Lowering the Rear Seats

So you may have followed a previous post I created about while ago where I added Disco2 seats to the front of my Defender and replaced the bench in the back with a frame, and the original Defender front seats.

I also created a box for the foot-well so that my kids legs could reach the floor comfortably. They were still small(ish) the seat height was not a problem. When others got in they pretty much looked directly into the roof which for me wasn't a problem because it was mainly my kids that sat in the back whenever we went anywhere. The trouble is, that the kids didn't stay the size they were when I first did this mod. They also started looking into the roof and the box ended up coming out because it was just the wrong size. I had to face it. I needed to modify the frame and lower the rear seats. This meant I would have to cut into the wheel arches.

I started by removing the seats and frame. I then measured CAREFULLY. I didn't want to stuff up my car when I started hacking at my wheel arches. Before I cut the wheel arches I decided to build a kind of box that would fit under the rear seat frame (which I would modify slightly to lower the seat height). After measuring twice (my grandfather taught me measure twice cut once) I started to build the boxes.

I used 3mm sheet metal (waaay strong enough) and started marking out the pattern. I freehanded the pattern a few times before, to get an idea of what was needed, and then I settled on a plan. This should give you an idea of wht I was trying to achieve.

I didn't have a metal break so I had to make a plan with bits of steel I had lying around the garage to try to bend the pattern. Bending 3mm sheet metal proved to be quite challenging. I ended up having to score along the bend a little to get things started. In the long run it would have been better to build a proper metal break.

So I bent on one line and had to weld the join below you can see the box starting to take shape. Actually I started trying to weld without bending but that proved to be far more work.

With a few more welds and some holes to attach it to the wheel arch gap I would cut shortly.

I was extra careful to make sure I had one for the left and another for the right hand side.

(I was so excited .. I had thought of everything.....)

I was just about to take it to the wheel arch (which I hadn't cut yet) and I realize that IT IS NOT WIDE ENOUGH. The seats would not fit. I was so careful to measure everything square that I didn't think that the drop size and the recess size 100mm each was not the same as the width in between the door and the edge of the wheel arch. AAAARRRRRGGGGGGGHHHH !!!!!! I would have to start again. However I was getting quite confident in my welding .. which in fairness is terrible, but is improving all the time so I figured that I could simply add a piece in between the edge flap and the flat part.

Excellent, a plan was formulated and I started cutting and welding. I was so happy ... I cleaned up my weld and shot some Hammerite paint onto my new seat recess.

If you loook carefully at the part on the left you can see the join.

With the recess parts and the modified frame, which is now lower.

Excellent .. time to mark the wheel arch and cut. This is the VERY SCAREY part.

I drove like this for about half a day

It is uncomfortable to ride like this ... you realize just how little is between you and the road.

BAH !@#@%$#^$&*!!! ... I messed up AGAIN... so much for measuring twice and cutting once... I didn't take into account the flat part at the top of the wheel arch. I had to make the recess box again. This time I really paid attention and learnt from my previous mess ups.

Below is the new (and I must say far more professional looking recess boxes. No mistakes this time.

Even my welding has improved for these parts.

I shot more black paint. This time taking care with the under coat not to hand paint it but rather to use the spray gun (you can see I didn't have the paint lines that I had in the first attempt). It fitted into the cut wheel arch section like some-one who knew what they were doing had made it. I riveted it in place and added a carpet section so it make it look almost factory built.

No comments on the frame welding please ... I actually did this first and let me tell you welding in an angle kicked my @ss and stole my lunch money. I have subsequently removed the frame and cleaned up my mess ... this is an old photo.

The end result.

Again ... no comments on the welding ... it has been fixed.

The view from under the wheel arch. I used auto silicon to try to stop water getting in from the road (although there are so many holes in my Landy, which I keep finding, that this was for my peace of mind more than anything else)

I also painted on a thick bakkie liner paint that will protect and seal even further. It turned out pretty well ... and as you can see in the pics this has been tested in water and mud successfully.

The result is a resounding success. The lads are VERY happy with the new seat height. Game viewing is now FAR better, even for full grown adults. The leg position is also far more comfortable and so far everybody that can compare the old mod with the new one approves with the change.

I learnt a huge amount from this modification and even though I fought and got VERY depressed when I had to start over I am still happy with the result and the experience I have gained.

One other thing. My articulation has not been impacted for the kind of driving I do. I did reverse up to a ramp to see how close the wheel would come to my mod but there is still loads of space. My vehicle is more for over-landing that extreme 4x4 use hence the requirement for comfort. I have the standard suspension that came with the vehicle.