On the test drive, of course, all is well. But as the miles add up and longer trips are taken, an inescapable conclusion comes out. "This bench seat sucks. It hurts!"
I had to find out why. First part is pretty obvious - no lower back support. It hunches you over like that famous dude who hung out in that Paris cathedral.
But why does my butt hurt? I kept feeling down into the seat. There's *something* hard and sharp in there, set a little ways into the foam - and it's NOT the wire support grid on the bottom holding the seat up. Going to Moab for a week-long road trip over Easter break. A week in the saddle! Something has to be done! I was emboldened by this thread, describing removal and reinstall of the seats to put on spiffy new leather seatcovers:
But, before we can remove the seat, we're immediately thwarted by the simplest of questions: "How do I disconnect the center seatbelt?" 'Google Search' to the rescue, I found this thread:
disconnect center seat belt bench seat site:tacomaworld.com
So, on the newer Tacomas you have to pop open the buckle and cut a slot to gain access to the hidden release button. I cut a little access slot with an Xacto knife, and now I can remove it whenever I want by sticking a key in there.
Once that's done, check out the wiring. First - please disconnect the negative battery terminal! You don't want the airbag exploding while you're working on it!! Now, the newer seats all have airbags built in, as well as seat-belt detectors, and the new bench seat has a passenger weight detector, so when my 8 year old daughter sits in the passenger seat - it automatically disables the air-bag on the passenger side, but it operates normally when a heavier adult sits there. Slide the seat all the way back, locate the five or six wiring harness connectors, and disconnect them, without folding, spindling, or mutilating them. (not shown)
Remove the four bolts holding the seat, and the two bolts holding the seat belts. You might be tempted to leave them in the cab, but the're wired into the seat wiring harness and it's just easier to unbolt them and bring them with. (not shown)
Once the seat is out, set it on a blanket or something so it won't get all filthy as you turn it every which way on the ground while we're working on it, and remove the plastic side covers:
...and remove the two bolts on each side holding the seat back to the seat bottom. Careful, they're still wired together by those two airbag wires. We're leaving them in place.
Take careful note of the seat cushion. See that "H" stitching and how it's set deeply into the seat? Doesn't that give it a racy looking contour? Don't you think that stitching says "expensive-custom-seat-not-a-cheap-bench-seat?" Yeah, I don't either. But someone in Toyota had this bright idea....
Flip the bottom over and disconnect all the seat cover attachment rails/clips. But we won't be able to remove the cover completely without unbolting the seat proper from the sliding rail/mount system, which looked to me like more trouble than it was worth. You may decide differently.
Here's the bottom of the seat with all it's wiring and support springs. Disconnect the extra wire clips to get a little more room to work between the back and the seat bottom.
Disconnect the seat cover at the seat belt openings. Mostly this involves removing hog rings - but there was one zip tie on there. When we reassemble, we're going to use zip ties.
We can now strategically pull back corners and edges of the seat cover, except for the outside edges.
And peel it back some more, and investigate what's in those custom contour grooves. What could it be?
After a little work with needle nose pliers (a couple hog rings have to be removed)
...and now we now know EXACTLY what it is! Looks comfy, no?
...a little more work, and they are all removed:
...and the little wooden chopsticks that the hog rings were anchored to:
OK, so we've solved the mystery of the seat cushion. Now onto those "Hunchback of Notre Dame" seatbacks. I got a couple "McCarty's Sacro-Ease Keri-Back" 14"x19" lumbar support seat backs to install. They're designed to strap onto the seat externally, but since we've got the thing out and apart, we can do a little better looking more permanent installation than that.
Here's a link, but I bought mine locally. They're a little pricey, but many of you guys are buying Wet Okoles and other covers that cost even more coin than this. Anyhow, here's one source I found with google - haven't bought from them so I have no idea how good they are. http://www.healthyback.com/products/...ack-support/40
Just sitting on the seatback, where we're going to install them
All the straps we need to remove. Those plastic body clips poke well into the seat cushion, too.
Destructively removing the body clips and straps with the biggest channel-locks in my toolbox:
Soldering iron with upholstery tip:
Exposing the back of the seatback, where we're going to want our lower ziptie attachment to come through the seat, so we can put it on the lower of the two smaller diameter bottom rods
The hole in the seat fabric and cushion, made with the soldering iron, and the zip tie we're putting through it. This is the bottom of the support we're anchoring first.
And the zip tie poked through and anchored on the other side. You're going to have to use your own careful judgement in tensioning these zip ties. Too loose and the seatbacks won't stay in position. Too tight, and you'll change the shape of the seatback itself, and not in a desirable way.
KeriBack folded out of the way to reveal the two top mount holes we made with the soldering iron. We'll hold it in place with a total of three zipties. IMPORTANT NOTE - YOU MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO ZIPTIE THE OUTER (DOOR) SIDE OF THE KeriBack TO THE SEAT. I CONCLUDE THAT DOING SO MIGHT PUT A HOLE IN THE SIDE CURTAIN AIR BAG. USE YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT HERE, BUT YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Zip ties poked through. See how there's nothing substantial to attach them to?
So we fab up a wooden 1x2 brace that will run across the back of the seat (inside that black cover) The two little offset legs you see are to get correct spacing from the middle two steel seat support bars, otherwise this will be in too close. This shows shape, but not final location and orientation. Note that there are holes drilled to accept zip ties for the KeriBacks, and also the zip ties that will hold this in position against the steel seat frame. You don't want it slowly sliding down the seat over time.
The KeriBacks fully mounted. Yes the driver is a little taller, even though they're the same 14x19" nominal size.
Reattach the seatback. That "H" contour is less pronounced now.
Fully reattach the bottom seat cover and reattach the wiring harness at it's original mounting locations.
Reinstalled in the cab: