adding middle seat rails to a Westy

Jim writes:

How to install middle seat rails in a westy

You’ll need a way to get under the car, a circular saw, the usual hand tools, a set of seat tracks and the fasteners for those tracks, a marker, a tape measure and a straight edge and some 2″ wide painter’s tape. The tape will allow you to mark accurately for the cuts, and will help the carpet cut cleanly. You will need a very long 3/16th (approximately, it just has to fit through the center of a 13mm bolt hole–that’s a head size of 13mm, not shaft diameter) drill bit, about a foot long I believe. You will use the bit to drill up through the bolt holes in the bottom of the van to locate the center of the pieces you are going to remove. It’s tight up against body crossrails, and the drill body will interfere with these if you don’t have a really long bit.

When the instructions refer to bolt holes in the floor, realize that every vanagon ever made, as far as I know, has the bolts for this welded into the metal of the floor. The trick is to remove two sections of wood that cover the holes in such a way that when the sliding seat trays are dropped in, their holes align exactly with the fastener holes. It isn’t difficult if you can mark and measure carefully.

First pull out the fridge unit so you have access to the whole width of the floor board. Take off the front (door side) trim.

Go underneath with the long drill and locate the fitting welded into the floor where the floor track will be. This will be obvious as there will be two rows of them across the car in about the middle of the rear area. Once you have drilled up through the two fasteners near the door, measure over the width of the floorboards and then go below to locate the corresponding pair. You don’t want to go all the way to the driver’s wall because there’s no point in removing the plugs. You are not going to use them because the seat rail won’t reach them.Start at the ones just inside the door and drill up through the floorboard. You are drilling through a plastic plug. After you get the floorboard strips removed, you can remove all of the plastic plugs from the top with with a phillips head screwdriver. But, until you can remove the wood flooring, you must very carefully mark where you are going to cut, and for now must be content with drilling as small a hole through them as is feasible. You don’t want to break the drill bit off, but you don’t want to big a drill either. Just something large enough to find the hole in the carpet to use as a point of measurement. If you drill too large a hole in the plastic plug, you will just spin the plastic plug and it will not want to come out. You will also have drilled out the molded phillips head pattern in the top. So, use as small a drill as you can.

Lay down a strip of tape over all four holes, running fore and aft, each about ten inches long. Punch down over the hole to locate it in the tape. This will create your four reference points. Now run masking tape across the floor of the van between the marks. Now measure the width of the seat rail tray where it drops into the slot (not at the edges of the flanges). Look at the end and you will see this for yourself. The flanges down both edges of each piece are meant to cover the edge of the channel and embed in the carpet.

Measure this distance, divide it by two, and mark this distance out from your reference holes. Connect the marks across the width of the floor with a line from the straight edge. The material between these lines is what you will saw away.

Use the open area between the floorboard and the wall to set the depth of the circular saw to saw through the bottom of the wood without touching the metal and ruining the blade. It can be done. If you are worried about this, leave yourself a 64th or so and get the last with a knife blade. Lift the strips out and you will see all the plastic plugs that can now be removed.

Simply screw in all the track pieces–they will only go in one way–and replace the stove and fridge. Slide the seat in for reference before you do final tightening on the rails.

  1. #1 by patrick on January 1, 2011 - 7:49 am

    hi there

    this is just the information i was looking for. Very thorough – just like the rest of this site. I plan to do this in the spring. Do you know if the regular caravelle middle seats will fit in next to the westy kitchen unit or are they a special set of seats? Also, will the caravelle seat rails fit too? i have the added complication of having a left hand drive in a right hand drive country (UK) so would need the seats to fit on the other side.

    • #2 by albell on January 1, 2011 - 9:00 am


      as far as I know, the seat rail fitment the same for all. Mind you, I’ve noticed that they come in slightly different lengths. I’m guessing you’re gathering all you bits an pieces, grab all you can. There are the rails, flat strips that go between rails and floor (not sure how important they are), bolts, the “dog leg” bent bits, and then the channels and covers and bolts for the nice covered westy install. I’m realising that I am rambling, you know all this stuff.

      The seats… well this is a little fussy. The middle seat on my syncro was a 2 seater and was set right up to the driver’s side wall. That way the rear seat passengers could get in. With the westy kitchen unit in place (and the tracks repositioned to the sliding door side), the seat is shifted over to the door, and without a folding seat back on the outboard seating position, its hard to get into the rear seat.

      See if you can find one with foldingback.

      let me know if you are confused by my incoherent reply, my excuse is that its new years day and I am only on my first coffee 🙂


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