With 'Izzy' bouncing up around the Pacific for the next 40 days, I thought I'd catch-up on some of the finer details of my beast. Namely, what will protect my bottom for the next 20,000 miles.
What was I thinking?
So . . . Volvo Seats. What the hell is that about, Richard? For months I’ve been obsessed. There are two marvellous things about Volvo Seats that have fuelled my nut-job approach to finding them despite them not being directly fittable to a Landcruiser. I mean, it’s not even close!
Some Good Reasons
The first reason for my madness is that they are bloody comfortable. The standard seats in any off-road vehicle are perfectly fine if you have butt-cheeks of pure blancmange, bouncy-castle type material. They are light and inflexible, but generally built for people that hate themselves and their bum. It’s not advertised on the brochures in great detail, but it’s there! So what could be more comfortable than some Volvo Seats? As someone suggested to me, some Cadillac ones. Yes, I acquiesce, they would be more comfortable, yet I don’t have a room for a three-piece sofa in the front there. Soft leather seat with lumbar support? Yeah, go on then, I’ll take some of that action!
The second wonderful attribute of Volvo Seats is they fold forward. Usual seat fold forward like about 35 degrees, leaving you with just enough room to look useful, without actually being useful whatsoever for anything other than letting a dog in and out of the back. A small, lithe dog. Wearing stilts. The wonderful Volvo seats though do something like this:
Go on, go and test your front seats out, see. I’ll wait right here. Go on! See how much they don’t move? What I found amazing is that when touring the scrap yards for the seats, almost all the Volvo seats I saw have this feature. When I talked to ownerssellers of seats though up and down the country, none of them knew of this all denied their seats had the feature. I mean zero. No matter who I asked and told them about the latches, they came back with ‘no not possible’. Ahh well, their loss. Now they know.
To pull both tabs though is a pain, so I had a welder friend of mine (thanks Luis!) create a small bracket so you only have a single pull-bar to move the entire seat. Not only is this handy for the passenger, but you can chuck a rucksack behind the driver’s seat and then grab it pretty easily tooby hoisting the seats out of the way with the pull bar. Wonderful.
So what does the extra folding seat do for you? Well it gives you more room for starters. But the key reason for is it that if I had time, which I ran out of, is to create more space for sleeping. Incredible awesome sketch below, which gives more flexibility in terms of storage, makes better use of space, and yes, also means that the driver has a pizza to eat any time he likes: (yes, it is supposed to be a steering wheel):
You could even fold the drivers seat down too I think and get the entire thing as a double bed with a bit of extra pfaffing. But it can be done! And if I had time, that’s the design I would have gone for. But, if you’ve seen my face, you’ll know that time is not friend of mine, but it’ll be there as one of those future projects.
How much did the seats cost? Well, the seats were a total of $115 for the pair at a self-service scrap-yard, with an additional $2 entry (what can I tell you, I like to be detailed). I then had my welder friend of mine, Luis, created the necessary changes. I was told beforehand that they Volvo seats won’t fit etc but they do fit. The brackets had to be bent slightly and some bolts welded to the chassis, but that was it. It wasn’t a huge job and certainly wasn’t impossible.. What I didn’t enjoy quite so much was the electrics on the driver’s seat, I’d have preferred manual throughout BUT had no choice. However, I got them working and all that was needed was some extra wiring, but all coming off of a 12v – again nothing extraordinary. The wiring diagrams will tell you they need 30V but that is an utter lie.
Heated Seats? Well, yes the Volvo seats do have heated seats in them, but I could never get the heated bits to work. A man, or woman, with better skills than I could probably fix it but I asked everywhere and no one seemed to know. The Volvo dealership, who were awesome by the way, did say that it was a case of just wiring 12V to one of the wires but I think some kind of pulse width modulator is needed – certainly on the wiring diagrams the whole thing is managed by computers built into the Volvo CAN. For the real nerds amongst you, the PWM may have something like this which I picked up from another forum and indeed another car, but it may still stand:
And that’s about it, easy as that! Get yourself some comfy leather volvo seats, people!
..The heated seats have their own fuse which makes it easy to tap the circuit and measure the current.
So an approximation of average load per seat, which may well depend a bit on your ambient temp (mine was 50), using 13.8V for nominal voltage would be:
Low: 15 Watts
Med: 30 Watts
High: 45 Watts
The blog will be a record of everything - from idea conception to old age in making this adventure happen
You can find the excellent 2006 Antipodean Adventure blog by Dwyer Rooney here