Well, since the beginning of this project I had intended to go with a floor shifter. But today I decided to stick with the 4 speed column shifter that came from a Suburban that also had a 4L60e trans.
It's typically not my favorite approach, but my goals for this interior are all about comfort mixed with a classy touch of modern equipment. So, I think it will look nice and leave more room for the custom center console. It's still all set up for the column shifter and with the Dakota Digital gauge cluster the GSS-2000 shift indicator module plugs right into it and displays the current gear I'm in, has a neutral safety switch and back-up light switch.
So that's it. However, I do reserve the right to change my mind later on.
I can't wait till Joe can get the dash all painted, so it can be installed along with the column, etc. Then it will be time to take it for a spin.
I appreciate the offer. And it puts a smile on my face too when I can share progress. I know it's not the same as when I used to do all the work myself, but it still gives me something to design and orchestrate. It gives me something positive to think about and participate in.
Actually, Joe isn't holding up the rest of the paint work. I dont mean to imply that. I just haven't called him back over to finish it up yet. He has called me many times ready to help finish it. I just haven't been up to having anyone over due to extreme pain. I spend most of every day in bed due to extreme pain and relentless issues with my legs not working. It's such a drag for a guy like me. I hate laying around! I have always been a hundred mile an hour kinda guy. I consider eating and sleeping a total waste of time that interupts progress. A project like this used to be so easy for me. And it would only take 3-4 months to complete by myself. But now I am fortunate and blessed to get 3-4 hours a week where I can walk and endure the pain enough to do anything. Just getting to my doctors every month is such a painful event that I am down and out completely for 2-3 days afterward most of the time. And this is summertime! I am awake right now because I am consumed with pain. I am typing this on my iPhone as I lay flat on my back waiting for my medication to help get it back under control. But I did sleep for 3 hours uninterrupted, which is a lot for me.
Good God Almighty, I am extremely worried about winter. It is absolutely brutal. And worse every year. Already, the nights are getting down into the 50's and 40's and I can't make it through the night without multiple pain management doses. I can't wait till the rain and snow. I am planning to have a fireplace put in my bedroom this year, so I can get direct heat.
I don't mean to complain and sound unthankful. I know there are many others who have it far worse than I do. I am grateful for everyday.
Some minor mods have been done to the early Gladiator dash that I bought a while back. This simple mod makes it possible to fit the later model larger diameter tilt steering column where the original smaller diameter non-tilt column mounted.
The later model Wagoneers and Cherokee Chiefs already came with the larger column, bracket and plastic covers. And I have a Chief dash that donated its bracket, shown below along with the original Gladiator bracket.
I could have just used the entire Chief dash, which is identical in every way except for the different gauge clusters, column brackets, and various holes for all the different switches, heater controls and radios. So, it was much easier to go with the stock Gladiator dash and make a few simple modifications.
Here is the Gladiator dash with the necessary cuts to the column area:
And here is the bracket ready to weld in place:
The holes are drilled for the new AC vents. The center area will be cut out for my iPod stereo and AC controls.
Here is a photo of the repainted column to dash covers in place. And a shot of it along with the Dakota Digital gauge unit and trim ring. The dash will be green like the exterior with black accents. It should look really sharp.
Another item to mention is that this dash has the original mono radio speaker on the top. So, rather than cover it up, I have decided to use the original speaker and plug it into my CB. It should make it much easier to hear the CB chatter. Especially, because it will bounce off the windshield. I can never hear CB's
I will post the completed photos as soon as possible. It's quite a simple upgrade that sure makes a huge difference. This entire process only takes about 25 minutes to give an idea of how easy it is.
I decided to make one modification to my plans, which happens occasionally with complex projects like this.
I was originally going to put the fuse panel in the center console with all the other primary electronic components to centralize and hide all the wiring, relays, etc... But, because the Centech Fuse Panel is such a work of art, I decided to keep it under the dash. Plus, it greatly diminishes the number of wires running between the dash and console.
Joe is planning to come back to finish some more paint/body work in a week or so. That will mean the dash can go in. Then the steering column and wiring can be installed.
My Dakota Digital GSS-2000 shift indicator arrived today. And as expected, just like the main VFD display unit, it is a beautifully designed kit. I am very happy with the quality of every component. The written instructions are also easy to follow and understand. This GSS-2000 kit connects to the main display control box with just one wire. My VFD display will now show each gear momentarily whenever it changes, it includes a neutral safety and a 15 amp back-up light supply.
Another sleepless night because of uncontrollable pain... So, I'll write a bit to take my mind off it.
I found an awesome deal on a brand new Warn 9500 Dual Force HP Power Plant winch that is still in the box. A friend bought it new and never used it. Instead, he has been deployed overseas 5 times now and just couldn't find enough time to finish his Jeep project. So, he sold everything.
This is the winch I have wanted for a long time. It has an integrated air compressor that puts out 5 cfm @ 90 psi with a built-in air reservoir and intercooler. I got it for far less than half price. It's gloss black. So it will match the color scheme of my Gladiator. And the overall design of this unit is beautiful.
It has all the accessories including 125' of new steel cable. I still have 100' of synthetic winch rope that I could use, but I will stick with the standard 5/16" steel cable this time. I used the synthetic rope back in the rock crawling days, but there will be no more rock crawling for me. Synthetic has its advantages, but it has some real disadvantages as well.
I was planning to use my Warn 8274-50 winch if I couldn't find the Power Plant for a reasonable price. Well, I guess my patience paid off.
I now have the winch and accessories in my posession. This thing is very impressive. I can't believe that I finally own one. And the air compressor isn't loud at all. In fact, it is much quieter than my York AC setups.
Here is a photo of it sitting on my shop counter:
Big thanks to my brother for moving and lifting this beast for me. It is huge! It is 24.5"L x 13"H x 7.5"D (without the fare lead).
The winch is all torn down and ready for a custom paint job. It only took about 10 minutes. I left the motor and compressor alone. No need to get carried away.
The black looks very nice, but I want to give it a bit more style by combining black with the forest green that's on the body. It's easy to do, so why not.
The other thing I plan to do is hard wire the winch and compressor into the cab. It's a little more complicated than it is with earlier winches. There are some guys out there who have posted threads about how to hard wire the Power Plant. But it's quite a process. I prefer to just purchase second remote and use it for the hard wire.
I also plan to use my previously designed and well-proven system that allows me to control air-up and air-down of all 4 tires at one time while reading the pressure on a single dash-mounted gauge all from the warmth of the cab. This system is already built and boxed up for future use. I built it by installing a quick disconnect at each corner of the body close to each wheel. Then I have 4 short air hoses that can connect to these ports and each tire. After they're connected I can simply get back in my cab and flip a switch to air up or down all 4 tires at the same time. No more kneeling in the cold wet snow, mud or dirt. I used this system for years and it is fantastic. I will show photos of it when I install it later on.
Some progress pics. Not much, but every little bit gets this beast closer to being on the road...
The Centech fuse panel is now installed and ready to be wired up:
Here is a custom 4x4 shifter that I made quite a while back. It bolts to the transmission. It's very strong and works great. I have made many others like this before and they only take a few minutes to build. Plus, they only cost a few bucks.
The carpet is installed now. Except, for some minor edge trimming and entry tread plates...
The center console will cover the hole where the shifter and main wiring harness come through the floor. It will be one of the last things to be built and installed to make sure that it fits between the seats perfectly.
The brake pedal, fuel pedal and door entry tread plates will all be custom made from diamond plate aluminum and they will be powder coated black. Plus, the rocker guards, windshield brow, and a few other places will receive the same treatment just to add a little extra touch of style.
The dash has undergone a few more quick mods. The Vintage Air control knobs and Alpine iPod stereo holes are now complete.
All that is left now is to close up a few gaps and relocate a few holes for some 12 volt outlets, driving and fog light switches, winch controls, air gauge and a few other miscellaneous items that will only take about 30 minutes. Then Joe will take it from there and paint it. Man I can't wait!!! Because.... then it can be installed along with all the electronics, steering column, etc.