Store bought chairs were too expensive for me, sooo......

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Tourmax, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Tourmax


    Now right off the top, I'll admit I’m not much of a “gaming guy". I'm a little bit past that being a significant part of my life (I'm 54).

    But I do have and xbox one x. I used to use it to play games with my daughter when she would come to visit (I'm divorced) and it doubled as my blue ray / dvd player. It's handy to be able to "cast to device" movies from the laptop to the TV via the xbox too.

    But some time back, I got into racing games. it's one of the few "crossovers" in my life with cars, trucks, airplanes, bikes, etc. Actually, it's only one racing game: the Forsa series by Turn 10.

    And while I could get passable with the hand controller, it mostly sucks for that stuff. I'm old enough to be from the "joystick generation" (NES controller at best, still have the original console in storage somewhere) and the newer controllers often just don't work well with my brain. So I picked up a used Thrustmaster 458 wheel and pedals. That made the game much more enjoyable.

    But it’s a PITA to drag it out of the cabinet, clamp it to the coffee table (ours lifts up), run the wires, find a way to keep the pedals from sliding around on me and just generally getting it to feel positioned right. By the time I get it set up, I pretty much have lost interest in doing a lap or two. Finding a place to keep it is also a pain, as it doesn't exactly lay flat or make a compact package when not mounted to the coffee table.

    Seemed like a wheeled “sim chair” would fix me up nicely.

    So I started checking prices.


    Hundreds of dollars for even just a basic gaming chair!


    That’s ridiculous! Especially considering you can tell that it’s nothing more than a plain ol' office/desk chair with different upholstery to look more like a car/racing seat. And they don't even have a steering wheel/pedal mount! Seems you have to get up in to 500-1000 bucks for a wheel/pedal mount and then it's this great big box or metal thing that's not so easily moved around.

    Nope, I need something else. For both budget and usability reasons.

    Then I thought I’d make one out of a car seat. Nope. Still pricey at the wreckers for what you got. Plus, lots of fabrication and lots of weight when done.

    It was beginning to look like I was just going to have to stick to clamping the 458 wheel to the coffee table.


    I was walking through the thrift store today and ran across a leather (pleather?) office chair. Arm rests were chewed up (like most old office chairs) and it was overall fairly well used. But the base and back were in decent shape and all the adjustments worked. It even had a touch of a bucket seat look to it, albeit low back and cushy. More dad's Ford LTD II than Ford GT40.

    Tag says 12 bucks.

    Yoink! Mine!

    So I drag it home and yank the armrests off. I put them away in case I want to use them later.

    I rummage through my scrap metal pile and come up with the old legs and supports for a Delta table saw and some other useful bits.

    I yank the seat bottom upholstery and bolt on a couple side brackets, then staple the upholstery back into place.

    A little cutting and welding and I have two side supports and a crossbar to clamp the 458 wheel to. A bit more cutting and welding and I have two lower side supports and a couple crossbars to sit the pedals in.

    It’s all bolted together solid for now, but I made the uprights with the ability to fold down to make getting in easy.

    As it currently sits:


    Initial feel is good. Since I was building it, I could put the wheel right where I want it and same with the pedals. I made it future adjustable so I can change game wheel if I want later on. Something with a shifter and clutch pedal for a bit more realism and fun.

    I have some cutting and cleaning up to do tomorrow and I have to add a couple screw down rubber “feet” to the front pedal support (make it solid and keep the chair from swiveling on me). Once that's done, a quick shot of paint and it should look pretty good! Probably just go with a semigloss black (since the chair is not supposed to be a "stand out" part in a sim) and call it done.

    Hundreds for even the cheapest gaming chair...yeah, right! You're not going to get that kind of scammer profit from this guy!

    I don’t even have 20 bucks in to this one and it’s perfect for my uses. Even if you add in the thrustmaster, it’s still under 75 bucks! I dare say it might even look “store bought” when I’m done.

    More importantly; now I can just roll it out of the side room, plug in the usb cord and be playing my game with minimal hassle. The longest part will be waiting for that damned xbox to do it's updates (I don't use it a lot, so it updates almost every time I start it).

    When I’m done, it’s just unplug the USB and roll it away.

    I’m already thinking about adding rumble and a few other neat tricks to it!

    Stay tuned for pics of the finished product......:)
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  2. Tourmax


    All painted and ready to go:



    I finished up the metal work (had to cut off some pieces and weld up a couple to increase the table size), skinned the top with body fill, leveled it and then shot it all with a semi-gloss black. Because I'm a little broken up after 28 years of SAR (and it's only going harder to move and bend as I age), I made the table "foldable":



    Nice and easy to step in and sit down with the arms lowered. They secure with two bolts that have large plastic knobs on them for ease of use. I went with bolts so I can reef them down and make the table top solidly mounted when in use. Nothing worse than something wobbling or jumping when trying to move the wheel. I wanted all of this chair to feel solid and I achieved it. Nothing moves that I don't want to move and now I can actually use the wheel and pedals like they were intended to work. First time out with the new chair, lap times dropped drastically for me. The wheel staying in the right place, I wasn't focused on trying to make sure the pedals weren't going to slide away and I could actually use the brake instead of avoiding it because it would no longer shift the pedal pod under my feet. Nice.

    I put the armrests back on but flipped them left for right. That had a couple advantages. It "reversed" the armrests, which put the chewed up parts at the back where they aren't a real problem and you don't see them. It moved the armrest back a bit more, so they're not in the way when you are using the game. But most importantly; it gives me something to hold on to and steady both the chair and myself as I work myself into (or out of) the rig.


    I've got a plastic Xbox one controller holder on order and I'll attach that to the LH table upright. Nothing fancy, just some ebay cheapo 2 dollar grab. I need the original controller handy for two reasons;

    1. There are functions I need to access that are not emulated on the Thrustmaster wheel and,
    2. I have a "drive hub" adapter ( which allows me to use different brand wheels with the Xbox One, but it needs to route through an original xbox controller for some functions. With the drive hub, I can use xbox 360 wheels, PS4 wheels, logitech, etc. I bought it because sooner of later, one of the fancier wheels (IE: shifter, clutch pedal, force feedback, etc) is going to show up used for a good price. With the drive hub, I can grab it, even if it's for a PS4, and use it on the xbox one.

    The RH upright I'm leaving open for a future shifter handle install.

    Not bad for 12 bucks and some scrap metal.

    I am considering something to make the "legs" stand out a little bit more though. Maybe a simple silver pin stripe to match the silver accents on the chair or something like that. I went with the semi-gloss black to make them less obvious, but they have disappeared just a little bit too much I think. I want people to be able to see them when they walk by the chair so they don't bump in to it. A little striping or a sticker here and there should give enough visual clues so they register it and don't bang their foot or leg on it. Being all steel, it's not going to be forgiving to skin if you whack it by mistake.....

    Next up is to build a "rumble motor" for the chair for a few more giggles when driving....

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
    deadhorse, Phlano099, VBR and 5 others like this.
  3. Corsa

    Corsa Premium

    Nicely done, and so it begins.

    In a few months you'll be tinkering with extruded aluminum, checking PC prices, looking at upgrading hardware it's the bug that keeps on biting!!!

    I'm $1900 in at this point, I don't regret any of it I love sim racing.
    deadhorse, Phlano099 and Mr Grumpy like this.
  4. Mr Grumpy

    Mr Grumpy

    So true, so true.

    I'm on a 1X with a TX & although I'm happy with it, I'm already thinking about a high end VR capable gaming PC with the full Fanatec gear :lol:
    Corsa likes this.
  5. Tourmax


    Nah, been running only the xbox for more than a few years now. My money goes into my cars, trucks, bikes, etc. The racing game is a nice little time waster for mw, but not much more than that. This chair was just a quick, easy and cheap build that made it a little better. Noway I woudl pour much money in to a racing sim when I can just take the Mustang to a local track and have fun doing the real thing!


    Mustang is in rebuild mode right now though: