Bike Slide

We take bikes with us everywhere, mainly to allow ‘micro-exploration’ of areas we like. It was particularly satisfying to eventually be in a position to fit the sliding Fiamma bike rack to our garage because much of the early design, and many of the original dimensions, were based around this very fixture - effectively the truck was built around it. Fortunately my measurements worked out and the result is that our bikes now have the benefit of decent security and protection from the weather and road filth. The slide is a nice piece of kit (even if a little expensive) that serves well to maximise the space available and facilitate easy loading.

Suspension Seats

We liked the original NATO seats and kept using them as long as we did (nearly three years) as they were surprisingly comfortable and easy to clean, plus it seemed a shame not to get some use out of them as they were virtually brand new. However, there’s no arguing with the fact that the standard Leyland DAF suspension, especially when only troubled with 7.5 tonnes, is – to be kind – unsophisticated. With a trip to countries with known broken roads imminent, we decided it was time to change. The standard seat base mounting hole centres are 255mm left to right and 330mm fore – aft. I couldn’t find any replacement suspension seats that would directly bolt into the standard mountings but a conversation with KDR seating confirmed that some mechanical suspension KAB seats could be supplied with a pair of conversion plates that would enable me to physically fit these new seats into the space available, and furthermore utilise the standard seat mount holes and associated captive nuts.

I was won over by the fact KDR held the seats we fancied in stock, plus stock of the optional extra armrest and headrest kits. We duly ordered a pair of high back KAB 414s and within 48 hrs had them sitting in the garage awaiting fitment. The seats can be supplied with the standard runner base sub frame which has left to right hole centres at 320mm, or a narrow runner base sub frame which has hole centres at 280mm. Herein is a dilemma. The 320mm bases are arranged such that the seat sits nice and low within the cab but the width means that the driver’s seat won’t physically fit without substantial modification to the handbrake covering plate. The 280mm bases fit in such a way that the seat will physically fit very neatly without any modification to any existing cab hardware, but, because the narrower runners are too narrow to fit either side of the seat base, they have to sit underneath it. This makes the height of the seats, with the adapter plate and runner ‘stack’ beneath them, very high in the cab and can leave a bit of a stretch to the pedals for anyone under about 1.75 metres.

After much measurement and deliberation I decided upon the 280mm runners and to utilise a combination of tweaks to steal a few millimetres from the height of the stack wherever possible. This mainly involved the replacement of the fore-aft sliders with 6mm thick fixed aluminium rails, removal of unnecessary packing pieces, and mounting the adapter plates straight onto the cab floor rather than over the top of the (thick) standard rubber matting. I managed to lower the height of the squabs by about 27mm altogether and the seats are low enough now - just - to avoid any ‘dangling leg’ scenario.

I spent more time than was healthy re-working the standard adapter plates as I wanted the finished product to not only position the seats with just the preferred amount of left-right offset, but also to look like a standard LD part. To that end I spent what seemed like ages mitring, grinding, drilling new holes and painting. Once again, this kind of detailing is arguably only something that is viable with a self build project, there’s no way it would make financial sense to take the time to file that extra tenth of a millimetre from something that will never be seen.

The final result is very pleasing. The seats fit neatly in the unmodified cab and utilise the standard mounting points. They are very comfortable and iron out minor road irregularities very well indeed. An added bonus is that after the day’s driving is done, I will often spend some time just sitting in the reclined passenger seat, with feet on the glove compartment shelf, and enjoy supremely relaxed comfort whilst idly watching the world go by. Such is the comfort and all-round view from the cab that it’s often the best seat in the house.