Front seats & belts


BajaRich

New member
I was wondering if the Swivel assembly for the captain's chair is available seperatly or is an entire front seat replacement necessary/available? I own a 1987 Vanagon GL Wolfsburg edition and feel this feature would be an excellent addition to an already wonderful vehicle.

Thanks,

Rich
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The swivel assembly is a set of standard VW parts that fit under a standard seat. See your dealer.

It will swivel both ways; has a latch for straight ahead. It does raise the seat a little though.
 
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Schrof

New member
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Mike's reply to the swivel seat question was not correct. The Swivel mechanism was installed by Westfalia on the unfinished vehicles delivered to them by VW. The base is WELDED to the seat pedestal, and is comprised of the swivel plate and the seat mounting rails/tracks. These can not be swapped into a non-westy with-out a considerable ammount of grief and skill with welding equiptment. And the swivel assembly is NLA from the dealer, as it was originally produced by a subsidiary of Westfalia Gmbh.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
:p Despite a blistering off-site email from Mr. Schrof telling me to "Do my homework," and pretty well infering I didn't know what the hell I was talking about on any subject, I'll stand by my original statement.

Before giving the original opinion, I went to my Vanagon Westy and CONFIRMED it has the standard support frame with standard sliding seat rails welded in, and then has a swivel assembly attached to the top. The original seat rails are replaced with the ones on the swivel. The originals are no longer used, but not removed.

I then went to my VW issue parts fiche and looked up the base support frame & standard rails -- same P/N for ALL models. I took the 3 main P/N's of the swivel assembly and called my dealer, who confirmed all 3 were good #'s and still available from VW. (I didn't bother to check the little clips & hardware.) That's the kind of "homework" I do! Since there is no hotwork involved in changing the support box, and the original seat rails are intact, I don't know the source of his answer.

But I will be the first to acknowledge that VW is not consistent with documentation and makes changes in mid-production, so maybe HIS seats can't be changed. Mine bolt in and I have removed them in the past. (He identified himself as from Type2.com so was he even talking about the same vehicle? The question was for a Vanagon.)

Note I didn't say cheaply -- the parts are several hundred dollars. But that wasn't the question, either.
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
In typical German engineering fashion, I had to remove my front seats this week to change front struts. While I had it out, it gave me the opportunity to run through what it would take to convert a standard seat to an OE swivel. This is not a recommendation -- you're looking at several hundred dollars to convert -- but in answer to BajaRich who asked if it was available.

VW Parts needed (per seat): Base plate -- 251 801 296B
Lower tray w/ slide rails -- 251 881 321
Upper round tray w/ release lever -- 251 881 313A
(4) upper tray slide pads -- 251 881 319
(4) lower tray slide pads -- 251 881 320
(4) 8x1.25 nylock lock nuts (must be new)
I'll also reiterate that the parts that were still available when I did the check may be NLA on any given day without notice. VW is good at that!

Installation should be relatively easy. Just lay the base plate on top of the existing seat rails -- it nestles between them. Drill & bolt into position or tack weld.

Insert slide pads on base tray and round upper plate. Apply lubricant -- I use polyethylene grease. Grease new slide rails in lower tray.

Lay lower tray into place, slot forward. Insert release lever of upper tray through slot at 90° angle, then turn to continue through until it protrudes out from the front. Place upper tray over 4 studs of lower base plate. Secure with new nylock nuts at 36 INCH-Lb. (3 ft-lb.). Do not go any higher or the seat will have too much friction to swivel. Since this isn't much torque, that's why you must use new nylock nuts each time.

Replace seat into new slide adjustment rails on lower tray.

Note: Removal of front driver's seat only requires you move seat all the way forward, but there is a release of the slide limit arm on the left side of the seat near the hinge that must be held down while you slide seat forward of its normal limit.
 
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riandadana

New member
We have the swivel seat brackets from a 83 Westy going into our 87 GL, and they are pretty simple, but will require 4 tack welds each. A resourceful person could probably figure out a way to bolt them.
 

JOHNWOLF

New member
I wanted to switch the o/e swivel chairs on my 1987 Westy GL. The armrest is broken on the drivers side and I really miss having use of it. Is the drivers seat and passenger seat interchangeable? Sorry, If this post is not exactly under the right topic heading. I didn't want to start a new topic for such a basic question. Thanks in advance for your assistance!
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The seats have different carriages -- the slide adjustment is attached to opposite sides.

However, the armrests were an option, thus can be removed & replaced individually so I'd look into just exchanging or replacing the offending armrest. Depending on where your armrest is broken, this may involve removing the seatback cover.
 

JOHNWOLF

New member
I have a follow up question concerning my previous post about exchanging the armrest. Finding someone who is willing to sell just an armrest seems very difficult and so my best option appears to be switching armrests from the passenger seat to the drivers seat. By the way it is the left armrest that need to be replaced. However, I also have a problem with the left armrest on the passenger seat. It is permanently set at approximately 135 degree angle whereas it should be for comfortable use at 180 degrees. The adjustable knob appears to be dislocated as it moves back and forth freely. I figured that it should catch on(maybe a screw at the end) by pushing it in and turning but nothing catches. Does anyone know how the internal mechanism works? I don't see any internal diagrams(of the adjustable armrest) in the Bentley's repair manual. Thanks for your help. And I must say that I love this site. I don't know where I'd be without it!!
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
No, but I know you're going to have it apart by week's end and be able to tell us!

The mount is such that it has to be independent of the flange (Bentley 72.5). I'll bet the farm VW doesn't have any parts available so you'll be 'fabricating'. I'll hope for your sake it's just a broken threaded rod or something similar that can be welded or repaired. But do pass on what the innards look and work like!
 
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JOHNWOLF

New member
Thanks for the input Capt. Mike. Unfortunately I spent quite a bit of time on it today and really didn't make any progress. I removed the armrest from the chair(not fun but acceptable). However, it seems to me that you have to remove the plastic plate that the knob passes through. I don't see any other way of seeing inside. The problem is that I can't seem to be able to reach the lower screw as it is blocked by the knob. I tried removing the knob from the metal shaft but wasn't able to. I applied a considerable amount of force but it wouldn't budge and I got the feeling that if I forced it anymore that the plastic would break. Even if I can get to the root of the problem from the other end I think I would still have to remove that plastic piece to be able to remove the fabric/vinyl covering. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again. John
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

mr.rocksteady Member posted June 01, 2003 04:38 PM

Hello everyone. I have a question for you. I have an 85 westy. I am 6'5" and would like my driver's seat to go back a little farther. Any suggestions?

Perhaps the main problem may be the stove/sink assembly keeping my seat from reclining any farther. what about me cutting away some of the back of the seat to accomodate the backwards tilting? Kinda messy, but these long road trips killlllll my back (and knees). Thanks. tp
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
There are a number of good (notice I didn't say cheap) aftermarket seat suppliers that may offer viable solutions. Many have much thinner frames and thus might gain an inch or two in back thickness. For sources, see the "Auto Sports Gallery" topic in SUPPLIERS.

Since you can't do much about the 6'5", what you might want to do is consider the driving position. The Vanagon seat slides back & forth on a fixed track that ends before the seat contacts the cabinet. Thus attempts to gain additional room after slid back to it's end can only be arm-room from reclining the back rest. This does not change seat angle to the pedals but does change your body angle, literally slumping it.

I don't have the hieght problem -- far from it -- but I like the arms outstretched driving position. In my wife's car, that has to be accomplished by raising the seat front and lowering the rear (hers has 6-way electric). This allows the seat to be farther forward for the same leg room. I am, literally pivoting the seat & back around the hip location. I can then adjust the seat back to compensate for it being thrown back with the pivot. I actually move the seat back more vertical to restore the ~90° relative angle at the hips.

In my old '73, the seats were so flat, they felt like you were sliding off the front. By my '79, VW had changed to a higher front than rear, alleviating many of the problems, including back & leg aches. The Vanagons were a only marginal step up from them.

A thinner frame seat that pivots around its axis might give you a better rotation and the additional inches. Bear in mind that a permanent change of seat base angle by modifying either the mount, swivel or track would affect the horizontal rotation of the seat when swiveled for its camping mode, thus my recommendation to get a seat that pivots on its hip axis.
 
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kaimyk

New member
I have fixed two armrests on my 1991 Westy. I can describe in detail what the inside is like and how to access it. Here is how I fixed an arm rest that would not stay up and would not
adjust:
* You have to remove the armrests from the seats as I'm sure you know. (It is in the bentley and that is all it shows)
* Then you clamp vice-grip to the shaft that the knob is attached to and use a large flat headed screw driver to carefully pry off the knob. It is a tough job but the knob comes off without too much damage.I had two very small marks from the screw driver.
* Now you can access the two screws on the black cover. The one is partially covered by the shaft but you can get it at an angle.
* The black cover comes off and now you will see some staples holding the upholstery on to the board. Remove the staples and peel the material back in a rolling method.
* Now you have to access the adjustment mechanism.
* The arm rest is appears to be assembled then dipped in foam so now you have to cut the foam away. I turned the armrest over and used a hobby scalpel to make one long clean cut along the mechanism box.
* Cut down until you feel the box and carefully cut sideways to expose the top of the box. The foam should stay in one piece as both of mine did and it does glue back together very nicely with the right product.
* Once the top of the box is exposed you want to look for 4 small holes that are diagonally opposite to each other. These holes are a land mark for removing the mechanism box from the wood and fixing the armrest.
* Take a straight edge and hold it beside the hole so you know where to cut the top of the armrest to access the 4 Phillips screws. Make a small cross cut where the straight edge lines up and the 4 screws should come out easily.
* The box is now removed and you can see how the mechanism works. Both of my armrests the nut that the rod runs into had fallen off. I threaded it back on and used some duct tape to ensure that it could not fall out again.
* I used a 3M auto foam glue to repair the cuts that I made and it worked very well. I cannot tell which armrest was fixed from the factory ones.
* The knob removal and locating the screw heads were the hardest parts of this repair but I took my time and it went very well.

I hope this helps, if you need more help don't hesitate to contact me.


Thanks
Mike
1991 Vanagon GL Westy Canadian Version

[Moderator note: Vanagons with the later style armrests have a roll-pin that must be removed to remove the armrest. Be sure you use the proper sized punch -- 8mm -- or you can damage the pin. Too large might peen it so it can't be driven through; too small might drop inside and expand and jam it. Look at both ends -- one is tapered (to act as a starter) and the other flat. Always drive only on the flat. Drive through to remove; reinsert by driving in from the original side, not back the way it came out.]
 
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rlkeough

New member
Hi everyone,

I am the proud owner of a beautiful 84 Westy. It is my first one...and I love it!! I have a question regarding the front bucket seats.

Presently I have dual swiveling seats, they are quite comfortable, but all my prior vehicles have had arm rests, and would like to install swivelling seats with them. Could you point me in the right direction?

Thanks in advance. I love this site, I have spent countless reading past posts, and plan on spend much more time. There is so much more to these vans then I ever imagined.

Rob Keough
 
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Bajatacoma

New member
Later model Vanagons had arm rest- hit up a junkyard or one of the internet sights that specialize in VW parts. As long as their is no heavy staining, you can take them to a carpet cleaner and have them clean them for about $20. They will slide into your current seat rails.
 

mr.maki

New member
Great to read about all the happenings!

I have an '81 westy with aging front seats. I'd like to replace the drivers seat this year, and am wondering how difficult it is (extra hardware required). What sort of compatability issues are there? Can I swap later model seats with the '81, eg. could I drop in a '84 GTI seat?

Any assistance would be appreciated...


sincerely,

Junior member.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
You should be able to swap later model Vanagon seats with your '81. See above regarding installation of the swivel assembly. Also probably cheapest option if you can find a salvage yard set.

Rebuilding and recovering a seat is a viable option. I've even read OEM style seat cover kits are available. Any good auto upholstery shop can rebuild the seat -- Auto Interiors in Raleigh NC (see "Seat cover . . ." topic in SUPPLIERS) does it on a regular basis. Rebuilding is also probably cheaper than a new seat and installation. It gives you the option of reasonably going to leather (still the best seat material -- cool in summer, warm in winter) or a more durable fabric than the OE.
 

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