Project Samurai, Part 5: Instruments, Hoses and More Details
We have a cage, we have a body, and we have a motor and suspension. It's now time for a dash and some interior components. Stuff you gotta have.
After taking the time to methodically remove the original dash (using an axe, pry bar and a sawzall), we wanted to reuse the factory heater and A/C along with all of the duct work.
After removing the dash and sitting in the seat for a period of time, no matter how we looked at it, there just isn't much room in a Suzuki Samurai. The narrow body is a great asset on the trail due to the fact it lets you squeeze through the trail without grinding on the body and the wide track gives you stability on those off camber trails. But because it's so narrow it limits the amount of room for gauges and accessories.
So we had to get creative. We wanted to utilize the bottom support tube from the factory dash. It gives us a baseline on how low the dash can be and still have room to get in and out without hitting your shins.
So we took a straightened out a clothes hanger and while sitting in seat, we started bending it into different shapes until we got the clearance we wanted without leaving the seat. We have a friend with a hydraulic brake and had him bend up a couple of pieces, along with some extra pieces with bends in them to play with. We put the main dash piece in place and clamped it to the roll cage and stock support tube. With the steering column in place, and sitting in the seat, we used a sharpie and a can of carb spray for an eraser and started drawing out gauge and component placements.
We cut stuff up and began tacking into place and "voila!" A dash is born. We opted for Stewart Warner gauges. They've been used and proven in the industrial market, and every hotrod out there for years has always had Stewart Warner gauges installed. And for the price, they are the best value on the market
We had Southwest Water Jet cut out square holes for our K-Four switches and the holes for our gauges in the aluminum, rather than use a hole saw and jig saw, giving a layered look to the dash. What I mean by that is, the main part of the dash is sheet metal and will be painted orange to match the rest of the vehicle. The aluminum will get a brushed look and will then be clear-coated, making our black-trimmed Stewart Warner gauges really stand out.
As I've mentioned before, dependability is very important.
Previous Project Samurai Stories:
Part 4: Engine and Fabrication Work
I can't say enough about K-Four Switches. I've been using them for over 20 years in all kinds of builds. Some of these vehicles were left out in the weather for long periods of time and I've never had a failure. They will cost a bit more than the toggle switches you'll get at a hardware store, but they are high-quality switches. And for the most part, you don't need to run relays and can run up to 40 amps by using a dual throw switch. Basically, this is just an off/on switch with four poles on the back instead of two (allowing you 20 amps per pole).
Troy Salisberry of Race Tech Machine stepped up and made us a frame and door for our glove box.
With our gauges, switches and glove box in place, we moved on to the floor tunnel, where we installed a brake bias valve. The Parker Hose Advantage Store carries this valve, along with all the fittings and custom brake lines needed to accomplish this task. This valve can be a great asset to you. When you hit that nasty, gnarly hill that you can't climb up, your car starts sliding sideways. Simply shut the front brakes down and let your rear brakes do all of the stopping and your front wheels will now roll, allowing you to be able to steer coming down that hill.
We also installed a hydraulic park brake valve from Jamar. This, too, is a great thing to have. When you’re on a very steep hill with a manual transmission and you stall the motor, lock the brakes up, get on the gas and gently ease out on the clutch. Once the clutch is engaged, simply hit the park valve disengaging it and continue up the hill as if it were an automatic. What this means is, no heel/toe on the gas and brake pedals while working the clutch at the same time.
We also installed a turn brake from Jamar for doing “diggers.” The quality and finish is incredible. We've already installed a rear wheel disconnect from Trail Tough Products, and this works in conjunction with the turn brakes. How is it used? Example: disengage the rear driveshaft from the transfer case using the turn brake to lock up the right rear wheel. Then turn the front wheels to the right, keeping the right rear wheel locked up with the turn brake and the rear wheel will pivot while the front wheels dig in and give you a sharp turn, thus giving it the name "digger."
While we were at The Parker Hose Advantage Store, we also picked up the Purosil silicone hoses for the heating and cooling system and the fittings to install the rear steer valve from Howe Performance. These guys really do have it all! It's very important to understand why silicone hoses are such a great value, especially when running aluminum radiators. The benefit of silicone hoses versus ordinary rubber hoses is simple. The metal engine/ radiator parts and the coolant form together to become much like a battery, storing electricity, causing an electrochemical attack on your radiator and your hoses. This electrochemical attack deteriorates rubber hoses and radiators causing them to fail. Silicone hoses greatly helps to prevent this from happening. We are extremely proud of our Ron Davis radiator and we want to protect it.
Another simple trick to add to this is to take an 18-gauge wire and strip it back about an inch. Lay this on the neck of the radiator outlet with the bare wire protruding into the cooling system. Slide your hose back on with the wire inside of the hose. Then ground the other end of the wire to the chassis. This helps stop electrolysis.
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