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.
- 1) How Did We Decide to Replace Our Motorhome Captain’s Chairs?
- 2) Where Did We Buy Our New Motorhome Captain’s Chairs?
- 3) How to Remove Captain’s Chairs from an RV
- 4) Where to Buy New Motorhome Captain’s Chairs
- 5) Have You Replaced Your RV Captain’s Chairs?
- 6) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews, Giveaways & More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Disconnect the power to the chair if it has electric controls.
- Disconnect the seatbelt (if it’s mounted to the wall instead of built into the seat like ours).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!)
Here are our new Villa Integrity captain’s chairs, fully installed (once Peter to stopped goofing around):
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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