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Willys M Jeeps Forums :: View topic - 3-point safety belts on M38A1
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3-point safety belts on M38A1

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Joined: Sep 22, 2022
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2023 5:59 am    Post subject: 3-point safety belts on M38A1 Reply with quote

Hi everyone,
just wondering if anyone has ever tried using a M31C machine gun pedestal as the mounting point for front seat 3-point safety belts in a '56 M38A1? (trying to keep my jeep as close to original as possible so I'd hate putting in a roll cage of sorts). The belt's top fixation point could then be attached to the pedestal instead of the B-pillar in a modern car, so the driver would have a belt configuration as found on the passenger seat in a normal car. I realize there's a certain trade-off between being trapped in the seat belts during a roll-over without a roll bar, and being launched forward through the front screen during a frontal collision without belts. I think the chance of a collision is much more likely during normal road use. Anyway, looking forward to hear your thoughts!
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Joined: Oct 02, 2014
Posts: 1872
Location: South Carolina, Dorchester County

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2023 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Patrick, and welcome to this forum!
Ah yes, the infamous seat belt discussion!
You can search old posts back thru history on this topic.

I suspect that seat belt engineering, especially the geometry of placing the attaching points to safely restrain a human body without inducing damage must be a very carefully designed science.

I think a 3-point seat belt mount on a machine gun pedestal would look, well, goofy.
And if the geometry is bad you could be causing a lot more harm than good in an accident.

Where I live, belts aren't required if not original factory equipped.
But I have removable lap belts only for the front seats.
Yes, I selected the anchor points and I'm no safety belt engineer.
I keep them stowed in the tool box most of the time.

The jeep wasn't engineered for safety. All steel and no "crumple zones".
A seat belt (even 3-point) won't keep the steering column from being a spear pointed at your chest in a head on collision.
I think I'd rather take my chances and be thrown clear.

Driving a 70 year old jeep without seat belts while sitting on the gas tank in modern traffic isn't for everybody.

I make a point of running with headlights on all the time, and have the large gama-goat lenses on the tail lights.

Good luck!
Ron D.
1951 M38 Unknown Serial Number
1951 M100 Dunbar Kapple 01169903 dod 5-51

“The only good sports car that America ever made was the Jeep."
--- Enzo Ferrari

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Joined: Nov 16, 2021
Posts: 63
Location: NE Washington

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2023 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


I applaud your interest in safety.
Using the mount for a shoulder harness is a good idea.

My best comment, after driving a CJ-5 as a daily driver for several years (it was a '77, so it came with factory belts and harnesses as well as a factory roll bar), is to drive VERY carefully.
To restate the obvious...In an old Jeep, it's up to you to be crumple zones, side beams, plus the CJ-5/M38A1 short wheel base issues.
So, not a favorite of the "health and safety" nanny brigade.

I'm trying to keep my Air Force-marked M38A1 stock, but I wanted seatbelts.
Aftermarket seat belts weren't common when M38A1s were new, so I asked myself "what would an Air Base do if the local regs mandated seatbelts?"

My dad was in the Air Force, as a kid I remember that ALL privately owned cars on base had to be retrofitted with seatbelts, circa 1963-65...long before the federal laws came into effect for the '68 model year. Then, you could take your car to the on base Texaco for installation or go to Western Auto off base, but in the period when my Jeep was new (it's a '55), I'm guessing aftermarket seat belts weren't common.

So I figured if some safety-minded Wing/Group/base commander wanted seatbelts in military vehicles, they would get aircraft style seat belts from base supply. Mine is marked as a vehicle with the Troop Carrier unit (today it would be called an Airlift Wing) my father flew with when I was born and the Jeep was new, so the base motor pool would have aircraft passenger seatbelts available.

I'm into antique aircraft and warbirds, friends gave me old units which I sent to an aviation parts supply house for overhaul with cleaned up metal and new webbing. The refurbishment cost was only $200 for both. Now you can get generic modern push button belts for less, but they would have looked out of place in an open vintage Jeep.

The belts themselves look like this...(before overhaul)...

Anyway, just an idea for period looking belts.
1955 M38A1 MD 82551
Former owner/restorer of 1977 CJ-5, stock with factory V-8.
Used as a daily driver for seven years.

Last edited by JBJeep on Sun Jan 08, 2023 1:42 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Joined: Apr 04, 2005
Posts: 16202
Location: Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2023 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting story JB. I was in the Air Force 1966 thru 1989. When we needed replacement or original installation seatbelts for our flightline maintenance trucks we just cut a work order to the base fab shop and they would order the metal pieces thru base supply and sew their belt fabric to them for us.
Wes K
45 MB, 51 M38, 54 M37, 66 M101A1, 60 CJ5, 76 DJ5D, 47Bantam T3-C & 5? M100

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