JeepWire Reviews Mastercraft Seats of the YJ
By: Jeff Yokomura - 11/1/2002
|The new Mastercraft next to the original seats that came with the Jeep.|
We pass countless hours of our lifetime sitting in our trucks and spend large amounts of money on making them suit our needs. We modify them to run better, but how many of us have spent anything on improving our own comfort? We're talking about that thing you place your rear on: your seat. Our project vehicle, a 1992 Jeep Wrangler, came from the factory with non-adjustable vinyl seats. Seats like these have a tendancy to get scorching hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. The seats have very little lower back support and no significant side support. Also, the project vehicle's seats showed some wear and tear, even though they were still in pretty good condition overall.
|With the seats off the sliders are exposed. The torx that bolt them to the mount are exposed and are easy to remove.|
Even though a spare T-shirt thrown over the seats is a popular option to make them look better, that quick fix doesn't rank high on our list. There are a lot of options available, from neoprene seatcovers to $1000+ racing seats. In the off-road racing community one name stands out: Mastercraft. They have been in business since the 70's and have supplied seats for many big names in racing. These names include Ivan "Ironman" Stewart, Walker Evans, Curt LeDuc and Kyle LeDuc. So, we figured that if it's good enough for them, then it must be good enough for us.
We chose Mastercraft's Rubicon series which required no extra hardware for our Jeep. The Rubicons have slots cut for a 5-point harness. Customization of the seats is simple, since customers are able to choose from a wide variety of colors. Mastercraft currently have 37 different colors and fabrics. There are 4 different areas on the seats that can be customized: the center seating area, the side panel of the seating area, the piping, and the outer skin. We went with buckskin for the outer skin, black for the seating area, brown haze for the sides and black for the piping. We decided that this best matched the interior of our Jeep, which is tan, spice and charcoal. The seats have a few extra options available for those wishing to pay more. These include an adjustable lumbard support, seat pocket, and what Mastercraft calls a convertible cushion. The cushion is removable and is available in three sizes. An adjustable, removable headrest is also available for an extra cost.
|A new 5/16" Grade 5 fine thread bolt was used instead of the original torx.|
The seats arrived a few weeks after ordering. The first thing we noticed was how light the seats where. Both seats could easily be picked up by one person without any problems. The seats came with no hardware or instructions but this was not a problem. We had to run down to the local hardware store to pick up some 5/16" bolts, and then we were ready for business. Removing the old seats was very straight forward even without looking at a service manual. Sliding the seats all the way forward exposed two torx bolts under the front of the seats. Once those were removed, we slid the seat all the way back to expose the rear bolts. After undoing these bolts, the stock seats came out easily. We were now ready to install the new seats. This was a snap since the new seats were a lot lighter then the original seats. The driver's side seat went in without any problems, but the passenger seat gave us some trouble. As we were bolting the seat down, only 3 of the 4 bolt holes lined up with the mount. We fixed this by forcing the holes to line up, but this made the sliders and tumbling of the seat difficult at best.
|The seatbelts were modified to allow them to pass through the slots much easier.|
With the seats in, we took our place at the throne. Wow, the seats feel great! The seat's position is reclined back a bit which brings the legs up slightly. We ran into another problem. We needed to grow a few more inches to be able to push the clutch all the way to the floor. So with the seat all the way forward we were able to push the clutch all the way. However, getting out was a problem because the seat was too close to the steering wheel. The steering wheel was not adjustable, so something had to be done. Moving the seat back to get in and out got old quick.
After talking to a few people, two options arose. One was to cut the OEM seat mount, cut an inch or two off, and then weld it back together. The other option was to remove the sliders all together. Since we didn't need to lower the seat much, we went with ditching the sliders. With the seats off again, removing the sliders was easy. With the seat out of the way, all the torx bolts were exposed. The sliders added about an inch and a quarter to the height of the seats. The sliders use nuts that were welded to the bottom of the flange and we didn't really want to remove them. Since we might mount the seats to the cage in the future and want to sell the old parts. With the seats out again, we really wanted to figure out why the passenger seat didn't fit right. First we swapped the seat with the driver side and it fit fine. So it wasn't a problem with the seat. After some measurements we found that the mount's bolt pattern was off by an inch. The holes were inbound and that's why the sliders didn't work properly. A few quick measurements and were were ready to drill the new holes. Once those were drilled, the seat went into place without any problems. The seat was able to lift and fall forward like it once did. The driver seat was simple and had extra holes pre-drilled into the mounting flange so we used those. This brought the seat to what we thought was the perfect position. A quick test fit and it was just about prefect. All the problems we had before were gone. One extra modification was done to the seatbelts. The female part has a hard plastic cover on it. This can be a little uncomfortable if you pass the belt through the slot in the seats. It will also have a tendancy to get stuck in the slot when the passenger seat is moved. By cutting the plastic back a bit, the problem was solved quick and easily.
A few weeks have passed and the seats still feel great. The position is fine and all the controls are easily accessable. There is only one possible down side to the seats: the size of one's rear (end). Getting in and out of the buckets might take some getting used to. For us, these seats were a great addition to the Jeep. They make the trips along the highways and trails much more comfortable and are well worth it.
|Here are the results of the first attempt to bolt the seats to the old hardware.||This is after the second attempt; notice that the seats are about 1-1/4" lower since the sliders were removed.|