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Shoulder Belts

61 Pickup Seats

Toolboxes Under The Seat

Interior Wood Door Panel



Rick Stivers wrote: Here's the story of my truck's seat belts. After driving my truck over 75MPH and then watching a show on the Discovery Channel about the old style lap belts, I decided I needed a set of shoulder harnesses. I picked up a set from a small 87 Dodge pickup. Many people have told me that I should not use junkyard seatbelts and I suppose they are right. These seat belts are older and weaker than new ones but I have never seen anyone with an 87 vehicle replace their seatbelts because they were old. I have also never seen a seatbelt fail in an accident. Now that I know they fit I may buy new ones.

For the time being I have given up on finding an original seat for my truck, so I installed a bench seat from a 86 Chevy S-10 Pickup. It fit very well and it had just been reupholstered before the engine on the S-10 blew. The $20 I paid for the seat was less than new seat covers would have cost for the old Corvair seats my truck had when I bought it. Anyway back to the seat belts. I mounted the center seat belt cables through the holes the previous owner had drilled in the floor near the back of the cab. I used large thick washers to help prevent them from pulling through in an accident. The real challenge was installing the shoulder harness in the door-post. I had several price quotes from shops to weld in beef-up plates and mounting nuts, but they where all over $150 and involved cutting up my door post. I eventually discovered that the door-post have a factory hole at the bottom rear facing panel that is about 2" X 3". I was able to drill a 1/2" hole into the post just above shoulder height and install the bolts from the inside. The inertia real required 2 holes, one for the bolt and one for the alignment pin. Use a level to make sure these holes are aligned or the inertia real will not work properly. I bought grade 8 bolts that were the right length (I believe that was 1 1/2") and welded a 2" washer on under the head. A few light weld marks on the bottom of the washer prevented the assembly from turning later (This made it kinda like a lock washer). I fed a wire down through the holes that I drilled and attached it to the threaded ends of the bolt/washer assembly with tape. I pulled the bolt up through the access hole and into the mounting hole I drilled. The light weld marks held the bolt from turning while I tightened the nut on the seatbelt.

By adjusting for the right length bolt I was even able to install the factory trim for a professional appearance. The door-post is straight with the vehicle therefore the inertia real works perfectly. I did this about 4 months ago and I am very happy with the results. I paid less than $60 for the entire setup including the seat, belts and hardware. I know this isn't factory original but they look like they could be.

Chris Croyle wrote: It sounds like a great seat belt set up. When you said "small 87 Dodge pickup" did you mean a Dodge Dakota or one of those "Nissan" size Dodge pickups? I too adopted a Chevy S-10 bench seat for my Willys pickup. It fits great. I cut two pieces of 1/4" steel plate as a base for the bench seat legs to sit on and then attached two hinges with more reinforcement 1/4" plate to fasten to the inside of the storage area. Now my entire bench seat tilts towards the dash so I can excess the storage compartments. The tilt setup is hardly noticeable - so it doesn't look hokey pokey.

Rick Stivers wrote: Chris, I wish I could remember. It was setting next to the Chevy S-10 and they looked about the same size. Was it a Dakota? Sorry, I just don't know.

Jerry Lewis wrote: I noticed in Rick's write up of his seatbelt installation that he mentions he has never heard of a seatbelt fail in an accident. I am a firefighter/paramedic and have been responding to motor vehicle accidents for about 10 years now. I have personally seen MANY seat belt failures. What fails though is not the strap. The clamp-down mechanism that prevents the belt from extending in an accident is what I've seen fail. I believe that what happens is the mechanism gets crudded up from dirt-rust-old grease-bubble gum wrappers-spilled soda and fails to lock down upon impact. This allows the occupant to move forward as if they are not restrained at all.

Many times have I come upon an accident where the windshield is "spiderwebbed" with blood and hair caught in the cracks, the occupant is clutching their bruised sternum in pain from the steering wheel impact, their knees bleeding from hitting the underside of the dash, and the seatbelt is securely fastened properly. I've seen this more often in recent years in accidents involving older vehicles. In an open vehicle like a CJ this can easily be deadly. I think one of the things happening here is that, with seatbelt safety awareness increasing lately, the belts in these older vehicles are being used for maybe the first time ever and the mechanism is not working properly because it's all gummed up because it sat for so long.

This is just based on my personal observations. I don't know of any studies done to back this up. In any case it would be best to pay the money and use new seat belts. Find a vehicle that fits your application and go to the dealership or after-market to buy it. Junkyard seatbelts are not a good idea in my opinion.

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Mark_Sanders wrote: It has two bucket seats with a cargo/toolbox installed between the two. The Seller said the seats and box were original (they do look like 60's seats, they fit well, and the seat chrome matches the body chrome). Anyone out there have this seat arrangement, or know if it was an option on 60's trucks?

George Green wrote: I have the same question about my seats. Mine '54 came with two loose seats, which seem to fit, but I am not sure they're correct. I can not tell from my parts manual. Anyone have any info?

My truck has a hydraulic plow as well. The lift seems like an original, but the plow mounts seem like a jury rig. How can you tell it's original?

Frank Wood wrote: Hey Mark, I'd love to see some pictures of your stock truck. Seat chrome? Sounds fancy. Haven't seen a tool box between bucket seats, either. Sounds interesting.

Mark_Sanders wrote: George - Can you describe your seats? Color, material, trim, etc. Mine are black vinyl, welted, with chrome (or stainless) along the side.

My hydraulic pump was originally red (most of which is now burned/worn off) and says "JEEP HY-LO" in relief on the top (P.S. My truck came with two big boxes of NOS parts, including a plow pump...if you need one). The control mounts directly under the dash and looks/acts almost exactly like the choke control. The plow blade, frame and mounts are very heavyweight. I'll look at them again tonight to see how it all fits together. And I'll get you a picture sometime soon. Do you have any pictures?

Frank Wood wrote: Not sure how fancy the truck trim could be. According to the SCALDT, the options for the trucks in 1961 were as follows: Standard and deluxe trim. Power-take-off. Pulley Drive. Motor governor. Rearview mirror. Sidemount spare. Chrome bumper. License frame.

My '64 truck has a trim code next to the color code on a metal plate in the engine compartment. This trim code is still a mystery to me. Don't know if it has anything to do with your fancy seats either. Anybody know the difference between standard and deluxe trim? Or what a trim code(actual number) might represent? Anybody else have a trim code on their truck?

Mark_Sanders wrote: Hey Frank- Got to get my scanner working again to get you pictures. If I can't in the near future, I'll drop some in the mail. Do the seats sound a little TOO fancy for a '61 Willys?? I'm beginning to suspect that my seller may not have been the original owner as he claimed. If the seats/box are not original, they are a very good, early modification.

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Matt Phillimore wrote: I remember seeing a picture of a truck with a toolbox that was accessed from the top under the seat rather than from small doors on either end. Does anyone know when this change took place?

Jerry Stevens wrote: Reed, I have a 56 p/u and my toolbox under the seat opens from the top. I have to raise my backrest up (hinged at the top and swings forward) and then raise the bench seat (hinged at the front) . Once the bench seat is raised just let the backrest down and hold the bench up (vertical) to access the tool box. I never knew there was any other styles of underseat toolboxes on pick-ups. as far as the entry method. I've learned something tonight. I'd also like to know when the styles changed. I don't even know which style came first. I'll stay tuned for the answer from some our more knowledgeable fellow truckers.

William T Wilson wrote: My '55 has the toolbox which you get by moving the seat.

Joseph Spier wrote: Matt, Willys America guide says this happened in 1949. Seems five other changes happened in that production year as well. 1) Semi-elliptical astray, 2) 4 Wheel Drive script on hood, 3) cloth headliner replaced by cardboard panels, 4) Full bench seat replaced 2/3-1/3 seat, & 5) Transmission shifter moved from column to floor. My 48's have the end small doors, and the 50 1/2 cab I have has the lift seat access, so this seems to be true. By the way, on the engine serial numbers, thanks. That is what I've heard before. I also heard that if the block has ever been decked (milled, shaved, etc.) that the numbers were removed and you could stamp any number you wanted there.

William T Wilson wrote: My '55 has a full bench seat. Did they change it back later? Although the seats were reupholstered, I believe that it is the original seat.

Joseph Spier wrote: Dear WT Wilson, Cool name for this list. The pre 1949 trucks had the split seats, trucks after 1949 had the full bench seat.

Tom Jacoby wrote: As someone once pointed out, it's tough to date a Willys by any single feature or even combination of features. My '61 Utility Delivery 4x4 Parkway has the 2/3-1/3 front seat (no rear seat) and tool box doors on either end of the raised floorboard under the front seat.

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Chris Croyle wrote: Has anyone fitted their interior wagon or pickup door panel with a piece of finished wood sheathing? I'm working on my interior and am curious to see what it would look like.

Steve Guenter wrote: I just finished making wood panels for the interior of my '61 PU. I took oak wainscoting (spelling?), available from Home Depot, glued the panels together with an exterior wood glue, and trimmed to fit. I'll take some pics this week and try to scan them to post.

Rick Stivers wrote: Chris, I made a set of butcher block door panels for my pickup out of strips of staggered ash and oak. I also made a butcher block panel so I could install my stereo and gauges over the large hole in the drivers side dash panel. The stereo panel looked great and I got numerous complementary comments because people thought it looked stock. If you visualize stacking a stereo and three 2" gauges into that small an area you can see that this didn't leave a lot of wood surface area. I left the wood 1/2" thick to try and help support the equipment. Unfortunately I used a cheap wood glue when I assembled the strips and it couldn't hold up to the 100+ temps (That's about 150 inside a closed truck) we got here in SA this summer. It only lasted 3 days before it started to crack at the glue joints. I have since purchased a spare glove box door and plan to install the stereo inside the glove box so it will not be seen.

Since I had so much trouble with the dash panel cracking I have been leery about installing the door panels. They are only 3/16" thick to match the original panel thickness. I'm thinking of gluing a cross section of veneer across the back of the door panels for lateral support. They really do look great but I've considered waiting until I move back to NC to install them. Also I'm thinking that water leaking in around the windshield could have contributed to my problems with the other panel. They were finished with tongue oil but I'm thinking about adding a few good coats of marine varnish to front, back and inside each hole. When I do install them I plan to run a small bead of body putty along the edge to dampen the vibration. Since I don't have a digital camera I can't take pictures of them to show you. I also plan to replace the foam rubber pads on the arm rest with a rounded piece of oak to match the panels.

I will admit that my first attempt at a door panel was with a 1/4" sheet of finished plywood. This large expanse of plain wood looked cheesy to me and the edges couldn't be properly finished. I felt my truck deserved better than that, so I pulled it out. If you decide to put wood panels in, remember that they will only look good if they have character. Let me know it you need any more info.

Anna White wrote: Chris, I have a 77 GMC Jimmy and even though it's not a Willys the back side panels have been replaced with 3/4" plywood boxes that have been great. The previous owner did the work so I won't take credit. All he did was remove the side panels in back replaced with the plywood then brought the cabinet out so they are just touching the sides of the back seat. The top lifts for access and behind the seat I have "cabinets" behind the wheel wells. I know my description isn't the best but I just thought I'd let you know what I have and maybe it would give you some ideas. Also when I got the truck he had then covered with carpeting which he attached with spray adhesive, I removed because over the years they had gotten rather rank. My advice would be to stain or paint the wood.

Wehbee wrote: I not only did my door panels ,but also the arm rest and headliner. The panels and headliner are oak 1/4 inch ply with a shelf for tapes and a built in radio above the wind shield. There is enough room above the head liner for flush mount speakers. Since my 62 pickup was missing The bed and all I had was the rear fenders .I measured Someone else's bed and built my own out of Ash and Walnut. Then bolted on the fenders. I am a wood worker by trade.

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This page last updated 18 September, 2000

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