Seat, Harness and Storage Upgrade on Jeep CJ Wrangler

May. 07, 2014 By Jim Brightly, KF7SCT
Attractive, safer, and more comfortable, the Summit Racing seats and Racequip safety harnesses are being shown off by club member Tanya.

As we become older, comfort and safety become more and more important to us. It’s a fact of life. While safety should also be a major consideration when we’re younger, it usually isn’t. When we’re young, we’re immortal, doncha know!

My ’82 Jeep CJ7’s seats were really getting long in the tooth. They had been in the Jeep for more than 20 years and were becoming hard and unforgiving when I’d hit a rock or rut too hard. I had tried protecting them with neoprene seat covers—two sets over the years—but the Arizona sun had weathered the second set of seat covers beyond repair, and two decades of Southwestern trails had mashed the seats down and worn them thin. Several small cuts and scratches in the original covering material were threatening to become too big to ignore, and there was no more cushion left in the seats.

As you can see, the seat covers are falling apart from the Arizona sun. The seats underneath are in much better shape but are still very worn and lack cushioning.

The old console is lidless and becoming weaker with each trip into the outback. On the freeway we’re constantly worried about the console’s contents being blown out of the Jeep.

Don’t get me wrong, these Bestop seats were really superior seats for the first 15 years they were in the Jeep, but the last five or so years had really begun to take their toll and the seats needed to be replaced. I had just replaced the aged suspension beneath the CJ and that’s when I realized that the seats were no longer keeping my butt comfortable and safe. (Although I am going to recycle the seats into rolling director chairs for my garage.) It took the new suspension to tell me the Jeep’s failed ride was a combination of flattened seat cushions, weakened springs, and softened shocks.

The seats needed very little modification. Just two of these straps (which Kevin Lake made from flat stock) to widen the Summit Racing seat’s mount in order to bolt them to the Jeep’s seat pedestals.

A strap was carefully secured to each side of each seat mount in preparation for welding. The metal was cleaned as well to aid the welding, and then pre-drilled (to match the Jeep pedestals’ bolts) straps were welded to both sides of both seat mounts. A very easy modification to the Jeep seat mounts.

The older seat belts and center console—the manufacturers’ names having been lost for many years—also had seen better days, so they were due to be replaced as well. The console had lost its lid a few years ago when the wood frame became too weak to hold it. And the seat belts’ couplers were so worn they were quite difficult to release and also worried us that they may stop locking at any time.

The new, deep racing seats from Summit Racing have rolled-up sides that cushion and protect the occupant on both sides, from the knees to the shoulders, and the backs have access openings for the shoulder harnesses. The faux leather seat covers are soft and luxurious and the padding is very comfortable. We feel much safer in the seats on the trails and during mud bog and tough-truck racing.

Each safety harness comes in its own box and everything needed for the install comes in the box.

In a Jeep you can use the OEM mounting positions and bolts. This is the interior location on the transmission hump and the bolt is secured in an OEM captured nut beneath the floorboard.

The other position is just behind the door. The Jeep’s OEM captured nuts and bolts meet the safety specifications.

Three-inch-wide lap belts and 2-inch-wide shoulder straps on the four-point safety harness from Racequip keeps us in our seats no matter how rough the trails or races, and the added width is much more comfortable during long hours on the trail. And the larger, two-door Rampage center console holds more stuff—first aid kit, toilet paper, gloves, etc.—plus four drinks in separate cup holders, although the cup holders could be deeper for drink holding during off-camber trails.

We slid the shoulder harness through the seatback to ascertain how high its mount had to be.

Kevin marked both sides of the factory rollbar to get a level mounting bar.

All the paint, dirt and surface rust has to be removed so the welds will hold.

Kevin applied a bead on all sides of the mounting bar.

Both consoles are similar in size, however, the Rampage console has two compartments, four cup holders and is deeper.

We had to make a front mounting strap that matched the curve of the transmission hump. Normally the console would mount to the higher step on the hump but my shifter is in the way.

We used the rear mount that came with the console to secure the back of the console.

These seats, safety harnesses and center console will keep us safe and comfortable for at least another two decades.

CONTACTS
Racequip (safety harnesses)
http://www.racequip.com/

Rampage (center console)
http://www.rampageproducts.com/

Summit Racing (seats)
http://www.summitracing.com/

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