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Bolt-on Swivel Seat for Vanagons
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orin salah
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 7:58 pm    Post subject: Bolt-on Swivel Seat for Vanagons Reply with quote

Hello everyone! This is my first post here and I hope that some of you will find it helpful.

I've been wanting to put a swivel seat on the passenger side of my '88 Vanagon and I spent some time looking through the forums here to see about the options. The most popular seemed to be cutting out the swivel base from a Vanagon that had one and then re-welding it into the new van. I shopped around for these parts but I never did find them. I did find a bolt on option though, right here on The Samba's classifieds. Here's a link:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=838963

I tried to find a post showing someone else's experience installing one of these bolt on swivels, but no luck. I decided to take a chance and buy one and now that the installation is done I thought I'd share my experience here. Before diving into the details of the installation I will just mention that the cost was just under $200 including shipping (to Denver), which is not bad considering that the swivel is brand new and most of the used ones I saw cost about $150 plus shipping.

On to the good stuff...

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Here is a shot of the swivel fresh out of the box. As you can see it came with some mounting hardware, but nothing too special. The first step, of course, is to remove the old seat. No big deal there, it just slides forward until it hits the stop. The stop is on the left side of the passenger seat and all you have to do is lift it up while sliding the seat forward. (Took me a second to figure this out! Embarassed ) The seat then slides completely off the rails. After placing the swivel on top of the existing rails I realized a couple things:

  1. I would need to drill a couple holes.
  2. I would need to cut back the battery compartment cover.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Here you can see the battery compartment cover, which I have laid out for cutting. The swivel covers the entire area from the front to the rear of the existing rails. If one did not cut back the cover it would be impossible to open or close once the swivel was installed. You can see a couple of existing holes on the rails as well. I found that the two forward holes were already big enough for the smaller bolts that came with the kit, but I had to enlarge the rear holes in addition to adding two more holes. One interesting thing is that the bolts which came with the swivel were a tad too long and I had to drill not only through the rail but through the bottom of the fender as well. Here is a shot of the finished rails.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I'm sure many of you will have no difficulty finding a way to cut back the battery compartment cover, but I did! At first I tried a Dremmel tool, but the cutting blades wore too quickly. Luckily my friend had a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade...that worked much better. After cutting the cover I cut back the carpeting to match.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The last thing I wanted to do before installing the swivel was cut a little access hole in the front of the seat base to create a cubby hole under the seat. This was easy to lay out and then cut with the jigsaw. Here is the finished product with the carpeting laid back over the new access slot.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Now I was ready to install the swivel. Two of the small bolts fit through the holes in the front of the rails with the square nuts to hold them in place and the four larger bolts fit through the holes on the back. The large bolts had a cool little piece with nuts welded to a plate to ease installation. Check it out.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


This left a few leftover bolts, but I am not sure what they might be used for. I will mention here that I have read some posts that mention concern for the strength of the bolts holding the seat in place in the case of an accident. This concerned me as well until it was pointed out in the forums that the bolts holding the seat do not keep you in place during an accident, the seat belt does. That being said, I would be pretty concerned to be in any accident strong enough to break the bolts on the seat since it would probably be catastrophic at very best.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


This is the swivel bolted into place on top of the old rails. It was a simple installation and did not take long at all. You can see the small gap between the battery cover plate and the swivel, perhaps this could be done better but I felt it was suitable enough for me. With the battery compartment door open there is still just enough room to fit in jumper cables, but a cool idea might be flipping the battery around so the terminals are closer to the hinged side. This would require reworking the cables though and was more of a project than I was looking to do for the moment.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


After all was done I simply slid the seat onto the rails of the swivel and was finished.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Swivel seat installed!! Here is a little shot of the cubby hole access, it still needs a little work to be completed.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Well, that's all I've got for you, hope it helps and that it shows a different option for those of you looking to install a swivel in your Vanagon.
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WhiteH2O
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm....

I have been wanting a swivel seat also, but without the ability to make metal stick to metal, I have been putting it off. This might change that for me as well.
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jbart
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am planning to add a swivel too, but my concern here is your exposed terminals in relationship to the swivel bracket. the photo looks like they are touching. possible short coming in the near future?

do you have to remove the bracket to remove the battery?
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbart wrote:
I am planning to add a swivel too, but my concern here is your exposed terminals in relationship to the swivel bracket. the photo looks like they are touching. possible short coming in the near future?


He is missing the proper plastic cover for the battery terminal
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K58
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wouldn't it be easier to buy a camper?
just kidding
nice job

he's not missing anything
the lid for the battery tray protects it from the seat base
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Californio
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks to me like that brown sheet is rubber insulation glued to the battery lid.

Heck of a first post! Very thorough, thanks!
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oorwullie
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

just a wee tip for people who want to be able to have a rear facing passenger seat at absolutely no cost whatsoever: you simply slide the seat forwards and off the rails and re- install it facing backwards. Idea
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice post. I love the swivel seat in my van, but would have been put off by the prospect of welding in a different base.
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice writeup.
I have been using these bolt ins for awhile now and really like how clean the installation is.
Plus if you want to remove the swivel, you are 6 bolts away.

dylan
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a914622
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Super Sweet. I like the clean instal. It makes me want to sell off my factory swivel bases and get on of those boltin ones.

Oh ya Welcome.


jcl
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice, likely my next upgrade! Applause
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r39o
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With all the kudos we did not say: Welcome aboard.

I, too, am glad to see this write up and will also state it is an outstanding first post at that!

My Multivan does not have swivels and my Westy does. They are useful. I got a set of swivels and a pair of Recaro seats I will put in my Multivan. I will use this post as a guide. I now own two front table setups also for the Multivan. Slowly I am getting the items I like best from the Westy to transplant into the Multivan. (You know how hard it is to get late gray interior parts?)

Thank you again for this fine writeup and first post.

Keep it coming.....
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

r39o wrote:
With all the kudos we did not say: Welcome aboard.

I, too, am glad to see this write up and will also state it is an outstanding first post at that!

My Multivan does not have swivels and my Westy does. They are useful. I got a set of swivels and a pair of Recaro seats I will put in my Multivan. I will use this post as a guide. I now own two front table setups also for the Multivan. Slowly I am getting the items I like best from the Westy to transplant into the Multivan. (You know how hard it is to get late gray interior parts?)

Thank you again for this fine writeup and first post.

Keep it coming.....


FYI,
Swivels + Recaro mounts + Recaro seats will put your head into the headliner if you are 6'+ as I am. Sad BTDT

Without the swivels...all is good.

GoWesty has mounted the three in vans that I did fit into, but forgot to look at how.
Maybe someone with the setup will chime in.

dylan
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r39o
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know which Recaros you refer to, but mine are VERY thin on the bottom. They are thinner than the thinner stock Westy seat is already. They have LX series bottoms. Some adapters make the seats sit high. I am not using adapters. I am using bolted on rails as, I believe, Recaro intended.

I will do a test fit anyways. It is some months off, too. No rush, the seats in the Multivan are just fine too. My butt has been in Recaros for decades so I just like them better. No big deal. We'll see how they fit later.

Sorry for the OT, now back to our regular programming....
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orin salah
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello all and thanks for the kind posts in response to my little write up!

To answer the questions from jbart....

jbart wrote:
I am planning to add a swivel too, but my concern here is your exposed terminals in relationship to the swivel bracket. the photo looks like they are touching. possible short coming in the near future?

do you have to remove the bracket to remove the battery?


The terminals are definitely not touching the swivel base, but you're correct in seeing that there is not a lot of clearance. Those pieces on the battery tray cover are indeed rubber insulation and I am thinking about gluing some on to the swivel base, but I'm not sure that it's necessary. Either way it would be simple insurance for anyone who was concerned with a possible short.

And yes, you would have to remove the seat and swivel to remove that battery. I thought about removing some metal from the swivel base to clear the battery, but I was worried about weakening the base. It really wouldn't be bad to remove the seat and swivel, pretty simple operation, and hopefully I won't be changing batteries too often!

If anyone else has questions, comments, or suggestions....please post them!

Thanks everyone.
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

orin salah wrote:
you would have to remove the seat and swivel to remove that battery

Interesting.

In a stock Westy with factory swivel seats, you push the seat all the way forward and you can remove the battery.

Maybe the seat in the stock Westy has to be turned around too. I forget. Been a long time, but my Westy needs a new battery so I guess I will find out!

What a pain in this case!
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

r39o wrote:
orin salah wrote:
you would have to remove the seat and swivel to remove that battery

Interesting.

In a stock Westy with factory swivel seats, you push the seat all the way forward and you can remove the battery.

Maybe the seat in the stock Westy has to be turned around too. I forget. Been a long time, but my Westy needs a new battery so I guess I will find out!

What a pain in this case!

Stock Westy.
Turn passeneger seat 180degs. Push seat to rear of tracks (towards dash). Battery comes out unimpeded.
Easy. (just did this last week.. yay! new battery for the dirge!)

Yeah.. unbolting would be a pain. But would provide an opportunity to clean out the cheerios and goldfish.
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Syncronicity
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome home. Nice write up. I am going to have to see how a 1.18" lift would affect my ride. Would love to have swivel seats. I assume this works on both sides or am I missing something?
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syncronicity wrote:
Welcome home. Nice write up. I am going to have to see how a 1.18" lift would affect my ride. Would love to have swivel seats. I assume this works on both sides or am I missing something?


It can work on both sides in passenger vans, as they don't have anything to block full swivel.

I put swivels on both sides of both my vans. It really opens them up when camping. The extra height doesn't bother me and I am 6'1", but I have friends that don't like the extra height at all.

If you decide to put one on the driver's side, consider moving the swivel base back 1 1/2 inches. This helps the seat's back rotate by the steering wheel. I still have to move the seat slightly forward and then back again go get around the steering wheel, but it is easy. I really don't know if it will clear the steering wheel without moving the swivel plate back.

My first install is in this thread: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=289505&highlight=swivel , and I went to 4 bolts instead of 6 on the install in my Syncro.

Of course, as previous stated, you can always remove the seat and put it on the rails facing back.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:48 am    Post subject: Fantastic post! Reply with quote

I've been holding off on putting one of these bolt on swivel bases in my 87 vanagon passenger seat until I could wrap my head around all the little questions about putting one in...The battery lid area was stumping me a bit.

Your post, with step by step instructions and great photos to boot is a perfect guide.

Thank you!
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