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Seat belts


Ken G
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My 1925 Rover 16/50 (new to me) is a convertible with wooden bodywork and bench seats. I am considering adding seat belts, at least in the front; having driven with them for 40-odd years I am simply not comfortable without. I think it would be fairly easy to put in lap belts, but I would prefer lap-and-shoulder, and they must be extensible (i.e. inertia-reel) because I don't think it is possible to change gear without leaning forward. However, lap-and-shoulder belts normally need an attachment to the door pillar; in the Rover there isn't a pillar, or at least it is only up to waist height, and not very strong (the windows are detachable side-screens).

The front seat looks fairly robust, so if it were more securely attached to the chassis via an added angle-iron cross-member (rather than merely to the screwed-in floor board), would it be acceptable (i.e. safe) to bring the shoulder part up from the inertia reel (screwed to the chassis beneath the floor) over the top of the seat?

Has anyone tried to install lap-and-shoulder inertia-reel belts in a car of this period, and if so, how? I realize I may have to settle for inertia-reel lap-only belts.

Ken G, 1925 Rover 16/50

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I've added lap belts in most of my touring cars chiefly on account of my 3 year old daughter's car seat, I just screwed them either into the wood under the seat cushions or installed an angle iron bracket as you say.

The problem I see with a shoulder belt in a touring car is that your shoulders are generally much higher than the seatbacks and shoulder belts must be of necessity mounted near level or higher than your shoulder in order to work effectively.

Picture it this way, if the shoulder belt was mounted in back of the seat and looped over your shoulder, there being maybe 6 to 10 inches from the top of the seat to your shoulder the forces involved in a panic stop would pull your shoulder down rather than holding it back, this happened to a friend with a Caddy model 30. it is the height of the anchor point that is critical.

Personally i feel safer driving without restraints in an early car but I guess it's a matter of individual choice.

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I'd be very hesitant to anchor a shoulder belt to a body structure as flexible as your's would be in an accident. It's not difficult to imagine some pretty serious complications if the belt mount starts moving relative to the seat!

Perhaps if your seat backs are high enough you could fix a belt guide to it, and then mount the remainder of the belt to the floor. My TR6 has belts that mount similar to this method. L.I. has pretty much ruled that one out already, however.

I think in your case I'd live with the lap belts.

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Thank you for your comments. The wooden frame for the Rover's front seat is in fact well above shoulder height, indeed, at about the same height as a normal door-pillar mounting, so from the point of view of the "routing" of a belt across the body, a belt passing over the top of the seat (with a guide) would be very similar to a conventional mounting. The question is really whether the seat frame is robust enough to hold in an accident. Whether or not it is, I cannot see that I would be worse off with such a belt than without. I realize that the real answer is a belt that goes back at a shallow angle and is mounted somewhere behind the back seat, but that would be extremely inconvenient for back seat occupants. Well, there's no hurry (the car isn't running at present). I shall consult the firm that is renovating the leather seats to see whether they have tackled the issue before (they deal with antique leather in antique vehicles).

Ken G, 1925 Rover 16/50

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