MG Metalworks Van Build

#1
Hello everyone!

I've seen a lot of really great builds here so I thought I'd also share the progression of our family adventure van.

We picked up the van about a month ago and so far I've completed two of the projects on the long list...

First up was modifying the slider hinge so the door would clear the tire. In the process I learned that extending out an inch or two is moderately simple but beyond that gets kinda ugly, both in the complexity of rebuilding the hinge and the reality of what needs to be cut out of the door to make it work. I've started a 3D model in Solidworks for a new design and an every-evolving prototype hinge for 3+" of extension. I've had to set that aside for a couple weeks due to a new job and new baby but stay tuned...

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Second project was to install reclining seats from a 2011 Toyota Sienna. When we bought the van, my wife sat in the bench seats and laughed. I think she was trying to tell me that there was no way we'd go from a nice Tahoe to a 4x4 van if the seats in the van were "that" uncomfortable. I did some searching for custom seats but most of what comes up looks like it belongs in an RV. Then on Ebay I came across an auction for the Sienna seats and I started doing some research. I called the seller which happens to be a wrecking yard who buys factory take-outs and blemished seats from the Toyota factory. Prices range from $750/pair for seats that don't pass quality inspection up to close to $1300/pair for new take-outs. I chose not to roll the dice with blemished seats but I talked the guy down a bit and bought 4 of the new take-out seats. They are very comfortable. Probably the most comfortable automotive seat I've been in. The color matches the light grey trim in the van pretty well.

I didn't want the sliding tracks that the seats normally mount into so I removed the four latches at the bottom of the seat and designed my own mounts. I originally had the mounts designed to be taller but the material utilization on the laser was pretty bad. I'm glad I reduced the height because as they are, they sit just a little lower than the front seats so if I wanted to reconfigure the interior and put them on swivel or quick release mounts, they wouldn't be too tall.

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Even though the extended van is pretty big inside, you put 4 of these seats in it and room goes away very quickly. Placement is kind of a compromise of space in the back, getting in and out and reclining. I think I did pretty well for all of the factors involved. Since the two rear seats sit between the wheel wells and the recliner lever is inaccessible, I had to relocate the recliner lever cable to the now not-in-use track slide lever. I had to fabricate a bracket to hold the cable but overall pretty straight forward swap.

A few pics of the seats installed....
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Quite a few projects left on the list, I better get back to it.

Michael G.
MG Metalworks
Newberg, OR
 
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#4
Do the Vienna seats have the latch system for child seats? Seems like a really nice swap for the monstrous bench.
Also have a link or contact for the seller on eBay?
 
#5
I bought the seats from a company called Warehouse Salvage in Indiana (warehousesalvage.net). If you search Ebay for Sienna seats, they usually have an auction for pairs of reclining seats. They come in tan, grey, two-tone tan and two-tone grey.

Yes they do have the child seat latches built-in along with the integrated seat belts. Plus they're all mechanical so no wiring needed.

I also had extra mounts made up if you don't want to go through the trouble with making some.
 

ujoint

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#7
Very very very nice! Love the mounts. The van I just bought has a pair of these seats in it. Can't wait to try them out.
 
#8
Thanks for the kind words guys! Much appreciated. :)

Regarding the slider extension... If you're going to tackle this yourself, here are a few things to think about. As you bring the door away from the van (by making the hinge arm longer), you also need to move the whole hinge assembly forward in the door. Easy right?? Not so fast... because of the shape of the door and the hinge, going forward also means the hinge starts to move outward but of course it doesn't do it the way you really want it to so a spacer helps keep things in the right plane. However, if you go too far out with the spacer, the hinge gets too close to the outer part of the door when it swings closed and you'll put a nice crease in the door skin. Then since you brought the hinge forward, you'll need to trim the door so it will clear the swing arm. This is all relatively simple if you're only extending 2" or so. Beyond that and theres lots of trimming to do and the hinge has to move a long ways. Hard to explain in text but I hope this helps.

I have some ideas about a different approach and that is what I'm trying to model/prototype as time allows. My goal is a solution that clears the barn door style fender flare without having to butcher the door.

MG
 
#9
Simple yet impressive! Great choice of seats and thumbs up on your seat base. Must feel like flying first class in the back!

Cheers,
Mr. D
 
#10
During the seat install, I also put in a BedRug "Van Tred" cargo mat. It matches the factory rubber mat in the front really well and the install is easy. I had to trim it in a few areas but overall an ok fit. The cut-outs along the side door step area didn't line up perfectly and had to be opened up a little.

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I did notice a difference between the stock mat and the BedRug. I feel it is quieter and I don't hear as much of the exhaust or road debris.

Also got the fender flares installed.

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On another note... I scored a set of factory service manuals on Ebay including the wiring manual. I especially like that the wiring manual has pinouts for every connector, pictures of all the wire routing and connector locations and descriptions of the wire and circuit it belongs to... great stuff! If you're planning an engine conversion like I am, this manual is awesome.
 
#12
What kind of engine conversion?
Looking good with the flooring. You must be the type when you set your mind to something, you get it done! Not me, I drag my feet.
 
#13
225
Looking good. I might keep you in mind about the seat mounts. What are you asking for a pair?
Am I allowed to advertise prices for products in this thread? I know that some forums get all bent out of shape over that kind of thing unless you post in the for sale section. Better to be safe and ask first before making a moderator mad.


CrabbyMcNab
What kind of engine conversion?
I'm still trying to decide which direction I'll go with the engine. Most likely a 6.7L Cummins but I have some ideas about other options as well.

You must be the type when you set your mind to something, you get it done! Not me, I drag my feet
I'm pretty focused when it comes to projects like this and things take shape quickly. I'm trying to get a lot of my project list on the van done before a planned off-road trip in July. Probably won't have the engine conversion done by then though.
 
#15
Two of the mount holes of each front seat are mounted through the same under-body cross member as some of the factory mounting holes. two of the mount holes of the rear seats intersect other factory backing plate locations. The remaining mount holes have steel plate on the under-side of the body to distribute load.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a placement configuration that could utilize the factory mounting holes and would give me enough room to use the reclining feature for all of the seats, have space to move between the seats, room in the back, good egress/ingress AND keep a simple bracket design that works for more applications than just an E-series van. I did everything I could to use the already existing body reinforcement. Each of the 4 seats is tied into something solid in the body plus the plate I added.

MG
 
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