Dash Powder Coat

I recently received the parts and pieces to put AC in Oscar and it felt like a good time to tear down the dash and AC so I could go with one consistent color.

I’m not going to go into incredible detail about how to pull the dash apart but I will give you a few tips and pain points that I ran into.

GAUGE PANEL
The dash is made up of bolts and screws, doesn’t take an engineer to figure it out. Take a photo of the dash gauges then you’ll want to remove each gauge individually and mark the harness somehow (I just used marker). After you take the gauge panel off the front the housing that goes around the gauges does not want to come off without removing the steering column. The steering column is a new endeavor and I wasn’t willing to tackle it, so I bent the bottom housing where it curves under the dash to remove it then I later cut a straight line through the holes where it bolts to the underside of the dash (sorry I don’t have photos right now but I will when it’s put back in). I’ll use fender washers with the original bolts to fasten the housing at a later date.

POWER DISTRIBUTION PANEL
Opposite of the gauges is a fuse glove box of sorts. The cover amongst other parts and pieces needed to be powder coated. Problem is, the underside of the cover contains valuable information in regards to the circuit board that it covers… and when you have something powder coated they burn everything off. When I learned this at the powder coat shop I quickly shot a few photos so I could recreate the graphic underneath on laser etched plexi. Attached is the PDF if you ever encounter the same thing.
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PAINT TO MATCH
Not everything in the dash can be pulled out and powder coated so fortunately I found a place that uses Cardinal powder coat and also sold paint to match the other pieces I was having coated. So I masked off the interior and painted the pieces still welded into the truck. I went with flat black powder coat on the dash and gloss black on the gauges,

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AC TEAR-DOWN
This was a bitch, I’m not going to lie, and I also understand that I probably voided any warranty I may have had… This involves drilling out rivets, reapplying foam on the inside and taking lots of photos or video remember how it goes back together… But in the end it was worth it. So a few things to note

  • both sides (left and right) of the AC system need to have the rivets drilled out as I mentioned previously.
  • grab a marker and label each of the switches removed from the control panel for future reference.
  • place each of the bolts and nut tabs into a tray for reassembly at a later date.
  • remove the air vents, push up the metal hangar on one side, slide it as far as you can to the same side, the opposite hangar will exit the hole allowing you to take the entire piece out.
  • wrap the whole thing with cellophane to hold the hoses and wiring harnesses away to keep them from getting crushed and pack it away.

I took all the parts to get coated and called Red Dot to get a new sticker at the cost of $70 shipped to your door. Now, if I was to do this again, I would have scanned the sticker and made my own out of etched plexi, just like the power distribution panel above.

Remember your process for how this comes apart (or film it). I must have put it back together and pulled it apart 3 times before I got it right.

Putting it back together you’ll notice the powder coating process you lost all of the foam on the interior. I wasn’t about to contact Red Dot again to find out the price on some sheets of foam. Some very similar stuff, if not identical, can be purchased at hobby lobby for .99 a sheet (they do sell multiple thicknesses). With some adhesive transfer tape and a sharp xacto you can get this stuff applied back in and trimmed on the ac system.

Lastly I bought some new haldex air handles from O’Reilly Auto parts for about $14 to replace the tired old ones for parking and trailer currently in the cab.

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