End of the old YJ reacharound! Headlight switch modification - JeepForum.com
Search  
Sign Up   Today's Posts
User: Pass: Remember?
Advertise Here
Jeep Home Jeep Forum Jeep Classifieds Jeep Registry JeepSpace Jeep Reviews Jeep Gallery Jeep Clubs Jeep Groups Jeep Videos Jeep Events Jeep Articles
Go Back JeepForum.com > Models > Jeep Wrangler Forums > YJ Wrangler Technical Forum > End of the old YJ reacharound! Headlight switch modification

Introducing MONSTALINER™ UV Permanent DIY Roll On Bed LineYear End Clearance Sale! Save 20%Warn, Smitybilt, Engo, Rugged Ridge Winches at CCOR

Reply
Unread 10-15-2010, 04:11 PM   #1
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
End of the old YJ reacharound! Headlight switch modification

You've got to admit that the stock YJ headlight switch setup is pretty pathetic. It's one of those things that look good on the showroom floor, but that don't work out too well in practice.

Why? Well, just as in real estate, it's location-location-location. You can't reach the darn thing without an awkward reach around the steering wheel and your left knee. Have you ever had to quickly flash your lights to signal someone? In the middle of a shift, on a turn? Good luck. Even for every day driving, it is a monumental PITA to reach.

Next up, most of us add auxiliary lighting. Where do you add those switches? Do you end up with mixed-looking switches mounted in various oddball locations? No reason for any Jeep to look like a hack.

It looked like the YJ designers left us a perfect place to mount switchgear. The center instrument pod has a perfect shape, is easily removed, and has plenty of room underneath for wiring.

From the first day I got my YJ I knew that I was going to mount my lighting switches on this panel. I finally did, and here are some pictures of how I did it.

The below write-up does not include every step as I assume that anyone doing this already understands some of the basics. If not, then search the forum, as these topics have been covered by others and there is no need to repeat them.

Step 1 is to remove the center panel and decide where you are going to mount everything. I decided to add a terminal strip to make adding future items easy, and also to have a way of disconnecting everything if I ever have to pull the dash.

Here you can see the center panel off and me holding an old terminal strip in place. BTW the best source for good quality electrical components are the big internet surplus houses. Do not use Radio Shack crap, because even for crap it is crap. Home Depot has terminal strips if you are desperate. But do yourself a favor and get yourself some industrial-quality pieces. Surplus stuff is cheap, the older stuff is the best, and after all it is your Jeep and you do not want this stuff failing when you are off-road somewhere.

img00230-20101008-1943.jpg

As you can see, I kind of centered it but left plenty of room to clear the panel mounting lugs and for the wiring harnesses.

Next, mount the terminal strip and drill two holes for the harnesses.

img00231-20101008-1957.jpg

Next, select a couple of grommets to protect the wires from the sharp edges. I used thin-wall grommets requiring a 3/4" hole.

img00233-20101008-1959.jpg

What!? You don't have any grommets!? Here is a life lesson. Don't be one of those folks who go out to buy one bolt every time you need one bolt. That just wastes your time, you pay unit prices that are outrageous, and you end up with Harry Homeowner stuff from Ace. Buy in quantity, buy in volume, and buy quality. Instead of buying that extra round of drinks this weekend, buy yourself a grommet kit. It will last you forever and you will always have what you need to do the job right without interuption.

Grommet kit:

img00232-20101008-1958.jpg

Terminal strip and grommets installed:

img00235-20101008-2010.jpg

OK, that's it for part 1. Stay tuned for more.

plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 10:19 AM   #2
BJsWrangler
Registered User
1988 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Fort Worth, TX, Texas
Posts: 202
subscribed! I'm very curious how this will all turn out.
__________________
"ROADS! Were we're going, we DON'T need roads!"
fuzz2010: "real jeeps don't have round lights, they have leaf springs"
tricked919: "Basic rule of thumb for me is if I see a front pumpkin, I give a wave. Otherwise they might as well be in a Corolla."
BJsWrangler is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 12:02 PM   #3
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
Here's part two:

You should decide on the switches that you are going to use. I wanted black toggle switches that all look the same. years ago I had purchased a bunch of industrial strength, black anodized double pole single throw toggle switches that would be perfect. I had about a dozen of them; I decided to install 9 switches and to keep 3 as spares. I don't have a photo of the switches by themselves, but you will see what they look like in the finished product soon enough.

Nine might sound like a lot, but it is really not. One for headlights, one for parking lights and then one each for as many auxiliary circuits that you have. Then there are auxiliary backup lights, panel lights, interior lights, rock lights, etc., etc. so before you know it you will use most of them up. It's also a good idea to have a couple for future expansion.

Basically what I did was to set up the infrastructure for 9 separate circuits. This makes adding additional lights or accessories later on really simple, plus all of the switchgear on the dash looks the same. And is easily reached - did I mention that this mod eliminates the YJ reacharound?

Now that I decided on 9 switches, I needed to specify the layout. I opted to center the switches in the center panel. With nine switches (an odd number) I could mount one dead center and then an equal number on each side.

I ran a strip of masking tape down the center of the panel and used dividers to scribe a line dead center.

img00236-20101008-2036.jpg

I then marked center on the line. I decided to lay out the switches on 1" centers.

img00238-20101008-2051.jpg

And then used a unibit to drill through all nine holes. The unibit does a very good job of cutting through plastic without cracking or burrs. It is also easy to start exactly on center without walking. You will not see it in this photo but I added two additional holes at the far outboard ends - more on that later.

img00239-20101008-2107-2-.jpg

That's it for now, more to come!!!
plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 01:04 PM   #4
Djsthe1
Registered User
1991 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Waldorf Maryland, Maryland
Posts: 912
Ive thought about doing this many of times but just wasn't sure how it would look when finished. Can't wait on the finished product. I always thought that it would make the dash look too much like a airplane ****pit.
Djsthe1 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 01:23 PM   #5
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
More fun and games.

Run your wires.

There are three harnesses. One is the harness from the terminal strip to the each switch. I ran a bus across each switch. That means that one side of each switch sees +12 volts. Then other side of the switch will end up being connected to whatever you want to control, often through a relay. Since I had nine switches I needed none plus one equals ten wires from the terminal switch to the back of the switches. I also added two other devices - a momentary push button and an indicator light. These have two connections each so that is fourteen wires. Or is it? One side of the momentary pushbutton goes to the power bus, so that is one less wire. In all there are thirteen wires that I loomed from the back of the center panel to the terminal strip. Leave enough slack in this harness so that in the future you can remove the panel to maintain your gauges without having to disconnect all of the wires.

The second harness is from the stock headlight switch connector to the terminal strip. This one only has three wires. One is the hot feed from the stock headlight switch. The second is the for the connection back to the headlight circuit. The third is for the parking lights. Use the same gauge wire or larger as on the factory harness (the one that goes to the stock headlight switch) as the stock YJ does not send headlight power through a relay.

The third harness is do the rest of the vehicle. These are the wires that go to whatever you are controlling. There are nine wires in this circuit from the switches plus one from the other side of the momentary pushbutton, so that means ten in all. I made this harness longer than I needed and tie wrapped it every 6 inches to keep it nice and neat.

Starting to wire the terminal strip. You'll note an insulated cable clamp ready to hold the panel harness in place so that no vibration occurs that could over time break the wire s where they connect to the terminal strip. What, you don't have any cable clamps!? Please reread the previous section on grommets.

img00242-20101009-1634.jpg

This harness makes a dogleg turn for stress relief and so that it can tuck nicely behins the panel Remember the two wires from the indicator lamp? One side connects to the terminal strip on the circuit that you want the lamp to light up when it is on. For now, I connected it to the parking lamp circuit since it is a cool lamp that I got - aircraft surplus, black anodized aluminum and very high quality - and I like to see it lit. LOL. The other side of the lamp goes to ground. I grounded it under one of the screws holding the terminal strip in place.

Here is the back of the panel with the wiring coming together. The big grommet on the right os where the harness to the rest of the vehicle feed through. The big grommet on the left is where the harness to the stock headlight switch feeds through. You can see the fat red wires for this harness at the top of the strip. The harness to the panel doglegs back to the switches. Everything is still loosey goosey at this point. By the time I was done each harness was neatly tie wrapped and clamped so that there were no loose or messy wires anywhere.

img00243-20101009-1946.jpg

Now let's turn our attention to the harness that feeds this schmegilla from the stock headlight switch. After all, this thread is about eliminating the stock headlight switch. You terminate the thre-wire harness from the terminal strip to the stock headlight switch with narrow male spade connectors. By the way, every connector I use gets used in this way: I cut off the stock plastic collar. I crimp the connector onto the wire. I solder the connection using the tiniest amount of solder. I clean any flux off the solder joint and use shrinkwrap to seal it all up. Now that is a connection you can trust. What, you don't have any shrinkwrap!? Go to the grommet section again.

Here is the wiring strategy I used: The three-wire harness basically extends the connection from the stock headlight switch connector to the terminal strip. The heavy power wire feeds the headlights and parking lights just as Jeep intended. I also steal a little from that line to feed the coils of my relays, since everything I add goes through a relay. Relay coils add a negligible additional load on the stock feed, so no worries there at all. Remember, though, that this three-wire harness needs heavy wires, at least for the power feed and the line back to the headlights. The line back to the parking lights does not need to be as heavy but I used heavy wire anyway.

You might be wondering how to find out what each wire does at the stock headlight connector. Use your multimeter or a test light. Look for a fat wire that is hot even when the ignition switch is off. That is your power feed. Look for the fat line that is hot when the stock headlight switch is on. That is your headlight circuit feed (it goes into the dimmer switch on the steering column). Look for the line that is hot when the stock headlight switch is on in position one or position two, but that is off when the stock headlight switch is off. That is your parking light feed. Confirm operation with an alligator lead.

Plug the three-wire harness into the appropriate places on the stock headlight switch connector. Bend it around 180 degrees and tie wrap it so that the spades will never come out. If you want to revert to stock you just unplug these three wires and plug in your stock headlight switch. Totally reversible. You can even carry the stock headlight switch along in your toolbox just in case. What, you don't have a toolbox?!

Here is a shot of the htree-wire harness plugged into the stock headlight switch connector.

img00244-20101009-1958.jpg

For now I left the stock dash dimmer switch as-is. The dash lights continue to illuminate when I throw my new parking light toggle.

I ran the three-wire harness neatly behind the dash, up and over the steering column and then to the stock headlight switch connector. The connector itself gets neatly tie wrapped behind the dash.

Next is the other end of the circuitry. I will be mounting my relays alongside the battery. I started with two relays to control two separate auxiliary lighting circuits. The fat harness (10 wires). This one takes the long way around. It goes through the right fat grommet by the termina strip, hangs a louie, parallels the three-wire harness over the steering column, then hangs a roscoe to head out through an existing hole in the upper left (driver's side) of the firewall to the left of the brake booster. There was a nice big hole there already. I had to add a grommet. Fortunately, I had plenty.

At this point I added flexible conduit (black!!!) to the harness. It parallels existing factory wiring harnesses from left to right on the firewall and then tucks underneath the battery and terminates in the space between the left front fender and the battery (but under). This is where I mounted my relays. I cut a small piece of galvanized sheet metal (what, you don't have any sheet metal............) and mounted two standard Bosch relays to it.

img00248-20101010-1118.jpg

Then the bracket gets mounted to the inner fender lip. This way the relays hang down all protected-like and also pretty much out of sight. I hate clutter.

img00250-20101010-1119.jpg

OK, that is it for now. The next entry will be the wrap-up with photos of the completed job.
plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 01:39 PM   #6
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
OK, now for the wrap-up.

I used the first toggle on the left for the headlamps, and the second one for the parking lights. The third from the left is for a pair of front floodlights. The wire in the ten-wire harness that corresponds to that switch goes to one side of the coil on the relay that will control these lights. The other side of the coil is grounded. The normally open (NO) switched contact on the relay goes directly to the hot side of the battery using fat wire. The other NO relay connection goes to the appropriate lead on the floodlights. The other lead from the floodlights is grounded right at the battery. These are also fat wires.

Yes, this job had a pantload of wiring. Take your time, do it right, do it all, and the next time you add an accessory you will not to worry about wiring it or anything like that because you will have established an accessory circuit infrastructure.

Oh, remember that momentary pushbutton on the dash? One side of it went to +12 volts. The other side is the tenth wire in the ten-wire harness. Well, you connect that wire to the switched (non-grounded) side of each relay coil (if necessary, through a diode so that the circuit does not back-feed). So, when you push the button, all of your auxiliary lights flash on. This IMHO is a very handy feature - even a safety feature - since you can really get someone's attention by flashing all of your auxiliary lighting. Putting the pushbutton where I did, it is in close proximity to the steering wheel and the shift lever. So you can signal someone without the dreaded YJ reacharound, and that was kind of the point of this in the first place.

img00245-20101009-1959.jpg

img00246-20101009-2053.jpg

The empty space where the stock headlight switch used to be can be repurposed for something else that you need on the dash but that is not the type of thing that you need to grab in an emergency. I'm thinking a manual choke cable.

That harkens to my overarching design intent: locate controls according to their importance and frequency of use. Airplane ****pits are designed like this. The important/common controls are easily reached by the pilot. The less vital or less commonly used controls are further away. A YJ is no airplane, but we do depend on it on the road or off.

I hope you find value in this write-up. There are always different ways to skin a cat. I am happy with this setup so far as it gave me what I wanted. No more reacharound, a better look, and flexibility to add accessories in the future.
plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 03:28 PM   #7
BigOrange90YJ
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Huntsville, TX
Posts: 399
Great write up!

Moderators, this has my vote on being placed in the FAQ under "Interior" or "Electrical/Lighting/Audio"

Great Job plym49
__________________
Currently Jeepless, if you get too frustrated with yours I'll take it off your hands.
BigOrange90YJ is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 03:36 PM   #8
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigOrange90YJ View Post
Great write up!

Moderators, this has my vote on being placed in the FAQ under "Interior" or "Electrical/Lighting/Audio"

Great Job plym49
Thank you! Much appreciated!
plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 03:44 PM   #9
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Djsthe1 View Post
Ive thought about doing this many of times but just wasn't sure how it would look when finished. Can't wait on the finished product. I always thought that it would make the dash look too much like a airplane ****pit.
Understandable. I happen to like that look, especially when all of the switches match. But this might not be everyone's cup of tea. I'm sure, though, that most of us agree that the stock headlight switch is in an awful location.
plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-16-2010, 03:54 PM   #10
rustywrangler
Got my eye on you.....
 
rustywrangler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Syracuse, NY
Posts: 18,616
Added to the FAQ.
__________________

Congenital Heart Disease is a reality for me, BOTH of my children have it. Please read up and become aware for future generations

Lydia Ann-Acquired 08/05/05 Open Heart surgery 08/10/05
Jacob Patrick-Acquired 01/17/08 Open Heart surgery 02/15/08
rustywrangler is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-19-2010, 09:12 PM   #11
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
Something I forgot to note. Toggle switches or knife switches or just about any switch is properly mounted when 'up' is on and 'down' is off. The reason harkens back to the old knife switches you see in monster movies. To be safe, you want the circuit to open (de-energize) if the switch falls open. IOW gravity works to make the circuit 'safer' by turning it off. This might seem out of date but it is the convention. All my toggle switches are set up this way. If you slam your palm against them the toggles go up and the circuits are on. If you need them off in a hurry, sweep them all down.

BTW most monster movies do it backwards and the switches are lowered to turn energize the circuit. Silly production designers.
plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-20-2010, 12:37 PM   #12
Cooper13
Registered User
1989 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Lake Elsinore, California, California
Posts: 54
Excellent post. Thank you. I've been staring at the dash trying to figure out how to best add switches that wouldn't look goofy. Very nice job.
Cooper
__________________
Cooper
Cooper13 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-20-2010, 04:11 PM   #13
schitzangiggles
King of Macastan
 
schitzangiggles's Avatar
1993 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Rigby, Idaho, Macastan (Idaho)
Posts: 6,168
Looks great! Ginormous pics, but looks great. I do this with LED lit switches to remind me that they are on. Good call on the relays for the head lights. I noticed my headlight got noticeably brighter after using relays to turn them on (of course the 4gauge wire feeding them probably helped a bit too)...
__________________
"Axeheads are supposed to be sharp, but you are one blunt tool."
FLynes



If you love wealth more than liberty,the tranquility of servitude more than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains sit lightly on your shoulders and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.
-Samual Adams

A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.
Thomas Jefferson

Calling Illegal Aliens "Undocumented Immigrants" is like calling drug dealers "Unlicensed Pharmacists"

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
"No one provokes (attacks) me with impunity".


"Your right, the Tea Party and the OWS are the same, just like the America Revolution and the French Revolution were the same. The only problem is the American Revolution ended with Liberty, Freedom, Justice for all and a shining light upon a hill. The French Revolution ended with lynchings, guillotines, murder and socialism. So yeah, I could see how one could confuse the two..."

Mac Wilson
schitzangiggles is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-20-2010, 07:28 PM   #14
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cooper13 View Post
Excellent post. Thank you. I've been staring at the dash trying to figure out how to best add switches that wouldn't look goofy. Very nice job.
Cooper
Glad you liked it. Thank you!
plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 10-20-2010, 07:33 PM   #15
plym49
Registered User
1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NA
Posts: 1,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by schitzangiggles View Post
Looks great! Ginormous pics, but looks great. I do this with LED lit switches to remind me that they are on. Good call on the relays for the head lights. I noticed my headlight got noticeably brighter after using relays to turn them on (of course the 4gauge wire feeding them probably helped a bit too)...
I was wondering about the supersized pictures myself. And they are simple cellphone shots, to boot.

LED-lighted switches would have been good. The toggles I had did not have this feature and I was OK with using the plain toggles. You can easily see if they are up (on) or off.

If there was room on the panel I would have added an LED pilot to each one. The LEDs would have been mounted in those little black plastic LED grommets. But, alas, there was not enough room as my toggle switches occupy the entire space available in that section of the center panel.
plym49 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the JeepForum.com forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid e-mail address for yourself.
Note: All free e-mails have been banned due to mis-use. (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.)
Don't have a non-free e-mail address? Click here for a solution: Manual Account Creation
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Thread Tools


Suggested Threads





Jeep, Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and other models are copyrighted and trademarked to Jeep/Chrysler Corporation. JeepForum.com is not in any way associated with Jeep or the Chrysler Corp.