One of the biggest considerations for any family purchasing a vehicle is the availability of comfortable seating for all its members.
Sure, those fold-down third-row units do the job for a while, but you can forget about seating lanky teenagers or adults on them – unless you really don’t like someone!
I wanted something better for the Troopie, so I looked into the aftermarket seating options. Keeping in mind that a couple of my kids use child seats, I had to include child anchor points with anything that was installed.
When I chanced upon Techsafe Seating’s website, I knew I was on to a winner, with the availability of single-, double- and triple-seating options – all of which included built-in child anchor points and built-in retractable seatbelts. Having the seatbelts incorporated into the seat makes for easier positional mounting by not having to align with the vehicle pillars. Plus, it makes engineering easier.
As luck would have it, the Techsafe website has a lot of photos from a case study in which a Troop Carrier shows all versions of their seats – it was the perfect opportunity for me to make an informed decision. All I had to do was decide whether to go for single seats or a combination of doubles or triples, all of which are ADR-approved.
After drafting a few options for how I wanted my fridge, camping gear and general storage to fit, I chose to go for four individual bucket seats. This allowed the kids to enter via the aftermarket third door and walk through to their desired seating positions.
The seats come in left and right models; naturally, I have two of each. Keeping the space between the two rearmost seats (third row) allows me to slide in long items from the rear. I could also build in a storage box with a ‘glovebox’ or arm rest mounted for use by the third-row passengers. The second row has to maintain the walk-through to allow easy access to that third row.
Buying the seats was one thing, but mounting them was a new kettle of fish. Sure, I could have knocked up a few mounts with the welder and whacked them in, but for the safety of my passengers – and to keep it all legal – I went looking for someone who would take on my custom job. Having spoken to Total Care 4WD in Sydney’s Seven Hills, I sketched up what I wanted and consulted an automotive engineer. I then left them to manufacture my custom base mounts to ensure all was safe, legal and practical.
While the finished powdercoated brackets may look sturdy and basic, the hidden details of the mounting system under the Troopie’s floor make fitting and removal easy. Total Care removed my fuel tanks and other underbody gear to access the underside of the floor and weld in reinforcing plates and captive nuts, making removal of the seats a one-person job.
This means it’s easy to remove all seats when I want to use the Troopie to camp in or to cart huge loads. The seat closest to the extra door (the passenger-side of second row) was fitted to a slide mechanism to make entry and exit as easy as possible; all other seats are fixed.
While following my fitting requirements, Total Care also consulted with the engineer during the manufacturing process to ensure minimum legal distances fore and aft, as well as sideways, were adhered to. Basically, everything was done legally, so should we ever end up in an accident, all insurance will be valid. Plus, all registration and ADR requirements have been met, so there shouldn’t ever be negative feedback from the constabulary. As is needed for any modified road-registered vehicle, I carry records with me at all times to prove what has been done.
Once the whole job was finished and signed off by the engineer, all I had to do was visit my local RMS office to update the records to specify a six-seater, and register the engineering papers – an easy process when done correctly.
While the Techsafe seating is generally sold to the mining and commercial industry and features hard-wearing vinyl surfaces, I’ve found them to be of adequate comfort; not the most luxurious seating but plenty good enough for my needs. Each seat does flip forwards with the release of a rear-mounted lever, but there is no reclining adjustment. With all four seats folded down, there is a huge amount of space to cart long gear, or each seat can be tilted individually to suit.
It certainly was a big exercise, but all up I’ve successfully managed to have comfortable and safe seating for six adults. Perhaps some seat covers will aid in comfort and stop the ‘sweaty thighs’ on the vinyl seat surface, but, other than that, I’m a happy trooper.
For more information on the range of Techsafe seats and installer locations, visit www.techsafeseating.com.au.
For the range of 4x4 gear and services from Total Care 4WD visit www.totalcare4wd.com.au.
Available from: www.techsafeseating.com.au
RRP:Varies depending on seat type and fitting charges.
We say: Fantastic option for custom extra seating.
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