VW BEETLE: DOUBLE DIN CONVERSION

For this build we took the modern VW Beetle and updated with all the exciting new options available in car audio that we never offered from the factory.

Our client for this build approached many other audio specialists, but was unable to find anyone else to give them what they wanted. The standard radio opening only allows for what is known as a Single-DIN radio. These are the more common aftermarket sized radios, known for their 2″ by 7″ face plate. In recent years, the Double-DIN radio has become very popular by the OEM and aftermarket segments, with a 4×7″ face that allows for an LCD screen for navigation and advanced audio controls.

Above you can see the stock dash bezel of the Beetle. The dashes of these car were originally covered in a soft paint material that scratches very easily, and eventually becomes a tar-like layer that everything sticks to. You can see that the normal radio size is very similar to the 2×7″ opening, with extended rounded corners.

First the radio and dash bezel need to be removed from the car, and stripped. Here the soft paint coating has been removed with lacquer thinner and a lot of sanding. The plastic has been thoroughly scuffed and cleaned of any oils, silicone or cleaners.

The dash bezel was cut evenly along the bottom of the factory radio opening. The aftermarket radio is wrapped in tape to prevent damage during the molding process. The A/C controls mount to a plastic housing that is permanently attached to the dash frame. This housing was removed from the dash frame with a Dremel tool and reattached 2″ lower to allow the needed room for the radio. The radio is attached to the dash bezel by drilling holes in the support bracket of the bezel. At this point, all of the components are secured in their final location, and it is time to fill in the gap.

The gaps between the two halves are filled with pieces of ABS plastic that have been scuffed and chemically treated to bond to the existing plastic and the body filler that will finish the job. This is the final test fit after the plastic has been smoothed, and further smoothed out using premium body filler. The next step is to paint or cover the dash and reinstall all the components.

F-250 CENTER CONSOLE SUB ENCLOSURE

For this project our task was to fit two massive JL Audio 13w6 subwoofers in an equally massive truck. Although the truck is huge, there is very little available space inside to add something of this nature. We decided the most logical approach was to remove the factory center console and mount the subwoofers in its place.

Normally for a console like this, we would want the subwoofers to face downward. This allows the subs to load off the floor, but also protects them from damage and the eyes of thieves. The latest design of the Super Duty incorporates an  airbag crash module on the floor under the center console. Having the subs face downward and clearing the module would make this enclosure awkwardly tall. By facing the subwoofers up, we are able to build a bump into the bottom of the enclosure that tucks the module in between the magnets of the JL Audio 13w6 subwoofers.

The bulk of the console above is contoured to the floor of the truck and the sharp angles on the front of the console match the styling of the rest of the vehicle. The pillars are made of 3″ wooden discs glued together. Either end of the pillars has a threaded insert to allow it to be bolted in place from the top and bottom.

The armrest is made from baltic birch. This wood is stronger and lighter than MDF, and will hold up better to repeated use. An insert made of 1/4″ MDF will hide the bolt heads and act as the base for a removable cushion.

The enclosure is wrapped in matching vinyl with the same stitch pattern as the seats. The armrest is wrapped in contrasting black to match the armrests on the doors. The AUX4 switch on the dash illuminates the subwoofers with several blue LEDs mounted under the armrest.

SOUNDS THAT KEEP UP WITH YOUR HARLEY

If you own a Harley Davidson, you already know it is loud. If you own a modern Harley Davidson, you know that the sound system is lacking. Working with technicians at Harley-Davidson, our retail partners at Arc Audio have designed a system that takes your tunes up to the level of your exhaust.

At SRQ Custom Autosound, we carry the full range of Arc Audio systems for Harley Davidson bikes, which include five package systems, as well as a la carte parts. As a retailer and technician, I love that all of these kits bolt and wire into the bikes without having to make new holes or cut wires on the bike. The kits start off with a drop in speaker replacement and amplifier upgrade, and from there offer several speaker upgrades while keeping the same powerful amplifier. The Arc Audio KS125.2 Mini is the heart of the system. This amp kicks out 70 watts per channel, nearly seven times the power of the factory system.

The guys at Harley Davidson give you a pair of 5.25″ coaxial speakers from the factory. I will say they are better than most factory car speakers, but they are still a .99 cent speaker at best. The Arc Audio speakers bolt right into the factory locations without modifications. Need more? A funnel-like adapter allows us to mount a 6.5″ speaker to the existing location for even more sound.

Our recent installation of the kit is pictured below. To really optimize the sound, we took it beyond the top level MPAK5 and used a pair of Hertz Hi-Energy coaxials. Using the spacers from the kit, the speakers bolted right in. We also decided to beef up the wiring between the amplifier and speakers, with all the connections soldered. For even more durability, we swapped out the included mounting for a set of aluminum brackets I made. These brackets attach to unused threaded holes inside the fairing and allow us to bolt the amp in place using stainless hardware and not modifying the structure of the bike.

FORD EXCURSION CUSTOM SUB ENCLOSURE

Our first feature article is going to feature a recent build in a Ford Excursion. I have built this enclosure a few times, always with great results. The idea is to create something stealthy that will fill in the need for sub bass without attracting attention from thieves.

Whenever possible, we try to maintain original equipment, like the spare tire, but in this vehicle, the spare isn’t very practical. Weighing in over 100lbs, it is hard for one person to change alone, and even then the factory jack won’t get the thing up in the air safely. Our first step is to remove the spare and take measurements. We want our enclosure to be slightly smaller than the spare so that there won’t be any suprises when we fit it back in later.

After I have taken measurements for our subwoofer enclosure, I build three wooden discs. All of them have the same external diameter, two are solid and one is a ring 1.5″ wide. The first disc and the ring are attached with several sticks to create a shallow barrel.

The barrel is wrapped with 1/16″ wood called chip-board. The inside of the barrel is then reinforced with several layers of fiberglass mat and resin.

The baffle for this subwoofer enclosure is made from the third disc. The subwoofer holes are cut out and the port is attached. The baffle is bonded to the rest of the enclosure and the corners are rounded over with a router. Finally the enclosure can be carpeted and installed. We used the threaded bolt from the spare tire to mount the enclosure without having to make any modifications to the vehicle.

For the final touch, the original tire cover slips over the enclosure and conceals it from prying eyes.