Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

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Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by AutoExplorer88 on Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:11 pm

Hi, we're looking at buying our first camper van. We are a couple with two young children. We're interested in a 1988 Ford Transit Auto Sleeper Flair, but it only has lap belts in the two passenger seats behind the driver and front passenger. They are front facing seats.
I'm finding it tricky to get much clear info. on what people have done about the issue of driving children/passengers safely in old vans??? I can see that you are legally allowed to drive the vehicle as it was originally configured/intended to be used so I guess most people just get on and use the lap belts - but I personally don't feel comfortable driving my children around without car seats and diagonal belts.
* Do van owners just drive passengers using the lap belts and not worry about it?
* Has anyone here fitted diagonal seat belts in the back of their van? - especially a 1988 Ford Transit Auto Sleeper Flair??
* I have found some specialist seat belt fitting companies in London who have given me inconclusive answers to this same question so I would love to hear any real owner's experiences.
Any info. or shared experience would be really appreciated.
Thank you.
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by -mojo- on Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:38 am

I ~think~ that Flairs with two forward-facing rear seats are fairly rare - most of the later ones had only the one, as the side bench on the other side became permanent, with a sliding frame attached to support the double bed option.

I personally would not feel happy about carrying rear passengers for any distance or at any great speed with lap belts - they are known to be significantly less safe, as you suggest.

However, I suspect that the problem you will have is finding anyone to modify the vehicle in that way. The problem is likely to be that no company will accept the liability, yet they also cannot (I think) refuse to be liable for their work (i.e. they cannot "sign away" their liability). On a vehicle of that age, A/S would not have fitted any upper mount points for seat belts, so anyone retrofitting 3-point belts would have to fabricate a mount point and then certify that it would be safe to use in the event of a crash. I can't see a company doing that, in these days of "compo culture".

As you say, there are still manufacturers such as Securon that will supply parts for custom seat belt installations (I have used their products myself in the past) but I suspect that you would have to DIY and accept liability for your work.
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by Gromit on Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:28 am

Plus what Mojo didn't specifically mention in his very accurate appraisal, you would be giving the insurance companies a gold plated get-out in the event of any claim for injury.

Stupid I know!! You could legally drive with lap belts only, but if you enhance the safety of your passengers by adding a diagonal belt fixing you run the very real risk of breaking the law.

(This is only my opinion of course - but as Mojo intimated, I bet it's correct.)

In your situation I think I would regard the safety of the children as paramount, and I would not buy any motorhome that compromised this. Easy for me to say I know, but if anything were to happen . . . . . . !!!

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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by Alf on Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:25 am

The Flair had an offside seat that could be configured as a bench seat for on site or storage use this was never intended for use as a traveling seat to carry a passenger it must be returned to a single seat with lap belt.
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by AutoExplorer88 on Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:55 pm

Thank you for your replies. To update you following further research at this end, and for the interest of anyone else with similar enquiries: The vehicle was definitely designed and built to have two forward facing back passenger seats with lap belts. I have found a local specialist team who will do what it takes to fit diagonal belts safely to both seats but the exact details are currently tbc. Our insurance company are fine with this modification and have simply requested that we notify them afterwards - no further repercussions from them.
I hope this helps encourage others in similar situations.
Regards.
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by breakaleg on Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:05 pm

Hi, I am not familiar with the model but my concerns are, is the seat a metal framed seat or just a wooden box fixed to the floor? many were from this era if so I feel that you would be wasting you time and money as the box would disintegrate on impact.
Just a thought.
Pete
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by Alf on Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:26 pm

breakaleg wrote:Hi, I am not familiar with the model but my concerns are, is the seat a metal framed seat or just a wooden box fixed to the floor? many were from this era if so I feel that you would be wasting you time and money as the box would disintegrate on impact.
Just a thought.
Pete
The Auto-Sleeper Flair was  designed for 2 Forward facing rear seats with lap belts these can convert to a double side facing seat for dining etc which also forms the single or double beds.
Although an older model I cannot imagine Auto -Sleepers providing even lap belts unless these were satisfactory and / or events tested. As far as I remember the seat bases were metal framed but loveseat backed.
I cannot imagine any firm providing 3 point belts unless they meet current regulations
In any case in a serious collision how safe is any motor caravan the amount of loose equipment flying through the air. 

Alf  
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by -mojo- on Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:00 pm

breakaleg wrote:Hi, I am not familiar with the model but my concerns are, is the seat a metal framed seat or just a wooden box fixed to the floor? many were from this era if so I feel that you would be wasting you time and money as the box would disintegrate on impact.
Just a thought.
Pete
I'm pretty sure that my '99 Flair (with 3-point inertia reel belt) had a rear seat that was a wooden box, but with a very heavy steel structure inside, and the lower mount points were not connected to the seat anyway - they went down to bolts in the floor/side wall of the van.

Even on our older Transit based A/S the lap belts passed through the seat and were anchored to the floor.

Unfortunately I can't recall exactly what the upper mount point was like on my Flair, which is why I expressed concern about adding one. Good to hear that the OP has found someone that will take it on.
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by Alf on Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:39 pm

Our Flair only had the rear seat lap belts.

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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by zeberdy on Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:39 pm

Have you tried contacting autosleepers direct for clarification of upper anchor points I have recently contacted them on two engineering points on an old model and received a prompt and informative answer from their Service dept.

use the form on autosleepers.com sorry as a new member cant post link yet 

Ensure you give them the full model details and possible chassis number they may be able to refer to their records.           

From what I read above if some vehicles where fitted with 3 point belts, then I would have expected the upper securing location to be present on the vehicle all be it behind some trim.

I have to say I agree with the safety / liability concerns raised.
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by -mojo- on Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:32 pm

zeberdy wrote:From what I read above if some vehicles where fitted with 3 point belts, then I would have expected the upper securing location to be present on the vehicle all be it behind some trim.
No, that's not likely. The Flair was made for maybe 16 years, but it's only in the later years that legislation and general consensus on lap belts caused A/S to fit something better. On the older vans it's very unlikely to be present - AFAIK they do not use Ford originally fitted points (because Ford do not fit seats in those positions themselves).
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by Bartfarst on Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:54 pm

Have you considered an AS Harmony as an alternative to the Flair? We took our two kids on tour for years in a great 'four-square' seating arrangement, and the rear seats have full thee-point belts.

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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by Alf on Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:12 am

Or a Symbol Es or in Any of the the Peugeot PVC ES versions.

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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by zeberdy on Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:07 am

You could try these people  seatbeltservice.co.uk/services-repairs/replace-lap-belt-with-a-3-point-seatbelt/
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by Gromit on Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:01 am

Quote from an earlier post from the AutoExplorer88.

"I have found a local specialist team who will do what it takes to fit diagonal belts safely to both seats but the exact details are currently tbc. Our insurance company are fine with this modification and have simply requested that we notify them afterwards - no further repercussions from them. "

He has found a fully acceptable solution, and thanks for providing feedback.

AutoExplorer88 In due course (after successful fitting) would you please provide details of the company who are to fit your belts, and of your insurance company. This query comes up quite often, and not only on older vans, so it may be of great interest to a number of members. Any further detailed information about the fitting would also be useful.

Thank you. It can then be saved as a Fact Sheet for easy reference and access.

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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by AutoExplorer88 on Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:27 pm

Thanks all. I have already spoken with London based companies http://seatbeltservice.co.uk/camper-van-seat-belts/ and www.quickfitsbs.com - both were helpful and assured me the work could be done, but they had quite different approaches and ballpark budgets, (and both of course said final plan is also subject to seeing the van) hence my interest in other owner experiences.
We have bought the van now and are confident it is possible to get the belts fitted safely, so will get the final work done asap. We will plan to post further info when completed.
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Re: Fitting rear diagonal seatbelts Ford Transit

Post by Trophyman on Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:22 pm

Hi, I know exactly what you are thinking about and can offer some experience here. I have a VW Trophy (actually I am selling it, to get s bigger van, but this is not a pitch for a buyer! If you would like to,look I have posted pictures and details here: http://vwtrophy.blogspot.co.uk/)

My VW Trophy (1995 TW SWB) actually has full seat belt mounting bolt points in the rear, built in by VW as part of the chassis structure. I only found this after moving some of the trim and side panels. After a lot of careful investigation I removed all the original seating in the back and installed two safe captains seats, each with armrests and full three point inertia seat belts. Having safe seats for children in the back was exactly what I had in mind. The original belts and seats were bolted to the chassis base and I did the same, but upped the spec on the bolts a bit to make absolutely sure they were safe. The seats I bought from eBay had steel base plates that I bolted to the floor, so everything is very, very strong. Insurance company were very cool with all this, as you had also found with yours. I notified them by phone and in writing and they said all I had to do was to let them know. I didn't need any garage certification - but I know that the engineering I have done is well within expected spec. Happy to share any experience here, if you'd like to know more. If you are local to north Hampshire and want to pop over and look then you'd be more than welcome. The blog link above shows the van with seats in their original positions, but it is actually quite straightforward to remove them and put the captains chairs back in - I did all the changes with a view to having it configured either way. I'll see if I can add some pics somewhere showing the captains chairs in the back.
Hope that helps
Regards
Chris
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