How To Upgrade Your RV Captain’s Chairs
One of the main reasons people choose RVs is they want to travel. Annually, some RVers put on hundreds or even thousands of miles.
Older RVs may have worn out or unsupportive seats and even some new models use cheaper seats as factory equipment. Upgrading to more comfortable, supportive RV captain’s chairs will enhance your travels, not to mention save your back!
So, are you stuck with what you have, or can you upgrade your RV captain’s chairs?
Selecting new RV captain’s chairs
First, you are going to have to find and select your new chairs. But where do you go to look for them?
Your first choice will be to purchase new chairs or used ones. If you decide to go used or at least see what’s out there, there may not be lots of options. Some damaged RVs are sold as parts, and online listings or a scrapyard may find you your chairs.
Finding used RV captain’s chairs
The disadvantage to this, as with all used and online purchases, is you can’t be sure of what you’re getting. You will have to be sure everything is there that you need as far as mounting plates, hardware, and wiring. You also likely won’t have any proof that all the functions work in the case of power options. If you are mechanically inclined and familiar with automotive electrical, you can save some money going this route.
However, just because someone is replacing seats they don’t like doesn’t mean they won’t be an upgrade for you. In this case, you may be able to see the chairs still installed and functioning before buying.
Buying new RV captain’s chairs
This is the more likely option. Although more expensive, you are getting new parts possibly with a warranty and customer support.
This allows you more choice for color and style as well. There aren’t a ton of different manufacturers to choose from when buying new. RecPro, Qualitex, and Villa are some of the most popular chairs you will find. Flexsteel is a large brand many companies still carry, however, they are no longer producing RV furniture.
Things to consider before buying
There are a couple of questions most people probably ask themselves when looking at their old RV chairs. First, will the new chairs bolt in easily? And second, what do I do with all the wires under the chair?
This will depend on your current chairs and the new ones you choose. If you have non-power chairs and/or are installing non-power ones, this will eliminate the wires.
As for the mounting of the new seats, the good news is many RV captain’s chairs have similar bolt patterns and will be easily replaced. Measure your current bolt pattern and double check before buying.
When purchasing, you will have the option to get just the chairs or chairs with bases. As mentioned, many bases are similar and your current bases along with electronics may not have to be touched.
Removing your old captain’s chairs
If you have just purchased chairs and are using your old bases, this process should be easy. The base, which is secured to the floor of your RV and contains any wiring, will remain in place. The chair will be connected to the base with nuts and bolts, in most cases, one on each corner.
In some RVs, it may be required to remove the entire unit from the floor in order to access the bolts connecting the chair to the base. Removing the base can be tricky as the nuts and bolts are sometimes rusty and/or seized. It is a good idea in the days prior to beginning this project to spray these nuts and bolts with a penetrating fluid like WD-40 or Liquid Wrench.
If your new chairs have wiring for power options, disconnect the plugs from your old chairs. Don’t cut any wires as they may be needed.
Once removed, this is a great time to clean all those years of grime that collected under the seat and maybe even find a couple of bucks!
Installing your new RV captain’s chairs
Now for the exciting part! Those soft, luxurious, new chairs are ready to be installed.
If it’s just the chairs, they will bolt up to your existing bases just as the old ones were removed. Check all the nuts and bolts; if any of the mounting hardware was stripped or starting to rust, replace it now.
If new bases were also purchased, determine whether it is best to install the base and chair separately or attach the chair and install them as one unit.
In the case your new RV captain’s chairs are powered units, you will have to reconnect the wiring. It is possible the new chairs can be connected to the original wiring via an aftermarket or supplied adapter. If this is not an option, the old and new wires will have to be connected by matching the correct wires between the two.
Wiring schematics will be required for both sets of wires and proper connections made. In many cases, this will be a job for an RV tech or mechanic familiar with automotive wiring. If your RV didn’t have power chair options, the job of installing powered ones will be complex and well beyond the scope of this article and most RVers.
Replacing RV captain’s chairs is not a cheap upgrade, but the look and feel of new chairs are so nice! If you like to put on miles, you might as well do it in maximum comfort.
RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.