Friday, February 26, 2016

Center Console for a Bench Seat (Part 2)

I purchased some black vinyl with grain which matches the factory seat.  It is a little darker since it isn't faded but it will look great.  I spent a little time last night covering pieces and realized the vinyl will not stretch enough to wrap around the contour of the side panel as it rounds up toward the storage compartment.

I thought about the dilemma for a while and decided to wrap the sides in carpet.  Carpet stretches much more and would handle the contour.  It does not look as nice but it would allow me to finish up the job and use this console I've worked rather hard to create.

My wife picked up the carpet for me at lunch today and I started wrapping everything tonight.  I ended up staying up until about midnight to get the job done.  I wrapped all the pieces which run down the center of the console in the vinyl.  I then wrapped the sides with the black carpet.  While I had some padding, I did not use any on the sides or center sections.

The center sections were easy because they could be wrapped and then assembled leaving no exposed seams.  To do the sides, I had to carpet the inside area, screw the side to the center pieces, and then wrap the carpet over the side to cover the screws I just installed to put it together.  It is a little difficult to explain but it worked out pretty well.

Wrapping the top of the console was a little difficult.  I put a dense piece of 1/2" foam long the top and then started wrapping.  It took me two attempts to end up with something I was satisfied with.  The biggest difficulty is finding a way to fold over the edges so that there are no exposed seams and the folded portion looks good.  

I mentioned in the last post that I put two furniture nuts on the lid.  This was so that I could attach a little panel to the bottom.  This panel is only about 1/4" thick and fits quite well in the storage compartment.  This piece covers the seams from the lid, and is a bit more secure so the you can't put too much pressure on the lid from the side bending the piano hinge across the bottom.

I don't have a picture of it but once I put in the cup holders, I did not like that they were loose in the panel.  I found two large radiator style clamps and tightened them around the bottom of the cup holders right against the wood.  This kept cup holders from being lose or from being pulled up out of the top of the console.

While it does not look like a million bucks, the console is very useful and I'm glad to have it done.  I've wanted something like this for a while so that I have some storage and a cup holder.  It will be a big improvement for future road trips.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Center Console for a Bench Seat (Part 1)

I've been working on a center console design for the Mustang.  The goal is to have a convenient place to store some items within hands reach and a cup holder or two for longer road trips.  The largest difficulty with the project is the fact my Mustang has a bench seat.  This requires some creative thinking to make a console as the center hump is covered by the seat.

The current bench seat has a center arm rest which folds up.  My plan is to remove the arm rest completely.  I'll then use the mounting point for the current arm rest to mount the new center console.

I started last Monday evening by making a few cardboard templates.  There were numerous attempts to come up with a shape which suited my needs but did not look out of place with the stock interior.

I then transferred all the templates to 5/8" MDF on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.  On Thursday evening and Saturday morning, I finished shaping the wood and fastening together the console.

The front sloped area is where I intend to add cup holders.  When making the templates, I drew out this slope such that the cup holders would be perfectly level.  Since the seat bottom leans back slightly, that means that it slopes forward.  However, in the end, it is not exactly level and is leaned forwarded about 1/2" more than it should but I think it will work out fine.

The arm rest portion is roughly the same height as the original arm rest.  I worked it out to fit me perfectly and I really like this part of the console.  Additionally, the compartment inside gives me a considerable amount of room to store plenty of things at an arms reach.  It will be much more convenient than the glove box.  

In this picture you see one of two furniture nut which is installed but not yet recessed in the interior side of the storage box.  This will allow me to line the inside with carpet or vinyl and bolt it in without an exposed nut on the inside.  This is a first for me but it is looking like it is going to work out well.

I used a six inch piano hinge to attach the top of the console.  I expect to wrap the whole piece in vinyl.  Most of the exposed vinyl edges will be hidden but I was concerned about how to hide the edge on the underside of the lid.  I recessed two furniture nuts in the lid for an idea I have to hide the seams on the bottom.  We will see how that part turns out.

Overall, I'm very happy with the design.  I already had the piano hinge, the wood to build it, and the screws.  Since I had all the supplies, I spent essentially nothing to make what you see here.  At this point, I have about six hours in the project.  While I have some vinyl already, I'm going to go look for something which matches the seats a little better.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fixing a Loose Shifter Handle

While driving the Mustang today, I noticed how lose the shift lever had become over the last year.  Despite not driving much, the bolts wore down the shift lever enough that it would move front to back slightly.  I decided to take a little time this evening to fix the problem before it became any worse.

The shift lever I'm using is an original 3 speed shifter which has the original mount cut off.  I drilled two holes in the shift lever to match the T5 shifter.  As you can tell, I considered flattening out the round shift lever where the bolts were placed so they hold better but didn't.

I used my air grinder to flatten out both sides of the shift lever.  This allows it to lay flat against the shifter.  Additionally, I now have a flat side where the bolt insert so I can use a couple of lock washers.  I decided to keep the rounded head, allen bolts as they will not damage the shift boot.  However, I did put some high strength treadlocker on the bolts so I will not need to do the job again.

Everything is now back together and the shifter feels good!