Mike's T-Bird Seats
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Mike's Mid 1980's Thunderbird Seats Install

T-Bird seats for the Broncos Bronco My daughter Heather's seats

Tools & Parts Required

bulletPower Drill or Drill Press
bullet9/32 & 3/8 bits
bulletWrench or Ratchet Set (5/16, #10 & 1/2)
bulletWelder & Flat 10ga Steel (optional)
bulletVise
bulletFlat Black Paint (Fabric paints if needed)
bullet10' 16ga wire (connectors, loom, fuse-block, etc. optional)
bulletClear Fabric or Household Glue (Goop, model-airplane, etc.)
bulletGrease

 

If you are like me, you can only stand so much of the unsupported upper back on the Standard low-back Bronco bucket seats. They tend to give you a "pain in the neck".

I went to the local "pick your own" bone yard and came out with some mid '80's Ford Thunderbird seats. The seats were the fully electric upper-end models. I pulled them and left the electric tracks behind because of the potential wiring problems. Four bolts (metric #10) free them from the tracks, save these because they are easier to reuse than the star type used on the Bronco seats you will need a box end wrench for this task. Off they came, paid the guy $10.00 each and home they went. 

If you are lucky enough to get seats that match your desired interior trim like I did, skip the next step.

For my daughters Bronco I ended up with tan seats because that is what they had in this type seat that were in good shape so I had to paint them (Black centers and Gray outsides). This was more work this way than one color would have been. Yes, you read correctly, paint, Plasti-Kote and Dupli-Color (Krylon) both make Vinyl and/or Fabric paints, I prefer the Dupli-Color because it covers better and has a superior spray nozzle. If you need to change the seat color, be sure and use these products OUTSIDE because they will make you sick! Unlike regular spray paints, you will not be able to handle these.

The first thing I noticed was the bolt pattern was 14" wide, the same as the Bronco seats! So, as it turned out the conversion was halfway there already.

The front to back pattern on the Bronco tracks (drivers side) are 11 1/2" center to center but the Thunderbird seats measure 14 3/4" but there were two more mounting holes at the rear of the drivers-side seat and three more on the passenger-side seat. The holes were at 12 1/4", 14 and 14 3/4" on the drivers-side and 12 1/4, 13, 14 and 14 3/4 on the passenger-side seat. 

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I chose to fabricate some tabs to extend the stock tracks back to the original Thunderbird mounting holes at 14 3/4". I did this because I have the tools (a welder, drill press, steal) and it set the seats as far forward as possible. I cut 1"x3" tabs and drilled them at 2 1/4"

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Without the welder, it would still be easy to drill out the mounting holes on the Bronco tracks to reach the 12 1/4 holes on the seats. These holes are not threaded but the bolts will self-thread them.

Of course, there were a few snags; first, the drivers-side track release on the driverís side Bronco track is bent upward in front of the seat. However, the T-bird seats have a nice adjustable knee support that sets out in front of the seat that interferes with the release arm. 

I used a vise with urethane jaw protectors to straighten the release arm.

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Before mounting the Bronco tracks to the seat, you can remove the auto-seat-adjuster sensor (unless you pulled the Thunderbird seat tracks and computer). This is easily unclipped from between the seat spring wires.

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One last adjustment that will be need to the seat is to cut the plastic upholstery clip and a small amount of material from the bottom of the seat on the side without the track release arm. This will keep the secondary track release working freely.

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First, mark the size of the release unit on the plastic clip while holding the track in its mounting position. The plastic clip is sewn to the upholstery so cut along the inside of the seat frame and then cut a half moon shaped piece out of the cloth and foam beneath. Next, check the size again with the track (the plastic clip will slide back and forth so don't over cut). After you get it aligned and working freely, glue the foam and upholstery edge in place using upholstery adhesive or other (model airplane type) household glue. It is best to apply the glue just before mounting the track on that side.

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Apply the glue, reattach the springs, bolt the tracks to the seat, grease the tracks, spray dry-lube (PTFE) on the knee rest extensions and bolt it back in your bronco. 

The passenger seat is even easier to adapt. Just remove the brackets from the front of your original seat and attach either the front or the back hole on the bracket to the front holes of the seat. Snug the bolts while using a straight edge to align them. Now tighten them down so they do not move while you drill the other two mounting holes using a 9/32" drill bit. You can use the bracket holes for a guide, be careful that the bracket does not move and that you do not ream out the holes in the brackets. Use a center punch if you have one.

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On the rear of the seats, you can attach the rubber feet from your old seats. If the original seats pads are worn out or gone, the local hardware store will have rubber door stops, chair or table feet or something that will work.

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Actually I used two old lift gate bumpers left over from when I put new ones on a few years ago (Yes I am a pack rat)

If you have carpeting, you may not even need bumpers because the carpet will keep them from rattling. 

Next, it is time to run the wiring for the Electric Lumbar Supports. I have a secondary fuse block I placed on the firewall where the clutch pedal would have been, so I started there and ran the hot wire underneath the carpeting. Otherwise you can just tap into a keyed positive wire preferably one with at least a 15 amp fuse. I split the wires in-between the seats where the console will go. Without carpeting, I would run it underneath the floorboard. Connect these to the wires on the seats with the white stripe.

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Last, make two 10 to 12 inch negative wires with an eyelet connecter on one end, which is large enough to pass one of the 5/16" floor mounting bolts. Use new insulated connectors on the seat wires after clipping off the originals. Again, the hot wire (positive) is the one with the white stripe. The negative will just attach to a seat hold down bolt and does not necessarily have to be an insulated connector.

 

 

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