List of Contents
Why the Scopema Swivel Seat?
In a nutshell: Layout space, low height, easier install (although we did have a hiccup…keep reading). The Scopema swivel seat was our top pick after extensive research on the various brands. Several reasons pushed us in that direction.
First, we are opting for a swivel seat in our Ford Transit conversion layout to increase seating space in the van. Because both Karma and I often work on separate projects, we wanted two distinct sitting spaces that were not the bed. Bring in: the swivel seat!
Second, what we began to see from friends also converting vans, youtube videos, and blogs was that most swivel seats add a lot of extra height. When that extra height to the passenger seat is added, it changes how one can sit in the seat. Short people (heyo…like me) could not sit with their feet on the ground. Thus, people built all sorts of boxes to rest the feet on. Taller people (Karma) sit too high and bump their head on the upper shelf. Thus, the 7/8 in increased height of the Scopema was the lowest added height for a swivel seat.
Third, we wanted a seat that had a relatively easy installation process. For example, we heard all kinds of horror stories about having to drill wider holes in the swivel seat. Hoping to avoid that, we saw that most people did not have this problem with the Scopema.
Tools Needed to Install the Scopema Swivel Seat
Before we began, we assembled all of the tools that we would need for the installation. It’s easy to forget one and then not be able to drive the vehicle to get it because something is torn apart. These are the tools needed for the passenger side.
Tools You Definitely Need:
- Ratchet and Sockets sizes 7mm &13mm
- Allen Wrench
- Metal Saw
- Metal File
- Drop Cloth/Trash Bag
- Shop Vac
- Black Gloss Rustoleum (or whatever color your seat base is)
- Swivel Seat and included hardware
Tools You Might Need:
- Your vehicle’s included jack
- Something smaller than the jack like wood blocks taped together (see photo)
Step-by-Step Instructions to Install the Scopema Swivel Seat
Disclaimer: I am not an expert and these instructions are based solely on my personal experience. Use at your own risk.
Assemble the tools listed above. It’s the absolute worst to not have something that you need later. No one wants to stop a project halfway through and go to a hardware store.
Identify the and remove the four bolts that hold your passenger seat to the base. You will need an 13mm socket. Be careful not to yank the seat around as it is still attached to the airbag underneath. Place the bolts in a handy location to be retrieved later.
Locate the airbag connection underneath the seat in the center. Reach underneath from the front of the seat with a 7mm socket and loosen that bolt. Undo this connection once the bolt is loose and gently place it in the seat base. You may have to tilt the seat up in the front to use the ratchet.
Carefully remove the seat and place it behind the seat base in the van. It will still be connected to the seatbelt. It’s easier to leave this attached to the seatbelt in the van than to remove extra parts. It stretches long enough.
Align the swivel seat on the seat base. The red handle goes toward the front of the van. Use the red handle to swivel the top level of the swivel seat to 45 degrees. This will allow you to properly see the alignment of the bottom level of the swivel to the seat base.
Use the four bolts that came with the swivel seat to gently align the bottom layer to the seat base with the allen wrench. Begin to hand screw these in loosely. You may have to jockey the seat around some to get them to align correctly. If one hole is not lining up properly, unscrew the bolts and try again.
If they all screw in, skip to Step 7 and if they do not, continue to Step 6a.
Soooooo. All but one bolt line up and you don’t want to strip the threads. I have noticed in other YouTube videos that sometimes the Scopema swivel seat won’t align on one bolt in the 2020 Ford Transit. Why? I don’t know. We didn’t love the solutions we found on YouTube. Mainly, using a drill to increase the bolt hole size on the swivel seat on the offending hole. We just didn’t like that idea.
So, Karma came up with a new innovative solution that does NOT rely on a drill. Here, you will need the “tools you may need” above. Namely, the jack that comes with the Ford Transit, and some sort of homemade extender. In the Ford Transit, the jack is located under the passenger seat when the passenger door is open.
What is this solution you may ask? Use the below photos for reference. Karma started with placing the jack horizontally inside the seat base. However, the top part of the jack does not fit on the other side. He grabbed seven plywood blocks that happened to be laying around the garage and taped them together. You can MacGyver any similar solution from your own workspace. If you come up with something good, tell us in the comments!
Place the top part of the jack toward the offending bolt. For us, it was the bolt closest to the seatbelt. Place the blocks on the opposite side and expand the jack so that the base of the jack rests on the blocks in the middle. Expand it to hold.
Place the swivel seat back onto the seat base and loosely add the bolts to the three holes that worked fine.
Very slowly and carefully expand the jack. Seriously…slowly. You do NOT want to harm the seat base welding. This is not a strength competition.
Watch the offending bolt hole as you carefully stretch the seat base with the jack. When you think they align, try hand screwing in the bolt. If it’s not ready, continue to slowly expand. If it’s ready, great!
Tighten all the bolts down with the allen wrench. If you had to use the MacGyver method, do not remove the jack until all four bolts can be tightened sufficiently. Then remove the jack and blocks.
Rotate the top layer of the swivel seat to 45 degrees in order to properly access the screw holes. Align the seat screws with the swivel holes.
Use the other four bolts that came with the swivel seat to attach the seat to the swivel. Do this by placing the bolt upward (head on the bottom) through the holes. Then add the provided washer and nylon nut. Only add these loosely until all four are in, then tighten them all.
Re-attach the airbag underneath the seat using the 7mm socket.
As you test the swivel you will notice that the child seat attachment on the back blocks the path of the swivel seat as it rotates back. Why is there a child seat attachment in a cargo van? I’m not sure.
Remove the child seat attachment with a metal saw. We placed a paper bag inside the seat and a drop cloth underneath to try and catch all the metal shavings. Finding the sharpest metal saw in the garage, we sawed it off. We wanted to do this by hand to avoid sparks in the van with a Dremel. Once the hook was off, we filed it down with a metal file. Remove the bag and vacuum up the area to remove as many metal shavings as possible. Apply rustoleum to the filed areas. Let dry.
Annnnnd you’re done! Woohoo!
Overall Review of the Scopema Swivel Seat
We love this swivel seat. I am very short (5’2”) and my feet can still reach the ground in the front and back. No need for extra boxes! It’s also short enough that Karma doesn’t hit his head on the front shelf or visor.
I love being able to turn the seat and work. It totally changes the space and allows me to disassociate from “drive mode” to “house mode” simply by facing the opposite direction. We also love that we added this early because it helps add a space where I can sit to read directions as Karma tinkers. We often work well where I read instructions and he works. The swivel seat has enabled that beautifully.
Downside: It does squeak a little bit. We added the grease that came with it, but as we drive with it, it does make some noise. It’s certainly not enough noise to annoy us, but it exists. If we have music on, we do not hear it at all. As we live longer with it, we will update the review. So far, we’re definitely happy with it!
2 Years Later: Review
The swivel seat has held up so far for two years. Since we aim for remote campsites, we don’t go into front cab stealth mode often. This means that we frequently swivel our seat!
It is still secure and the bolts have all held in great! It functions well for our purposes. Since I’m short and usually the navigator in the passenger seat, I enjoy having my feet still touch the ground.
Minor things of note: first, it does have a mild squeak. It has not bothered us enough to do anything about, but it exists when we spin it. Second, we found that it swivels better when we crack the passenger door open. If we don’t, the back of the seat scrapes the door enough that it makes a mark.
Other than that, it has worked well for two years of van life!
My partner, Kevin also made a “no BS” video how to install the seat here.
Additional Swivel Seat Resources We Used
Above, I mentioned that we watched a few YouTube videos to aid our installation. The more helpful, short, but shaky installation video by VanRet49 helped us get an overall idea of what to do. In this video, you can clearly see what needs to be done and where things are located. It helped us that he also had a 2020 Ford Transit. However, we did not use the drill to enlarge the holes of the swivel seat, nor did we use the grinder. We were uncomfortable with the sparks that flew in his installation. You can find that video here.
The second YouTube video we found was slower and more methodical. Dori and Mena explain each step of the installation carefully and show a lot of detail. These two have a 2019 Ford Transit and did not have the hole line up issue that we had. This leads us to believe it may have been a 2020 problem. You can find their video here.
Finally, we chose the Scopema Swivel Seat in part because of the review it got in the comparison post by FarOutRide which you can find here. Their installation instructions were helpful, but they also did not have the hole line up problem that we had with their older Ford Transit.