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If you find yourself wondering where in the world you are going to put all those switches for your electronics without making a huge mess, this may be an option. There are plenty of great write-ups on this age old TJ mod and probably even more poor ones. Here I will cover the basics and show a couple things I haven't seen mentioned before.
First thing is to find another switch panel. I found mine at TJKparts@yahoo.com or you can find them on facebook, TJKparts. They only handle TJ parts at this time and last time, I snooped their racks of parts they had a small pile of these stock switch panels.
Tools: Dremel, safety glasses, hearing protection, utility knife, basic hand tools, blow torch, nail and a pile of nachos...
I decided that I wanted my ARB switches and all the AW-4
transmission control switches in the new location. Previously the
ARB equipment was controlled in a dash top pod that also houses my mechanical
The first thing I noticed whilst testing out fitment on the switches was that they are nearly impossible to remove once you have them shoved in there. It can be done but at risk of impaling yourself with a tool when trying to release tabs and pry them loose.
Time to get the center bezel off and getting stuff ready.
I really wish I had more pictures but I will explain...
First, take the dashboard top trim off by grasping the edge near the windshield and rolling it back towards you. It just pops into place as there aren't any screws. The center bezel has three screws holding in place, two on top and one behind the ash tray.
You can now pull the bezel off toward you. It also has spring clips holding it in place. On my TJ, the spring clips are the only thing that hold my bezel because of the gauge pod mounted where the sunglass tray used to be.
The ash tray support assembly will have to be cut out of the center bezel. I cut it and left extra material the first time just to get it out of the way and later went back and copied what the driver's side looked like. Test fit along the way and it should work out. This is a step I suggest saving for near completion as it is one of the last things to go back on.
Okay, we have to find a way to get these babies together, right?
First of all, we don't cut the original one. It is going to support the left side of the new switch panel. Look at the right side of the original panel and you will see two triangular recesses and a narrow recess that connects the two top to bottom. (why didn't I take a pic?)
What you should aim to do is make a template of this area and use it to cut the left side of the new panel to match. Neatness counts as this is all part of the support for the whole thing. The better the fit here, the better everything turns out.
In order to test fit everything I used some clamps to help me keep it all together so I could see what needed to be done. While you have it clamped together you may notice that on the left edge of the new switch panel the edge flares out some. This I sanded back with a barrel attachment on the Dremel tool. I was almost able to get the top wedge shaped reveal to match the bottom.
I am sure there are lots ways to do this step. As you can see, I bolted this together. You are not going to get a drill bit in there too easily so what I did was heat up a bent nail, made it red hot and melted the holes as needed. It really worked well.
While test fitting you will notice there is no way this thing is going to fit without chopping something else off... This is the part in the way but don't throw it out just yet as it will go back on again.
Measure the best as you can to decide where to cut, adjust the
alignment of your switch panel and when it's how you like it, screw the angled
piece back on to support the right end of the assembly. I saw in another
good write-up the use of the folded blind nut that will slide into a slot and
give the screw a firm bite. I will be looking for some of these for my own