The CJ Build – Wiring Harness and Gauges

Installing the NEW “painless” wiring harness (continued)… and getting my dash setup

Ok, so I had wired up the interior in preparation for the dash work… like I mentioned on the previous page, it’s all about ‘plug and play’ at this dash area…so try to make things as easy as possible to remove later on and it actually makes it easier to INSTALL as well.

Before I even started wiring this thing, I knew I wanted a different dash than the stock dash, even though I figured I would probably re-use most if not all of the gauges and controls, I just didn’t really like the layout a WHOLE lot and the old dash that I had had lots of holes, and the speaker locations and all…too busy and ugly for me (and my simplistic tastes) So I got a new piece of stainless steel and just cut out the holes on it where I wanted things…and put the gauges in it and wired it all up in the garage on a couple of sawhorses. But, before doing all that…I had to get the inside of the jeep ready for the new dash and it’s wiring harness that I had made up.

To do that, I used the old dash temporarily to get at least a ‘feeler location’ for where things were going to go, so that I could at least trim the wires and get the ends soldered on them for the ‘hookup’. Now, with the intent to use the original speedo (mainly cause it has temp and fuel gauges built in) I had to figure out if I could locate it in a different area on the dash…

I was thinking I would put the speedo smack dab in the middle of the dash… but no go. You can’t do it because of the duct work…not enough room behind the dash between it and the defroster duct. I think it was just like a couple inches down and to the left off from being completely centered on the dash…. oh well, I’ll just put it in the stock location and then make the rest of the dash a little different maybe.

So I had the wires in the interior ready to go for the new dash…. now it’s time to get that dash setup the way I want. This was a bit of work here! I just had a plain old piece of sheetmetal that is 16 ga. that needed a bunch of holes in it…I thought, ‘no problem’ and began to map things out where they were supposed to go, starting with the hole for the steering colum and speedo first.

I used the same old methods on doing the dash as most of the other things on the jeep…make stencils out of things you already have for something you’re getting ready to put in.

After getting the stencils made up and outlined on the dash…time to cut (after measuring 3 times right?) The cutting process was a little interesting.

You can see in the picture above, I had originally tried to put the speedo DIRECTLY in the center of the dash…. no dice…as mentioned above, not enough room. GLAD I DIDN’T cut…. remember what your father always told you about measuring 3 times and cutting once…I figured this out on the 3rd measure! This stuff was a LOT of work to cut….tried using the jigsaw, but it was getting a little messy on the steering column cutout, so I switched to the dremel and that made it a lot easier to get good cuts, but took more time to make it look nice.

Some more stencil/cutting work and I’m ready to start wiring this thing!

Ok, now for wiring it… flip that bad boy over and get the gauges in there and start wiring them up for the ‘plug and play’ installation!

Sorry, I don’t have a picture of the back side…I was so consumed with wiring it that after I got it finished I immediately put it in the jeep (it was late at night and I wasn’t thinking quite right or I would have snapped a bunch of pics for you all). Basically….it consisted of making all the grounds wired together and then putting a main ground lead to connect to the main lead on the inside of the tub… same for the rest of the main connections for lights for gauges and all, but obviously the rest of the gauges were something that couldn’t be wired like that because oil pressure isn’t on the same circuit as the fuel gauge and, well, you get the idea. Anyway… We kept doing our thing and it came out…

I will say, it was a pain in the rear to cut the holes for the vent controls….MAN what a pain! If I were you, I would just buy a pre-cut dash that you like from wherever and then wire that…it could have saved me a bit of time if I would have just had to worry about wiring it and not cutting all the holes everywhere, making sure they lined up perfect.

SO, once the dash was painted and all wires crimped, cut, soldered and attached in the correct locations… I put that sucker on the jeep and couldn’t wait to see what it looked like, especialy since I got a new steering wheel from GRANT… LOVED the looks of this.

Continue On With The Motor Harness Upgrade…