So one of the things I wanted to do when I bought this Jeep was to clean up the dash and build a cage. I was looking for a safe jeep my son could drive and at the same time a little “cool” factor.
I had kicked around a few ideas of using tube for an overhead with a small box for just the stereo. But decided to make a bigger box that would allow me to install a few switches as well as an overhead dome light or two. I’ll probably add switches for auxiliary lights as well as a shut off for the electric fuel pump. I’m certain I’ll pull a few extra 12 gauge wires just for the stuff I forget and want to add later.
The box is made of 11 gauge .120 sheet steel, which is the same thickness as the stock bar and the Kentrol "sport cage" it is tied into. Stainless Steel Specialties, a company here in Raleigh, NC, supplied, cut & bent the steel for me as I don't have a brake. I went with a 10” x 2” box with 1” lip on each of the bottom sides. I had it cut about 12" longer than needed just in case. The bottom plate I had bent with a 7” run at 20* and a 2.5” run for the face plate at 90* back to flat with a 70* I left it a bit long on both ends to get a placement once the box was set.
After setting the front Kentrol sport bar 3/4” off the windshield, and careful measuring distances, a 2" hole saw cut the sides and a circular saw with a 7" steel blade made a nice clean cut of things. This is where the Plasma cutter would have been nice to have. (I'm accepting donations)
A flapper on the small grinder cleaned things up and a test fit confirmed that something was wrong.... it fit perfectly.
After removing the box we set it up for the bottom plate attachment. We marked out and drilled 3/8 holes through the plate and the box at 6” spacing. We then ran the plate holes through at 7/16" to provide some wiggle room during assembly.
Using nylon lock nuts and 1" 3/8 bolts we tightened them up on the box and mig'd the nuts to the inside of the box. Sure the nylon melted but enough material remained to provide the compression needed to do their job. Using a thread chaser after removing the bolts got rid of any excess schleg.
I then measured up the side pieces needed to finish up the returns on the bottom plate and had them cut on a sheer. Using magnetic brackets we then added welded these pieces to the bottom plate. The cut off wheel on the small grinder and a small blade on the Sawzall worked well for cutting out the opening for the head unit. The stereo head unit had it's own slip cage that fit in and locked with tabs. I'll probably add an addl tab or two to bolt the stereo into place to prevent it from growing legs and walking away.
A 3/4” drill bit and the cut off blade helped with making a small access hole into the front cage pipe for wiring, I'll coat it with JB Weld to keep it from cutting into the wiring. Once I figure out what we are going to run up there besides a few dome lights and the stereo I'll build a wiring harness and run it through the pipe and up there.
Box in place between pipe:
Drilling attachment holes:
Nuts welded onto box:
Welding sides onto plate:
Cleaning up threads:
Cut out for head unit:
Access for wiring harness:
Stereo in place, box all assembled:
Total cost of the project not including the sport bar was about $75 for the steel and having them make the bends. Fastenal bolts and nuts maybe $7.00.
Tools included a circular saw with metal blade, a 2" hole saw, 3/8 and 7/16 drill bits and a 1/2" drill to turn them, a 4.5" grinder with a cut off, grind blade and a flapper wheel, a mig welder (I used a Miller 180 with .30 wire on gas.) Hand tools ie: ratchet, sockets, thread chaser, etc.
The project was moderately easy to build and certainly one of a kind. I look forward to getting it painted and putting it to use.
Considerations need to be made for running the wiring into the dash from the sport bar and I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about an antenna for the stereo. I’d lay a hidden antenna inside the box but I don’t think the reception would be all that great.
A few updates:
Painted the cage and overhead with 2 coats of POR-15 and 3 coats of textured Chassis Black
Added a lock tab for the back of the stereo to help stabilize things.
Got an adjustable Interior Dome Map Light from a Chevy Suburban, painted it black with Duplicolor.
Made a mount and welded it to the overhead, drilled it out for two machine screws to hold things in place.