Driver's Seat Ergonomics - Unfair Takes A Seat

The Project Unfair Camaro gets closer to completion as we focus on the ergonomics of the cockpit

John Parsons Jul 18, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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The steering column is from ididit, with a tilt column. The most important part of the steering is the hands part: a 13-inch suede MOMO steering wheel tied to the ididit column with an NRG quick-release setup. On the other end of the column are Borgeson stainless steel U-joints and steering shaft that connect to the Tony Woodward rack.

Fabrication Sequence

The DSE dash insert defines the side-to-side location of the steering column, and the first thing to do was see if the Cobra seat would line up well with the column. On the other end, we had to make sure the column would connect to the rack. When the car was at Coast getting its cage, Tim Christ told me that I should roll the rack servo up so that it pointed over the motor mount, rather than under. Doing that meant that I only needed two U-joints instead of four as I had originally planned.

With the column roughly placed and the seat position generally worked out, it was time to tackle the pedals. I used Wilwood's forward-mount pedal kit and took the pedals out of the frame. From there, I added one of their balance-bar setups where the brake pedal used to be. I mounted the pedal frame to the firewall and hung the masters and connected the balance bar. With everything roughly in place, it's time to make all the parts, brackets, and hardware to keep it there but still allow adjustment. Check out how we did all that in the photos that follow.

Most of the time our stories read as if we progress from point to point and never make a mistake. That's not the case. The truth is we make mistakes as often as the next guy; it's just that we don't have to write about them.

These errors can be about not knowing enough to know better, like the floor area you can see in this month's article. Once the headers and exhaust was complete through there, it was obvious we could move the floor, and a few quick minutes sizing up the pedal situation from a prototype seat fit was all it took to get the cutting tools out.

However, there's another almost major error lurking in this story. Compare the seat bracket in the photo above with the final seat bracket photos in the main story. See the difference? The rear bracket was moved back, and it now bolts to the seat tube and not to the rollcage sill tube.

The reason for that change is that I consulted with Joe Marko of HMS Motorsports before making my final welds. Joe is a NASCAR safety consultant who works with the various teams to help them build safe seat mounts and even more importantly, safe harness mounts. Joe took one look at my "hey, look at what I did" photo and immediately took issue with it. He pointed out that the lap belt would have to ride over the top of the rear seat bracket. Belts should never cross over a non-smooth surface because that can lead to small tears that lead to major catastrophes at high speed.

Joe had another problem with my original seat brackets: He pointed out that my original design seemed oriented to supporting the driver's weight. He went on to say that supporting the driver's weight is the easy part--the hard part is keeping the seat in place during a severe accident when the vehicle, seat, and driver experience 12g forces. That usually occurs in a horizontal plane to the driver's weight at rest and is why the rear seat bracket is now oriented to have its most strength in the case of frontal collision, and why all the other seat brackets have a gusset for improved strength. --John Parsons


Wilwood Engineering
Camarillo, CA 93012
Tecumseh, MI 49286
Prodigy Customs
Apopka, FL
II Much Fabrication
Germantown, MD
Coast Chassis Design
Daytona Beach, FL 32119


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