Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What a treat: a $10 seat

With a big kitchen remodel project just starting on the house, and my current contract coming to a close, I guess I've left the blog a little thin lately. Sorry. I haven't been neglecting the bus as badly. Between interviews, lacrosse games (older son's team), piano lessons and trips to Home Depot or wherever looking at backsplashes, I scored a few new-to-me things for Hapy.

First, I found a pair of front seats on craigslist for $20. Sound cheap? Heck, yeah, but they are almost complete, they match, and they're from a '74. "So what?" you say, "what makes them so great?". Well, first, there's the price. I mean, come on, you can barely buy a pizza for $20. Then, there's the fact that they are actually more comfortable than the original ones. In 1972, VW still was installing the seats without headrests. Mr. Nader came along and helped change the law so we wouldn't all be walking around with those whiplash collars. So, by 1974, the seats had headrests, so for $20, we have more comfortable seats that will actually not be a pain in the neck if we crash. Great. Now, if there was only a way of protecting my knees in a crash.... I'll be re-stuffing and recovering the seats eventually, but its not necessary yet, so I'll wait on that. Oh, you noticed that big tear on that one seat. Yeah... about that. Hmm... Throw a towel on it and call it good until after camping season. We're not going to let a little thing like that get in the way. Have you seen my old seats? I'll put a picture up eventually. They were unsupportive and unpleasant.

After the seats, I found some of those retractable seat belts. Sure, by 1972 the inertia reel seatbelt was as fresh and new as the vacuum-tube, but VW hadn't quite caught up yet. Apparently, the VW Bus was termed a "truck" at import, so retractable seat belts weren't necessary. As I mentioned in other posts, VW would do whatever was necesasry to save a dime, and interia reel seatbelts apparently were expensive, or at least more expensive than those unforgiving stock belts. They can be expensive now, if you only shop in stores. Online, a pair of retractable seatbelts can run $200. That's alot of beer. Back to craigslist we go. In my searching, I learned that most German auto manufacturers would outsource their seatbelts to a handful of companies. So, if you want retractable seatbelts, you just need to find a suitable donor. Audi? sure. BMW, Porsche, Mercedes.. You get the point. I found a guy parting out a 1985 Mercedes Coupe that hadn't been in a wreck. That's the other important thing - seatbelts are basically a one-wreck only part. Once they've been activated in a crash, the webbing stretches and isn't safe for re-use. Remember that the next time you're fixing your sled. Anyway, $40 and a drive to Aloha and I have a full set (4 belts). I'll be installing the front belts once I get a spare moment. The only advice I can give beyond what I've already said is to take a picture of how the belts are originally oriented in the donor car so you can get the proper action on reinstallation.

That's about all that's happened bus-wise this past week. The kitchen has been demolished, so we're eating cold food off of paper plates, but I'm sure it will be worth it. We'll just pretend if its not. I'll walk through the seat belt install when I get it completed.
More next time...

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