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Old 07-03-2019, 02:18 PM   #1
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Riveted Seat Belt Rail from Hell -- Help!

I'm working on a 2004 Ford E-450 Collins Bus and am having trouble with 4 seatbelt rails (were the seatbelts were bolted to) that are riveted onto the side of the bus.


The rails have tons of rivets, and metal protrudes out above and below the rivets. This is making it impossible for me to get an air chisel (or regular chisel) underneath the rivets. I've tried poking out the center pins and taking an angle grinder to the top of the bolt, but it's not enough to knock them loose. I've tried and thought about grinding all the way through the length of the rails to split it in half and have access to the rivets, but I tried and realized that would take dozens of angle grinder blades, not to mention time and energy. I can't get a pry bar or chisel behind the rail -- it's too tight against the bus.



What should I do?! I don't want to leave them on there...


My other question is that behind the seatbelt rail is solid metal which is a part of the framework of the bus. It seems to me that below that rail is the chair rail and I've heard not to remove it. Is that indeed the chair rail? If so, how do I get to the interior wall cavity behind it so I can remove / replace insulation?
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Old 07-03-2019, 02:58 PM   #2
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That is actually one of my next projects. I was hoping, like the L track rail above the windows, that punching out the center of the rivet will allow drilling the rivet out. If that works I'll let you know. I got both upper rails off in about an hour, maybe less (it's been awhile).

Chris
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Old 07-03-2019, 02:59 PM   #3
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STOP, do not remove them they are not seat belt rails, but chair rails and are part of the structural integrity of the body. The insulation is just batt insulation and can easily be pulled from the cavities. Fill the cavities with rigid foam or spray foam insulation.
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:10 PM   #4
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Ah... they did have the seats bolted to them... so I guess that makes it a chair rail? Okay so can I angle grind off the white sheet metal below that rail to expose the open cavity and just leave the rail there riveted to the metal framework?
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:15 PM   #5
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If the rails aren't easily or safely removed, I would repurpose them as mounting rails for your finishing out. Mounting cabinets, etc. Just my $0.02.
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:25 PM   #6
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I'm not sure about @ForestGarden, but I was hoping to remove mine to get the upper panel out. If I can do that without removing the rails, I'm happy to do so. Maybe that exploration is what I'll work on next, as it seems that this works. @ForestGarden could you let me know how you pulled back the upper panel? Did you have to cut it just above the chair rail? If so did you use snips or a grinding wheel?

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForestGarden View Post
Ah... they did have the seats bolted to them... so I guess that makes it a chair rail? Okay so can I angle grind off the white sheet metal below that rail to expose the open cavity and just leave the rail there riveted to the metal framework?
No, its not the lip that provides the support. It's the mass of metal riveted to 1000 points to tie everything together.
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
STOP, do not remove them they are not seat belt rails, but chair rails and are part of the structural integrity of the body. The insulation is just batt insulation and can easily be pulled from the cavities. Fill the cavities with rigid foam or spray foam insulation.
I'm not sure this is as structural on a Collins body as it is on most busses. There's a horizontal rib just behind the rail that it's riveted to, so while it helps stabilize the bus, it's not a major part, I don't think. This is something that's never really been shown on the Collins bodies to see if it really matters or not...

Chris
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
No, its not the lip that provides the support. It's the mass of metal riveted to 1000 points to tie everything together.

Thanks for your thoughts everyone. Cany anyone else weigh in on if they think its structural?

o1Marc - Im not sure I understand what you are saying... What Im thinking youre saying is I should not remove the rivets / bar but I also shouldnt remove the sheet metal below it? Then how am I supposed to access the cavity behind it to remove and replace insulation?
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:54 PM   #10
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Hey Chris, I just used an angle grinder -its thin metal and was easy. I just did a quick and dirty job because it was a test. If you just want access to that cavity and dont mind the rail I wouldnt bother taking the rail off.

In my case, I want the rail gone of its not structural for a flat wall. I dont need to bolt furnature to it because my bus will be stationary.
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