Project Pile House Shaving and customizing the original dash and glovebox.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

-Matt/EW

13 thoughts on “Project Pile House Shaving and customizing the original dash and glovebox. ”

  • Roger

    Great build ! I had my doughts when you first started but you have really pulled this thing together. My kind of truck!!!
    Have you thought about trying to get rid of the out side door hinge? The truck has such smooth lines on the outside except for those big hinges.
    Keep up ythe great work!
    Thanks, Roger

    Reply
    • MattM

      Thanks Roger! Yea even I was second-guessing myself in the beginning!

      I do plan to make hidden door hinges down the road. The current hinges sag and I need to address gapping the doors better. I figure I'll install a set of hidden hinges and some bearclaw style latches, but right now I'm focusing on just getting all of the panels on an opening/shutting first. I'm working on making the converted one-piece hood hinges and then making a bed for the truck. A lot of work, but no better way to show off Eastwood products!

      Thanks for following,

      Matt

      Reply
  • Jeremy H

    I agree with Rodger! Lol sorry Matt. All BS aside you are a tremendously talented fabricator and have done a wicked job on the project! Any chance there's more vid coming of the air suspension install for the S10 chassis? I've got a 38 Ford truck and an S10 chassis I'm about to start on. Keep up the good work! It's because of people like you that help keeps DIYers motivated and also up to date with new trends and tools. Thanks

    Reply
    • MattM

      Thanks Jeremy!

      I will be doing some tech articles and videos on the air management installation down the line, right now just the mechanical side of the job has been done. I hope to get to the air management side of things once I get some more of the body stuff squared away. Thanks for following!

      -Matt

      Reply
  • bill z

    looking cool , like you i like (and have) to look for inexpensive alternate ideas for issues as i build my 50 chevy pu also on an S10 frame. i love the dash and will also be waiting to see the airride and more as you build. i did 52 merc headlight ring and frencd 39 ford taillight. amazing what can be done with alot of planing and a little bit of nerve huh! keep on keepin on.

    Reply
  • bill z

    looking great Matt. amazing what you can do with allot of planning and allot of nerves. i am doing a 50 Chevy 3100 on a S10 frame. i took allot of time and measuring before i frenched 39 ford taillights into my fenders and Merc headlights for a custom look. i think you proved it can be done buy the average guy with planning. looks great again.

    Reply
  • Richy

    Wow! That looks really nice. Matt I have a 1984 chevy c10 that I'm building from the ground up it's been a long 10 years in the makeing. I see you used 20 gauge steel. My plane is to build my entire dash from scratch I will be using 1/4 inch dowel rods to make a skelliton and then skin it with sheet metal. Would 20 gauge be ok or should I use 18 gauge cold or hot rollered? Thanks

    Reply
    • MattM

      Thanks for the kind words! I've built dashes that way before and making your skeleton as close to the shape as possible before skinning it. It all dependins on how much shape the dash has to it and your shaping/Welding skills. 20 gauge is going to be easier to form/shape but 18 will be easier to weld and has a little more thickness for grinding and sanding. If weight is a concern I've used 22 gauge before, but man is it tough to keep from warping!

      Can't wait to see how it turns out please share your progress with us!

      -Matt

      Reply
  • c. anderson

    Why do you call this Dodge truck pilehouse? It's proper name is called a pilot house because of the five windows like on a tug boat .

    Reply
    • MattM

      Yes we're fully aware of the "proper" name for this body style truck. It was nicknamed "Pilehouse" as a play on words way back when we started the project because it looked like a "pile of junk". We had a contest naming the project and it was our favorite one we picked from the submissions.

      Thanks,

      Matt

      Reply
  • Bruno

    Very good work, love the idea of using "home appliance" and saving money for the build!

    Reply

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