DIY Van Conversion Seats : Installing Passenger Seating

Before this van became a tiny home on wheels, it carried a lot of cargo. In the van’s previous lives, it was used by FedEx, and a family run catering company in Arkansas.  Other than the two front seats, and some horrid linoleum flooring, the interior of the van was simply empty cargo space without any extra seating.  As Baby’s car seat could not reasonably ride on the floor (or my lap), in order to convert this van into our family adventure mobile, we needed to install at least one extra seat.  Here is how we set up our DIY Van Conversion seats.  The design layout we choose, where we purchased the seats, their specs, and the installation process.

Installing seats diy van Conversion seats

DIY Van Conversion Seats

THE SEAT DESIGN

A standard seat design would place extra seats forward facing, in a row behind the driver’s seat.  This could have worked ok, as technically we only needed one extra passenger seat.  However, our extra passenger happened to be our very first baby.  She was only 5 months when we began traveling, and there was a lot of unknown.  We didn’t know how she was going to like traveling. We decided it would be a good idea if one of us could sit next to her, to entertain or soothe her on the road.  It seemed that we actually needed two extra passenger seats.

With two extra seats, the standard design would push them back into nearly 1/3 of the vans usable building space.  The van would become more of a passenger vehicle, and not the cozy tiny home that we were hoping to build.  So, we opted to install the seats sideways, facing towards the sliding door, instead of the windshield.  When the van is parked, the seats can serve as a couch with a view.

DIY Van Conversion Seats

BUYING THE SEATS

We now had a vague idea in mind for our diy van conversion seats, and we began to search for our new seats.  We started with the most logical place to find a good deal.  Private party.  We looked on Craigslist.  A few days later, we found a set of Freedman bus seats listed for sale, and they were not far from us.

A quick google search let us know that The Freedman Seating Company had been around since the late 1800’s, and the seats listed for sale, happened to be their most rigorously tested seats.

We called the number on the ad, and set up a time to meet.

Excited to see our potential diy van conversion seats in person, we followed the gps to the east side of town, and arrived at an overgrown parking lot, behind a Mexican restaurant.

The scene consisted of odd broken vehicles, parked haphazardly amongst the weeds and mud.  The seller appeared in this pick-ur-parts lot, and walked over to greet us.  He motioned for us to follow him to an empty bus.  He was converting the bus into a mobile soda shop, and had no use for seats.

The owner was excited to sell the seats, and continue with his conversion project.  We were equally as excited to take the seats off his hands, to continue our conversion project.  

Our intention was to buy one set of seats, but he offered to throw a second set in for free.  We purchased four seats, for less than we expected to pay for one single seat!  

One persons junk is another’s treasure.  We drove back to the van, with our treasure.

DIY Van Conversion Seats

THE SEAT SPECS

Manufacturer : Freedman

Product Line : Commercial Bus

Model : Feather Weight Mid-Hi

Frame: Steel

About Freedman

DIY Van Conversion Seats

INSTALLING THE SEATS

Our Freedman Feather Weight Mid-Hi seats came as two adjoined seats, but they only had one single steel leg that we could secure to the floor.  The other side of the seats are designed to secure to a wall.  As we had two sets of the seats, we simply salvaged the second leg from the additional set.  With two legs to secure to the floor, we no longer needed to secure the seats to a wall.

From here, the process was pretty simple. We drilled straight through the body of the van, and secured the seats in place with grade A (strength rated) bolts. A thick piece of steel, ran beneath the van, and beyond the length of the seat frame. This addition would serve the purpose of spreading the weight of the load, in the off case scenario that we actually did get in an accident.

Installing diy van Conversion seats

Spreading the load diy van Conversion seats

DIY Van Conversion Seats : Installing Passenger Seating

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Installing diy van conversion seats with a design that allows them to serve as passenger seating when in route, and a couch with a view when parked.

Ingredients

  • 1 adjoined set of Freedman bus seats
  • 2 steel legs
  • 1 3/16" x 2" x 3 ft steel bar
  • 4 Grade A (strength rated) bolts + washers & nuts

Instructions

  1. Position seats in the area of your choosing and mark where the bolts will go
  2. Pre-drill through the floor of your van where the bolts will go
  3. Place bolts through the seat frame, and holes in your van floor
  4. Go outside, underneath your van, and line up the steel bar to the bolts
  5. Mark where the bolts meet the bar, and pre-drill through the bar
  6. Secure steel bar with nuts and washers to the van

Diy van Conversion seating install

Converting a van is such a fun project, and we are stoked to share all of it with ya!  Check out this post for more pictures and tutorials of our conversion. Read about why we decided to purchase a van just one month after our baby was born.

 

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