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Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:48 pm
Posts: 53
Vehicle: Holden Drover '85 NT 1,3

Post Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:36 pm 
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Hi Guys,

Some may recall a few years back I converted a 1985 Holden Drover into a gun buggy (Holdover as she became known). Few mods to the engine, extra spotlights etc. Decent seating and an all-over olive drab paint job. Fold down windscreen with a foam covered "roll bar" across the top of the dashboard for a rifle rest. It works a treat mechanically, but the wiring is close to terminal death and the existing alternator is struggling a bit with the factory headlamps and halogen spotlights. Only some of the instrument cluster works, there are random shorts and the lighting is appalling plus the heater is cactus. Also the interior is a bit cramped. At night,wearing gloves, trying to find the spotlight controls and catching yourself on indicator stalks etc isnt ideal.

Bear in mind this is not a road-legal car. It has no seatbelts and never travels above 40km/hr or travels on public roads - strictly a farm vehicle.

So the plan is to pull the dashboard completely out and to fabricate a new "minimalist" dash that provides a bit more room and makes all the electrical controls easy to access and to completely rewire the vehicle.

Plan is:

1) Remove the dash and all trimmings and all wiring / controls
2) Install a new heater core with outlets onto the drivers/PAX legs and maybe a hand warming outlet in the middle.
3) If possible swap the steering wheel for something a bit more compact and bare bones (i.e. just the wheel and column)
4) Install a compact instrument cluster above the steering wheel - thinking about one of those all-in-one motorbike style ones. Provides speedo, tacho, fuel and headlight status only.
5) Install a new control panel in the middle of the dash that is accessible by both PAX and driver. All lights and engine controls here including a big red "stop" button - really helpful when you spot a fox at night to be able to quickly kill the engine and all the lights in one hit and for either driver or PAX to do this
6) New LED 5" x 7" headlights similar to https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/2pcs-7x6-5x ... 3849338755
7) Complete new wiring harness - will retain brake lights but no indicators or parking lights etc.
8) Build a couple of cubby hole storage spots in place of the glovebox.

Curious if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions whilst I am still in this planning phase.

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Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:20 am
Posts: 371
Location: Melbourne
Vehicle: '85 Sierra LWB, '99 GV 2.5L

Post Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:18 pm 
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Well, this one got lots of useful replies, didn't it!.
Other people have said this before & I've said it before - playing with dashes is a lot more involved & harder than it looks.
Having said that, an unregistered shooting buggy - do what you like, but you will spend hours & hours doing it to any sort of 'reasonable' standard.

There is a steel support brace running across the car, under the lower edge of the dash. This is probably worth keeping in place, as the steering column is mounted to it & it will give you a start point to mount stuff off, but it will take up some of the room you are looking to create & it won't be nice to bang your knees into - wrap in a pool noodle?

The heater core & box can probably be reused (although you say it is cactus - might just be full of leaves?) - it's compact enough & it already mounted well with the pipes in the right places - keeping heater hoses stock on a car like this is just simpler for the future + the heater tap is nice & convenient on the engine side of the firewall - in this application, you can forget the need for a cable & just operate the plunger manually for on/off.
Just get funky with some ducting to where it needs to be.

Easy enough to strip the shrouds, combination switch & lock / barrel assembly of the column - it will be plenty bare enough. Aftermarket steering wheels are common enough to find & can be had in silly small sizes, but you don't want to go too small & make the steering too heavy.

I'd hardly bother with instruments - however the original cluster has all you say you want & is going to be easier to make work (or replace with a working one) than trying to mix/match speedo cable (longer than most, as it goes back to the transfer case output) & tacho signals, but I bet you don't spend much time currently looking at the speedo & tacho readings anyway.

Wiring & switches will be really simple - I like the idea of a stop button - put it on a horizontal plane (so you push down on it) top & central in whatever panel you come up with, but not in the way of your gun rest 'roll bar'. Could have 2 more on a vertical plane, under the stop button - 1 that does headlights & the other spot lights (although still run through the master stop button on top so they go out when that is pressed). Then only need 1 x rocker/toggle for ignition & 1 x momentary push for start.

If the targa hoop is still in place, a couple of accessory stop/tail lights (incandescent globes, rather than LEDs) on the underside, but wired up to the 5w filament only, can give just enough light to see what you are doing, but not enough to give the game away - or so they say - I'm no hunter!.

Have fun,
Rgs, Michael

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Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:46 am
Posts: 2297
Location: perth

Post Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:44 pm 
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Ditto - no need for speedo, or tacho.
Oil pressure, water temp etc can be simple generic aftermarket gauges.
Strip everything from the steering column - no need for steering lock or indicators.
Kill switch is a good idea - but have your spotlight on a separate circuit.

Modern LED globes will reduce the load on the electrical system too.

All my buggy had was a reverse light mounted up on the rear of the cage, headlights - and swivel spotlight mounted central where driver and passenger could operate it.
We kept the original heater and LJ50 instrument cluster - until it was decided to remove the cluster and the space it left was turned into an ammo + chocolate storage box.

one mod we never got around to, was cobbling up a Coffman starter for the frankenzook Armsup

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