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Mid 20's Buick Seat Belts


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I put seat belts in my other collector car and now it is time for the Buick.  This is how I installed them.  Nothing on the car meets NHTSA guidelines so don't expect this to either.  Just trying to upgrade the car a little for safety like adding a brake light, turn signals, and safety glass.     Drawings modified from original posting.   Hugh

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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Adding seatbelts is more dangerous than not having them. The body will break away from the frame on a car built with wooden sills. In Massachusetts, when you came in for an inspection sticker.....which is required on every car on the road, you would fail safety for added in seat belts.

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16 hours ago, edinmass said:

Adding seatbelts is more dangerous than not having them. The body will break away from the frame on a car built with wooden sills. In Massachusetts, when you came in for an inspection sticker.....which is required on every car on the road, you would fail safety for added in seat belts.

 

If the seat belts are attached to the car's body (as in Hubert's case), they are safe, it's when they are attached to the frame that it becomes dangerous if the car body breaks away from the frame.  

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His illustration clearly calls out bolting through the frame on the lower right had side of the sketch.  A fatal mistake in the event of an accident. The people will remain in place as the body is pulled off the frame.......a frightening thought........

 

The belts in this application should be immediately removed.

 

 

 

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Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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What Ed said. Bolting seat belts to a piece of wood is no better than tying yourself in place with some rope. Go find a piece of old wood the same size as the piece to which you propose to bolt the seat belts, lay it spanning a pair of bricks like a bridge, and bounce up and down on it. See if it survives--and that's just with your body weight. Then realize that the forces in an accident are 20, 50, or 100 times that much.

 

And as Ed mentions, using the steel frame poses even more horrific consequences should the car body (in which you are situated) leave the frame (to which the seat belts are attached). My wife and I had this discussion when our kids were very young and we were touring in our 1929 Cadillac. Ultimately, we decided that driving smart, being careful, and expecting people to be stupid was the only way to stay safe(ish) in an old car. Seat belts might offer some placebo effect, but adding them is a lot of work that will ultimately not help and may even hurt. The forces in a crash are so astronomical that asking a piece of 100-year-old wood to hold a 150+ pound body in place in even a 30 MPH collision is an exercise in futility. On the other hand, the belt can do a lot of internal damage as your body mass tears the wooden sub-structure apart in a fraction of a second.

 

If you get hit at speed by a modern vehicle while you're in an ancient wood-framed car, expect a spectacular explosion of wood and metal and cloth and body parts, belts or no belts. Not to be morose, but you're probably dead no matter what. Belts probably won't even make it easier for them to find some part of you to put in the box.

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Any seatbelt installed that is not factory is dangerous. And there is zero debate on the subject. Liability is tremendous.......beyond insane and total. The only smart move is none. 

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I have been following this thread and applaud Hugh for addressing a safety feature we have all become accustomed to in our modern vehicles. 

For me, until the late ’70’s when seat belt safety campaigns were being promoted by signage on the highways, I did not wear seat belts even if they were present in the vehicle.

 

Can anyone provide a documented case where the body has separated from the frame?

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Yeah, I'm sorry, but if I had to choose between being belted to a seat that is attached to the body, and flying over the windshield 50 feet into the radiator of an oncoming Mack Bulldog, there is no debate. Thank you Hugh for posting this.

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I did an identical installation as Hugh 24 years ago in my 1923 Model 45. 

Is it perfect. No. 
 

But I will take the deceleration provided by a seatbelt bolted to a wood body with backing plate reinforcements to zero deceleration and energy absorption/dissipation of air. 

 

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I wouldn’t want to be attached to the frame or the wood structure in this example........someone asked if there ever was an example of the body separating from the chassis.......yup, common......and ugly then and now. Riding in a old car is like driving a motorcycle........there are risks involved. Add a seatbelt, and your risk of injury goes up, not down.

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23 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

Why does that car have chains on the front wheels but not the back?

 

Probably why he got in the accident!  No front brakes on the car, chains wouldn't do much good.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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18 hours ago, edinmass said:

Riding in a old car is like driving a motorcycle

 

Good point. Would you belt yourself to the frame of your motorcycle when you go out for a ride? Why not? If it's a good idea in an old car, why isn't it a good idea on a bike?

 

Do a Google search for old car wrecks--wood-framed cars come apart spectacularly. They almost look like they've gone through a shredder. And bear in mind that those in-period collisions were with other frail, low-speed vehicles on low-speed roads, not being hit by a modern missile traveling at 50+ MPH on a highway. How fast do you recon this Buick was going when it hit that tree (and it appears that it bounced off another car first)? Snowy day, mid-20s Buick with modest performance, light traffic--25 MPH? 30 MPH at most?

 

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Belts are fine just as long as you aren't expecting them to actually save a life or prevent injury. You're a bag of ground meat if you get hit by a modern car; the presence or absence of belts isn't going to change the result.

 

Just as importantly, as someone points out up above, you should make sure anyone who rides in your car (or owns your car in the future) doesn't expect your belts to save them, otherwise you're open to a whole bunch of liability. Seat belts imply safety--if they don't deliver, the guy who installed them is at fault when someone gets hurt or dead using them as intended. I have this Model A roadster that I just sold which has seat belts in it and I'm consulting my lawyer about letting the car leave with them in place. I don't want to assume the risk of guaranteeing someone's safety in a 90-year-old car.

 

Your car, your call. My only real point is please don't drive any differently because you think you have an added layer of safety with belts in place. The best thing you can do is pay attention and treat everyone else on the road as if they're trying to murder you.

 

Because they are.

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Matt is 100 percent correct........and yes, I know someone who has been sued over added in seat belts.......with two dead children and 100 percent liability. They lost everything..........seatbelts are nothing but a downside in a early car. Afraid of an accident in an old car........then just don’t get in. It’s much more dangerous crossing the street in a crosswalk in daylight than there is danger riding in an antique car. Add I seatbelts.......and you will lose everything you own if if you end up in court. 

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Nobody is suggesting driving more dangerously with seat belts than without them, and nobody is suggesting that they make you safe if hit by a 50 MPH missile. That style of argument is called rhetoric. The scientific method is to have one variable with everything else being held constant. The variable is WITH seatbelts or WITHOUT them and everything else has to be held equal. Same accident, same speed, same car, same road conditions, same everything, and you compare 1. with, and 2. without, seatbelts. You will find that in 50 MPH accidents everybody dies, in 2 MPH accidents everybody lives, but there is some speed of minor accident, such as running off the road into a ditch at low speed, where having seatbelts will save your life by keeping you in the car as opposed to becoming a human projectile. Saying things like, if you drive extremely safe without seatbelts you are safer than if you drive dangerously with them, is a logical fallacy. Apples and oranges. 

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On 10/19/2020 at 7:11 PM, Morgan Wright said:

 

If the seat belts are attached to the car's body (as in Hubert's case), they are safe, it's when they are attached to the frame that it becomes dangerous if the car body breaks away from the frame.  

 

So if the body breaks away from the frame, I'm going for a ride without the chassis. 

 

I agree with driving carefully, heavily defensive, and assuming other drivers don't understand old cars at all, and no seat belts in my old cars. 

 

In any event, I hope everyone is safe and all accidents are avoided! 

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5 hours ago, 27donb said:

 

So if the body breaks away from the frame, I'm going for a ride without the chassis. 

 

Better than going for a space launch.

 

And once again, driving safely and defensively is great but it has nothing to do with seat belts.

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