Front Lap Belts for Early Falcons
Submitted by: Don Haring, Jr.
TOOL AND SUPPLIES
- new lap seatbelts
- seatbelt hardware (bolts, washers, lock washers)
- thread locking liquid
- bicycle innertube and spray adhesive
- drill and hand reamer
- ratchet and wrenches
WARNING: Seatbelts are personal safety devices. The following information is presented as one example of seatbelt installation. Please research other information on the subject and form your own conclusions. Any work performed by the reader is done at his/her own risk.
FIG 1: This shows the new vintage styled lap belts in place. I chose to run the belts up over the sides of the seat rather than through the back. OVERVIEW
Lap seatbelts were offered as an option on all early Falcons and were part of Ford's "Lifeguard" option series (see 1960 brochure). Factory seatbelts, like mirrors, were often a dealer-installed option.
To my knowledge, 1963 and up models have clearly discernable seatbelt anchors, but 1960-62 do not. These instructions should help you put in lap belts in your early Falcon.
I have not checked with the FCA to know what exact configuration is correct for early models, but at FCA shows, I have see two set-ups. The first uses anchor bolts and belts that clip to the eye hole of the bolt. Typically, the belts pass straight through the seat to points a few inches behind the seat. While period-correct, this set-up takes up a good portion of backseat passenger floor space, and since the bolts stick up, it's likely that a passenger could hit them.
The second option is to install the flat plate of the seatbelt directly to the floor. This is the what I did. For the inboard belt, I attached the belt to the transmission tunnel just below the rear corner of the center console. The belt comes up over the side of the seat. With the seats back in my normal driving position, the anchor is hidden by the seat.
The outboard belt is bolted to the rocker. I have seen two options for this choice: bolt it vertically to the rocker, or use an l-bracket bolted to the floor to get the belt up vertical beside the seat. These brackets are found on other models, including my 1966 Club Wagon with factory installed belts. But I didn't have any extra brackets, didn't feel like tracking any down, and thought that the rocker installation would be cleaner.
If you want period correct factory FoMoCo belts, you might have a long search. I don't recommend using old belts as-is because belt webbing deteriorates with age. If you chose to use vintage belts, a good idea is to send them out for reconditioning. A company like Snake Oyl will clean and restore the buckles and use new webbing. I haven't used this service but I have read good reviews.
An alternative idea is to use new vintage styled belts. These are available from many sources and are an attractive and affordable choice for the person who doesn't want date-correct belts. For early Falcons, the chrome aviation style buckles are correct. These look like belts you would find in an commercial airliner. Look in any old 60s car magazine and you will find many aftermarket belt ads, so it's likely that many people added belts after they purchased their cars.
I bought my belts from Northwest Classic Falcons. The buckles are marked "Beams" and I was able to get a matching red belt for my interior. I think the belts and buckles look sharp and only cost about $25 each. That's cheap insurance for you, and more importantly, your passengers.
CAUTION: Before drilling into the transmission/driveshaft tunnel, make sure that brake and fuel lines are out of the way! To check this, pop any lines out of their retainers, and use string to gently tie them to the driveshaft. Visually inspect the area you'll be drilling because once you are inside the car with the drill, you are blind to the underside.
INBOARD BELT -- buckle side belt
- For my Futura with bucket seats, I located the inboard seatbelt point just below the corner of the center console. Drill 1/8" pilot hole all the way through the carpet and floor. The carpet may want to unravel and twist around the drillbit. Masking tape on the carpet should prevent this.
- Once you have a clear hole, enlarge the hole to the size of the seatbelt bolt. Instead of using progressively large drill bits, I used a hand reamer that I borrowed from a friend. This little tool does an amazing job of cutting the hole larger. It helps to wear a glove simply to prevent hand fatigue, but this seemed easier to me than changing drill bits.
- Insert the bolt through the seatbelt plate, then insert the bolt into the hole in the floor. Check that the belt buckle sits right-side-up on the seat without twisting. Sit in the seat and check the angle that the belt naturally takes if you were wearing the belt, then tape the belt plate and bolt in place. This will help keeps things in line when you crawl back under the car to fasten the bolt.
- Climb under the car. Squirt a small bead of silicone around the bolt and place the large washer (3" dia) onto the bolt. The silicone will keep water out but mainly helps hold that big washer on while you fumble with the nut and a ratchet. Apply Loctite to the bolt threads, then finish with a lockwasher and nut.
- Apply black paint or spray undercoating to the area. Do not get any paint or undercoating on the driveshaft.
- Put the brake and fuel lines back in position and snap them into any holders you see.
FIG 2: Inboard belt location. Locate belt plate so that it clears the center console and make sure the buckle is facing correctly.
FIG 2: View of the right side outboard anchor. I chose to drill into the rocker rather than use an l-bracket on the floor. This keeps the belt well out of the way.
- Remove the scuff plate, the aluminum plate that runs along the top of the rocker.
- A hole must be cut to allow you to put a large washer behind the seatbelt bolt. I do not have a compressor or grinder, so I used a cutting disk in my hand drill.
I've had good luck with a product called "Super Disk", a cutting disk w/ 3/8" arbor. Replacement disks are about $7, though, so I decided to try a grinder disk ($1) in the arbor. The center hole is larger but if the arbor is sufficiently tight, it still works well and is much cheaper to operate.
- I made a rectangular hole with rounded corners approximately 3.5" by 1". Make a cardboard template and pencil it in location. Drill holes in the four corners of the outline. This will mark the boundaries of your hole and prevent you from cutting too far with the cutting disk. Cut the sides and clean up shavings with a magnet. Clean any sharp edges with a grinding stone.
- Drill and ream the hole for the seatbelt bolt.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I made a big error when drilling the anchor bolt hole. When marking the vertical distance down from the top edge of the rocker, I didn't account for the lip of the scuff plate, which drops down about 1/4" over the top the rocker. But worse yet was that the big washer wouldn't fit! To solve this I had to cut off part of the washer to make a flat spot. I was able to make it work, but you'll save yourself a headache if you measure correctly the first time.
- Apply Loctite to the bolt, pass it through the seatbelt plate, and into the rocker. Use silicone to hold a lock washer and nut to the big washer and carefully drop into the hole and then line up the bolt. I used a piece of masking tape to hold the washer assembly so that it wouldn't drop to the bottom of the rocker. If everything fits properly, begin to tighten it all together.
- To seal up the big hole, I used a portion of an old bicycle innertube. The inner tube is thin enough so that it doesn't interfere with the scuff plate. Cut to fit, spray on some 3M adhesive, and put it in place.
- Place the scuff plate back on and check the fit of the belt. If it fits well, finish tightening the bolt. At this point, you won't have access to the nut, but the lock washer should hold it well enough to tighten. It doesn't have to be extremely tight to work well.
Using this set-up, the belt angles are correct, and it makes for a clean installation. The only potential problem I can see is that with the belts coming up over the side of the seat, it's possible that some wear might occur to the seat. So far, this doesn't look like this is happening.
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