Seat swivels to make the cab space useful when camping

We bought swivel plates so we can turn the driver and passenger seat around to face backwards. That way, when we’re camped out, the whole cab area becomes part of the living space. 

We chose CTA brand swivels. They are solidly made and feature a large central hole for passing cables through to the seat. The swivels turn on a large surface area of slippy plastic. Other brands use a small central pivot point and then rollers at the edges, but some users report that these start to wear out and rock over time.

There is a massive and still unresolved thread on seat swivels on the Sprinter Forum. Mercedes make their own brand swivels. They appear to be well-liked and sturdy. However, they are pretty much only available from the factory on new builds. Additionally, in 2016 Mercedes added airbags to the front seats and as a result they’ve stopped offering swivels or suspension bases.

Most of the available aftermarket brands come from Europe and are imported by one or more U.S. companies. Options include Sportscraft brand, sold by eurocampers.com and sprinterstore.com; an unidentified brand sold by shop4seats.com (AKA discountvantruck.com); Reimo and FASP brands which appear to no longer be imported to the USA, and the one we chose, CTA.

CTA seat swivel

The CTA swivels are available quite freely in Europe and the UK, but there only seems to be one U.S. importer. They charge a lot for each swivel and then a ton more for shipping, but this still worked out cheaper for us than buying from the UK and using a freight forwarding service. So, swivelsrus.com / sprinteraccessories.com (they are the same company) got our money. Their e-commerce site is from the dark ages and we had no shipping confirmation, but the swivels arrived quickly and in good condition.

One thing was really annoying though – the nuts they provided for the seat bolts were the wrong pitch (M10 1.25 rather than M10 1.5). We aren’t the only ones they sent these bolts to either. It’s sloppy and dangerous for swivelsrus to do this.

Now that they’ve arrived, we are wondering whether it was necessary to specify raised base plates for the replacement seats we’ve ordered. The rails on the CTA swivels are only a couple of millimeters lower than the central bolts. Looking at the front of the swivel where the catch attaches though, you can see why the extra clearance might be necessary. It rises up above the rails by an additional inch.

CTA swivel bolts aren't much higher than the side rails

The other issue with seat swivels is that they raise the height of the seat. Considering that one of us is 5’4″ tall and already uses a custom foot rest to feel comfortable in the passenger seat, every extra inch of height is an issue.

The swivelsrus site claims a 1.75″ height addition. An actual measurement of the thickness of the swivel gives 2-1/8″ at the rails, and 3-1/4″ at the front where the catch attaches.

CTA swivel height

The swivels weigh about 20 lbs each. They are not side-dependent. They will fit either on the passenger or driver side of the vehicle.

We’re going to wait to install these until after the new seats we’ve ordered turn up. No point ripping things to pieces twice in quick succession. After that, we’ll work out whether we need to order lower seat bases from Mercedes Benz or FASP to bring the seats back down to a suitable height or not.

Update: we ordered and installed the lower seat bases after using the swivels with our new seats for a while. We also decided that the driver’s side swivel isn’t too useful for us, given our current cabinet layout, so we’re only using the passenger side one right now.

6 Replies to “Seat swivels to make the cab space useful when camping”

    1. The CTA has a wider diameter swivel mechanism which should spread the load and stop it from rocking, but the Sportscraft has an offset swivel. Well, actually so does the CTA but it’s offset front-to-rear rather than side-to-side. With the Sportscraft, theoretically you don’t have to open the door to swivel the seat. Not sure if that’s a suitable benefit to make up for the narrower swivel mechanism or not. The CTA swivel action is very smooth. It only clips in place in its locked position. Otherwise, you can turn it to any position you want.

  1. You can not use a lower base as that was my intent also, I have the CTA and been playing around with it. The seat will conflict with the door handle, also I suspect the seat will swivel into the door map pocket, the swivel is half designed in my opinion. Look at the Outside Vans website under swivels seats, there is a picture showing the seats swiveled in a group of 4. If you look close you’ll see the swivel seat is above the door armrest occupying that space, there is no way to use the lower base. I’m still working on a solution.

    1. I’m hoping that the aftermarket seats I’m using will change things sufficiently for this to work. We’ll have to see. I have all the pieces for my install now, but I don’t have the time to work on the van right now.

  2. Hey there I just installed a lower seat base on the drivers side with a Swivels R Us swivel seat and the handbrake is too high and will not allow the top half on the swivel to clear it. I did not see any other posts that have this issue. Is it possible I ordered the wrong drivers base? I used the part numbers listed above..

    1. Jason, you’ll need to lower the handbrake too. There’s a collapsible handbrake made by Mercedes, or you can make an adapter from a piece of aluminum stock that lowers the handbrake by the required amount.

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