This was one of my most feared jobs – converting the front passenger seat to swivel and have adjustable runners, as by default its fixed. A bit of advice online and a few have done it, but some tough stories of getting the seat out and brackets off, and some trim removal or door needing opening on spinning. So a bit of fear of the unknown and not wanting to damage the original van or equipment.
One of my friends who runs an engineering company kindly assisted and lent me his workshop and access to any huts bolts I needed as well as expert engineers to help 🙂 Thanks!
Anyway, getting the seat out:-
- Remove 2x 15mm bolts at front
- Remove 2x 15mm bolts at rear
- Seat then lifts off, but disconnect any cabling. Weirdly I had cables fixed to the bottom of the seat, but no connector for them to go in to so they were just taped up? Also I have passenger airbag so a bit confusing.
- There are 4 brackets, one in each corner.
- The 2 front ones are held on with easily accessible 10mm nuts (inside the seat).
- The rear ones are more awkward
- The first, can be removed with a 10mm ratchet spanner, slowly. Only enough movement to get one or two clicks. (Also – it can be removed in same manner as the second if you are lucky/careful
- The second cant be accessed from underneath, but instead use a 10mm socket and extender bar. You enter from the seat side, and “push” the cushion to the centre, and you can just squeeze the socket through. You can blind feel and guide the socket to the nut from underneat
Hey presto, easy seat out and brackets out.
The swivel plate recommended to me was a FASP – Single Seat Swivel VW T4 1997+ (1305.2893) from Jennings. This seems to fit reasonably well, the rear holes line up with existing pre-tapped nuts on the seat base, requiring only the correct bolts for the rear (supplied ones too small) and new drill holes in the sear base for the front ones to bolt through.
I could not find runners to match, so I bought JDR dual lock race approved runners (ebay/JDR) – assuming race approved will be higher spec than road. These are narrow so need modifying.
The seat plate caused some debate as it appears to be fit either way up – so with the release handle on the base left, or the swivel right. Not entirely sure, but the “correct” place seems to be on the top plate near the centre of the van. This is different to our last van and most vans I’ve seen have them near the door. The VW forums are also full of debate.
So, following the advice, we fitted the plate with the release handle on the top plate facing centre of the van.
The rear two countersunk bolts lined up with the existing seat holes. Sadly, these appear to require M10 countersunk bolts with a fine 1.25 thread of 8.8 rating, and we can’t find them anywhere, they seem not to exist. The best solution we found was to tap the welded nut from 1.25 to 1.5 thread. Whilst this weakens the nut a little, when its bolted through with a readily available M10 8.8 1.5 thread countersunk bolt, you can add a washer and a nyloc nut as well making it stronger than OEM. Do not be tempted with a stainless bolt – these can break under impact – whereas 8.8 stretches – much better in an accident.
The two front bolts didn’t match with the plate holes as there was a bar underneath, so we had to drill the plate and into the base, and fitted M10 8.8 bolts and washers. Good drill bits needed.
The runners I used fitted nicely to existing holes in the seat swivel, so M8 8.8 were installed. But, whilst most can be bolt down, one needs to be bolt up to miss the “locking pin”. Or get shorter bolts.
To get the runners into the seat base, no holes aligned so we set the runners to the middle and the seat in slightly forward of “Nissan” position and marked & drilled 4 holes for M8 8.8 bolts/washers to bolt the seat to the runners.
However, as the runners were not Nissan, the handle was the wrong length/size, so we anticipated cutting/welding, but didn’t try. Instead we got another friend to help out, and he fabricated a new handle out of 10mm solid bar, which we drilled 5mm + partial 7mm (IIRC) holes to go over the pins, and also extended it so it was in the more natural position. We spring this request on our busy friend, so more beers owed! This is finished with primer and spray black gloss paint.
Getting to some of the nuts n bolts in is a bit of a handscraper, but overall not that difficult job apart from fabricating a new handle which was a pain and glad we had a friend with the industrial bender!
I was lucky, my helper was a pedantic expert (which is a huge compliment) and I think I learned a lot, and will remember some of the tips n techniques.
There is debate as to whether modifying seats is safe or not. Well, that’s for you to call. All I am going to say is that we thought about each change, and used engineering spec parts or quality approved parts, and we are confident its as safe as any install would be in an approved van with an approved kit. This post details how I did it, and does not in any way suggest it is approved, safe, or that its DIYable. If you copy any of this its at your own risk.