How To:

Fitting Swivel Seats


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How to fit Campervan Seat Swivels

1. Introduction to Seat Swivels

Particularly with smaller vans, being able to swivel the front cab seats round so that they face the living space makes a big difference. It gives you way more living space and makes having a few mates round for a beer and food loads more sociable and comfy.

Vans seldom come with pre-fitted swivels so you either need to find one where someone has done the work or look to fit swivels yourself, which in reality isn’t all that challenging anyway.

Fitting a Swivel Seat in a Campervan

It's generally a pretty easy job to fit a seat swivel – they usually consist of two plates of metal on-top of each other – the bottom plate stays fixed to the base of the seat (i.e. the box mounted on the floor of the van), while the top plate is fixed to the bottom of the actual chair (or more accurately to the sliding runners on the bottom of the chair). You pull a handle to unlock the plates and the top one swivels around – simple really. Usually all you need to do is unbolt the seat from its base, bolt the swivel onto the base instead, then bolt the seat onto the swivel.

How to fit Campervan Seat Swivels

2. General Process:

Assuming you have a straightforward seat arrangement the process of fitting seat swivels is easy.

First, remove the seat and plastic coverings leaving you with the seat box (a box shaped metal frame, see picture below).

Lay the seat swivel over the seat box and bolt it to the frame through (the usually existing) holes.

Bring the seat back and place this on the seat swivel, where the seat was previously bolted to the seat box, you will now bolt it to the top sheet of the seat swivel.

Occasional Problems When Fitting Seat Swivels

3. Solving Occasional Problems When Fitting Seat Swivels

Sometimes the bolt holes don't line up:

Sometimes, even when you have carefully checked that you are buying the correct swivel for your van, the hole centres don't quite line up. This can be for a number of reasons, usually a subtle change between models or versions of the van, or because a previous owner has changed something about a seat. Alternatively, your ideal seat swivel may not be available and you need to modify a close match. Don't worry if this is the case! Just drill new holes in the swivel to line up with the hole centres on the seat box. When doing this double check that doing so will not inhibit the free movement of the seat - putting the holes off to one side might help your seat turn freely.

Handbrakes and Seat Swivels (certain vans only):

The main complication you may come across with fitting seat swivels in campervan conversion projects is that the handbrake can get in the way. When fitting a seat swivel to a Volkswagen Transporter T5, you have to mount the handbrake on the floor instead of on the side of the seat (a kit comes with the swivel - consisting mainly of a bolt on bracket).  Once the handbrake is mounted lower down it means you have to reach down slightly when putting the handbrake on but it’s not a big issue. The main difficulty with this is actually that you need to tighten the slack created in the handbrake cable up – fairly easy to do lying on your back under the van, but get a garage to do it if you're unsure.  Once you've moved the handbrake you'll also find you need to modify some of the plastic seat trim - just take your time, use a sharp knife (or saw if you take the trim off), and try to make a neat job of it!

Replacing Campervan Passenger Seats

4. A Solution toThe Passenger Seat Problem

Most panel vans come with a double passenger seat bench as standard, and at the time of purchase you may have bought one of these without realising how hard getting it to swivel was going to be.

In general, it is quite hard to find double passenger seat swivels. Often, there just isn't enough room to spin a bench around, and demand is such that only the more popular vans have begun to have this problem resolved. Double bench swivels can be quite awkward to operate and because the bench isn't adjustable it can end up at quite a funny angle when facing the other way.

For the adventurous out there it may be possible to use a swivel mechanism from somewhere else, but the bottom line is there may just not be sufficient space in the front to allow the bench seat to swivel.  It's a good reason to buy a van with a single passenger seat instead of a double bench.

In our view, the best (and comfiest) solution is to replace the double passenger seat with a single passenger seat.