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Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:48 pm
Posts: 52
Vehicle: Holden Drover '85 NT 1,3

Post Posted: Sun May 05, 2019 10:03 pm 
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Hi Guys,

As some will know from my posts from last year, I converted a 1985 Holden Drover into a gun buggy for fox shooting on the farm. New battery, HiD light mounted on the roof and some internal modifications including new seats, shooting rests and rifle carriers etc. Also did the 4K carby conversion which is the subject of another writeup - still going well.


The poor old wiring on the Drover is showing the effects of living on a beach for the past decade or so and its now at the point where the brake turns on the high beams, the factory headlights drop the battery voltage to 11V, the left indicator sounds the horn and the mystery buttons on the dashboard are...mysteries! Compounding all of this is the original heater core which was completely rusted out and bypassed when the original conversion was done. Bearing in mind there is no roof and no windscreen, driving around the paddocks at 2AM when there is snow falling on the Stirling Ranges nearby is....shall we say an exercise in low temp torture! All the existing instruments and controls / stalks etc are pretty badly sun faded and are very brittle so not looking to save any of it.

SO - what I want to do is completely pull the dashboard out, remove most of the factory wiring and start again. I want to fabricate a bit more storage on the dash for ammo and magazines etc, put the CB radio and fox caller electronics in a more secure location and put a new heater in! At the same time, put a new steering wheel on and install race-car style instrument pods. First one will sit in the middle of the new dash that has big switches for lighting control, engine start, circuit breakers etc and the radios below that. A new instrument pod behind the steering wheel will have a tacho, temp sensor and fuel level indicator. The wiring will have an emphasis on things like being able to isolate lights so we can run dark when operating on the thermal cameras and bypassing tail lights. Buggy wont have a speedo, indicators, park lights or any sort of windscreen wipers so planning on removing all that gumpf. Think a really minimal dash where the instruments and controls are easy to reach and we recover as much usable space around the knees and for storage nooks on the dash as possible.

This exercise will be successful if:
1) The total drain on the vehicle electrical system reduces (the Halogen headlights are the #1 culprit here)
2) You can easily find light switches and key controls in the dark and can actually see the instruments without a torch and a cleaning cloth to peer through the myopic plexiglass!
3) Driver or passenger can easily control electrical systems
4) I have engine RPM and basic warning indicators only
5) My feet and hands get warmed on cold nights!

I'm visualisng the instrument pod and matching electrical control pod being oval shaped pieces of aluminium plate with big switches - as I said, very track race car style stuff.
So starting to gather information and next weekend going to pull the dashboard out as much as possible and start creating space. I dont need to preserve anything on the vehicle so we have a bit of a clean slate with which to play.

Has anyone got any clever ideas or thoughts before we start? Any visuals of a Sierra that has been completely re-dashed in this manner?

(In case it wasn't obvious, vehicle is not licensed for on-road use)




Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2017 4:19 am
Posts: 87
Vehicle: 06 Ford falcon

Post Posted: Sun May 05, 2019 10:38 pm 
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2) You can easily find light switches and key controls in the dark and can actually see the instruments without a torch and a cleaning cloth to peer through the myopic plexiglass! ... h&_sacat=0


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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:23 pm
Posts: 5650
Location: Northcliffe, W.A.
Vehicle: LJs, Sierra, Jimny, Swift.

Post Posted: Mon May 06, 2019 1:27 pm 
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Sounds like you've got some earth problems, your electrical problems might be pretty simple to fix.

Comp trucks often have custom/simplified dashes, it might be worth looking up pictures of those. The standard sierra dash wastes a lot a space because it sticks so far out. With the dash out there's a ton more room! I reckon if you made the dash go vertically down at the base of the windscreen like an LJ you could build it out as a storage box around 8"x8" x the width of the width of the interior. You could also build it as a double shelf like a series 3 Land rover or early defender non A/C dash. I suppose like that you could build it in all the way to the firewall and have an absolutely massive storage area.

I guess a lot pivots on what heaterbox you want to run, stock ones take up a fair bit of room and will make fabricating the dash a lot more difficult. Have a look at the diesel heaters on eBay, they're around $200. They're truly awesome and will certainly outperform the stock heater. The unit is compact and you could mount it pretty much anywhere.

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