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  View original topic: Front seat belt retractor mounting
rv6andy Tue May 21, 2013 7:57 am

Hi Folks,
First time to post so be gentle with me.
I have a '70 Squareback and want to mount front 3 point retractable belts. Is it possible to use the original mounting hole for the retractor at the base of the 'B' pillar? Space looks very tight to the rear seat kick panel.
Pics of installations would be very useful.

Thanks
Andy

azbob Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:38 pm

I'm attempting to do this same thing right now. The kick panel is to close to the mount hole to properly mount the retractor piece.

Anyone have any ideas how these are supposed to mount?

Donnie strickland Sat Aug 09, 2014 5:03 pm

I did this last November to my 71. I ordered a set of Empi front belts and they bolted right up, just like the originals:



The key is the 90 degree bracket that the retractor bolts to. You have to have that piece -- mine came with it. This puts the retractor in front of the kick panel, as in the picture. The bolt still goes in the original location.

azbob Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:13 pm

Ah! Gotcha. Yeah, my set didn't come with one. I saw some pics of people mounting it to the kick panel but that doesn't seem like the strongest point. Guess I should either create the piece or order one.

Thanks Donnie.

FastyOrange Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:03 am

I'm not up to speed on the differences between 70 and 72 seatbelts, but I was able to mount new retractable belts in the factory location on my 72. The original retractable belts in my 72 had a bracket that was bolted to the back of the retractor housing. I was able to remove that piece from the the originals, drill two corresponding holes in the back plate of the new housing, fasten everything together with the original bolts, and mount them in the original location (just barely). Of course if you car didn't have retractable belts, or if they were simply made differently...you may not be able to do the same thing.

JeeJeeJason Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:44 am

ISP west carries a slightly less modern looking retractor. The ones above are quite ugly in my opinion. I know that's what they came with but still... Has anyone used these ?

http://www.vwispwest.com/ZVW21.html

Donnie strickland Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:55 am

I haven't used those. I agree the retractors like mine aren't the prettiest, but honestly I never think about it since they're almost out of sight. They're way down next to the floorboards so you have to go looking for them if you want to notice them.

I bought my Squareback after my 66 Beetle got totaled when it was squashed between two cars. A lady hit me from behind while I was stopped; she never even touched the brake, and that impact knocked me into the car in front of me. I had used these same belts in my Bug, and they did the job with flying colors. I still got injured -- several rib fractures and a fractured sternum due to the belt stopping me from going face-first into the steering wheel and windshield -- but that was all. Installing new, modern, retractable belts was the first thing I did after buying my Square. I wouldn't drive it with anything less.

Donnie strickland Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:30 am

I ran out and got a couple of detail shots -- one of the retractor mounting (don't mind the white dog hair, one of our dogs is shedding like crazy):


And one of the retractor tilted forward so you can see the hardware arrangement more clearly:


Note that this is NOT what my 71 came with originally. It had an open spool retractor mounted up high by the headrest, and had not worked properly in many moons due to the belt getting old and stiff.

marchi Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:46 pm

i put a set of bug retractables in Flamer, fit perfect! I've done this to 3 Type3s actually. and working on a set for the back seat

JJM86 Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:05 am

I've been researching retractable belts for my '71 square for a little while now (mainly because I can't get my passengers to wear the current ones properly) and this Empi kit looks pretty decent. I'm kinda anal about wearing the belts correctly so that they do their job in an accident but others don't really seem to care, despite my harassment. By the way, for those looking it's Empi part #: 3851.

Donnie, how do the belts work in terms of length/fit? I've seen kits that have different length webbing and also different lengths for the clasp end. Do you find that the latch end is in a good spot and the belt itself provides good range of motion? In your one photo, it looks like the latch has to kind of wrap around the edge of the seat to plug in, which in some cases means either it's uncomfortable or that the belt doesn't actually fit tightly across your waist.

Also, does the retractor get in the way of tilting the rear seat up? It looks pretty close to the hinge point for the seat bottom but maybe it's not a problem.

The biggest piece of the puzzle I've been trying to solve is the mount for the retractor, so the fact that this kit has that included is a big plus (vs. finding a used one or making one).

Thanks for the great photos and input from everyone, seeing this thread makes me think this is a perfect solution!

-Jeremy

Donnie strickland Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:41 am

Mine work and fit perfectly. I don't even think about them; it's just like getting in a modern car. No problems with tilting the seat either.

I will say that if I were to have the seat all the way forward, the belt might not be long enough, but that's never come up. I keep the seat all the way back, and even when my wife drives the car it's not an issue.

catbox Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:10 pm

I pulled a set of the brackets out of a late model bug to use with my seatbelts.

Just an option if you cannot find them new.

raygreenwood Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:30 pm

I know this little bit of knowledge is probably worthless but you never know what you can find.
The seat belt retractors in virtually all European cars from the 70s and 80s are almost identical. The main difference being the add on mounting bracket that each car requires to keep the retractor in a place where it does not bind...and most importantly....it must be at the prooper angle or the pedulum portion of the inertial reel will not work properly.

I have used retractors from BMW 5 series and Audi 4 and 5000 among others in 411/412 and type 3s.
The differences are primarily the belt length.

And.....if you are adventurous.......and patient......you can swap in your old belts on a reel if the belts are in good enough shape.

There is a cap on each end of the retractor. The bigger end covers the ratchet reel and pendulum lock.....the skinny end covers the coil spring.

DO NOT REMOVE THE COVER ON THE SKINNY END. That spring will unload like a handcgrenade and then you are done with that reel. Take the big end cover off. Mount the reel on a bench with a clamp. Pull the belt out slowly until it reaches the end. Use a pair of locking pliers to carefully lock the reel.
You will see that the belt is inserted into a slot. The belt has a sewn loop on the end. The back side of the slot in the spool has a beveled recess. In the sewn loop is a 4mm steel pin. Work the belt backward in the slot with a thin screwdriver. ...pull out the pin...and the belt is no free to pull through the slot. Push yiur belt through the slot....put the pin through the loop....and pull it hard to pot it into the bevelled slot tightly.

Then unlatch the locking pliers and slowly let it roll up the belt. Replace the cover over the reel.

Personally...since replacement belts and reels are available. ....I would get new ones. I have had one save my life in an, accident. Old reels get gummed up and do not work well. If a reel has ever been soaking wet....all bets are off.

I am not anal enough about period detail any longer with tegard to safety equipment to use less than the best I can get. Ray

KTPhil Wed Oct 08, 2014 4:00 pm

Stock belts on my '71 were those AWFUL manually adjustable (non-inertial) belts that had to be painstakingly adjusted any time you changed seating positions.

Years ago I bought inertial belts online but I think they were from Bugs or other models, because they were not the right length-- way too short. I could not lean forward at ALL to reach dash controls.

More recently, I bought a new and different set and they are a little on the long side, so I use the little white plastic slack keepers to keep them neat on the B-pillar.

I'll find the box or receipt and post some pics for other Type 3 owners who like the setup.

The only thing I don't like is that the receivers that mount on the center tunnel don't fit quite right, and I still need to shim them to fit squarely, so they will hold tightly in an accident. But that's all it should take to make them fit great.

KTPhil Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:16 pm

OK, here is what I bought:




They list the belt length as 135 inches:




They are carried by CIP, and you need these parts:




The center tunnel needs a spacer or washers, and perhaps a longer bolt. So my current installation left off the large washer that covers the carpet, so it won't get bent, until I get the right washers. I've just been too lazy to ge them at the local hardware store.




Here is how they hang:






You can see they are a little long and so I used the coiler gizmo VW used to sell. Looks like CIP also carries these in black. As you pull the belt out of the retractor to buckle it, this unit unravels first. Set low on the belt like this, it stays out of your lap when the belt is extended. Also, the belts come with a slider that holds the buckle up where you can reach it when it's hung up. You can see it in the pic above, though I slid it up a little higher after installing them.

They came to $150 for the setup but that's okay, I figure my life is worth at least half that. ;-)

KTPhil Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:56 am

raygreenwood wrote: Personally...since replacement belts and reels are available. ....I would get new ones. I have had one save my life in an, accident. Old reels get gummed up and do not work well. If a reel has ever been soaking wet....all bets are off.


Belts also stretch over time and from smaller accidents. But that stretch is needed to save your life. Old, stiff, stretched belts will not have the "give" in a big accident to avoid injury. New belts are a great investment.

raygreenwood Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:10 pm

KTPhil wrote: raygreenwood wrote: Personally...since replacement belts and reels are available. ....I would get new ones. I have had one save my life in an, accident. Old reels get gummed up and do not work well. If a reel has ever been soaking wet....all bets are off.


Belts also stretch over time and from smaller accidents. But that stretch is needed to save your life. Old, stiff, stretched belts will not have the "give" in a big accident to avoid injury. New belts are a great investment.


I have a safety rope. Put loosely around my neck it keeps my head from hitting the windshield :lol: .

Thanks for the review! those look good! Ray

nynone4 Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:43 am

Donnie strickland wrote: I did this last November to my 71. I ordered a set of Empi front belts and they bolted right up, just like the originals:



The key is the 90 degree bracket that the retractor bolts to. You have to have that piece -- mine came with it. This puts the retractor in front of the kick panel, as in the picture. The bolt still goes in the original location.

I have these same belts in my squareback - but have found that tilting the back seat forward to make the load floor in the rear flat for hauling interferes with the belts and doesn't allow them to retract. Has anyone else run into this - and if so, have you come up with a simple solution to fix the issue? I'm looking at maybe making a bracket that moves the retractor mechanism forward a bit to try to get it out of the way of the rear seat when folded down....

RedSquare Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:24 pm

Iíve noticed that same thing with my setup, but havenít figured out a work-around yet. Will be interested to hear if someone else has.



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