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Old 01-04-2011, 04:09 PM
johnny0874 johnny0874 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Age: 39
Posts: 25
Gender: Male
Vehicle: 1994 ram 2500
Trim Level: larime
Color: multiple
Engine: 1994-1995 359ci (5.9L) Cummins 12-valve Diesel I6 175hp 420lb/ft(manual), 160hp 400lb/ft(auto)
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Talking 1994 CTD Dash Replacement

Howdy... Well, like a lot of you guys, I had the dreaded cracked dashboard... I had a dash mat covering it and it was suct taped so it wouldn't rattle... Well, I found out that if something (or someone) isn't securely fastened down when you come to an abrupt halt. I hit a telephone last year and the girl had the seat belt strapped across her waist only... the chest strap was behind her... so she went face and hands first into the passenger side dash and it EXPLODED. Luckily, she wasn't hurt and I had a pipe bumper, so I was able to drive home. The truck is back on the road, a little uglier than before, but in one solid piece... except the dash was GONE.





Notice the bottom portion of the dash is missing a lot of chunks too? This is going to be an adventure...

I decided I was not going to pay $350 for a piece of plastic, when I could fab a new one for $100... and then I got to thinking about how my 2004 has a nice flat dash with 5 speakers in it, and how nice that sounded (it really raises the sound image)... so I decided to put speaker pods in the dash... and that started a rash of ideas that resulted in me beginning a stereo install in my poor old CTD. So off I went into the land of crazy ideas...

So the biggest obstacle to start with was getting the pieces arranged... it looked like a damned jigsaw puzzle made by a crack fiend...





Well, after I tried 10 different ways to hold the pieces together so I could get an idea of what I was working with, I finally figured out that hot glue was the best agent to use to hold the plastic together (super glue would set fast enough and wouldn't hold it... even 2 part epoxy and jb weld were failing to do the trick). Once I got that much figured out and cut up some small pieces of wood to make a sub frame for various parts where there were large pieces missing... it went together pretty fast and i was able to lay some glass on it. I started with cloth and resin so i wouldn't add to much thickness to it... and then decided to go to mat because it was just so much stronger... Plus, if you examine it, there is a lot of open space under the dash... you could make it 3 times as thick and not have any problems except where the ducts and screw holes come to the surface.





Once i had it roughed in and back in one piece I started laying on matt and molded in a pseudo center channel speaker plate...





Then I tested the sound and decided to add a set of wide field stereo image speakers to it... my initial placement was made using cardboard cutouts, but the final plates are birch-poplar ply in 1/8" and 3/16" thickness. I was going to use MDF but I wanted the rigidity of plywood... there's not going ot be any bass in these speakers, and they won't be sealed, so MDF seemed like a waste to me.









It was a bit challenging to locate the best places for the plates so that they wouldn't interfere with the control boxes (like the AC box cable) But i think I got them done pretty well... and they are symmetrical(ish) so the sound won't be biased to one side or the other.



The REAL challenge now was not the dash cap or speaker plates, but getting the "structural" portion back into on e piece...

I had to add A LOT of mat and resin behind the face without taking it out (I was afraid it would self destruct if i started taking it out... it was REALLY brittle)... but I got it glassed in and cleaned up so it wouldn't cut any wires or interfere with the AC controls...







I even managed to mold in the missing pieces a bit... I'll fill the dips and such in with bondo when it's time...



This is the first "installment" of my saga... I'm going to be going the distance with this truck... The plan for now is to ...

(1) finish the dash out with glass and bondo and prime it for paint.

(2) Mount an amp rack along the back wall (It's a regular cab) above the bottom tray and remove the top trays and hangars for space. I'll be running 3 amps ... (a) 90wts/ch stereo on the dash speakers. (b) 125wts/ch x4 to a pair of 8"s in the doors and in the B-pillars. (c) 410 watts mono on (2) 10"s in a sub box that will replace my center console (the truck has the buckets with the flip up center seat that I hate). (d) 35wts/ch x4 from the deck going to some fosgate tweets in the factory door locations and a pair in the A-pillars way up high.

(3) Replace the speakers in the factory locations as previously listed

(4) Mold the tweeter pods into the A pillars.

(5) Build a custom center console that runs from the base of the dash (I took out the Airbag Computer at the base of the dash... it was pointless since I am replacing the factory steering wheel with an after market) in which I'll incorporate a slot loaded sub box, and use it to hide the power wires and power caps, and a fuse block, etc. I'll also be mounting some additional goodies in there (like my linear for my CB and my brake controller so it's not hanging down by my knees anymore).

(6) Once all the fab work is done, I'm going to paint the dash and A-pillars with a flat paint in the factory colors, and probably wrap center console in tan vinyl (my interior is that medium tan). The speakers in the dash will be hidden with tan grill cloth or I may get some speaker covers and paint them tan to match the interior... I want it to look as factory as possible so it doesn't draw attention. It sounds like a lot of equipment to not want to draw attention, but it's going to be set up to sound best at moderate-medium volume levels... I'm not trying to win an SPL contest.

Well, that's it for today... I've been after this for about a week now, and i need to get back out and check to see if the resin has set on my dash plates so I can start laying in matting.

Johnny
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