front of the seat, and the location studs on the rear.


This shot shows the four matching seat location points. A difficulty I found was that due to the weight of the seat, it was difficult to accurately line the location points up to refix the seat after turning it round. It would have been better if I had welded some location strips in, thus it would line up easily when the seat is placed on the frame.


A problem we did find by retaining the bench seat was that you still had to get out of the vehicle to get in the back, or vice versa. 

Moving on from the bench seat, we decided to fit three separate seats in the front of the vehicle. Another problem we found with the bench seat was that you were sat bolt upright which isn't very comfortable for long journeys, or if you wish to relax and snooze. 

Sounds easy to replace the seats. A lot of people change their seats in motorhomes, if you only require two there is plenty of space, however to try and fit three seats in a row is not so easy, especially if you want the drivers seat central to the steering wheel.

The only seats I could find were from a Renault 11. They were recliners, and came with a reasonably compact base. Another factor in their suitability was their width, as the drivers seat had to be set away from the drivers door to line up centrally with the steering wheel, which didn't leave much space for the remaining passenger seats.

The following three photos show the replacement seat I used to replace the OEM seats.






I did look at various competition 'bucket' seats, many very comfortable (at a nice price) but nearly all were too wide. The Reno seats turned out to be a good choice as they gave good support either upright or reclined.

The new seating arrangement was designed to allow the two passenger seats to face the rear and allow access to the rear without having to leave the vehicle. To achieve our requirements the middle seat was mounted on a new frame which allowed the seat to rise up from its normal position, and lower into the rear of the vehicle. With the middle seat out of the way, this gave extra space to allow the passenger seat by the door to rotate to face the rear. The middle seat can now be rotated and lifted and lowered back between the outside seats. 

Unlike the passenger seats, the drivers seat was not fitted with a swivel base, but it will move back and forth, as well as side to side. Using toggle clamps, it was made to be easily removed from the vehicle giving easy access to the equipment mounted under it (Propex space heater and 12v/mains inverter).



Above. Basic seat framework for the replacement of the original front seats. As pointed out above, the idea is to have three seats (all with seat belts), but have the middle seat to easily move out of the way to give easy access to the rear of the vehicle. Plus it makes it easier to rotate the two passenger seats to face the rear.


Above. Basic framework with centre seat frame in the raised position. The seat frame sits down between the two outside seats and locks in position. The seat frame rises from the front and moves a full 180 degree's in to the rear van area. The seat frame with the swivel turntable and seat is quite heavy, so the system was fitted with a pair of gas springs to make easy work of moving the seat (similar to the ones fitted to car hatchbacks, but adjustable pressure). 


Seat frame in top position. (Note the Piece Of Square Wood With a Hole in the Middle in the background. Further info else where on this site)


Front of drivers seat base.


Rear view of drivers seat base.


Front view of passenger door seat box. The arrow is indicating the catch assembly for the middle seat.


Rear view of passenger door seat box. The framework in the top is for the support of the swivel turntable, and brackets for and anti chaff/scuff plate for the seat belts to rise from.



Click on above image to see a short animation of how the middle seat base frame works


Above. Front and back view of the fitted Renault seats. All adjustable, back and forth, reclining.

Front and back views of the middle seat lifting in to the back of the van.
 

Click on above image to see a short animation of how the middle seat lifts out in to the back of the van

Middle seat in rearward position (not for seating whilst vehicle is moving, as the seat belts are absent in this position), but very useful when no middle passenger present as is does give very easy access to the back and leaves more floor space in the front.

 

 



Before the Peugeot, I used to have a Mercedes 307 which also had a bench seat. I didn't do anything elaborate with its seating, apart from a Rover SD1 drivers seat (very cumfy). However I did alter the bench seat so that it could be rotated.

I have never seen any swivel plates advertised for bench seats, so I made my own. The best thing is, it only raised the seat by about 10mm.

Most DIY people could make this project as the only power tool require is an electric drill, no need for welders. The materials can be cut to size by the supplier/steel stock holder.

So hereís how to make your own swivel plate. Cut, or more likely get your supplier to cut 2off sheets of 3mm or 4mm steel large enough to bolt the seat frame too (490mm by 340mm in this case), then drill them both to fit on the seat runners (basically so they would be sandwiched between seat base and runners). Use c/s fixings to secure plates to seat and frame base, but not yet. Now you need to drill a centre hole for the seat to swivel from, I used an M20 cap screw/machine screw (12.7). Now you may want the seat to swivel off centre so the seat moves closer to the dash when turned round perhaps, so work out where to drill then go for it. If that sounds difficult, use a small fixing first to test, perhaps M5. Okay, now mount everything together with a gob of grease (though I didn't bother - as it was smooth enough without) then double nut the centre fixing to prevent it loosening it self once you have set it for an appropriate tension. You should now have your seat in position, find a suitable position near the front of the seat to drill a 6mm (this is the common size of most padlocks) hole for a padlock to lock it in the 'driving' position, do the same again with the seat facing rearwards (try and use the previous hole drilled in the top plate.

That's what I did, and it was fine, perhaps not as posh as a 'puka' off the shelf  job, but just as good. Obviously you can make a better locking catch and also improve the seat rotation by inserting a third plate between the top and bottom plates (I didn't bother as it was fine without), again it should have a centre hole to swivel on, but then drill six or eight 5.5mm holes around the rotation circumference, then before putting the top plate on and tightening the centre bolt, insert six or eight 5mm ball bearings (available from any good bearing or industrial transmission supplier) in the 5.5mm holes. Thus you now have refined the seat rotation.

To help the above explanation, I have posted some drawing below.

This is how all the plates are assembled.



Below is the dimensions I used. Do be aware they're for a double seat in a Mercedes 307, so may be far narrower for a standard seat.




All the 7mm holes are countersunk except the one vertically above the 18mm hole and the one vertically below which the Ďpadlockí locks in to.

Apologies if Iím telling you how to suck eggs, so for the benefit of others, bear with me. When you have cut your plates, clamp them together, mark out and drill as one plate. Only countersink the facing plates (not top of both plates), so the top of one plate and bottom of the other.



Obviously not everyone wants to make their own seat swivels, so as part of m online store I will be selling the FASP range of seat swivels which are T‹V tested. Having looked to see what my competitors are selling, mine are extremely competitively priced (my store is at MarcleLeisure.co.uk).

 
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