I finally got the head unit installed okay and everything worked okay. My soldering went well after some practice to re-familiarize myself with it (and solving a slight issue with the solder itself – Thanks Rob!). Installing the head back into the dash was a bit of a pain as the sides of the dash area are angled inwards, so you have to pull them apart to slide the unit in (three  hands come in handy here…).

Once installed I switched the ignition on and the head unit booted up nicely. Everything worked as it should and I was very happy with the progress I’d made. Time for a couple of beers to celebrate!

After this it was time to put everything back together, something I thought should be relatively straight-forward but as with so much of this project that wasn’t to be the case.

First off was the kick panel in the passenger side. The harness has so much wire on it that there simply isn’t room to tuck it all away and allow the panel to be reinstalled – not to mention the difficulty of trying to hold wires up while trying to reposition, press up and screw in the fasteners all at the same time (three hands again!). After many attempts I shelved that to work on the other aspect that I knew ould need some work – the radio center bezel.

The bezel itse;f is a fairly thin piece of ABS plastic. Rather than cut up the stock one I’d ordered an aftermarket item to work with. I knew that I’d probably have to trim the opening to some extent and measured out the unit against the thicker bevels around the opening. I quickly realized that this was going to be problematic at best.

The width of the radio is around 4mm wider and deeper than the stock hole is and taking out that much material would result in losing much if not all of the bevels around the opening. My Dremel made quick work of the grinding but created some problems too. ABS is a thermally sensitive material, if it gets too hot it melts (rather uncontrollably!), I had anticipated this though and kept the speed down on the Dremel to avoid the problem.

The second issue that I hadn’t anticipated was how difficult control would be. The Dremel skipped and jumped making it very difficult to grind thickness away in a consistent and controlled way. Also the grinding tip would often “bite” harder, dragging it deeper and taking “divots” out of the frame. As a result it was impossible not to go through the bevels in some places. After much work I tried test fitting and found that not only wasn’t it “close” but also that the aftermarket panel didn’t seem to fit very well either. The alignment was poor and screwing it in position seemed impossible.

By this time I was feeling thoroughly despondent. My project seemed to have rapidly turned into a bit of a nightmare. It had taken far longer than I expected, driving weather had arrived and I’d already missed several weeks of our sadly all too short driving season. Something had to be done!

My solution was simple. I pulled out the head unit, put the inside together as best I could temporarily and started driving the car, giving myself time to step back and think of how to approach things.

Previous posts in this series

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4