The rock buggy has been in hibernation most of this summer but
with fall approaching it was time to get some of the stuff on the to-do list
done before the cool weather hits. I don't have any major changes in mind
for the 4 year old chassis but I do want to improve upon some stuff that got
done in a hurry the first go around.
Number one on the list was to rewire the buggy so all of the wires, relays and
fuse blocks are located in the dash. The wiring and dash were one of the
last things done on the initial buildup and I definitely skimped in places due
to lack of time, tools and funds.
First I needed more room behind the main dash panel. I decided to kill two
birds with one stone and fabricated a gauge pod that would buy me some space
behind the gauges and angle the gauges forward giving a better viewing angle.
I bent up the needed forms at work and then had Dennis work his magic with his
TIG. The gauge panel was initially going to be welded on but at the last second
I decided to make it bolt on so I could make a new panel in case I ever wanted
to change the gauge cluster configuration.
I also made the decision to eliminate my tachometer. After 4 years I found
I rarely used it because I didn't want to shift my eyes off of the terrain in
front of me. Instead I rely on my steering column mounted shift light to
tell me when to shift. Another improvement is having all of my gauges
located on one side of the steering column instead of half on one side and half
on another. I should be able to check temperatures in one glance now
instead of two. All of the gauge and switch wiring terminates at a pair of
connectors to make removing the dash easy if service is needed.
The new dash configuration coming together. I picked up a waterproof 4
switch panel from Cabela's boating catalog (P/N 81-01-8867). This switch bank will control
all of the lighting on the buggy and came with a bunch of stickers geared more
for nautical use. I managed to come up with 4 stickers that made some sort
of sense: Navigation Lights (headlights), Spot Lights (center headlights), Flood
Lights (rock lights) and Cockpit Lights (for the interior lighting).
Also visible to just above the intake
elbow is the 8 circuit Painless Wiring fuse panel I bought from Jegs
(#076470217). This setup cost a
lot more than the individual fuse blocks I originally ran but the wiring is far
cleaner since there are two relays integrated into the fuse block..
Another thing I did to make more room behind the dash was this relay panel that
extends over the rear of the engine. This panel is covered by the center
hood panel and is easily accessible if needed.
With all of the lighting switches moved just below the gauge panel I was able to
cut the center console in half. I then made a small panel that covers the
gap between the seats which will become the new home for a storage box. Of
course at this point with full access to all the stuff under my seat I got
sidetracked cleaning up that wiring as well. When I was done the ARB compressor
wiring was shortened and re-routed and the relay was moved to an easier to
The storage bin is a modified ammo can - I cut the handle off
to keep it from rattling and welded my cup holders to the lid. The other
mod was to change the hinges so the top cannot come off (as it usually does as
soon as you open the lid). I ended up having to put the storage box on
standoffs to clear the shifter cable. Also visible just in front of the
box is a 12V plug for use with the GPS I picked up off of Craigslist a while
Project number two was to get the transmission to stop leaking. From what
I could see there were three possible culprits, the first being the deep sump
pan that had seen contact with something on the passenger side possibly cracking
it, the second was the drain plug and the third was the access hole I drilled in
the case to get to the line pressure adjustment screw. I decided to ditch
the deep sump pan and go back to the stock pan to eliminate the drain plug. At
the same time I installed a new filter and a transmission pan stud kit I picked
up from summit racing. To re-seal transmission case I used some JB weld
epoxy putty, just had to knead the stuff, fill the hole and let it sit for 60
minutes. The resulting repair is as hard as can be, time will tell if it
Project number 4 was to install a cutting break lever. Up until now I had
used a pair of line locks to act as cutting brakes but it's just not as smooth
or as easy to actuate the brakes as a dedicated lever. I picked up the
cutting brake from
Polyperformance, it's made by CNC and is 2 in, 2 out.
Having no hard lines in my system made hooking the new cutting brake into the
system a breeze. I just ordered the needed fittings along with an extra
pair of SS braided brake lines from Speedway Motors and then rerouted the
existing lines. I think it took longer to pull the body panel and seats
than it did for me to hook the brake lines up to the cutting brake.
As far as positioning, I originally wanted the cutting brake on my right next to
the shifter but I had no room on that side of the seat (my knee sits right on
top of the shifter console). I had plenty of room on the outside of the rig and
this position made line routing even simpler. With the seat installed you can
see even on the side where I had room it is still really crowded.
The winch controller gets moved from between the seats to next to my shift
lever. The next project I'd like to tackle is to make new interior panels
but I want to invest in some sheet metal equipment first. I think I can
get another 2-3 inches of foot room by making the panels hug the motor closer
but it will require some intricate bends to accomplish what I am picturing in