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Old 06-12-2008, 06:50 AM
Bill-E-BoB's Avatar
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seat belt installation

I'm looking into putting 3 point seat belts into my '55 Caddy, found some nice retro styled ones with retractors I plan to get...but I need to have someone do the installation for me because I don't have a welder, haven't welded since I was in 8th grade, and for that matter don't even have a drillbit big enough for the 1/2" bolts. So, I called a couple auto body places to see if they'd do the install for me & none of 'em are willing to do it or have any ideas who would. The one suggestion I got was a muffler shop, because of the theory that some muffler shops will build roll cages for people. So...where do I go to get these things installed? You weld in 2 reinforcement plates & drill a couple holes, its not rocket science...right?

Here's the belts I plan to get:
http://www.retrobeltusa.com/products/products.html

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Old 06-12-2008, 06:59 AM
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I'm going to move this thread to General Rodding Tech. You will get better answers and more answers there.

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Old 06-12-2008, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill-E-BoB
I'm looking into putting 3 point seat belts into my '55 Caddy, found some nice retro styled ones with retractors I plan to get...but I need to have someone do the installation for me because I don't have a welder, haven't welded since I was in 8th grade, and for that matter don't even have a drillbit big enough for the 1/2" bolts. So, I called a couple auto body places to see if they'd do the install for me & none of 'em are willing to do it or have any ideas who would. The one suggestion I got was a muffler shop, because of the theory that some muffler shops will build roll cages for people. So...where do I go to get these things installed? You weld in 2 reinforcement plates & drill a couple holes, its not rocket science...right?

Here's the belts I plan to get:
http://www.retrobeltusa.com/products/products.html
I'm guessing that the real reason why no one wants to do this for you is the liability issue. Gotta love the lawyers...

As for installing them yourself, I would think that you could buy a drill bit for a lot less than the cost of installation. As for welding the reinforcing plates in place, this is really just a convenience. Once you bolt the belts to the reinforcing plates, they will stay put. The physical size of the plate is what retains the belt to the floorpan in a crash. The welds do't do much. I suggest that you get the right drills (you can even rent an electric drill with a 1/2" chuck if you need to) and install them yourself.
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:59 PM
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Ahh yes, lawyers...didn't even think of that, I bet you're right.

I agree with you as far as the seat belt mounts on the floor & deck lid go, there's no welding involved for those holes and it'd be cheaper, easier, and more fun to just get a drill big enough to do it myself, but the b-pillar mounts require cutting & welding because you can't get to the back side of the sheet metal like you can on the floor. I'm installing 4 shoulder belts, so we're talking 8 floor mounts with reinforcement plates behind the floor (including 2 retractors)...2 rear deck mounted retractors with reinforcement plates under the deck (accessible from the trunk) and 2 pivots on the B-pillars where the reinforcement has to be cut & welded because there's no place to put reinforcements otherwise. All in all its a pretty simple task, but since I can't do the b-pillar piece of it, might as well just hire the job out entirely.
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Old 06-12-2008, 03:15 PM
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I'm a little confused about how the shoulder belts would be mounted. You're saying deck lid. Does that mean that they would be anchored somewhere on or behind the shelf panel (speaker tray) in the back?

I'm just wanting to make sure you don't mount the shoulder belts to the floor like I've seen some racers do. When they're mounted this way, the line of pull is all wrong. In an "incident", the pull is down on your spine and can crush your spinal vertebrae. When I encounter this type of installation, I have 'em pull the car over to the side and remove the shoulder belts altogether. Usually this kind of install is seen on the 14 second/13 second ricer Hondas that don't have a rollbar or rollcage with a crossbar to mount the belts to. I'd rather have no shoulder belts in the car than I would to have the driver end up a paraplegic. As Joe said, it's all about the lawyers. If the car is slower than 11.50 in the quarter, it is not required to have shoulder belts anyway. So, by the rules they are legal with just a lap belt. As long as I've had the racer conform to the rules, the track is covered and I won't have to be giving any depositions to a lawyer.

As the shoulder belt comes up your chest and over your shoulder, it needs to go straight back to its mounting point (From your shoulder to the mounting point, the shoulder belts should be parallel with the ground as viewed from the side of the car).

Last edited by techinspector1; 06-12-2008 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 06-12-2008, 04:09 PM
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This isn't for a race application, just street safety, so although I'll never be out on a track I do want to make sure everything is anchored in the right spots. I've been hit head on by a drunk driver at highway speeds before, so I'm a big believer in properly installed seatbelts no matter how big the car I'm driving may be. Oh and yes, by "deck", I mean rear package shelf, sorry if that was unclear. Here's how they'll be mounted:

Front seat: buckle side anchor bolts to floor with reinforcement plate behind. Retractor and 2nd anchor mounts to floor at the bottom of the B-pillar. Then the pivot point for the shoulder belt mounts just above shoulder hight on the B-pillar straight above the retractor on its own reinforced plate that you have to weld into the B-pillar. The belt runs from the retractor up to the shoulder pivot back down to the anchor, so when buckled in the 3 points that hold you are 2 lower for the lap portion & 1 high for the shoulder portion.

Rear seat: buckle side anchor bolts to the floor same as front. The other side anchors to the floor like the buckle, but the retractor gets bolted on the rear package tray instead of the floor. This way, there's no need for a 3rd anchor with a pivot above the shoulder, because the retractor is already up there. This way the end result is the same as front seats, 2 points down low for your lap & 1 high for your shoulder.
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Old 06-12-2008, 04:10 PM
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Is it possible 'techinspector1' for you to do a Wiki article on roll cages and seat belts and harnesses using the knowledge that you have gleaned through the years and the Rule Books?
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Old 06-12-2008, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill-E-BoB
Rear seat: buckle side anchor bolts to the floor same as front. The other side anchors to the floor like the buckle, but the retractor gets bolted on the rear package tray instead of the floor. This way, there's no need for a 3rd anchor with a pivot above the shoulder, because the retractor is already up there. This way the end result is the same as front seats, 2 points down low for your lap & 1 high for your shoulder.
If these are inertia reel retractors, be sure that the ones on the package tray will, in fact, lock up. The little weight is designed to work in a certain orientation and changing that orientation changes how the belts lock up.
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Old 06-12-2008, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano
If these are inertia reel retractors, be sure that the ones on the package tray will, in fact, lock up. The little weight is designed to work in a certain orientation and changing that orientation changes how the belts lock up.
Good thought. I don't know if they will or not, I'll ask the retrobelt people while ordering. I would think as long as the retractor is mounted so that the belt webbing comes straight out of it with no deflection, the inertia weight would work correctly. If its mounted vertically for the belt to come straight out vertically up the B-pillar (like the installation with a pivot point at the shoulder) wouldn't the forces be exhurted the same way as if its mounted horizontally for the belt to come out horizontally over the front of the package tray?
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Old 06-13-2008, 11:35 AM
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Is the B-pillar totally inaccessible, or is there a portion of it that has an opening large enough to slide one of the backing plates into? If there is a large enough opening, then you don't really need to do any (or a lot of) welding to get the plate in place. The key in this trick is a length of string or cord that could be fished through the B-pillar, tied around the support plate, and then you pull the plate into position.

What I would do in that case is figure out where the pivot needs to be located, and then drill the pivot hole in the pillar, along with 2 or 3 smaller holes spaced out (but still within the perimeter of the support plate). Drill and tap holes in the support plate to match up with the smaller holes you drilled in the pillar as well. Now when you get the cord fished through the pillar and tied to the support plate, you can use the cord to hold the support plate into position while threading screws or bolts into the plate to hold it in place. Cut the cord and you're done! (Yes, I've used this trick on a multitude of projects)

Course, the above does depend on there being at least some accessibility to the insides of the B-pillar . . .

- Mike
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Old 06-13-2008, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill-E-BoB
...If its mounted vertically for the belt to come straight out vertically up the B-pillar (like the installation with a pivot point at the shoulder) wouldn't the forces be exhurted the same way as if its mounted horizontally for the belt to come out horizontally over the front of the package tray?
Not necessarily. A lot of these seat belt reels use a pendulum or inertia weight, so orientation is very important for those. It depends on the design of the hardware you have.
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Old 06-13-2008, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alittle1
Is it possible 'techinspector1' for you to do a Wiki article on roll cages and seat belts and harnesses using the knowledge that you have gleaned through the years and the Rule Books?
Yep, did it a long time ago....thanks.....

http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/w...legal_Roll_Bar
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:27 PM
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An update, I ordered my belts today from Retrobelt USA. I think I've got the whole thing planned out about right. A friend of a friend of a member on here who PM'd me runs a body shop & he's willing to do the welding for me for a decent rate. I took the car up to him today to show him what I'm planning & he seems to think I'm not insane, which is always good. I'll dissassemble the interior myself so that he doesn't have to spend a lot of time on that which would run my bill up, and then bring it to him with a bare B-pillar to cut & weld.

I verified how the retractors work, these ones are not weighted, the locking mechanism is webbing-centric & works purely off the webbing's inertia so as long as the webbing doesn't bind up, you can mount them at just about any angle & they're still effective in an accident.

This is interesting though, not all shoulder belts are 3 point belts apparently. For the rear seat, if I mount the retractor on the package tray its classified as a 2 point retractable belt instead of a 3 point. The female buckle to frame side doesn't count as a point apparently, so without the shoulder pivot anchor used, there are only 2 mounting points to the frame which is less secure than the 3 mounting points I'll have in the front seat.

The kits are the same price with 2 or 3 point shoulder belts, and the retractor is identical, so he sent me 4 of the 3 point ones like I'll be using for the front seats where I have a B-pillar to play with. When they arrive, he said to look at the possibility of mounting the retractors in the trunk, the shoulder anchor on the package tray, and the base anchor on the floor beside the seat. This gives me that 3rd point to the vehicle but is otherwise the same as the 2 point style with the retractor on the package tray & base anchor on the floor. He says as long as the shoulder mounting point (be it an anchor or the retractor itself) is mounted higher than the passengers shoulder it will be a good placement. If I elect to do the 2 point installation I just hit the shoulder pivot with a cutting wheel to take it off the belt and put the retractor on the package shelf.

techinspector1, the rear seat belts will only be used for passengers cruising around town & to the occasional show, never a high speed run. Do you know whether or not the 2 point (reinforced retractor on package tray and reinforced anchor on floor) style will be secure enough to keep my passengers safe? I don't want to go through all this trouble only to have the belt rip off its mounts if we ever are in an accident.
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:51 AM
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Lacking a finite stress analysis of the parts involved, it's just an educated guess. I can give you an example of seat belt installations that are acceptable in racing. The rulebook says on a framed car, that the belts must mount to the frame or frame crossmember. On a unibody car, it really does not nail down an accepted mounting system. Some of the racers will use the quick-clip style of belt, clipping them to round eye bolts that go through the floor and secure with a 3" round thick washer under the floor sheetmetal.

So, what we are left with is doing the math. A 3" washer has 7 square inches of area, so two of them (2 lap belt mounts) will have 14 square inches of area. This seems to be ok with the sanctioning bodies and in my 50 years of experience at the dragstrip, I have never heard a flap over someone being injured as a result of belt mounts pulling through the sheet metal of the floor. Of course, on the dragstrip, you normally will not have a situation of impacting something straight-on like you would driving on the street. So, that should be taken into consideration.

Now, the cars that would have this kind of mounting would be cars with a maximum terminal speed of....oh.....maybe 125 mph. Cars built for higher speeds than that would have a specific-built rollbar or cage and a different kind of belt mounting system where the belts mount to a cage structure instead of sheet metal.
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techinspector1
So, what we are left with is doing the math. A 3" washer has 7 square inches of area, so two of them (2 lap belt mounts) will have 14 square inches of area. This seems to be ok with the sanctioning bodies and in my 50 years of experience at the dragstrip, I have never heard a flap over someone being injured as a result of belt mounts pulling through the sheet metal of the floor. Of course, on the dragstrip, you normally will not have a situation of impacting something straight-on like you would driving on the street. So, that should be taken into consideration.
I won't argue with success, but unfortunately your math is a little simplistic. There are a lot of failure modes for the case you've noted. The area of the washers really isn't what's important. Three more likely failure modes come to mind:

1) The edge of the washer tears the sheet metal and pulls through. In this case it would be the circumference of the washer times the thickness of the flooring times the shear strength that gives you the load carrying capacity. By the way, this is why factory seat belts are attached to stamped plates that have formed, curved edges. In this way the sharp edge of the washer the could start at shear in the sheet metal is eliminated and instead the seatbelt used deformation of the flooring to absorb some of the crash energy.

2) A crack could start at the drilled hole, leading to a separation of the flooring and the washer pulling through.

3) The washer could deform if it's not thick enough, allowing the bolt to pull through.
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