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Strapped for Seating!

Fitting side facing bench seats & four point rally harnesses

Main reason for my buying a 109 Land Rover was that I needed seats for eight + people. that meant a mini-bus of a LWB Landie. The factory offered the 109CSW five door, but they were expensive, so I opted for a 'commercial' 3-door, and 'countied' it like a SWB but with an extra pair of seats in the back, but we wanted seat belts to secure the children in. This is how I did it! Arrangement would work as effectively in a SWB, as a LWB, and using the 3-door, did mean that there was more 'load' space when the kids weren't being ferried around.

One thing that I must mention; is that I undertook this conversion back in 2001, before the 'new' child seating regulations that demanded 'booster-seats', and are, frankly, a bit of legislative masturbation! Horrendous law, and almost unworkable and un-enforceable.

Adding side seats and harnesses as I did to Wheezil, is still a 'good' practical arrangement; whether it conforms to the exact letter of the law, or whether using booster cushions instead of or on top of the seat cushions would make it more conforming for children I don't know. As with everything; I leave it to you to check the legality and practicality of anything you may do, inspired by stuff on my site.

The arrangement, I have to say worked very well, and the kids loved it; especially bouncing about on the rough off-road, and the harness's did a darn fine job of keeping them in their place and stopped them getting bashed about. My 3 year old particularly liked itl he claimed the seat right behind mine, and squealed with glee whenever we went up a slide slope that left him literally 'hanging' inside the harness. 16 year old found it fairly amusing too, so pretty secure I reckon. Only thing I cant comment on, THANKFULLY is how well they might stand up to an actual crash!

Any way, on with the article, as written, whey back when!

An often covered question is the fitment of sideways facing seats in the back of a Land Rover. Now, there are lots of http://s178.photobucket.com/albums/w269/teflons-torque solutions around. The one Land Rover themselves favoured though was sideways facing benches on the wheel arch tubs.

There are some fold up forward/backward facing seats around, and I have to confess I did look at these, but dismissed them. Basically, when folded down one seat takes up half the width of the load area. To my mind two of them set to face forward would mean that a passenger would have to climb over them to sit down. So I don't think that they are really practical unless you have just two of them, facing backwards. So I chose side facing benches.

There are two lengths available. A two seater and a three seater. Two seaters are for the rear of a short wheel base, and three seaters, for the rear of a Long Wheel base five door.

I have a Long Wheel Base three door, and found that the load tub is just long enough to squeeze in two, two seat benches on either side.

Works out quite neatly, actually. The seats have an upright frame that bolts to the tub 'step' with one M8 bolt on either end. You simply position the frame, drill through the floor and bolt through, using big washers on the back to spread the load.

The frame has catches on it which clip into the tub rail to make sure it is well secured, and in most instances the slots for these catches are already there. In my case, because of using two benches a side, I didn't have conveniently sited slots, and because of cutting extra slots to fit the harnesses, didn't want to do any more cutting if I could help it. So, I left the uprights loose at the top, figuring if they proved to need extra support, then I'd cut the rail or fix some kind of support bracket. So far they haven't proved necessary, so I have left them as they are.

One thing to mention, you do need to screw the back rest to the upright before you bolt the upright in place.

So, the bases. The bases are another frame, with a short metal tray in the front edge. The back end bolts to the upright frame with a pair of M6 bolts on either end which act as the hinge to allow them to be hinged up out of the way, and allow access to the storage lockers beneath. The cushions are then loose and sit in the tray. Job done. Fitting time, about half an hour a seat.

The only criticisms I have of them is that you do need to remove the base cushion before lifting the base frame up to get access to the lockers. Then, unless some-one is sitting on them, bumps do make the bases jump and crash back onto the aluminium, and toss the cushions off onto the floor.

(When I did the sound-proofing; I glued a strip of camping mat foam to the edge of each seat base to minimise the clatter between base and box; I would have liked to attach some sort of catch, but never got around to it As for the cusion problem, I was thinking along the lines of velcro, but again, one of those 'I'll get round to it' jobs you never do!)

Lastly, on a long journey, they are a bit narrow, so while the support your rump, they don't support your legs much, and after, oh four or five hours I do start getting complaints from my passengers. (Relative though; got more complaint from passengers in the back of standard saloon cars; and a lot sooner; so not THAT bad!)

I have a plan though. First of all, I intend to weld about an inch into the arms of the base rails, to push the bases out a bit further and give more leg support, should make them more comfortable on a long run. (Another 'round-tuit' I didn't)

Next, I want to put some thin camping mat foam on the metal of the wheel arch boxes, and cover it with some load matting rubber. That should make the bases less prone to making such a racket if they jump. (A 'Round Tuit I DID get round to and did work, and quite well!)

Then I want to add some form of strap between the seat base frame and the side of the wheel arch box to stop them from jumping. Haven't got round to working out exactly what yet, but I saw some rubber T-straps on a bonnet the other day and thought they might be a good solution. But it would be pretty useful if the strap could be used to hold the base up, as well as down, to give an uncluttered load space when the seats aren't needed. (Never got round to, but I did find that the bases could be hooked un the upright position by the rally harnesses, when no-one was in them)

Right, onto the most obvious feature of this installation, the rally harnesses.

This was a much deliberated mod. Legally you don't need rear seat belts in anything made before 1986, and I'm pretty sure that even now, you don't actually need a strap on a side facing seat. Any way, we have kids, and it was something we were a bit concerned about. As much as anything to keep the kids from jumping around and trying to climb in the front while we were driving!

So, the alternatives; Lap Straps. These are the most common solution, and the easiest to install. Tow holes one on either side of the seat position, two bolts, big spreading plates on the back and job done. For most these are probably 'good enough'. But they do let a passenger hinge at the middle and apart from discouraging them from moving around, dont actually offer much in the way of useful support.

So, Diagonal & Lap belts, as you have in the front and rear of most saloon cars. Big problem with these. For the Land Rover installation, it would be difficult to find suitable anchorage points for the shoulder strap, but more worryingly, the diagonal strap is designed for a forward facing seat. Depending on the angle of any impact, then they might not be any more useful than a lap strap, or could prove more dangerous introducing a twist or whip-lash effect. These were discounted very quickly.

Which left the option of twin shoulder strap 'rally harnesses'. These are ideal, and there is very little that can offer more support. Also they are very comfortable, and can be adjusted to fit sizes from toddler to bloater! Bit more fiddly, but worth the effort. But fitting them.

I have to confess that they confounded me for a while, but I eventually struck on the most practical arrangement.

The l;ap straps fit as described earlier. The shoulder straps though are a bit more awkward. What you need is a single stud, in the centre of the seating position coming out of the tub rail.

Find the position you need, and mark it, then drill it. Careful because the tub is galvanised and makes cruelly sharp swarf.

Then you need to get an M10 bolt inside the rail and pushed through the hole. (Obviously it helps if the hole is a clearance fir for M10, say 10.5mm) To get it there you need to manipulate it in from one of the slots in the rail's angled lower side. In some instances I found a slot conveniently close to where I wanted to fit my stud. In others I had to make one, by drilling four pilot holes just inside the corners of the slot I wanted to make, then opening them out until I could cut between them with an angle grinder.

Then, with the bolt in place, I put a nut on it and tightened it up good and solid, leaving enough thread protrusion to get the shoulder strap anchorages on, a big washer and another nut.

The first nut is actually useful, because apart from holding the bolt in place so you don't have to try and fiddle five components together and tighten, it acts as a distance piece and holds the strap anchorages away from the tub rail so that the strap wont fret on the metal.

So, I used budget four point harnesses, which was convenient, because you have to shorten the straps a long way, which I don't think you can do with a three point harness as it has a long stitched 'Y' between the two shoulder straps.

Having got my stud in place, I just had to adjust the straps to the right length, put the anchorages on the stud, ad a washer and tighten a nut on the end. And that was that.

Well, almost. You have to take the seat frame upright out to get access to the tub rail and refit it after attaching the harnesses, threading it through the straps. You then have to attach the seat base frame, around the straps so that the lap straps are in the gap between the cushions.

But, it works, and works well. They are comfortable and secure, and stop the kids bouncing about too much on our Green Lane adventures, and are definitely strong enough to support a grown man's weight, after I inadvertently found a ditch and turned round to find three kids and my teen age son all hanging in their harnesses, laughing their cotton socks off at me!!!

When I did this job myself, I didn't know it was going to be something so many people were going to be interested in, so I never took any pictures of it. If any one follows these instructions and has a digital camera handy and could take some snaps to illustrate the instructions for others, I'd be most grateful. Just send pics as attachments in Jpg format for preference to my usual e-mail, and I'll stick an attribute to you in this page.  (Many apologies to the fellow who DID send me pics he took when he followed these instruction; They REALLY were appreciated, but unfortunately, I lost your e-mail and attached snaps when my hard drive 'crashed' a while back)

 

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