/ Fitting Seatbelts For Child Seats In A Campervan

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MattH - on 27 Mar 2013
Wonder if anybody can help?
My folks have bought a camper van and would like to fit some seat belts for two child seats in the back so that they can take our boys away with them. Does anybody have any experience of fitting seat belts?

It is based on Renault Master LM35 DCI 120 S-A.

The layout is shown below.


toad - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH: My understnding from my ma in laws hymer investigations is that you don't need belts if it's pre 2001, but if you want belts, they have to be fitted to "proper" forward facing seats, ie not bench/ diner seats
woolsack - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH: Side facing seats are a no-no for seat belts> I would get an opinion from Devon as there may well be insurance repercussions
MattH - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to toad:

But I'd like my boys to be wearing seat belts, even if the law says they don;t need them...
MattH - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to woolsack:

Yeah, we hired a van in Ireland with side facing seats with belts. Didn't instill much confidence as the seats slid around on the seat.
woolsack - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH: Within the structure of the van, you'd struggle to find a top anchorage for three point belts which in any case would be useless in a frontal impact. Lap belts would be the only option but in frontal impact they could could horrible spinal injury from twisting.

I have a 110 LandRover station wagon which in theory is a 12 seater (6 side facing bench seats in the back) Quite often now, insurers baulk at providing cover if the bench seats are still in place and legacy lap belts are still fitted

These kind of vans are designed for the retirement market for couples without kids on board
MattH - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to woolsack:

Thanks. Was trying to find somebody who had managed to modify the van in order to fit three-point anchor belts. I managed to do it years back in the back of a Maestro van. Got an engineers certificate to say they were safe, and the insurers insured it for 2 extra passengers. The issue here, as you have pointed out, is finding the attachment points...
Neil Williams - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH:

ISTR it being the case that strapping people into side facing seats is dangerous because the body isn't meant to bend that way to absorb the shock, so back damage could occur, unless a fixed, full body harness is used, which would be quite uncomfortable.

MattH - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

Agreed - don't want side facing...
woolsack - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH: I had all this side facing vs forward aggro when planning the seating in the back of my truck-camper. Mine was essentially an empty box so my issue was providing some sort of top anchorage which would withstand the impact loads of a child in full flight.

I opted for four point harnesses (race car type) for my kids and ended up building a sort of floor to ceiling roll cage in to provide something for the webbing to loop over before going down to the floor anchorages so that they wouldn't submarine or the loading wouldn't go down the spine. That was made out of 38mm rollcage tube

I have the same in the back of the 110 with the race car harnesses and a cross beam at the top behind the seat backs (seats fold forwards)

Whichever way you go it is a mission.

How many kids do you need to cater for?
Party Boy on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH: Would 2 child seats fit on the forward facing bit of the L-shaped seat? If so, what about fitting these http://www.fordonlineparts.co.uk/product/ISOfix_mounting_kit_Focus_-_1357238_F1357238-392

I used them in my camper as it didn't have seat belts in the back.
MattH - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to woolsack:

Sounds like a mission indeed. Good food for thought. Thanks
MattH - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH:

Presumably this only works with a rigid seat?
muppetfilter - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH: A good place to start would be the T4 forum and hunt out posts/ pictures about fitting seatbelts in a van conversions.
woolsack - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to muppetfilter: Matt's problem is a lack of forward facing seat, the seat belt bit is perhaps the easy part
gethin_allen on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH:
With a bit more thought to the deign it would have been simple for the original converters to have provided 2 forward facing 3 point seatbelts.
It's a bit of a shoddy design, who has a van and never takes anyone else anywhere in the back? My parents G reg Elddis had 2 propped belts in the back and that was before they needed them. Their current Hymer has 2 in the back despite only being 3 birth.
No seatbelts would have been a deal breaker for me.
If it's just to fit child seats (ie for very young kids), could you find a child seat with isofix type fitting that only secures at the base and the structure for the belts is provided by the seat. You could then build a proper base in the seat to fit such a seat.
Obviously this will only work for as long as the kids are young and I don't know how the seat converts into the bed or what you have under the seat (probably something big and immovable like a water heater).
muppetfilter - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to woolsack: he could buy a set of rail seats like the ones commonly found from broken up mazd bongos. They come out in about 5 mins.
MattH - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:

Thanks all. I reckon there's a solution somewhere in there.
TomBaker - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH:
The problem with a lot of these suggestions being, that if the seats aren't fitted to proper strong points and crash tested themselves, how do you know they are strong enough. A lot of transporters have been converted and have belts in the back, but there is only 1 seat/bed on the market that actually has undergone a crash test.
gethin_allen on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to TomBaker:
"how do you know they are strong enough?"
I guess you have to work to my dad's old saying, if you're not an engineer, over engineer.
Build it out of big chunky bits of steel with massive welds and cross your fingers.

One other way to look at it would be that, even if the seatbelts only slowed you down you'd be better that having nothing, as it currently is.
woolsack - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to TomBaker: You don't usually crash test race and rally cars but there is reams of information about fitting harnesses into them, it shouldn't be impossible to engineer something safe in a van
Tony Simpson - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH:

Hi Matt, I am doinga little bit of work in the camper industry but not on this subject, yet I do have to know about regulations etc.

When a seat is fitted with seat belts you have to have a metal supporting frame (this does not have to be crash tested) and the fixing points have to be reinforced through the subframe of the vehicle.

Putting seat belts in for you would not be the issue as it could be done even on the side facing seats. The issue you are going to have is the MOT. I understand that by law they are not needed but if they are fitted they have to be tested under MOT regulations and with the design of the vehicle, this would be the downfall. It would fail an MOT because of the seat belts.

You may be able to find a good converter that would be able to re-arange the design layout of the seats but this will come at a cost. When buying camper / motorhome they sell them as a 2 berth for a reason and that is that they will only be able to sleep and carry 2 people safely.

I am sorry if that is not what you wanted to hear but I am sure you will find it is correct.

I hope you somehow sort the issue out.

quirky - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH: Same problem in our van. I fiited lap belts and bought seats that had an independant harness and could be fitted into the vehicle with the lap belt. Now the eldest is to big for his seat he now sits in the front, the youngest is soon going to need a similar seat. I am making a frame up that bolts to the chassis and is in the wardrobe behind so i can fasten 3 point belts to it. As for MOT they do not have to be load tested just fastened tight to a non moving structure, obviously you want them safe for your kids so a bit of thought is required and some time with a welder!! There is nothing illegal about side or rear facing seat belts! the side ones are not a good idea but there is a school of thought now that rear facing seats are safer for children than forward facing, in which case you can piggy back off the cab belt fastening points.
BenTiffin - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH: I was in the same position a couple of years ago with my T4. In the end I removed the entire rear of the van which had previously been fitted by a professional van converter. What I found in terms of the attachment points for the three piece seat belt that was in there was shocking in terms of safety. I now have a RIB bench/bed seat fitted which was sold and fitted by a converter's in Shrewsbury. At the time, it was one of two design's which met road safety regulations although I am told there are now more out there. The seat cost a small fortune but I am fully happy regarding it's safety. I know this isn't doesn't your request but was my solution in the end.

Gav M - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to MattH:

Last year I had a similar problem. I thought I was going to have to buy a new van but ended up getting a crash tested seat with integral seatbelt fitted by a company called Scotseats in Kilmarnock. They were happy to tweak the design to my specification and have fitters nationwide.

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