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My new Dash! (Which will be going into the TD5!)


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I needed to expand my central dash area. I looked at the TD5, Mud and Raptor dash, they were all ok, but quite liked the idea of something like the tomcat dash where the central consol area is angled towards the driver.

I decided to have a go at making my own dash. I decided I would make a steel frame and them wrap stretchy fabric over it and fibreglass it. I also wanted to add some volt gauges (Thanks Walfy) directly above the speedo, fuel gauges etc.

I would modify a standard defender speedo binacle to house the volt gauges and make it seperate from the centre dash.

I first made a cardboard model of both parts. This was easier said than done as I wanted to get the right angle of the centre dash so that it was facing the driver. I eventually came up with this:



And mounted in the vehicle, you can see that it sits above the top of the existing dash but does not affect forward vision.


I first made the volt gauge pod. What I wanted to do was to add a surround to the top of the defender binacle which would house two volt gauges. There is just enough room between the top of the binacle to the top of the inner edge of the steering wheel. So with the aid of some card I made a pod which has the same curvature as the inner edge of the steering wheel. I then drew it in CAD and then got Simon R to make it out of plastic on his rapid prototyping machine. I then cut the top edge of the binacle out and glued the new part in so keeping the same top edge of the binacle. I finished it off by adding a steel hoop behind so that I could stretch some fabic over it to form the back contour. I later then fibreglassed it.

I then purchased 6m of 6mm steel rod to make the centre dah. I didn't expect to use all of it, but I nearly did. So with a lot of cutting bits to length and offering it up to the cardboard dash and a small bit of welding in situ I came up with this:


This joins up neatly to the new volt gauge pod.

It very tightly fits around the top of the dash making a very strong structure. It pick up of the two inner screen vent screws and two new holes drilled down below.

I then stretched some fabic over the sides and painted fibreglass resin over it. Once it had set I could move onto another side until all sides were done like this:



I then added two layers of fibreglass matting on the inside. With some sanding and filling I have made a fairly smooth outer surface (Just the resin'ed fabric gave a nice finish). I then cut the holes for my radio and switches, an gave it a coat of paint:



And its all fitted!



I still need to wire up the volt gauges and add a few switches and 12v supplies, but it's finally fitted. This has taken a long time to complete (as some of you know!), doing bits here and there.

You can still access the windscreen vents and still change gear!

Now this is done I can start continue with my rollcage and wings!


Since completing the dash I have been using it for the best part of a year now and it's been brilliant. You can use all the switches and radio with leaning forward to reach them. I've complete a couple of winch challenges with it and that has proved perfect with the switch layout.

Also when I fit this to the TD5, (I was fortunate to get an early one with the same dash, so it will fit straight in) I'll be fitting 4 point harnesses and you definitly can't lean forward in those.

It's probably a very time consuming way of making a dash, it was for me, but it's exactly what I wanted!

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Great job there. I like the concept and improved ergonomics. Have been planning to do this myself when the interior is finally reinstalled in mine.

Some of the angles there don't do it for me but if there was an easy solution, raptor or mud etc would have done it already! Thanks for sharing.

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Nice, Commercially viable?

At the moment, no! It took an awfully long time to just make one.

There arn't any moulds as such, as the steel frame is the shape of the dash and the internal structure. I guess I could make a mould of the dash to then produce an injection moulded one, which them may not need the steel strengthening inside. It will probably need some sort of steel structure inside for it to mount to the dash.


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Nice work :)

Vac forming would be the way, cheap tooling, cheapish material and fast cycle. Haven't had any done for a couple of years but as a guess a wooden mould would maybe cost £500 and £5 per moulded part.

I did a similar thing by moulding GRP in a polystyrene form I CNC hot wire cut on my old SJ. I also made a terminal box by making an injection mould tool out of a marj tub, card board, tin foil and studding. I purged the material from a moulding machine barrel into the mould and packed it with a brass rod. That takes me back to when I had time for sillyness :)

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Fibre is easier to DIY, but vac forming on the whole gives you a better looking, lower cost product with almost no finishing required.

I would replace the cut-out for the radio, switches clock etc with a recess in the plastic and offer laser cut, anodised panel (much like the Raptor centre console) with options for radio / switches / dials etc).

I think they would be too expensive in fibre - but reasonable if vac formed. [Edit: Cynic-Al beat me to it!]


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  • 1 month later...

Today I started modify the dash to fit into the TD5 http://(the red one!). The only part that needs modify is the instrument binacle as the central part will fit straight in as it is an early TD5. The square clock will be removed to make room for more switches!

So I started by chopping the top off the pre TD5 instrument binacle.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Right, being the bank holiday weekend and all that, I decided to do some dash!

I removed all the gauges from the TD5 binacle, the warning lights and carfully unclipped the two backlite sections for the heater, gave it a wash and was left with this:


I then made some measurements and chopped the top off this one!

With the centre dash in place, screwed down using the two inner windscreen demister vents I knew it was in the right place.

Then I fitted the trimmed instrument binacle, offered up the extra gauge pod and araldited the two together.


I have now carfully removed it all and my next task is to fibreglass the inside of the TD5 binacle and make it look nice!


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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Right I finally got round to fibre glassing the inside of the TD5 binnacle where I had added the top volt gauge pod. I did some filling, sanding, filling, sanding and some painting, and I came up with this:


I added the gauges etc.


And did some wiring for dash illuminations.


I removed the clock to make way for more switch, added some 12v sockets and fitted it all in the TD5!



Everything is working fine, just need to do something about the bright blue light the EGT gauge gives off at night, I think I'll add a resistor in line to dim the light slightly.


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