As I prepare to install rear seat belts in the '17 Touring for the grandkids, I'm curious to see how others have done it.
Joe, thanks for opening up this can of worms again. This topic has been discussed at length a number of times and your going to hear from both sides. So I might as well give you my thought to start it off. I understand your well meant intentions of trying to keep the grandkids safe.
Think about these scenario's. If your touring car was to flip in an accident, would you want to be strapped in or be able to be thrown free, away from the car? If you to have a front impact, would a safety belt help the driver with out a shoulder belt? If the wood and metal body would detach during an accident and your strapped to the frame, what will be the outcome?
I personally don't want to be strapped into a structure that was not designed for seat belts.
Even Ts don't turn turtle in most accidents.
About half of the people thrown from cars are fatalities.
I have my belts strapped to the seat. The seat can provide some protection, attached to the frame or not.
The highest risk is rearending another car.
In 1966 I was strapped into a structure that was not designed for seat belts, and it saved my life. I fell asleep and drove my 1953 Willys pickup into a tree at 50 mph. Luckily the truck had aftermarket lap belts.
Are there incidents where seat belts fail to prevent injury, or even cause it? Sure. But the odds are overwhelmingly in the opposite direction. I'd be a rich guy if I had a dollar for every time the phrase died when he was thrown from the vehicle appeared in the newspaper. I'd rather take my chances inside than be splattered on the concrete like a bug on a windshield.
Hmm, another voice of experience. I did cartwheels in a beater 1951 VW sedan after skidding on ice in West Germany in January 1967. The driver's door popped open and the car landed on it. My lapbelt kept be from being hurt at all. Without it, I'm sure I would have been where that door was.
Can of worms or not, safe to install or not, in some states minors MUST be belted in a car. Period no exceptions. If the car has no seat belt then they (in the eyes of the law) cannot be in that car. That being said, I have often had kids in my beltless T Quiet country backroads with no traffic are a blessing.
Try to find a good anchor spot in the rear of your touring. Locking onto the frame horns at the rear bolt mounts of the body may be a good place,my '24 has some nice looking sq. nuts that run up thru the wood sill that may be a good place.
Normally you can find accessory seat belts with long enough straps to be mounted in these spots.
Have not done a rear seat. But have installed belts in the front seat of my '27 touring, that was easy as the body mount bolts are right there to use as anchor spots.
Belts, yea, you will have controversy,of safety, of laws, etc.....but you have your choices. Mine was piece of mind, so that the grandson wouldn't wiggle up or try to move around on me when out alone. A T driver's hands have to be on the wheel and throttle lever too Remember the day's when my dad used to just stretch his arm across the bench seat of his Oldsmobile, when approaching a quick stop...and that big ole arm would go across my chest...reassuring him and restraining me...
Same today....the belts in my T touring reassure my daughters that their sons are 'restrained'...
One of the problems with youngsters in any car without a belt is their feet don't reach the floor, so they can't brace themselves like an adult when you brake: a lap belt has got to be a good idea.
As regards protection in major accidents, the T is just plain unsafe in any argument with a modern car, but I would still feel happier being strapped to it than thrown through the windshield or over the side.
Lagging into the wood is probably your best bet. If you go for the metal instead back it up with some extra metal. It's surprising how many people get into a T for the first time and look for the belts out of force of habit. Go for it if, even just for peace of mind. It goes back to a car safety documentary I saw years ago where the crashed a 1930 Chevy sedan into a barrier at 25 MPH. The child crash dummy flew out through the windshield. The 2 adults in front would have been toast anyway and the car was almost a total wreck but that kid would have made it if he hadn't taken flight.
My personal take on it is that you should not mix two design concepts that were not meant to compliment each other. In modern cars, seatbelts are one part of an overall design system meant to protect the occupants. Model Ts had no such design intent so, to add seatbelts is to introduce the chance for many possible unforeseeable, unintended outcomes.
There are no hard rules here however. Steve, in his story above feels the he was helped through the use of add-on belts in his 1953 Willys. He also states that they were "aftermarket lap belts", so maybe some real design work was done to aid in the integration. That is not likely to be the case when one of us decides to install belts in our Ts.
If you decide to add belts, please do NOT anchor them to the frame. There is really very little that holds a T body to the frame. If there should be separation, the seatbelt and subsequently, your body, will be last two things holding the body to the chassis.
In all the crash pictures on here over the last seven years there has never been one that shows a body seperation if you are hit hard enough to take the body off the frame you would most likely be gone anyway. Seat belts in a model t are mainly to keep you from falling out or bouncing around.
I think seat belts in an open car is like seat belts on a motorcycle. Helmets would provide more protection against really serious life threatening accidents.
Here is anther recent thread with a bunch of ideas:
Most motorcycles tip over in a wreck. Most cars don't.
Depends on the wreck.
My daughter wanted seat belts in her 1914 touring. Yes I know most of the pros and cons but she said..
I brought up a long threaded rod from the chassis for the center and fastened one end of the belts to that. At the outside, I used the fender mounting. Everybody is happy.
I also installed them in the speedster, they worked well when I lost the steering and hit a small tree. Heather slid under the belt and her feet broke the windscreen. I didn't hit the steering column, so I Guess they worked in a small accident.
The operative word here is most. As Ralph pointed out, even most T's don't turn turtle in a wreck. Sure it happens. But I'd be interested to see the numbers comparing how many people are killed in open car rollovers versus those killed when they go flying and go splat. I expect the numbers aren't even close.
I agree it would be nice to have numbers and hazards in Model T wrecks to make an informed decision. Of course is doesn't help that based on the number of T's and the total lack of safety features on it, they are undoubtedly the most dangerous cars on the road.