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The Final Word on Dino GT4 Seat Belt Repair

Discussion in '308/328' started by oelboxer, Mar 22, 2019.

  1. oelboxer

    oelboxer Karting

    Apr 4, 2018
    74
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    Matt Wright
    #1 oelboxer, Mar 22, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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    As many Dino 308 GT4 owners know, the seat belt receivers are problematic. Commonly referred to as "exploding seat belts," the receivers can quickly become useless when the delicate plastic cover surrounding the PRESS labeled release button cracks, and the internal parts spill out. When I bought my GT4, the driver's seat belt receiver was held together with copious amounts of duct tape, while the passenger side was totally inop. I searched for a replacement set of receivers for six months and found nothing. I was determined to keep the car as original as possible, so the idea of buying the completely incorrect and modern-looking replacement seat belt kit wasn't appealing to me. On top of that, installation involves the arduous process of removing the back seat and drilling out all of the side panel rivets in order to access the seat belt reels. It seemed ridiculous to rip out the entire factory system and replace it with incorrect belts and receivers when all I needed were two receivers or the parts to repair them. At one point, Sltillim (Spencer) attempted to do a short 3D printed run of the plastic covers, which would have allowed us to repair our old receivers, but it proved unfruitful.

    It just didn't seem possible that there was nothing out there to keep the car original. I began researching the DIno belts, looking for any piece of info that might lead me to some parts. I discovered that the original belts for US cars were manufactured by Robbins, a well known and often used maker of safety belts in the '70s. So I started researching other companies who used Robbins belts in that time period. GM was a biggie, and I found a belt that looked exactly like the DIno belt. Jackpot, or so I thought. I ordered a receiver. When it arrived I tested it in the car and found that the Dino male section would go into the receiver but never click to lock. Then I tried it in the back seats and it worked perfectly. I had never before realized that the front and back seat belts were slightly different - the make ends on the front seat belts were approx 4mm longer than the rears. This extra 4mm was south of the square hole that locks the belt in place, which meant the GM pieces were too shallow, by 4mm. Discouraged, I kept digging. I found that VW had utilized Robbins seat belts, as well. Many image searches later, I found a Volkswagen belt that looked perfect, down to being what looked like 3-4mm taller. The belt only appeared in 72-73 Beetles. I found a set, ordered them, and was so happy when I heard the sound of that click that meant the belt was locked.

    So that's the long of it. If you want to keep your Dino GT4 original, and want to repair your original belts without having to take apart the entire car, read the step-by-step tutorial I threw together.
     
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  2. oelboxer

    oelboxer Karting

    Apr 4, 2018
    74
    Full Name:
    Matt Wright
    It's pretty easy to do this repair. It takes a little patience but not at all difficult.

    The first thing to do is to remove the little plastic cover from your donor VW seat belt. To do this, I found the best tool was a very small flat head screwdriver. There are four small tabs that hold the plastic cover in place, and you can see in the photo below the orientation of these tabs. Popping the upper tabs first seemed to work well. They're a little more delicate than the lower tabs so I found it best to minimize the stress on them. Use the photo as a guide to where you need to push the tabs so they release. Once I released one side of the top, I stuck another screwdriver in the gap to keep the cover from just popping back in while I worked on the other side. The photo at the very bottom shows the seat belt shell so that you can get a better idea of where the locking tabs sit when installed, and where you need to gently pry.
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  3. oelboxer

    oelboxer Karting

    Apr 4, 2018
    74
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    Matt Wright
    One the cover is safely off the donor belt, you'll have the following parts. The image below shows what order and orientation the parts fit into your seat belt shell. Transfer the parts over to your Dino shell and install them in this order. Of course, if your original Dino parts look better than the VW parts, use them instead. I picked the best of each to make the nicest complete belt possible.
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  4. oelboxer

    oelboxer Karting

    Apr 4, 2018
    74
    Full Name:
    Matt Wright
    Finally, with the inner pieces sitting in the seat belt shell, you can click the plastic cover into place. I found it easiest to lay the pieces into the shell, then with my finger through the hole of the plastic cover I pressed the button all the way in, the clicked the cover into place. Super easy! Now you have your seat belts back, and with far less expense and work than replacing the entire reel and buckle assembly. And if you're anything like me you love keeping things original and correct.
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  5. oelboxer

    oelboxer Karting

    Apr 4, 2018
    74
    Full Name:
    Matt Wright
    Finally, if your plastic/rubbery seat belt support cover was as trashed as mine was, I was interested in seeing if I could restore that part, as well. As it turned out, I was able to modify the VW covers to almost perfectly match the original Dino pieces. As you can see from this photo, they are very close to identical at the top, but the VW part is much longer and ends in a finished off, rounded piece. The Dino part ends more abruptly with a simple bolt hole at the bottom. My answer was to trim the VW part to mimic the Dino part. To remove the cover sleeve from the VW belt, you have to deal with a small rivet near the base. Since I was cutting that part away anyway, I just popped the plastic from the rivet with a screwdriver. A simple tracing was plenty to get the exact trim my Dino pieces had. Then I drilled the bolt hole out and it was a nearly perfect match.
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    Above you can see that the cover sleeves are almost identical except for the length and the way the ends are finished.

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    Below, you can see the finished product on the left, along with the raggedy remnants on the right.

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  6. sltillim

    sltillim Formula 3
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    Nov 22, 2009
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    Spencer Tillim
    I made a 3-D printed cad model and sent them to verrel to make a production replacement. I’ll check with him to see where hes at.
     

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