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Replacing Our Old Motorhome Captain’s Chairs

Replacing Our Old Motorhome Captain’s Chairs

After more than 17 years of full-time use, our motorhome captain’s chairs finally began showing their age. The leather was wearing out and was looking worn and tearing at the seams. In addition, some of their powered functions weren’t working properly, including the lumbar support on the driver’s seat and the heated passenger seat.

In today’s post, we’ll take you through our process of buying replacement motorhome captain’s chairs, removing the old ones, and installing new ones.

How Did We Decide to Replace Our Motorhome Captain’s Chairs?

The captain’s chairs on our 2005 Newmar Mountain Aire get a lot of use! We’ve been traveling and living full-time in this (our second) motorhome for more than 17 years.

While they’ve served us well, both the driver’s and passenger’s seats were failing in various ways, showing their age and considerable wear.

The seat of one of our well-worn captain's chairs

The seat of one of our well-worn, 17-plus-year-old captain’s chairs.

 

Torn, fraying leather on an arm rest of one of our 17-year-old captain's chairs.

Torn, fraying “leather” of one of our 17-year-old captain’s chairs (While the seating surfaces are real leather, other areas of the driver and passenger seats are made of imitation/faux leather.

We considered removing them and having them repaired and reupholstered. But as we started looking into what that would cost, combined with the fact that we’d still need to remove them and reinstall them (and how would we drive while they were out for repair?!), we decided we’d rather replace them with new ones.

This way, we wouldn’t simply be forestalling the inevitable, waiting for something else to fail on these old pieces of furniture that are so heavily used.

Since we were heading through Indiana, the mecca of all things RV-related, we figured we could see about getting new ones.

Where Did We Buy Our New Motorhome Captain’s Chairs?

We considered our options and used Bradd & Hall for our replacement captain’s chairs. In addition to our history of excellent experiences with this company, there were a number of reasons why we chose them.

Since we were also planning to replace our aging (and aggravating!) pleated day/night window shades throughout the RV, Bradd & Hall made perfect sense. They’re a one-stop shop for this sort of thing, offering high-quality RV shades, furniture, flooring, and more. (For an in-depth review of our awesome new day/night shades, see our post on RV replacement blinds.)

Bradd & Hall offers captain’s chairs from Villa International and their own in-house brand. Our RV originally came with Villa seats. Since we felt they lasted a long time and served us so well over 17+ years of full-time use, we decided to replace them with the same brand.

Ultimately, after considering our options at Bradd & Hall and getting their input as well, we chose the Villa Integrity with UltraLeather and integrated seatbelts, which were basically a direct replacement for our original seats.

The failed seatbelt retraction system in our old motorhome captain's chair

We had integrated seatbelts on our 17-year-old captain’s chairs, but the seatbelt mechanism now failed to retract the seatbelts completely.

So, Bradd & Hall ordered our new captain’s chairs. While they can ship almost anything directly to you if you’re doing a DIY replacement, we had them shipped to their facility in Elkhart.

We knew we’d be coming through Indiana, so that made sense for us. (Fellow full-timers can surely commiserate with the need for identifying reliable places to receive shipments, especially extra-large ones!)

Bradd & Hall’s team handles lots of installations at their Elkhart facility. But we’re DIYers at heart. So when we arrived in Elkhart, we removed our two front seats and installed the new ones ourselves.

Once done, we left our old seats with Bradd & Hall. They have someone who rehabs them and then re-sells them, which is much better than going into a landfill!

How to Remove Captain’s Chairs from an RV

Removing the captain’s chairs from an RV is a bit of a process, and does take some muscle (they’re very heavy and unwieldy)! But it can be accomplished as a DIY project. Again, the weight of the chairs is the biggest issue (each of our old and new chairs weighs about 125 lbs, so they’re heavy and bulky, making them difficult to lift, and maneuver through the door).

Each seat is secured in place with four very large bolts. In our RV, those bolts go all the way through the floor. So, in order to access the nuts on the other end, Peter had to climb underneath the RV and use long socket extensions to reach them.

Removing the bolts holding the captain's chairs to the RV

Removing the bolts holding the captain’s chairs to the interior of the RV. The large bolts on our rig go down through the floor, secured with large nuts from below. While John worked inside, Peter slid under the RV to gain access to the nuts on that side. It was a very long reach to get up to them, but luckily, Peter has arms like an ape. LOL

An Excellent Tip from Bradd & Hall:

Bradd & Hall gave us a great tip we want to share with anyone considering removing their own captain’s chairs from an RV: they suggested it’s easiest to fully recline each seat before bringing it out of, or into, the RV. Then, turned on its side, each chair is easier to bring straight out through the door.

Because our seats are powered, they let us borrow a portable 12V battery pack they use themselves. It had alligator clips that supplied power to the new chairs while they were outside the RV. This allowed us to fully recline them before bringing them in through the door.

Important Note About Ordering New Captain’s Chairs

Be sure to confirm the pattern and spacing of the bolts for your existing chairs before ordering replacement chairs! It’s very important that the pattern and spacing of the bolts to secure your new chairs will match up with the pattern and spacing of the installation holes in your RV.

Not all manufacturers (of RVs or captain’s chairs) do it the same, so the spacing between bolts and/or the number of holes could be different than ours. This is one key reason we went with the same brand (Villa) seats our rig originally came with.

Both of our RV captains chairs removed from our motorhome

We successfully removed both captain’s chairs from our RV. It’s so much roomier now! LOL

Steps to Remove RV Captain’s Chairs

Before removing your motorhome captain’s chairs, you’ll need to have a socket wrench and the correct size socket. At least one or two long extensions can make it a lot easier to reach the nuts, which on our rig, are mounted very high up under the chassis. You’ll also want the correct size open-end or box wrench.

Captain’s chair removal from most RVs will be similar, though there may be some variations depending on the year, make, and model.

  1. Disconnect the power to the chair if it has electric controls.
  2. Disconnect the seatbelt (if it’s mounted to the wall instead of built into the seat like ours).
  3. At the base of the captain’s chair, on the floor, you’re likely to see four bolts. Confirm the size of the bolt heads & nuts (ours were 13/16), and have your socket wrench and extension(s) and an open-end or box wrench on hand.
  4. If there are nuts (vs bolts that are screwed directly into the chassis), locate and remove them. This will require someone working underneath the RV, which always requires caution, especially if it’s up on jacks. If needed, use socket extension(s) to reach up to where the nuts are located. Ours were just inboard of the front wheel wells.
  5. Slide the bolts out of their holes, and then maneuver the chair out through the door of the RV.

You’re done! The chair removal process isn’t complicated at all, but again, they can be very heavy and are best removed while in the reclined position, as noted above.

Now just replace the old captain’s chair with a dining room chair and take off!

(Do not do this! We’re joking!)

Peter using a dining room chair to demonstrate how funny he is. But don't be fooled, you can't use a dining room chair to replace your RV's captains chair.

Peter demonstrates his sense of humor and perhaps an overly-frugal plan for replacing our captain’s chairs!

Here are our new Villa Integrity captain’s chairs, fully installed (once Peter to stopped goofing around):

Completed installation of our two new RV captain's chairs

Our beautiful new captain’s chairs! (you can also get a glimpse of our new roll-down window shades). Keeping our RV as new as possible just makes our home more comfortable.

Where to Buy New Motorhome Captain’s Chairs

We chose Bradd & Hall for their high quality RV furniture and dedication to customer service, and we highly recommend them. Even if you’re not planning to be in the Elkhart area, they ship just about anything they carry just about anywhere you’re likely to be RVing.

As we noted earlier, be sure to confirm the bolt pattern and spacing before ordering new captain’s chairs for your RV. We also recommend that new chairs featuring the same types of controls (manual or electric) and seatbelt locations (wall-mounted or built into the seat) as your old chairs have. Direct replacement usually makes any project less complicated.

Have You Replaced Your RV Captain’s Chairs?

If you’ve replaced your motorhome captain’s chairs, we’d love to hear about it. What seats did you choose, and did you do the replacement yourself? Leave a comment below and share your experience.

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Chuck

Monday 16th of January 2023

Hi you all, enjoy your articles. Wondering what you would do if your seats did not have power, just manual and hard to use. Very tight. Have a 2018 Forest River Georgetown 3GT. TIA Chuck

Chuck

Friday 20th of January 2023

@TheRVgeeks, Yep, you did, kinda. I want to replace the manual seats with power. If to much trouble just the base. Chuck

TheRVgeeks

Monday 16th of January 2023

Hi Chuck... thanks! Glad you enjoy our posts! When you say you're wondering what we would do... is that in regard to replacing a manual seat -vs- powered? If so, there are plenty of non-powered options available (from Villa, Lambright, Bradd & Hall, etc) that you could choose a replacement from. Or are you referring to it being a tight fit to get out of the RV? In that case, a manually-operated seat would have the advantage of not requiring a portable battery pack or access to 12V power to recline them to make them easier to fit out the door. Just manually recline them and proceed.

Or did we miss the point of your question altogether? 😉

Larry Lee

Sunday 15th of January 2023

2014 Tuscany xte Both chairs and sofa began flaking off faster and faster. Decided to replace sofa with two recliners. Went to Laz-Y-Boys & bought two chairs that fit us with our short legs, plus we purchased enough matching material to have both captain's chairs covered. All matches beautifully. We are fortunate I was able to repair all malfunctions on our original chairs to allow reupholstering instead of replacing.

Rosemarie Davenport

Saturday 14th of January 2023

Our seats in our 2016 Thor Venetian were shredding. Fortunately, we live near a marine supply company. We removed our old seats and I carefully took apart the seats so I could use the pieces as a pattern to reupholster our seats. The marine supply company had marine grade vinyl in our color. Rather than a contrasting center panel, we bought diamond patterned panels. My husband had gifted me several Christmases ago a new sewing machine capable of handling heavier fabrics , so it made sewing this heavy weight vinyl easier. He had to handle the electrical parts. I was able to reuse the old stuffing and the zippers on the armrests. It took me quite awhile, but the seats came out beautifully! Now our couch could use a reupholstering, but removing that may be more difficult because it converts to a bed. Also, unless the marine supply company got another bolster of the vinyl because we bought all they had in that color, I won’t be able to match it. Overall, it cost us less than the price of one new chair to reupholster both. Not a job for an inexperienced person!

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 14th of January 2023

Sounds like you and your husband are a great DIY team, Rosemarie! Next time our captain's chairs need new fabric, you may see us in your driveway, LOL! 😉

Bob

Saturday 14th of January 2023

You didn't address the electrical hook-up. Are all plugs the same regardless of the manufacturer?

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 14th of January 2023

Sorry about that Bob. Ours was literally just two wires - positive and ground, and the plugs were the same (another benefit of a direct swap of the same brand).

james R conner

Saturday 14th of January 2023

2011 Tiffin 32BA Seats were peeling/Terrible/ Flexsteel had problems with 100s of them. Bought seat covers for each captain chair from Bauer Rv Upholstery 7680 Commerce Park, Unit C Dubuque, IA 52002 Covers match perfectly takes time to remove and put on covers but I think anyone can do it total cost $1350 for both, plus my labor but what the heck gives me something to do I also negotiated free shipping.

wayne thomas

Saturday 14th of January 2023

@james R conner, 2011 Newmar Ventana, same Flexsteel problem. Had chairs and sofa and ottoman recovered at local auto uphostery shop. NOT Cheap! Has held up very well for 5 yrs.

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 14th of January 2023

Thanks for sharing your experience, James!

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