Big Healey Seat Packing

One of the big problems in restoring an Austin-Healey, especially one that has been modified, or disassembled with all parts thrown into bushel baskets (hence the term basket case!), is that the factory parts manuals don’t always tell the whole story. Such is the case with that stuff you sit on. No, I don’t mean any part of your own personal anatomy, but rather the seat mountings and all of their individual parts.

Big Healeys have basically two kinds of scat mountings and hardware, sliding and fixed. Early 100’s (to body 1001 according to the factory pans list) may have both the passenger seat and the driver seat fixed to the floor. Certainly this is one valid interpretation of the parts list. However, a very” early car in our club came to it’s owner with an adjustable driver’s seat set on a slider mechanism. Whether this was a “conversion” mentioned below or was standard, as another interpretation of the parts list may imply, I can’t say. What I can say is the parts list is not as straight forward as I would like in this regard.

What I do know is that for the passenger seats on the early cars, any adjustment ‘ore and aft is done by unbolting the complete seat fixing assembly from the floor and moving the complete assembly fore or aft on the holes provided in the floor. Later 100″s (after body 1001) have a fixed seat assembly that has only one mounting position’s worth of holes (three per side) drilled in the floor. Thus, it has no provision for adjustment by unbolting and re-bolting to the floor.

Rather, this later “fixed seat set-up” is adjustable via the metal cushion frame assembly which can be moved fore and aft on its mounting holes. This later set up is what I have on my later BN1.

The factory parts list contains a list of hardware for seats up to body 1000. The problem with matching up the I00’s factory parts list with what I have found from experience is that the parts are not illustrated and arc unique to the 100’s.Further, later factory parts lists don’t show some of the parts that we all know came with the scat mechanisms. In any case, I don’t believe I have any of the early car’s pans in my collection nor do I have any in my “recollection”. What I do have are the components to make up both an adjustable and a fixed scat base for the later cars.These correspond to my later BNI. And, very important here, it is these components I will now discuss. All further discussion will be for cars alter body 1000.

Every Big Healey I have seen, that has not had its seat fittings messed with, has a metal plate between the floor and the seat slide or fixed seat fittings. My guess is that the “washer plate”, “14B2S81″, in the ‘100’ parts list is this piece. And the quantity of four represents the total number needed for two seats, whether they have a slide or are fixed. This plate is probably used to strengthen the floor mount and spread the load of the seal out on the sheet metal of the floor pan. It’s dimensions are 15″ by 1 5/8″ and is made of sheet metal approximately 1/16″ thick. It has three 13/16″ centered holes drilled 11/16″/. 1/4″, and 11 5/8” from one end. The plate is painted black on both sides on the original examples I have (that aren’t rusted beyond this recognition!) Confirmation of this guess comes from the listing of the “Bolts, 1 1/4″ base, packer and washer plate to floor, HBZO-HO” just two items below the Washer’ plates in the factory parts list. Certainly, from the listing, the washer plate is between the floor and the “packer”, which I shall describe later. The “base” is what I shall describe next.

Next comes the “seat base packers, top”, 14B2880. These wooden pieces are used on all sets of seat slides and on the fixed seats as well. In both cases they raise the seat an equal amount off the floor, whether used for fixed or sliding fittings. The fixed seat example comes from my experience with my later BNl’s passenger scat. A quantity of four is called out and that is consistent with usage. I can’t find this part in later factory pans lists but it is present on all later Big Healeys! It mounts between the metal plate mentioned above and the seat slide for adjustable seats or between the “Base Packers” and the metal cushframe assembly for fixed seats. It is 5/16″ thick. 14 1/2″ long,and 1 1/8″ wide. It appears to be made out of a hard wood, possibly walnut or oak based on my view of the grain texture. It does not dent easily as there are no impressions left from mounting on the examples I have! It has a total of 5 centered holes in it. Three are 5/8-in diameter and arc centered at 11/16″, 6 1/4″, and 1 15/8″ from one end. Measuring from the same end, there are two holes 3/8″ in diameter centered at 3 1/8″ and 8 5/8″.

The other wooden piece is the “base packers”‘. 14B 2834, quantity of two per car, and is unique to the I00’s and the fixed scat. It measures 14 3/4″ long by 1 1/4″ wide and is 5/8″ thick. It is made from soft wood, probably pine or fir. It has 6 holes in it, all 3/8″ in diameter. They are centered and measuring to the hole’s center from either end as the holes are uniformly positioned,I find 11/16″, 3 1/8″, 6 1/4″, 8 5/8″, 11 5/8″, 14 3/32”. The bottom of the 6 1/4″ and the 11 5/8″ holes arc recessed 1/8″ with a 7/8″ diameter to accept the head of the “speed nut”.

This wooden piece fits between the metal plate mentioned above and under the “Seat base packers, top”. In fact, it is this piece that has the “captive nuts”, two per packer, thai are used to attach the metal cushion frame assembly to this item. This base packer is bolted to the floor with the following hardware in sets of three per base packer, 6 required for the fixed seat: A capscrew (“Bolts. 1 1/4″ base, packer and washer plate to floor. HB20410”!. a flat washer, a “D” washer (2K 99931. and a nut (FNZ 104). The sample I have docs not have the spring washers called out in the parts list. But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t there at some point in time as this assembly probably has been removed and replaced several limes. The impression in the wood for the plain washer fits perfectly. This tells me two things. This wood is soft, probably pine, and the washers are probably “plain washers, small, I’WZ 104” as the samples I have are all of this shape and total the six required. I also have the “bolts, I” for passenger scat, HBZ0408″ and it’s washer, which is, indeed the PWZ 104. These 1″ bolts hold the metal cushion frame assembly to the base packer with the “seat base packers, top” sandwiched between.

About this sandwich thing. The large holes in the “Seat base packers, top” exactly match where the 1 1/4″ hold down bolt’s heads and washers are. Thus, the heads of the bolts don’t interfere with the “sandwiching” of the two pieces of wood! Without this piece, the metal cushion frame assembly would ride on the bolt heads, instead of spreading their load evenly along the wooden “seat base packers, top”.

The captive nuts or “speed nuts” are designed to go into a blind hole, to not turn when a bolt is threaded into them, and to allow a piece of wood to have a metal “nut” to which to attach another piece of something. The metal used is a high quality of steel. The flat base of the “speed nut” has three pieces of the base cut on an angle and turned up so as to create three “spikes” that in turn will pin the nut into the-wood and prevent rotation. The “cone” of the speed nut is internally threaded 1/4″ X 28 fine. The threaded portion is approximately 3/8″ tall. The base is 3/4″ in diameter and the metal used is approximately 1/16″ thick. These are available in 1/4″ X 20 course thread at my local hardware store.”I don’t know if line thread speed nuts are easily obtainable.

By Ron Phillips

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