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rrisher 11-19-2008 12:10 PM

YJ to CJ dash swap write up with pictures
The CJ dashes are simple, uncluttered, and are plastic free. Seeing that I have a 1987 YJ and have been modifying it with older specs; I decided to do the dash conversion. By the time Iím done with my build Iíll have the best of the YJ and the best of the CJ all in one jeep. Well thatís what the hope isÖ Besides, the YJ dash saw better days now that itís over 21 years old.

I started with an old 1983 scrambler dash that I purchased off eBay for $200.00. It came with the speedometer cluster, tachometer, volt, clock and pressure gauges. As well as headlight and fan control switches

First I researched/studied diagrams and asked tons of questions here before I embarked on this long journey of a dash reconstruction

I started off by dismantling the newly acquired dash and mocked all the new gauges up on the bench before hand see what I was faced with and to plan the connections.

Since I wanted a chrome dash, off to the plating shop the dash went! While the dash was gone getting the chrome plated it left me with plenty of time for the teardown of the old YJ dash.

This is where it gets technical!

Removal of the Stock Dash and Gauges

To remove the stock dash, I first disconnect the negative battery cable and then unbolted the hard to get out torx bolts off the roll bar support bars. I ended up having to drill out two of mine (whatís new for torx, right?). Fold down the windshield frame by removing the last two torx on the dash and gently fold down the windshield to expose the top rail of the dash so you can access the dashís upper support bolts, which need to be removed to get the old dash out a little later. I needed to remove all the plastic vanity parts first before removing the dash frame but, this first step just gives you some working space and extra light in the cab.

I then removed the vanity plastic piece off the center section of the dash exposing the instrument cluster, radio and heater control box.

Once that was off I moved to the passenger side where the glove box assembly was removed. The glove box has 4 hex nuts holding it onto the dash frame from behind, two on each side. Theyíre a pain to get out too because thereís hardly any room to turn a ratchet back there!

These are those bolts on the rear of the glove box~

I then moved to the driverís side and removed the center indicator light cover first with the two Phillips screws on the top. This is a hard little stinker to get out because of the locking mechanism in the plastic. You have to slide it out and up for it to get out of the locking channel on the larger plastic piece. Once that is all off you can then remove the final plastic section with the remaining Phillips screws on the top and bottom of the piece.

Now that all the vanity plastic covers are off you have the exposed dash and can access the dash pad screws easily. Itís time to get that guy out of there, which will open up your working area even more. Now thereís a sense of some bareness and I got excited and nervous at the same time.

Next, I removed the instrument gauge cluster, indicator light cluster, tachometer, speedometer, heater control and radio. After unplugging the cluster and unhooking the cables from the back of the heater box you are left with just the flat metal part in the center section. This is all pretty straight forward and just a few turns of a screwdriver you have it all off. I didnít have a cigarette lighter or ash tray on my dash but if you had one I think its just a screw or two and a plug holding it in place.

Back of center gauge cluster and plug

rrisher 11-19-2008 12:10 PM

On the heater box you have to pull out the 2 white plugs that operate the fan relay and the vacuum hoses as well. Again, pretty simple..

Heater control box removed (nice and dusty in there)

At this point I just started to label everything! I just used a piece of masking take and a black sharpe marker and taped it up jut over the connectors. I knew if I didnít start know itíd be confusing later as thereíd be a lot of hanging wires.

Just labeled them like this

The indicator lights and instrument warning cluster was next for removal. Itís all wired using a flex circuit board and each running to a two separate connectors (the indicator lights have two connectors, each molded into the plastic bracket and there is one on each side of the steering column). Detach these connectors from their respective circuit boards. The wires on the drivers side of the harness will be used to splice the connectors onto the new gauges, accept for the right turn signal and seatbelt idiot light (I didnít use this light as thereís no indicator for it on the CJ

cluster) theyíre on the right side connector. I labeled it connectors and removed the piece.

Plastic idiot gauge housing

For the Speedo and Tach, itís aging just a matter of 2 screws on each to get them out. The tach will unplug and the Speedo cable wit snap out.

Tach housing Tach and speedo same mounting

Now everything should be fee of the dash frame.

The bare dash frame

So, now we can remove the steering wheel, tilt lever and automatic shifter (if youíre auto).

Remove the bolts that run along the top of the dash frame that would be beneath the windshield and on top of the cowling. Then the remaining torx on the sides of the dash frame and off comes the dash frame.

From here youíll be in amazement of the maze of wires that are now exposed! And you thought this was going to be easy?


Since the stock gauges are wired in the cluster using a flexible circuit board, each wire needed to be traced out to find it's respective color/gauge in the YJ the gauge cluster first (the Haynes manual also has an illustration of this to help trace out the wires. I double-checked it manually).

When wiring in the new gauges youíll have to do some splicing here to get the 12 volt power from there to the separate gauges outside of the new CJ cluster, which are the Volt meter and oil pressure gauges. I used the 12-volt power out of the YJ gauge harness and spliced in three to feeds, to supply the voltmeter, 12-volt to oil pressure gauge and then off to the fuel gauge on the CJ cluster. This was necessary because the old YJ cluster contained all 4 gauges with the same power feed.

The Tachometer Ė This is the part that was a pain and took many posts on JF and gaining the knowledge of both series and conventional tachometer wiring. The YJ has a conventional wiring style where as the CJ uses one thatís in series. Meaning thereís no ground. Hereís a good diagram of what I had to do to get it to work. I ended up having to cut the (+) wire just after the coil and resistor and spliced in the CJ tachometer. This was a struggle to trace down all the wires and because of the system if difficult to tone out the wire. I then used the OEM YJ plug for the instrument light (+) and (-). I left the OEM signal in case I ever wanted to switch it or run 2 tachs.

Speedometer Ė I had to install a new cable from the transfer case to the back of the CJ speedometer. The CJ speedometer uses a screw in type connector on the gauge whereas the YJ has a snap in type of adapter. There had to be a new hole drilled in the firewall because of where the new speedometer location is. I drilled in just on the inside of there where the gauge wire harness comes though almost in the middle, right behind the cylinder head.

The CJ cluster Fuel and Temp gauges were wired straight across the board but, know that the CJ uses a sender thatís totally opposite form the YJ. So I had to install a temp and fuel sender. If you donít the temp sender will be 40 degrees off and the fuel will read empty when full and vice versa.

Indicator lights

On the Indicator lights I had to trace them as I did for the gauge cluster. I ended up just turning on the jeep making the light illuminate and bingo that was the light feed. Again trace the wire to the plug and there youíll find the wire you need. From there just cut and pasted them to their new location on the CJ cluster, it was pretty easy. There were only 5 of themÖ

Wiper Motor and Switch

I used the left the existing YJ wires in place seeing that they operated off the steering columns and I didnít want to screw with that at all. So I ran a 12v ignition supply to the CJ wiper switch and just used that to go straight to the wiper motor. The YJ has a 5 wires whereas as the CJ motor only has 4. The newer YJ motor uses a separate grounding wire.

Headlight switch

The headlight switch was a straight across swap of wires between the YJ and CJ harness. I used the Haynes manual to cross-reference the feed wires.

Instrument Gauges Volt and Oil

The instrument gauges (volt, water temperature, oil pressure, fuel) were wired up using a 12-pin male/female connector in similar fashion to the indicator lights. The speedometer only required wiring up the bulb and the tachometer used the gauges existing wiring harness
Number 8 ring clamps were used for the terminal connections and the ring clamps/wires were crimped and soldered for extra strength.

With the gauges wired up and secured to the dash, it was time to install it into the Jeep. Maneuvering the dash into place over the steering column was a bit tricky, but it does fit.

With the dash over the steering column I secured the wires in a loom harness that I made and plugged in the gauges, lights, grounds, etc.. I attached and secured to the loom and wires to the back of the dash using black zip ties.

I then installed Rockford fosgate 5 1/4 ď speakers in the dash the headlight switch, dimmer switch and wiper switch were all done with the dash in place but not bolted to the jeep. (if I had to do it over again, I would have installed the speakers before the frame was slipped over the steering column, itís a pain to get you hand back there with all the wites).
Note : The cut-out for the dimmer switch was too small so a dremel tool was used to enlarge the opening a bit. This might have been caused by the added material from the plating shop though.
The last thing before tackling the Heating was running the new speedometer cable to the transfer case and to the back of the speedo. The YJ speedometer uses a snap in type connector and the CJ speedometer screws in. I purchase a 62Ē cable and it was perfect. I drilled a new hole in the firewall just below where the loom comes through to go the computer. IT was basically inline of where the back of the CJ female connector is. If I had to do it over again, I would have purchased a bit longer of a cable because it would have been easier for routing and attaching to the frame.

Heater and Vent
I already had matched the fan control wires with the CJ fan switch, which was very easy, Low, Med, and High, then thereís a ground and 12v source all taken from the YJ moduleÖ Pretty basic. However, you wonít get the fan to turn on until you attach the two white wires together that were mounted to the YJ heater control module. It the witch on the top far right of the box as your looking down on it. The switch basically turns off the power to the fan control if the lever is slid in the off position. Seeing that the CJ doesnít have a set-up like this I didnít worry about it always having power so, I just fused the wires together and bingo, the fan is blowing.

Hereís another shot of the fan control and you can see the module that Iím talking about on the upper right

I also just connected the YJ vacuum connectors together so when the engine is running the vacuum is always engaged. Again, I didnít see any harm in always having it actuated. If it fails in the future, Iíll just disconnect it and figure a work around. But as of not there hasnít been a problem.
I then got the CJ cables and mended them to the existing YJ cables going to the vent, defrost and temp controls, which are all controlled, by cable. In some places the indicator plate/light may be reversed as in push for heat and pull for vent. I thought that it was no big deal and left it. However, later Iíll reverse it with a cable reversal unit.
To get the defrost to work I just cut a long rectangle hole in the top of the dash frame almost where the YJ one is but a little higher and skinnier. When it was all mounted up without the dash pad on, I got the cutting tool on the dremel and make a slice along the top of the frame about a ľĒ wide to allow the air out at the top. The defrost is not as strong as it was with the large YJ hole but, it beats having a rusting windshield from venting it in the frame like the CJís. I also made a grove in the back of the CJ pad to allow the air to be angled up otherwise the pad would cover the hole I made.
I used small hose clamps to mend the vent cables together and a small stainless bolt to attached the cables together.

I then mounted the Dash Pad and covered the wiper linkage holes using some stock CJ covers. And attached the grab bar, glove box door and column cover in completing the install.
The new dash looks absolutely fantastic and the quality of the dash is excellent. The new dash is heavy duty and adds a "classic" touch to the Jeep.

If you plan on doing this swap, make sure you are very comfortable and familiar with electrical wiring diagrams can read schematics and know the basic principles behind circuits and such.

rrisher 11-19-2008 12:10 PM

If you're looking to upgrade you Jeep YJ's interior, this is one option you might want to consider. It's not a 2 hour job, but in the end, if you take your time, think things through and aren't afraid of re-wiring the dash, this is the project for you.

Cbaughn 11-19-2008 12:16 PM

DANG!!! That really made a difference in the looks. Can you get some outside shots looking in? I'd like to see what it does for the look of a YJ from the outside at like a 10 and 20 foot distance. It looks great man, kudos.

RikRotorhead 11-19-2008 12:17 PM

WOW!! Nice work!!

Do you still have all your old guages?
I need some for building prototype overlays for them. I don't need any bezels or anything, just the guages. Tach, speedo, etc...
Let me know, thanks.

And again, nice work. Impressive. :thumbsup:

rrisher 11-19-2008 12:18 PM

Yeah, I can snap some tonight and get them up for you guys!

rrisher 11-19-2008 12:20 PM


Originally Posted by RikRotorhead (Post 6032848)
WOW!! Nice work!!

Do you still have all your old guages?
I need some for building prototype overlays for them. I don't need any bezels or anything, just the guages. Tach, speedo, etc...
Let me know, thanks.

And again, nice work. Impressive. :thumbsup:

Thanks for all the noce comments! :D

It was a lot of work and I'm pleased with the end result :2thumbsup:

here my dash part out therad!

Here you go

Ron83CJ 11-19-2008 12:20 PM

That looks great, one of the things I always liked was the CJ dash. I am going to have to book mark this one for future moding!

Tj's Yj 11-19-2008 12:36 PM

Looks awesome man :cheers2:

Obie95Sahara 11-19-2008 12:47 PM

Anyone else but me notice the radio is in upside down? I know it was probably just for fitment purposes though, lol Great job, came out really awesome

rrisher 11-19-2008 02:29 PM

Yeah, I slid the radio upside down the first time in! It was a long night.... since, it's obviouslt been corrected and seated further in the dash. I had to buy a new cage for it too. But, thank you for pointing it out!

yj_hank 11-19-2008 03:04 PM

:thumbsup:Nice job and great write up. Nothing like having a jeep for tinkering around with


Turner 11-19-2008 03:49 PM

That looks amazing man! I like that alot

jgillespie 11-19-2008 04:14 PM

thanks so much for putting this up bud! definitely will be referring to it frequently (hopefully not too frequently :brickwall ) when i start my swap in the next week or so!

Tomb Raider 11-19-2008 04:54 PM

Awesome modification. Thanks for sharing it with us. :cheers2:

The time now is 11:26 PM.

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