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-   -   Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater (https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37611)

JJolls 01-15-2015 09:06 PM

Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
5 Attachment(s)
Bench Seat modification- making a 2-seater out of a 3-seater.

As a part of my sprinter conversion (’14 Crew), I wanted to find a 2 person bench seat that would replace the existing 3 seater in the van. We found doing the sideways 3-step Mambo through the foot well by the sliding door a pain in the butt when going from front to rear. Had no luck looking online for a 2-seater, and didn’t want to spring for captain’s chairs.

I decided to try to cut down the present seat… it turned out easier than I thought it might. Essentially, to retain the two armrests on either side, and to keep the sloping passenger side (right) of the seat-back intact, my idea was to - in effect- cut out the middle seat and slide the two end seats together.

In order to do this, you need to be able to weld, sew, and not be afraid to cut apart your $1400 Sprinter bench seat.

My idea was to keep the floor legs intact to the frame and cut only the horizontals (3 pipes and 4 bars) that make up the seat frame. With careful measurement and cutting, you can maintain the 18 ¼ inch OC spacing of the floor legs on your new seat.

1. Remove the plastic seat back cover - screws on sides and underneath. Remove the plastic pieces of the child seat loops on the outboard seats - grab and pull out.

2. Pry away the seat fabric from the steel frame- attached to plastic pieces that either snap or twist/flip into steel framework. At the junction of seat and back, the “back” bottom fabric curls around a bar and slips into it’s V-channel, and the “seat” fabric curls around THIS and slips on top of the “back” fabric piece. Sounds confusing, but pull and flip here and you will see what I mean - both the seat and back fabric pieces attach to the same rail. (Remember this order for reassembly).

3. Remove headrests and headrest sockets. Do NOT try to pry the sockets upward - I broke the first one trying this. Using a stick of wood cut ½ inch square, one foot long, I was able to reach underneath the socket and drive it upward, hitting with hammer. Popped right out.

4. Seat belt plastic “hood” on top of seat- this is a pin and plug attachment. Using a punch, drive the pin all the way back and pry out the plug with a screwdriver. Punch size is 5/32 (or less). Keep the pins & plugs to be reused. The hood now slides upward - note the grooves in it for reassembly.

5. Armrests - pry away the foam on the side of the seat and the armrest bracket is revealed. Undo the bolts and nuts and slide the brackets outward. Note the alignment of the thin spacer under one of the interior nuts.Attachment 65415

6. Seat belt ends/latches - unbolt the seat belt attachments from underneath the seats - note the different bolts and spacers for each attachment here. I put them back into their holes after removing the belt or latch, so they would stay in order.

7. Now you can remove the fabric and foam together from the frame - the seat back is all one piece and needs to be carefully lifted upward over the seat belt brackets on the uprights. 2 sets of hands are a help here. The seat portion easily lifts straight off.

8. Seat belt rewinders - I unbolted these to move them out of the way, and shielded the belts from any cutting/welding splatter.

9. Where to cut? You have 4 upright frames (seatback) with 3 legs attached. In order to maintain the correct spacing for the floor legs, I found that the vertical “tubes” on the front and back of the legs makes a great spacing reference. Edge to edge, you need to keep 17 ¾ “ between these. I made the cuts on the horizontal pipes & bars so as to provide access for grinding and welding - did not cut right next to the vertical seat frames, so there would be room to sand, grind, and weld pipe-to-pipe. Attachment 65416Attachment 65417Attachment 65418Attachment 65419

JJolls 01-15-2015 09:12 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
5 Attachment(s)
10. Cut out the middle seat. The two end seats are fit together... the procedure here is to:Test fit, measure, grind. Repeat this until the spacing between the two legs is right. Pipes were cut long, ground down flat, the paint was sanded to bare metal, and welded together. It is essential here to make sure the seat sections are sitting flat on the floor. These pipe joints were backed up by welding a plate on top of the welds for additional strength. The bars were tacked together with plates, since the steel here is thinner than the pipe. Prime & paint all your welds. I used a sawzall (on very low speed) with a new blade and got decent, straight cuts.Attachment 65420

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JJolls 01-15-2015 09:17 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
5 Attachment(s)
11. Fabric & Foam -Peel back the edges of the fabric and you will see it is held down in the grooves of the foam seat & back by plastic V-shaped rails that are clipped into red clips imbedded in the foam. These can be removed by inserting a small screwdriver tip into the red clip and twisting. Twisting in a “U-shape” underneath the plastic rail worked for me here. None of the red clips broke or pulled loose from the foam. Seat cushion fabric has “ears” that go through the slots for seat belt attachments in the middle of the seat foam - these ears are stapled into the foam underside the seat cushion. Simply pull the staples out by hand. On reassembly, I was able to push them in by hand.Attachment 65425

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JJolls 01-15-2015 09:23 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
5 Attachment(s)
12. Foam - was cut halfway down the “hump” between each seat section using an electric carving knife. It was easy to get good cuts using the electric knife. I had to shave a little here and there. The two outside sections were glued together using Loctite spray adhesive, safe for foam. Attachment 65433

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JJolls 01-15-2015 09:25 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
5 Attachment(s)
13. Fabric - Cut each section down the exact middle of each “hump” section, adding ¼ “ to allow for sewing the seam. Cut the plastic trim strips as needed. Used regular sewing machine and regular polyester thread.Attachment 65438

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JJolls 01-15-2015 09:28 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
4 Attachment(s)
14. Seat Back plastic cover - mark the cover from the outside edge to centerline and cut each half, adding ½ inch width to each side so right side will overlap the left side for strength. Use strong tape on backside to hold these two together. I used Gorilla Tape for this.

Assemble in reverse order - the entire project was easier than I imagined. Key concepts were to take accurate measurements, always cut long, realizing that there is no second try with these materials... you can always grind more metal off! I spent about 12 hours doing this… going slow, thinking things through, dreading a fatal mistake.

The “new” 2-place seat dropped right into the floor brackets in the van, and now we can easily walk from front to back without going through the foot well by the sliding door.
Attachment 65443

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OrioN 01-15-2015 09:39 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
And then.... you had lunch.



:thumbup:






.

pfflyer 01-15-2015 09:50 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
Wow, awesome job. If you ever want to do another on let me know. I probably wouldn't be able to afford you though. The red tabs in the foam, did you have to re-staple them in the foam. It sounds like you just pushed them back in. I wanted to install bun warmers in the front and assumed the fabric was sewn to the foam. Now I am wondering if I could strategically place them if they happen to fall within a heating element. Excellent write-up.

TomLetsinger 01-15-2015 10:15 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
I'm impressed. :bow:

JJolls 01-15-2015 10:26 PM

Re: Bench seat - making a 3-seater into a 2-seater
 
Pfflyer - I'm sure that the front seats are made the same way...same seat manufacturer, ISRI. The fabric is held down in the grooves in the foam by the plastic "rails" that latch into the red clips in the foam. They were easy to pry apart and just snapped back into place. Yes, the red clips stayed firmly imbedded in the foam.

I've installed seat heaters in Subarus before, and the seats in the sprinter were way easier to take apart. The Subaru clip arrangement was much more fragile than these. Some manufacturers glue the fabric to the foam, which makes aftermarket seat warmers impossible. No so in the sprinter!

Thanks for your thanks! I've learned so much on this forum from others, I thought I'd try to recipricate on a subject not covered before!

JJ


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