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With the cut out done, I placed the dash panel back into position and did some test fits. Because of the contoured shape, the cutout can not be placed any further to the left. This means that a bit of the substructure needs to be trimmed back (not totally removed) so the IN/OUT switch will have adequate clearance behind the dash.
While the dash was in place, I transferred the cutout to the substructure. A little trimming here allow the control panel to mount correctly.
I used a hacksaw, one of those designed for small spaces, (I keep it in my trail tool bag) to make the two horizontal cuts and the little trimming by the Phillips screw. I used the Dremel to make the vertical cut along the ride edge. It was rather ragged and so was followed by a few minutes with the file. The last thing I wanted to do was slice a finger while doing the test fitting, wiring stuff, etc.
After the substructure was cut, I spent a bit more time test fitting the panel in the dash, ensuring there was adequate clearance. I didn't want a switch terminal to contact any metal in the dash area.
This next step was not something that Darren had planned on but I thought it was a good modification so I went ahead with it. Once the control panel wires are fed through the dash panel and then the firewall, removal of the plastic dash is going to be rather bothersome unless a LOT of slack cable is left behind the dash. I opted to cut the control panel wires and crimp on insulated connectors. This allows me to have just a little slack in the wiring and if I need to remove the dash panel (with the control panel bolted to it), I can unplug the wiring harness at the connectors, allowing me to completely remove the dash panel from the vehicle and gain access to the lower dash area. Since all five wires are different colors, reconnection is easy.
The four mounting holes were drilled in the dash panel. The control panel was finally attached to the dash panel using the supplied mounting hardware. Darren provides nutserts in the kit. They were not "set" in the dash panel as it was doubtful that they would work as intended. Instead, I used them just like regular nuts, which worked out fine.
I'll usually take a conservative approach, when I feel it necessary, and so I decided to make certain that nothing came in contact with the metal substructure. It is probably not needed but it took me all of a minute to do it. I cut a piece of plastic from an empty orange juice container and secured it in place, around the two switches, with a zip tie. Quick and easy and it gives me the peace of mind when clearance is tight.
With the control panel now mounted to the dash panel, it was time to hook up two of the control panel wires. The panel requires both +12V and a ground connection for proper operation. I removed the metal panel, retained by four screws, that is positioned directly behind the plastic dash panel. I had previously tapped a fused +12V switched ignition wire under the dash for another project. I recycled this connection to also be used for the control panel. The panel's ground wire was slipped under a screw that was screwed into the substructure. I used a voltmeter to verify that the connections were good before buttoning things up.
The last task on this side of the firewall was to feed the winch control wires through the firewall. I used the same point that most everyone else uses....the oval rubber plug on the firewall, located just above the accelerator pedal. I cut a small slit into the rubber plug and pushed the wires through from the engine compartment. The connectors I had previously installed were plugged into the mating connectors on the control panel.
All that remained was to attach the three wires to the winch itself.
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