I’ve been having problems with my seat belt for a couple of months now. It won’t release enough for me to get it around my waist. If I’m on a slight incline it won’t release at all. No amount of gentle tugging, violent pulling, or whispered pleading would help. I decided I’d take advantage of 50˚ weather today to pull the ratchet mechanism apart to see what was wrong.
My seatbelt is based around a simple mechanism involving a single ball bearing in a cup. When the ball is stationary in the cup, the seatbelt has give and will release properly. When the ball is moved out of the cup by a strong force–say, a collision–it contacts a pawl which closes a ratcheting mechanism and stops the belt from releasing. Most of the online sources I found said the mechanism was probably filled with dust and the ball was stuck. I pulled it apart and shook out about a pound of dirt, straw, leaves, and dust, but the mechanism was still jammed. After blowing dust out of the cup with a can of compressed air, the mechanism started working and all was well again.
I took about 15 minutes to take care of some small things yesterday. The first was to measure for new rear seatbelts. The originals are old and worn and I’d like to have something I trust strapping my daughter into the truck. The female side of the buckle came off sometime in the middle of last summer as she was adjusting it, so I shifted her carseat to the other side. On Sunday I pulled a spare off the bench I have in the garage and bolted it in after taking measurements. Then I clamped and cleaned the burrs off the two metal plates I cut for the seat bases, making sure to round the edges. They fit well, so I covered them in etching primer and let them sit overnight. Next I’ll hump one of the seats into the basement and drill the plates, then go out and source some high-quality hardware to mount everything.
Done. With the right bolts and the correct angle mounts, things went smoothly. New 1.5″ bolts went in the top mounts. I put new 1/2″ bolts in the floor for each of the outside anchors, and one on the driver’s side for the receiver mount. The mount on the passenger’s side was not set up with a welded nut underneath; I reused the bolt, lockwasher, and nut in place.
The receiver stalks are tall, but I wish they were about 2″ taller. I’m going to find some kind of bumper to stick on the back of each stalk so that they don’t scratch the side of the console.
The belts fit perfectly across the shoulder and snug across the waist, and feel just right.
This weekend I carved out a little time to mock up and test-fit my seatbelt mounts. First, I consulted with Brian about his setup to see what he’d done. His solution was to use the rollbar feet to mount the takeup reel and drill a hole into the face of the step to put in the other side of the belt. The loop obviously went in over the shoulder on the rollbar.
My setup needed to be a little different, because the rollbar I’ve got is mounted differently than Brian’s. The plate that mounts his rollbar has four bolts going down into the floor, while mine has an L-shaped plate that mounts on top of and in front of the step. So I have to use the two bolts on the face of the step, which isn’t a big deal:
I’m going to reuse the original mounting position for the lap belts on the floor, because the hole is drilled through one of the structural crossmembers under the tub. I found out that the bolt currently in the driver’s side is too short, so I picked up a longer one to replace it.
As for the shoulder loops, I’ve been through about four different bolts trying to find the right fit. I originally bought plain and flanged 1″ bolts to use here, but the flanged version was too thick to allow the plastic cover to fit over the housing. 1″ didn’t seem long enough, so I went back to get 1.5″ bolts this morning to replace them both. I also had to buy a 1/2″ fine-thread tap to clean out the driver’s side mount; the welder burned a little too close to the edge and blobbed up the threads.
I’m waiting for the rest of the mounting kit to arrive, mainly just for the angle brackets so that I can put in both receiver stalks. Here again I’m going to use the original mounting points for strength and safety. Once this job is done, I can start disassembling the bumper and get it cleaned up for paint; I got caught in a summer shower this morning on the way to work and I don’t want it rusting any more than it already has.
…Which is a good thing, but there are a few holdups. The bolts they shipped with are all 10mm fine thread, and the bungs I welded in are 1/2″. So I have some new bolts on order from Fastenal, which probably won’t be here until next week. And I think I still need to order the mounting kit Brian linked me to, which has an angled bracket to hold the retractor mechanism upright on the floor.
Update: Bolts from Fastenal are here, and I ordered a mounting kit from a different vendor last night, which includes some angle brackets for the belt receivers. Brian sent me some shots of his mount setup last night, and it looks like I can use the existing bolts on my rollbar feet to mount the takeup reel, and possibly the other leg of that belt.
Via Mr. Scout, here’s the set of belts I’m going to buy for Peer Pressure, and I’m also going to need this kit for the floor mounts. He used these lights for his license plate, which looks to be a good solution; I need to find a bracket of some kind that I can mount to the swingarm on the right side and then fish the wires through.
Update: Bass Pro Shop has a zinc coated bracket for the low low price of $4.99. There’s also this one, which doesn’t require separate bolts, or this one.
I got another package in the mail today: a pair of 2″ seatbelt bungs for Peer Pressure.
They’re actually longer than 2″–they’re meant to go through the rollbar, out the other side, and get welded on both ends. I’m going to ask Mr. Scout to bring his set of steel bits to get it started, and if I need to buy a large-diameter bit, I will. This is a link to the set he bought for Chewbacca, and I like the way they fit his rig. I also like the way the female side is mounted to a flexible pole so that the clip is always right next to the seat (instead of laying on the floor, like my current belts do).
I’m looking forward to the weekend—this time I’m going to be on the road as early as I can so that we can get as much of a full day in as possible.