Now comes the tricky part: making the bends. The best way to do this is with a sheet metal brake, but if you don’t have access to one, you can make do with a table edge, a short 2x4 or other board and a couple clamps. Line up the long bend line you scribed a half inch in from the top with the edge of your table, with the ½” piece on the top of the table. This will give you better leverage than going the other way. Place the board on top to sandwich the metal between the two and clamp the board down tight. If the little tabs on the ends get in the way of the clamps, you can bend them now and hammer them back straight after you’re done. I made the mistake of making a 90° cut in the above steps so mine didn’t have the tabs to cause problems. Here’s my setup:
Once things are tight, take another board and use it to bend the overhanging part down evenly to 45°. The board is to distribute the force evenly to avoid warping the metal pushing in one place. This is where a combo square with a 45° edge and a level bubble come in handy.
When the bubble reads level, you’re at 45°. This one isn’t quite there yet. That angle isn’t too critical though so as long as you’re close you’ll be ok. The closer you are the better it looks though. Once you’re satisfied, remove the piece from the clamps and bend the little tabs back in line with the triangles if you have to. Now, set things up in a vice or back under the clamps with the triangles on the ends being bent this time. The vertical lines are your bend lines this time. Bend the ends in to meet the 1/2" lip you just bent so what you end up is this:
Note that yours shouldn’t have that little triangle piece missing on the left side. That’s what happens when you make a 90° cut instead of a 45. My mistake. Feel free to go this route if you like it though.
No real harm done. With both ends bent it should look and sit something like this:
Starting to look like it might work huh? All that’s left is to make the pivot arms that will attach to the dash pad. They’re a bit simpler.
First make a pair of rectangles 2-1/4” long by 1” wide. One for each side. Next, measure in and make vertical lines across the width at 1-1/4”, 1-1/2”, and 1-3/4” in. Split the width in half with a line running the full length of the rectangle at 1/2”. What you should have when cut out is this:
The longer piece is 1/2" wide by the full 2-1/4” long. The smaller square is 1/2"x1/2”. The mark at 1-1/2” was for a centerline to show us where the hole for the screw should be. I chose to round off the ends (penciled in here) to avoid sharp corners. To round them off, snip the bulk of the corners off and file or grind them down the rest of the way. Now, mark a center on the 1/2” tab and drill a 9/64” hole. This will be to mount the shield to. Also, mark a center line on the long part of the arm (1/4” from top or bottom) and drill two 9/64” holes between the tab and the longer edge. Keep them somewhat even, but the spacing isn’t really critical. 3/8” from the edge and from the tab would be fine. These will be holes to mount the arm to the dash. Don’t put them past the tab though because the shield will block them out and it’s easier to mount the shield to the arms before mounting the arms to the dash (trust me I know
). Now, put the long part of the arm in the vice and bend the tabs out to a 90° angle. Remember to mirror each arm when making the bends to make a left and right side. What you should have is this:
These have been painted and the one on the left is shorter to clear my clinometer, but you get the idea. The last thing to do is to drill the holes on the shield to match the holes on the arms. Measure in 3/16” from each leg of the triangle ends near the point and draw parallel lines to each leg. Where they intersect is where you need to drill another 9/64” hole. Be sure to get the holes on each side as close as possible dimension wise or else the shield will sit crooked. Once you’re done drilling, file down the point of the triangles to allow the shield to pivot on the arms. That’s it! Using the 6-32 screws and nuts, Test fit the pieces and make adjustments as needed. The shield should sit fairly level and straight if your bends were clean and your holes were in the right place. Hold down the arms on a level surface and make sure you can flip the shield up and down smoothly. The lip of the shield should point in the same direction as the long part of the arms when installed. This is what I call the down position and the one that forces the air out toward the cab. Flipping the shield toward you 90° will put the shield “up” and allow air to hit the windshield in the normal defrosting setting. Take the assembled parts out to the jeep and make sure things line up nicely. You may need to trim the arms a bit but mine fit fine once I allowed for the clinometer. If you’re satisfied, paint the parts and let dry. Reassemble them once dry (I’d put a washer between the arm and the shield to keep the new paint from sticking to itself) and lay them in place on the dash. Be sure that the shield’s back edge covers the vent entirely to maximize air flow toward you in the down position. To attach the arms to the pad, I used #8 sheet metal screws 3/8” long. Just use a marker to mark the dash through the arm mounting holes and go to town with a screwdriver. The sheet metal screws will pull themselves through the soft plastic of the dash without any pilot holes so don’t worry about that. Just be sure not to strip the plastic turning them in too far. That’s all there is to it. Just as a side note, you’ll need to make double of everything here to make two sets for both driver and passenger side vents.
Here’s the finished project installed in my jeep. Note the waviness to the shield lip. That’s from trying to bend this one in the vice. Didn’t work too well.
In my opinion, anyone who lives in a seasonal climate where you use the heater at least part of the year needs to do this mod. I’ve had mine in for a week now and already I’m wondering why I didn’t think of it sooner. The simplicity of the project makes it a great cheap mod and makes driving in the cold weather much nicer. I have noticed that the air tends to deflect outwards toward the doors more than straight out, which is ok since the door windows get a defroster effect and the heat still warms the steering wheel and my thighs. Haven’t got the pass side installed yet so I can’t comment on that, but I expect a similar effect. If your wife or girlfriend has complained about your heat in the past, do this mod ASAP!
Total cost for me was $0.00 because it was all scrap and loose nuts and bolts that I had accumulated from other projects. I even had the gray spray paint to match my interior. If I had to buy everything, it would still be less than $20 for a complete set. If you have to buy a big sheet, it would cost more, but you’d have enough metal to do several sets. I priced a piece of 16ga A36 sheet, 12”x12” at just under 7 bucks. I’m not suggesting you buy from there (12x12 is too small anyway unless you want lots of waste) or use that alloy (A36 is your basic structural steel) but you get an idea of the price. A 15x15 piece would be enough to do 3 sets of these so your price per set would be about 4 bucks in steel. Add three bucks for a can of paint and just pennies for the hardware to put it together. Not too bad for such a useful mod. It’s a great project for any of you HS guys in metal shop or anyone who wants to try their hand at some sheet metal fab. If anyone is interested in buying a set or two from me, I might be willing to do a few more. Just PM me and we can talk. Happy fabricating guys and girls! Any questions just let me know.