RCI Pro Racing Seat Installationwith Bill Johnston
When the seams started separating on the seats in my 92 Samurai JL, I had two choices. I could have the seats reupholstered, or replaced. A few things had to be considered first though. The Drivers seat leaned back a bit more than stock (after a few “Air Samurai” flights) which wouldn?t be so bad except that it didn?t bend evenly, and I never did like the feel of the stock head rests. Then the drivers side outside bolster (see photo) gave out? Decision made!
There are many different choices out there, both factory transplants and after market seats. I needed a budget minded alternative while still looking cool! While there are some really neat seat kits out there that will let you drop in junkyard specials ? the heat and sunshine here in El Paso will trash an unprotected seat in a few weeks. The best set of seats I could find were $200 for the pair (and the upholstery was already thinning), and that doesn?t include the adapter kit? another decision made!
I have always had to put the drivers seat as far back as it would go, and my wife had to move it all the way forward (she is only 5?1″) so I knew I needed to retain the slide. I looked for a set of after market seats that were inexpensive, could take some abuse, and still look good. Found them at Summit Racing! I got the RCI Pro black poly buckets. I would still have to make an adapter plate, but a piece of .25″ aluminum took care of that. I have priced these seats at local 4×4 shops and although most have the ABS/poly buckets in stock, none were as low priced. I got the RCI covers for them also. Combined price was about $75(US) a seat.
-Now, on with the install-
Assembling the Parts:
Use washers as spacers where needed
There is some assembly on the seats themselves. You have to install two snaps in each seat where the cover snaps on. I got the aluminum adapter plates from a local metal shop. I just asked for 2 each .25″ plates ? cut to 14″ by 16.5″. Total cost ? about $30. I guess I could have gone thinner, but I know it will take a lot more abuse this way. The 3/8″ bolts will attach the seat to the plate, and the 5/16″ bolts will connect the plate to the stock slides. Sounds like a straight bolt-in, right? Weeeell? not exactly. But I?m getting ahead of myself.
Step 1 – Removal
First, remove the stock seats. On the passenger side you only have to remove the seat from the rails. Also be careful of the cable that connects the “recline handle” to the slide rail. This is the mechanism that allows the seat to slide forward when tilting the seat forward for passengers to get into/out of the rear seat. You must remove this cable from the slide because you won?t need it with the one piece racing buckets. Leave the rails mounted in the vehicle. The driver?s side rails mount to raised channels in the floor to give you more storage space. It is easier to put them back together out of the vehicle, so remove the whole rail assembly at this time.
Step 2 ? Measure and Drill
Measure the bolt pattern on the seat bottom and transfer the info to the plate then drill. The measurement for the plate puts the edge of the plate at the edge of the slide rails. Makes it look like it was meant to be there, especially if you paint it black to match. A friend warned me that the bolt pattern under the RCI seats is not exactly symmetrical. I numbered each seat and plate, measured the patterns and transferred the info to the plates accordingly. Good thing, because a few of the mounting points were off by as much as a .25″. Had to do some creative “hole shifting” to accommodate the offset. Just make sure there are at least two holes that line up exactly to keep everything in check.
*Note: I wanted as much room as I could get, so I mounted the seats as far to the back of the plate as possible. I gained about two inches of legroom.
Step 3 ? Seat Assembly
If your measurements are true, then the adapter plate will bolt right up to the seat using the 3/8″ bolts, six bolts per seat. I gave them all a good tug and didn?t strip a single one, life is good. For the Drivers seat I mounted the slides to the plate at this point. One problem I ran into? A tab on the slide on the drivers side extends upwards into the area under the seat. I was planning on bolting this flush to the adapter plate ? WRONG! Until I find an answer to this, I have swapped the slides (left to right, right to left). This puts the tab outside of the plate. Later I will use some 1-inch stock to raise the plate above the tab, and then I will swap it back. This will work for now. Also, on the driver?s side the slides are a bit shorter. So I flipped the rear “adapter plate to slide” bolts upside down so that the bolt head was facing down. This gives more room for clearance when they pass each other during seat adjustment (slide).
Step 4 ? Seat Installation
The passenger side went in smooth as silk. No problems. Just drop the whole thing in place above the stock rails. Four bolts and your ready to try them out. To aid in locating the seat belts, I ran the stock belt down through the belt hole on the outside edge of the seat ? and back to the stock mounting position. The stock belt (the side with the button) that is mounted to the transmission tunnel will not fit through the other belt hole. This would have given the seat a semi-stock appearance, like it was meant to be there. But unless there is a safe way to extend this side about 3 inches, it will have to stay outside of the seat.
For the drivers side I mounted the plate on the seat as before, but then mounted the slide to the plate. As I wrote earlier, I swapped the slide rails from left to right. The mounting points for the front of the rails are different from the rear. So flipping the whole rail system was a short lived idea. The rails still mount as before, but the guts are to the outside. When I swap them back later, I will mount the plate to the slide using a 1-inch spacer (aluminum stock) to clear the slide tab. Again, I slid the stock belt through the outside edge of the seat.
Step 5 ? Test Drive
I found it a little different having to climb into the seat as opposed to sliding in. Also, the seat puts you about an inch lower, so the addition of the 1-inch spacer to raise the seat later will bring it back to normal height. The biggest difference felt so far ? it grabs your butt when you are in an off-camber situation. My daughter was a bit frightened when doing the “twisties” (as she put it) because it felt like she would fall out of the doorway. Now she loves it! Although the seat is very comfortable I can still feel the hard seat underneath, so I may add some additional padding until I can swing the cost of the thicker covers. These seats will do well until I can afford Recarro.
Last word = COOL
Thanks to the guys (Eddie, Troy) that have shared their experiences with me prior to installation, every bit helped.