The van has a second row of seats! This was a fairly simple process of cutting a bracket, drilling some holes, making another bracket, bolting in the seats, and sealing the bolts but it was not a very quick process.
First, the seats had to be acquired. This was done at a local vehicle parts warehouse after travelling for 15 hours back from Scotland, from JFK airport first stop back in the US of A is Sarad's Autoparts. This warehouse was in industrial Queens surrounded by lots of autobody shops and horrendously bad roads. The pot holes should be a NYC landmark. Within the warehouse of a million parts I rode around on a scissor lift with a guy who showed me all types of seats. Middle seats, end seats, leather seats, vinyl seats, canvas seats, black seats, brown seats, all the types of seats you couldn't even imagine. Then he proceeded to over explain what I should be looking for, little did he know the dozens of hours of research I had done on van seats, I knew exactly what I was looking for, but I couldn't get a word in. After seeing the exact seats I wanted I bought them, $250 for the seats and the bracket. I purchased one big bracket instead of two smaller ones to try and save money but ended up making life more difficult. I had to buy a hack saw to cut the bracket in half so there wasn't any money saved but there was time lost, oh well. Lesson learned.
All credit to Katie for these action shots
Sarad's Autoparts in Queens, would go again
Cutting the top bracket wasn't too difficult once I had the hacksaw. The first attempt at using the jigsaw was a loud failure that ended with a neighbor knocking on the door asking if I was drilling something at 9pm at night I responded "of course not I wouldn't be drilling anything this late" I didn't lie. I did make a mess in the living room though.
I didn't take a picture of cutting the bracket as I did it in the communal area of the apartment and made a huge mess that I hid all the evidence from my roommates. They were not always impressed with my DIY projects in the living room.
The left over piece of the large bracket
Once the top bracket was cut it was time to line up the seats where they would be permanently installed, an important step as the rest of the floor plan is based on the location of the seats. We wanted to leave as much space for standing/hanging out in the front section of the van but enough space to fit a bed behind the seats. This ended up being impossible so the bed design will be more complicated than intended but that's a future project.
Floor ribs layout
Painters tape made it much easier to see the location for the future "floor ribs" (another future project - blog coming soon) and where the top brackets should go.
I lined up the seats and drilled three holes. Drilling through the floor was much easier than expected. The floor is maybe 1/4 inch think, it took about 4 seconds to punch through each hole. Before drilling I had to get under the van to ensure I did not drill into anything important like the brakes lines, fuel tank, or exhaust. With expert precision I did not hit anything.
After the holes had been drilled it was time to cut and drill the bottom bracket that adds support to the seats. By bracing the seats underneath with a bottom bracket the sitting load is spread out over the full surface area of the bottom bracket that contacts the van. I thought this was the best way to reinforce the seats and it was backed by Dad's advice, so it is definitely the best way to do it.
Cutting a floor bracket from 1/8" aluminum flat bar
Inspecting the craftsmanship...... Perfect, I'd pay good money for that...
After drilling the holes in the bottom bracket bracket, everything was ready to be assembled in places. Three bolts total on each of the two top bracket. Two bolts share a bottom bracket and the lone bolt gets a large washer to spread its load. The two bolts were separated from the third bolt by a large cross beam under the van. Ideally one bracket would have been shared between the three bolts but it was not possible.
Finally the bottom brackets and nuts and bolts had to be sealed from harsh weather. I used marine sealant around the nuts and bolts and in the bolt hole and finished with a rubberized coating over the entire bottom bracket. Hopefully I don't have to remove the brackets anytime soon.
The bottom bracket did have to come off to do this last step, and if you noticed from the pictures of myself the seats were installed a little while ago but I finally just got around to sealing them and completing this post!
I want to thank everyone involved in the installation of these seats. When I use the word "I" in this blog it can almost always be switched with "we" meaning Katie and I as she has been along for the adventure of converting the van. Case also was a huge help when installing the seats.
Please subscribe through the "Find out First" feature at the bottom of the home page. I really enjoy sharing the van progress and all the support people are showing!
Also shout out to everyone that has trusted the integrity of the seat installation and gone for a ride in the van while buckled up back there! You are real brave heroes!
Much deserved (wasn't driving anywhere)
10/10 would recommend taking a ride in the van and sitting in the spacious and safe back seats!