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The electrical connectors on the factory switches are relatively easy to remove (geez, look at that 10 years of dust!). Like most of the TJ electrical connectors, squeezing them in the right spot makes them easy to unplug.
After the plugs were disconnected, I tucked them up under the dash, out of sight. I decided to use the feed for the factory cigarette lighter to power the new panel. The 16 gauge wire for the cigarette lighter circuit is fused for 20 amps which will be quite adequate for the new panel. The added benefit is that the power feed also has a ground wire in it and the +12V line is automatically switched off when the ignition is turned off (using a factory 12V accessory relay).
With the factory switches now out of the way, I turned my attention to seeing
how the fit was going to be with the new panel.
Before the panel could be fitted to the dash, there was some
plastic that had a date with a small cut-off wheel, courtesy of my Black &
Decker rotary cutting tool. In case you were wondering about the
bracket, that holds a small speaker for my VHF/UHF ham radio. OK, so the
right hand side of the bezel needed some cutting.
The Black & Decker made pretty quick work of getting the big
piece out of the way. After the major cutting was taken care of, I
switched over to a small sanding drum. By running at a medium speed and
not pushing it too fast, the drum didn't load up with melted plastic (don't tell
me you haven't done that before) and I was able to clean things up pretty good.
I used a hobby rasp and a file to finish the edges.
OK.....now I have a little working space in there to see about
mounting the new panel. I did a couple more sessions with the files while
I was test fitting the panel on the dash with the bezel. I find it much
easier to remove material around the opening a little bit at a time. It is
easier doing it that way than trying to figure out how to hide the big gap you
caused by taking off too much. That is also the reason I use the files
instead of continuing along with the Black & Decker rotary tool. The file
is much easier to control (for me anyway) when you are getting close to the
With the initial bezel trimming finished, it was time to see about getting the panel in position to see how it was going to fit the bezel.
For those not familiar with the in-cab winch control, Darren uses a protected switch (under the red cover) that provides power to the IN/OUT switch. The IN/OUT switch is connected to your winch solenoids (or spliced into your regular hand controller cable). When you lift the cover and turn on the winch switch, the red power light glows to tell you your winch control is ready. The IN/OUT switch has an automatic return to center off position.
The two power outlets at the other end of the panel are
controlled by a power switch located on the bottom of the panel. When the
switch is enabled, the green LED is illuminated and 12 volts is applied to the
power outlets. Great place to plug in your cell phone charger, iPod, MP3
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