Billy the Bus's Blog

Monday, April 09, 2007

Fitting New Driver's Seat

I had a fun Easter weekend with my Dad in London - he came to stay with me for a couple of nights, so we could finish the job we started in November of fitting new front seats for Billy. The reason we didn't finish it before, up in Loughborough, was because we were worried we wouldn't finish it, and I didn't want to get stranded in Loughborough with no driver's seat to come home with.

The passenger seat was fairly easy to remove - it wasn't on runners, it was hooked onto a metal plate, which we had to remove by drilling-out spot welds. The driver's seat was actually pretty much the same principle, it's just there were a lot more welds to drill out, about 20 on the outside runner, and 10 on the inside runner. We tried our best to just drill out the welds, but in almost every single case, we ended up drilling right through to daylight; we actually found that almost every single weld on the main runner was a sloppy mess, had missed the pre-manufactured dimple, and become a big splodge of weld to the side. Some of them took 3 drillings to clear them, and we punched through in most places. I'm going to slap some underseal in the wheel arch to try to fill the holes.

The long runner was also welded on at both ends, and we went at it with an grinding stone to remove the final welds. The idea then was to lever the runner off the car, popping each of the rivets as we went along. That popping sound was very satisfying and we let out a little cheer each time a rivet went. With the runners finally removed (it took about three hours) we did some clean up with some wire brushes, magnets and a hoover, and also rubbed away some of the old grease that was still there. We also did a bit of rudimentary panel-beating to flatten points where we'd pulled the rivets upwards - we placed a lump hammer underneath each hole in the wheel arch and whacked it with another hammer from above. Apart from the holes, the metal work wasn't looking too bad and was pretty flat.

Offering the seat up to the space we'd just created for it, we found that the runners were too close together to sit comfortably on the old seat's runner areas. We noticed that the passenger side featured a sort of metal extension of the runner area out into the void beneath the seat. So we decided to make one of these ourselves using a bit of wood. A strip of 9mm ply, with the corner cut off fitted the curve of the metal nicely, and essentially made a giant wooden washer for the bolts.

So that's about it really. There was quite a lot of positioning and repositioning of the seat, to make sure the driving position was ok, there was enough movement forward and backward etc. and we measured and marked up where the holes should be quite accurately. We drilled clearance holes through the wooden strip and down into the wheel arch, and fitted high tensile allen bolts with nylon locking bolts to stop them shaking free. I now have comfortable Porsche seats in the van instead of the knackered old ones that were there before.


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