For What Its Worth
Installation of shoulder seat
belts in a 66 Chevy II 4 door
The 66 came with simple lap seat belts only. No shoulder belts
and no retractors. Being a big guy, I want all the holding
power I can get if someone decides to run into me. A safety
improvement is always a worthy upgrade.
First I decided to use the seat belts from WESCO
. The 3 point setup with a retractor. Also I
choose the 11 inch sleeved receiver belt for bucket seats.
This is a very long seat belt. I am big as I stated before and I
had no trouble getting this seat belt around me after
All bolts and nuts are grade 5 or 8, SAE washers and lock
washers. Yes they cost more, but this is NOT the place to cut
corners and try to save a few dollars.
What you will need for front seat belts
2 sets of the 3 point seat belts. Choose the sleeved or floppy
end as needed.
2 right angle connectors to connect the seat belt retractor and end to
the old location. Get good strong ones, not thin
ones. Wesco offers them also.
2 7/16 x 1 inch bolts. Along with nuts lock washers and washers.
4 7/16 x 1 inch fine thread bolts with lock washers. These go
into the old stock seat belt mounts when installing the new hardware.
If you choose the sleeved ends for bucket
- 2 more right angle connectors. To align the sleeved seat
belt correctly. The sleeves are worth
it with bucket seats, no hunting for the
end to connect the seat belt to.
- 2 more 7/16 x 1 inch bolts. Along with nuts lock washers
2 mounting plates for the shoulder mount point. Wesco sells
4 1/8 inch steel pop rivets for installing the new shoulder mount
points. Even though these wont be carrying stress, you
don't want this coming loose, don't use aluminum.
2 7/16 shoulder bolts for the shoulder mount point. Also
2 1 1/2" hole plugs. I found mine at LOWES in their hardware
drawers. Other places stopped at 1 3/8" plugs.
Drills needed, a 1/8, .500 and 1.5 inch metal hole saw.
Wesco also offers hardware packages. It may be easier and cheaper
to order it all from them. If you have an older car with no
seat belt mounting points.. I strongly suggest the Wesco packages
with the large fender washers. The fender washers are installed
under the car when adding seat belts. They distribute the load if
needed in a crash. Otherwise the bolts will pull through the
Washers are needed on the seat belt ends when not using a shoulder
bolt, but a 7/16" bolt only. Seat belt ends are usually
1/2" to allow the use of a shoulder bolt.
On 4 doors, wagons and post cars, install the upper mount in the
post. I put mine about as high as it would go. I sit
very tall. Everyone in my family that will drive in the car is 6
foot or more so that is good for us. Newer cars have some
adjustment on the upper mount to better fit the height of the
user. See what is comfortable for you in a newer car and
see if you can recreate that height in your hobby car.
When installing the mount it is inserted through the 1 1/2" hole you
drilled. One problem, if you drop it when putting it in place
where does it go? Yup, right to the bottom of the post.
Then you need to fish with magnets, roll the car, etc. My
suggestion is get about 12"/ 400 mm of bailing wire. Make a
1"/25mm loop in one end, big enough it wont pull through the center
hole in the mount. , thread it through the center of the mount and then
feed the bailing wire into the 1 1/2" hole and out the 1/2" hole.
The bailing wire can then be used to help position and hold the mount
until the pop rivets are in. The bailing wire will keep you
from dropping the mount. Once riveted in the bailing wire
can be removed.
Picture of upper mount installed and removing the bailing wire.
Note the pushed out side of the threaded hole is outboard, away from
the flat sheet metal.
Picture once plug is put in the access hole.
Picture of seat belt installed in upper mount.
I used a washer under the step bolt to assure that it sandwiched the
post sheet metal flat and even between the plate and shoulder
bolt. Without the washer the bolt can be bent or loaded on one
side if it does not fit into the sheet metal hole perfectly. In
my case the 1/2" hole wandered about 1/8 off center for some reason
when drilling. (Old dull drill?) The result was without a washer
the bolt would have had sheet metal under one side and just the plate
under the other. Side loaded or twisted. I have had bolts break
under stress when they are unevenly loaded or side loaded. You
don't want this to happen in a crash. The other option would have
been grind the sheet metal away so the shoulder nested against the plate
all the way around.
The seat belt mounts were not flat on my 66, but at an angle on both
inside and outside mounts. OK for the original stock floppy
belts with no retractors. Not good for the new seat belts.
On my car I had to bend the right angle connectors to about 110
degrees, open them up a bit. 5 lb. hammer and an anvil works well
for this. This is to assure the retractor would be vertical when
installed. If not vertical it wont release
correctly. Also on the inboard belt, this was
needed to position the seat belts correctly against the bucket
seats. See pictures.
Picture of outside, retractor mount and opposite end mounted to right
angle bracket. Notice how the one end of the seat belt is also
bolted to the floor when the right angle bracket holding the retractor
is bolted to the floor. This is one of the Wesco right angle
Pictures of inside, rigid belt, bolted to the car and how it sits
against the bucket seats.
I made this bracket. Milder steel than the Wesco one, but thicker
to make up for it
Seat belt, feels good and easy to find the end when buckling the seat
belt. A little more safety in these old cars. They
need all they can get.
The 66 had a 3 point seat belt option, but it mounted far behind
the driver. The body has 2 threaded holes for bolting the mount
to the car. The mount would have a threaded hole in the center
for the Lanyard connection. The lanyard is needed to extend the
mounting point forward to the front seat. Unless you are
going back to original condition, the above method may be an easier way
Stock 3 point mounting location, passenger side
Normally hidden under the headliner. The mount
location is circled, way back above the back door on my 4 door. Front of the car
is to the left in this picture, front door is not in the picture.
A picture of a
3 point belt that mounts in the stock location behind the
driver in a 1970 Nova 2 door. An extension is used to position the
seat belt. Driver side, above the back window.
Last update Oct 31, 2011
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