ZJ Rear Headrest Upgrade
Well, my son is almost five years old and in a nice booster seat. The problem is, he's tall enough that his head is already above the top of the seat back; not good if we were ever to be involved in a collision! So, I decided to adapt a pair of headrests to the original XJ bench seat. A search of the local Craigslist turned up a '97 ZJ for parts, and while I was there to pick up the disc brake rear, I also found it had a charcoal interior, almost exactly the same color as mine. I scored the headrests and mounting brackets for $26, not bad at all! Great, now I have them, but how am I going to put these things in?
Here's a pic of the ZJ headrest and mounting brackets. The ZJ headrest matches the width of the strip of material where the rear seat passengers sit, so they look OEM, even on the XJ seat.
It's a lot easier to do this project with the seat out of the truck, since it needs to be stripped down. To remove the upper part of the seat, simply fold the lower cushion up, then slide the buckles out and unsnap the seatbelts. Then, remove the 15mm bolts that the seat back pivots on, and it'll come right out. After getting the seat inside, my first step was to measure and figure out where I was going to install them. Then, I cut two slits in the top of the seat material just in front of the metal frame for the brackets to slide through. Then, I unzipped the seat cover, and removed the foam. It's attached to the seat with Velcro, so be aware as you're pulling the cover up.
I used heavy bendable copper strap to make my brackets (same stuff to support pipes in your house), and secured them to the metal seat frame with #8 1/2" long sheetmetal screws. I started on the backside and wrapped the strap over the top of the seat frame, then put one screw through the back side, pulled the strap down, and then put another screw in above the arm that locks the seat in place.
Next, I cut a few more slits in the top of the seat (like a pie-cut) so there was a nice hole for the ZJ brackets to go through. Then I pushed the plastic seat brackets through the holes in the top of the seat cover, and secured them to the copper strap with stainless band clamps. Once I had all the brackets in, I had to cut notches in the seat foam so it would go back in place and not be lumpy.
Here's what the brackets look like from the top, with the foam re-installed and the cover pulled tight and zippered up again. You'd swear it came from the factory like this.
All done! These headrests are nice, because you can easily remove them and fold the rear seat down if you need to haul larger items in the back of your XJ. They're also adjustable, so taller rear seat passengers will have no problems getting comfortable.