Home Life on the Road Bus Projects

Shopping for RV Seats in Elkhart, IN

When you own a bus, or well, any home actually – there’s always a to-do list a mile long of potential future projects. Our lovely Zephyr is no exception.

We bought her almost 3 years ago for a song, but knowing full well that it would unending upgrade projects. So when we have access to resources, we try to make the best of it and accomplish what we can.

Since we were coming to the RV capitol of the world, we knew this would be a fantastic place to seek out new front captains seats, a long overdue project.

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Not that there was anything wrong with our old seats – we could probably get another decade out of these babies?

Several RV manufacturers are in Elkhart, and thus there are surplus stores abound that sell various parts. There’s also several renovation shops in the area who specialize in helping folks like us out.

Believe it or not, Kiki is not the culprit! The seats were already in pretty bad shape when we bought the bus.

Believe it or not, Kiki is not the culprit! The seats were already in pretty bad shape when we bought the bus.

Our difficulty in any project like this is that we hate planning in advance. We route by serendipity, which means our choices are limited to what we can get done NOW. While we could have ordered seats in any color & material & style we wanted to exactly match our interior, that would have been a 6-8 week special order.

We also had the complication that the driver’s seat is an air ride seat – which we knew our options would be slim to replace, and because of the shifter, the area is rather small to fit something new into.

Before heading in Elkhart, we put out some feelers to companies in the area and also picked the brain of our RVing rockstar friend Nick Russell. He outfitted his previous bus conversion mostly by surplus stores in the Elkhart area.

$650/pair seats at RV Factory Surplus.

$650/pair seats at RV Factory Surplus.

We started our search first by visiting a couple of the surplus stores in the area. We found a pair of seats that would do the trick for $650/pair – but we would be on our own to do the installation ourselves. Given the complication of switching out an air ride seat, we weren’t completely comfortable with this.

We also visited some independent interior renovation shops who had ‘take outs’ from coaches they were working on. This yielded an option of a fancy used 6-way power seats out of a Monaco for $1000/pair. But they were way too wide for our narrow body vintage bus, so we passed on those.

The Bradd & Hall close-out store.

The Bradd & Hall close-out store.

Our next stop was to Bradd & Hall. When we attended the FMCA Perry, GA Rally earlier this year we visited their booth and connected with Charles. He showed enthusiasm for vintage buses, and has kept in touch sense reassuring us that they can help us out with a solution at any budget level.

We were quite impressed with their show room – featuring both brand new Flexsteel products, and a close-out room with some great deals. Charles greeted us, and very patiently let us try out all of the options that we’d be able to have installed that very day.

The Lexington $495/pair 'take out' option - tempting to go cheap, but glad we didn't.

The Lexington $495/pair ‘take out’ option.

The Flexsteel $895/pair option - pretty comfy.

The Flexsteel $895/pair option – pretty ok.

At first, we were quite intrigued with a set of take-out Lexington seats for just $495/pair – even cheaper than the surplus store we had checked out earlier. Charles got them setup to try out on a temporary mount, but they didn’t feel right to us – a bit too stiff in the lumbar and the arm rests too high.

Flexsteel 517 at $620/each. But they feel JUST right!

Flexsteel 517 at $620/each. But they feel JUST right!

It is important for your ‘butt glove’ ‘to be comfortable, especially for the driver. And our passenger seat also swivels to become part of our living room when parked.

We tried out another set of close-out Flexsteel seats for $895/pair which were better.

And of course we were also trying out all of the options on the main showroom floor – as Charles said any of them could also be installed. We kept coming back to one set that just felt great to both of our behinds.

And in the end – that’s what we went with.  Brand new, haloleather (faux leather) Flexsteel 517 for $620/each. A bit more than going with take-outs or surplus options, but not nearly as expensive as some of the other showroom models, which can go as high as $1200/each.

Charles got us pulled into the shop garage, and got them installed for us. There was some extra adjusting that needed to be done to convert the air ride seat over, so we’re very glad we had the expertise of a professional to do it right. Charles was able to use all of our existing pedestal mounts and hardware with a little refurbishing.

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Let’s get this done!

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Charles getting the old stuff out.

Huge improvement!!  Check that long overdue project off our list!

Huge improvement!! Check that long overdue project off our list!

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Kiki approves! (Just watch those nails!)

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Good bye!

Next Up: Our next post will update you on a bunch of other bus projects we took care of while in Elkhart, all in prep of installing our solar panels this summer!

Special Announcement: We’ve accepted an invitation from friends Nikki & Jason of Gone with the Wynns to join them at the National Fleetwood Rally in Goshen, IN next week (which is being co-hosted with the FMCA GLAMARAMA). We figured.. why not? Another rally! Sure.

If you’re going, look us up.. and keep an eye on RVillage.com for get-togethers we might plan!  Afterwards, we think the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is calling us on our westward trek for the summer. Seems like a great place to focus on getting ‘The Mobile Internet Handbook’ re-write done.

(Less than 12 hours to go on the funding campaign!)

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19 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. My husband and I are in Michigan and have an Airstream Classic motorhome 1992. We are currently looking to replace the driver seat and passenger seat, but learned it could be about $4000 through Flexsteel. I’m just now researching different RV seat companies. Any suggestions would be very helpful. Thanks in advance! Happy travels!!

  2. Thank you Cherie and Chris! I’m in Elkhard working right now and my vintage bus needs bits, its very dangerous as you can get carried away spending! I just spoke to the same showroom where you got your seats from. Very excited about getting my old 64 bus interior up to spec!

  3. We were inspired by your seat purchase, but, alas, there is no such magic available in TX that we could find. Ours is a school bus on a Freightliner base, so we wound up getting Seats, Inc., Legacy Silver seats from the Freightliner dealer here (where we had many repairs done). The seats are comfortable, fully recline, and we had them add swivel bases. Now I’m curious about your seat position, Cherie. The photos make it look like your feet must dangle over the stairs. We’re still debating where to mount my seat to avoid that problem. Would you please tell me more about yours? Thanks

  4. Hi Folks,
    Your story about visiting Elkhart is exactly what I am planning in about 3 wks.

    My wife and I just retired and sold our large place on a lake near GEORGIAN Bay in Canada.

    Want to upgrade our new class C Adventurer 23′

    Leather seats and dinette. You appear to have had great success.

    Any further suggestions would be a help.

  5. Wonderful seats! Did it offer any kind of ergonomic options for your back? I’ve only driven 26-foot UHaul trucks (I’m guessing ours will be bigger), but the stress of driving it killed my back.

    • They had other seat options with six-way power adjust, lumbar airbags, and even retractable footrests (for the passenger – not the driver!). We went with more basic options, but picked seats that felt great after our extensive sit-testing.

      – Chris

  6. It was my pleasure! I had seen your coach days before I met you both! I was eager and excited to help in your seat replacement! I couldn’t have met two nicer people who were very patient with us at braddandhall during our busy season. I really appreciate meeting you both. Thank you!

  7. Let us know if you’re coming through mid-west MI – we’re in a seasonal spot in a nice little city park. The transient spots are $25/night for full hookups.

  8. Ditto what Linda said. I just purchased and installed new bucket seats in my truck (had the bench type) and boy! are they comfortable. I’m sure my drive to Alaska will be much more enjoyable. I was going to tell you where I got them and for how much, but I see you’ve already made your purchase. Happy Trails!!

  9. Getting the right seats make so much difference in the pleasure of travel. So glad you found the right ones for you.

  10. Wow! That’s quite a nice improvement. I wouldn’t mind doing a little RV window shopping in Elkhart. We have to drive right past it on our way to Chicago this month. Any suggestions on stores or companies to visit? New window shades are among the items on our list.

    • Our next post will be about our wonderful experience with Master Tech RV – they handle all sorts of renovations. Bradd & Hall also does shades and interior renovation work. Both great companies.

  11. Good choice on the flexsteel. We bought a 1974 GMC in 2012 and had to drive it across Canada to bring it home. Outrunning early winter, we drove long days for 10 days. We were new to the flexsteel captain chairs, but they supported our aging (close to 70) butts in comfort the entire journey. Never once did we feel stiff when we got up.

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