In my last update of Project Pilehouse I covered how I started smoothing and shaving the steering column housing for a cleaner look. While I had the column out I decided to start cleaning up the dash and sort out my brake pedal dilemma on the truck. In order to get under the dash for fabricating the new brake pedal setup and to shave and smooth the dash I needed to pull it out.
On older vehicles dash removal isn't as easy as newer cars because they're welded in place. I decided to mark out my cut with painters tape and use a cut off wheel on the 4 1/2" angle grinder. I chose to cut back towards the firewall/cowl on the dash because it was close to a bend/pinch weld where the metal is stronger and warpage from welding it back in would be minimal.
With the dash cut out my first order of business was to shave all of the unneeded openings in the dash. I decided to butt weld patch panels in place using the TIG 200 and the Mini #9 Torch. I hammer welded the joints and metal finished all of the panels so that they will only need a skim coat of body filler to be perfect. I did the same to the original center gauge and additional switch openings added by the previous owner.
Now that the extra uneeded holes in the dash were shaved I decided to tackle the glovebox. The original glovebox pocket was made of cardboard and disintegrated (like the rest of the truck) over the years. What I was left with was an empty hole and a lid that just fell open with no latch. I decided to make a pocket for the glovebox out of sheet metal and fabricate a hidden latch. I started by measuring the outer diameter of the glovebox opening and cutting a piece of 20 gauge sheet metal to length with the Pneumatic Metal Shears. I then used the metal brake to put a flange on the panel. Once I had the flange bent into the panel I laid out where my bends needed to be to form the panel into shape.
I then worked the areas I marked for the bends with the Eastwood Shrinker to create the same shape as the opening for the glovebox. I purposely made the piece too long so the panel wasn't too short. I trimmed the excess off with the straight cut aviation snips and welded the ends together with the TIG 200DC and the mini #9 torch.
Once I had the panel welded together and one piece I needed to make the back to the glovebox pocket. I flipped the piece I just made over and traced the outer diameter onto a flat sheet of 20 gauge steel. I then took the aviation snips and relief cut the corners so I could pull the corners in. I decided to use the oblong shaping dolly to hammer the corners into themselves. I roughed the corners in and then used the TIG to weld the split sections together. I didn't go crazy metal finishing this section because it will never be seen. I then clamped and welded the back panel onto the rest of the glove box using a pair of locking welding C-clamps
Now that I had a pocket for the glovebox I decided to work on making a hidden latch for the lid. I noticed recently that some street rod parts stores were selling a "magnetic hidden latch" for shaved gas doors and custom applications. After I got over the price shock, it dawned on me that these looked very close to that of hidden one-touch cabinet latches you see on kitchen cabinets. I went down to my local home improvement store and grabbed a couple different styles and brought them back to the dash. Turns out the little mini one-touch magnetic latch I found was identical to those in the pictures online and ended up being a third of the price. This means more money for more important parts of the build! I took a piece of 1/4" steel and cut out a small square to mount the latch to. I chose a thicker piece like this because I wanted to drill and tap it for the latch bolts so it could be removed or replaced if it got damage. I then notched out the back lip of the glove box door so the backside contacted the latch when closed.
Once I had welded the latch mounting tab into the glovebox lid I spot welded the entire assembly into the dash permanently and I was on the home stretch! I just needed to weld up the hole from the original knob in the lid. I decided to take the easy route and fired up the MIG 135 and used a copper backing plate to fill the hole. I then ground it all smooth with the angle grinder, a surface conditioning pad , and finally a Palm DA sander with 80 grit paper.
I then test fit the dash back into the truck and I must say I was surprised how MUCH better it really looked. The body lines on the dash really pop now and the dash is much less cluttered. I decided to leave the two center openings only for the gauges. I plan to run some combination gauges that will house all of the instruments I need for monitoring the truck while driving.
Next up is solving my on-going brake pedal drama I've been fighting with the past few months. I think I finally have it all figured out and I'll be sharing the progress shortly, so watch this space!