While we are waiting on the shop to finish with the repairs and service on our Stepvan, I have put together a bit of a step by step guide for starting the “conversion van” process. I will be starting with the seats.
Remove bulkhead first
Before I can get started with any interior installations, I will have to remove the bulkhead that partitions the driver/passenger compartment from the cargo area. One reason is because it is too industrial and the second reason is because we want an open concept.
Doing this removes the passenger seat, which is mounted on the bulkhead. We purchased this van only with a jump seat, so seating arrangements need to be upgraded for comfort. After much online searching for conversion van seats, I ended up purchasing a couple of nifty bucket seats at the Auto Wrecker, now more commonly known as “Automotive Recycler”.
Both seats originally belonged to the popular Toyota Sienna minivan 7 seater. However, they did not come from the same vehicle. One came from a crashed 2009 donor and the other out of a 2008 bing bang oww. Both featured a similar grey cloth material and looked nearly identical. Seriously, a perfect match.
Why these conversion van seats?
So why these recovered and not some new conversion van seats? Well, they come with a lot of awesome features. They are removably lightweight, foldable, fully adjustable with integrated armrests. Most importantly they come with a build-in 3 point seat belts. Most conversion van seats do not feature an integrated 3 point seat belt as an available option.
However, 3 point integrated set belts allow for a much higher mounting flexibility.There is no need for frame-mounted attachments. The seat can be mounted either next to the sliding door or in the middle of the aisle. You choose.
I got them as the right hand (passenger side) center row bucket seats. These were only installed in 7 seaters manufactured between 2004 and 2010. Although old (maybe even ancient) they really can make a difference in my workload. I no longer have to worry about seat belt installation, as the seat belts are already built in and are in compliance with the current North American safety regulations.
How much did they cost?
Before I made a purchase I checked prices on line. Similar new conversion van seats start at a about $700.00 US each, plus shipping and handling. Lucky me! I paid $124.30 CDN for one and $96.05 CDN for the other.
Unfortunately, that changed when I factored in the cost of driving to pick them up. The cheaper seat turned out to be more expensive as it was located at double the distance of the first one and the traffic was so awful it made a 2 1/2 hour journey into 5 1/2 hours.
Little decisions, big environmental impact
Auto Wreckers rock! I am ecstatic that I could reduce the environmental impact by reusing. Having purchased used seats I prevented them from being garbaged.
At the same time I avoided wasting resources that would be for the production of a new pair of conversion van seats. Lets face it. Human consumption is the biggest contributor to pollution and climate change.
Each one of us has the power to make that incremental difference by way of personal choices. The outcome is cumulative< and collectively is significant. Sometimes it takes very little to make a big impact. My new “used” conversion van seats were in perfect conditions, only requiring some tooling to remove the floor mount hardware. A bit of elbow grease for scrubbing in the upholstery cleaner achieved that sparkling clean and fresh look once again.
After I vacuumed the seats, I sprayed on the upholstery cleaner and worked it into the upholstery with a microfiber wash mitt. I used “Refresh Your Car, 62651 Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, Hawaiian Sunrise Scent”, for cleaning the upholstery of the seats. The product was well reviewed and certainly didn’t let me down. It worked well and left the seats with a gentle coconut smell. Once the seats were dried, I used clean water again using the microfiber wash mitt to rinse off any upholstery cleaner residue.
My next project is to figure out how to make these seats easily removable. They could provide comfortable seating outside of the vehicle while parked so my wife could have her dream office under a palm tree if weather permits. If it rains or snows (oh, no we are not going there!) I will figure out how to make a full use of swivel and position adjustment, but more on that in the next post…
To peek at products that were used for building our van please visit Our Store.