Sunday, July 27, 2008

Binding Sticky Seatbelts

The first time we drove the car, we found the seatbelts were difficult to operate and seem to bind when the convertible top is in the lowered position.
The upper portion of the seatbelt reel is anchored in a recess behind the seats. When the convertible top is lowered, the cage sinks low enough to where it interferes with the normal operation of the seatbelts. Once you're buckled in the car and start driving, the seatbelts slowly pull themselves back onto the upper reel. Should you try to lean forward to change the radio station or operate the lights or wipers, you find the seatbelt is too tight and will not release you from the seatback!

To solve this issue, Mario and I agreed that the convertible top cage needs to have some kind of support that will keep the lowered top high enough, away from the seatbelts when lowered. The folded convertible top also needs to be low enough so that it will not affect the boot cover when in place. We've discussed this issue for the past few weeks before I went looking for the appropriate hardware to remedy the problem. While lowering the top, I noted that we couldn't use anything along the back as it would interfere with rear window, therefore I'd have to use one support on each side of the vehicle.

I found two chrome plated towel hooks at a big-box home improvement store in the hardware department that appeared to be the correct size. I also purchased longer screws to save a future trip back to the store if the supplied screws were too short.

Once home, I took my time lowering the top several times to ensure I was happy with the placement and that the cage would descend into the curve of the hook. Taking very careful measurements, I marked the two holes and temporarily mounted the hook into the fiberboard behind the red leather upholstery. The hook looked good, however it was very weak as the fiberboard backing is about 1/8th inch thick. I had to find a suitable backing piece that would add strength to the hook.

I removed the speaker, reached into the cavity and found enough room to add a small piece of wood behind the hook. I pre-drilled the wood backing to ensure it would not split when tightening the screws. This process took about twenty minutes and the hook felt solid enough to carry the weight of the top and cage. I took very careful measurements and repeated the process on the other side of the car. Before mounting the second hook, I lowered the top again to ensure the lowered top was level and that both hooks would equally share the weight of the folded convertible top.

Problem solved. We are now able to easily move and adjust the upper portion of our seat belts while driving the car with the convertible top in the lowered position.

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