Can you ever have enough switches for the multitude of electrical projects that seem to fill our vehicles? I am thinking…..ehh…..umm….err…..ahh…….NO! Mine were starting to get out of control and after removing one so that my tranny temp gauge could occupy the space, I was looking for an alternative to the large and somewhat bulky switches I had been using. On top of that, I needed to install a fan cutoff relay (electric fan on the auto tranny cooler) and so I now needed to find yet another spot for the new switch and the one I had to remove.
Space is always at a premium in a TJ….so I surfed on over to the 12 Volt Guy to see if he had anything that would satisfy my needs. A low amperage switch with a small footprint was needed to control the power relays in my electrical circuits.
These little beauties should do the job just fine. A SPST (single pole single throw) switch rated for 6 amps, they will easily handle the low current in the relay’s coil. As for the size, they mount in a hole just 1/2″ x 3/4″. And the price is more than reasonable at 5 for $5 (includes shipping). They even come with the crimp on connectors shown in the above photo. Within a few days, I had a handful of these ready for a weekend project. Now, where to mount them?
After spending a while checking out the available real estate, I opted to mount the switches in the center console. I originally planned on using an aluminum plate to mount the switches. A single large hole in the console would be cut and the plate then screwed into positioned. Well…the plate was too thick and I was spending far too much time with the Dremel tool cutting out the holes. Time to switch to plan B. (you always have a backup plan, right?)
I took the paper template I had made for the aluminum plate and taped it onto the center console. A fine tip Sharpie gave me the necessary outline I needed for the holes. I used the Dremel tool for the initial cuts and a box knife to clean up the holes. I few of them required a small bit of trimming (with the box knife) to properly clearance the switches. It was easier than I expected and I happy to report that there were no “oops” with the Dremel.
A shot of all five holes and the switches ALMOST ready to be installed. (did I mention it was rather messy?) Before the switches are pushed into position, the wires are attached and fed through the holes. This is much easier than trying to push the connectors onto the switches after you have them pushed into the console.
I used a Molex 12 pin electrical connector (available from Radio Shack) to make the electrical connections going into the center console easy to manage. By doing so, I can simply unplug one electrical connector (located at the front end of the console) when I need to remove the center console. This beats the heck out of having all of those wires snaking up into the console and ending up with a jumbled mess if you have to pull the console (been there, done that, learned that lesson when I did my tranny swap).
A photo of the completed project with the switches inserted into the center console and the shifter all put back together. If you are real anal, you’ll see a small bit of spacing difference between one or two of the switches.
Another picture of the entire shifter section of the center console. All in all, I am pretty happy with the results. The entire mod cost under $10 (switches and Molex connector).
I exchanged some e-mail with Darren, also known as the 12VoltGuy.com, about making a small aluminum plate that would fit where I put my switches. Cutting out a larger rectangular area so the switches could clear and then screwing the plate onto the center console would make the install much easier. (and it would look better as well) Darren is waiting on some new punches to arrive and then he said he would see if what we discussed would be possible. He may have a working prototype in a month’s time. If he comes up with one, I’ll post some info about it here.
Enjoy your Jeep and remember to TREADLightly!
Update: I cleaned up the relays and got them connected to the new switches. Here is a write-up with some more details on the center console and the relay rack I made.