Posts Tagged ‘Alpine’

My absolute favorite thing about my day job is installing 12-volt electronics where they do not easily fit and making it look like they came that way from the automobile manufacturer. In this case, it was installing the new Alpine X009-U 9″ head unit into the dash of a 2003 Ford F-350. As you can see in the images below, the X009-U is virtually the same height as the Ford double DIN radio and climate controls combined… and quite a bit wider!




Since the X009-U will need to be custom installed into pretty much every vehicle out there, Alpine graciously supplies a trim ring that can be molded into the dash. This makes it a tad bit easier on the installer and gives him/her a nice starting point. Said trim ring can be seen in the previous two images.

First thing is to cut a VERY large opening in the dash panel to house this behemoth of a head unit’s trim ring. I then like to hold the ring in place with superglue, in a few key places. This will hold the ring in place while I permanently glue it in place with Norton Speed Grip 2-part plastic epoxy:



Once the epoxy is set up, I then grind/sand any extra off that squeezed through to the front. I make sure to maintain the shape of the trim ring to the front of the OEM dash panel. In the next image, you will notice that I had to build up a section under the head unit buttons to make for a seamless transition from the Alpine trim ring to the OEM dash panel. For this I use Evercoat Fiber Tech, which is a Kevlar reinforced filler. I then use Evercoat Rage Gold for any “fine tuning”:


Once I was happy with shape of everything and filled any little pin holes etc., I sprayed the entire panel with several light coats of texture to get back to the OEM textured finish. For this texture I like to use SEM Satin Black Chip Guard:


Once the texture coat dried, I applied a OEM matching top coat to give its final finish:


Now that the dash panel was basically finished until final install, it was time to find a good place for the climate controls. Luckily there is a pocket below the dash panel that is of little use. Although the pocket itself isn’t near large enough to house the climate control, the surrounding area is:



The first thing to do was hack the pocket out of there with an air saw:


It was immediately clear that I was going to need to build this area out a little to make room for the climate controls to be rear mounted. So I made a perfect frame out of a solid piece of 1/4″ ABS. This would give me a framed-in area to rear mount the climate control and also give me a place to build onto to get the shape I want for that area of the panel. A quick test fit before trimming it a little on the corners and then tacking it in place with super glue:



Just like the head unit trim ring, I used the Norton Speed Grip to permanently bond it in place:


Again, I rough sanded the Norton Speed Grip and then used the Evercoat Fiber Tech to build up the transitions to the OEM panel. This is after rough sanding and using some more Evercoat Rage Gold filler for the finishing work:



A quick coat of texture in the modified area, some sanding to blend to the panel, just to check to make sure my shaping was good etc:


I then used the same 1/4″ ABS and Norton Speed Grip to make mounts for the climate controls to screw to the backside:



A quick test fit of the climate control:


A complete texture coating of the panel:


And finally the OEM matching color and mounting of the climate control:



Now that all the panels were finished, it was time for what I consider the hardest part… securely mounting the head unit in the dash. This is typically very time-consuming since there isn’t really any mounting points for the new radio. It needs to be EXACT so that when the dash panel is secured back onto the dash, the head unit sits perfectly into the opening I just created. The first thing is to cut out supports that are in the way etc. The new head unit is huge, so it needs space! Then it’s a matter of coming up with a mounting system that I can attach into the dash and is adjustable so I can fine tune the fitment as I go. So there is a lot of putting the dash panel on, take it back off, adjust the head unit a little, but the dash back on, take it back off, adjust again, put the dash panel back on…. you get the idea. I did not take any pictures of this as it’s behind the scenes and boring. So you will just need to take my word for it when I say this thing isn’t budging.

Installed images:








Had the luxury of working on a real clean 360 about 3 weeks ago. My customer had bought it used and put a lot of money into rebuilding the engine, all new interior with custom carbon fiber trim and freshened up the paint. I simply installed a nice Alpine head unit with XM and the Alpine add-on KTP-445 amplifier. Nothing custom or crazy from me, but the car was nice enough to make an appearance into my blog.

A week after the Ferrari, I got the opportunity to work on my first Audi R8. I installed an Escort Passport 9500ci built-in radar detector. Pretty much the best of the best as far as radar detectors go. Front and rear radar, front and rear laser shifters, full GPS etc. I must say this car was a real chore to install this on.

Me taking the rear motorized wing off to gain access to remove the rear garnish:

Nothing like drilling a big hole in the back of a brand new $240,000 car. This was for the rear sensor that mounts to the license plate. This hole was drilled behind the plate:

Since the exhaust is right behind the bumper, I figured it would be best to use some heat treatment on the cable. I cut strips of reflective gold to wrap around the cable:

Reassembly time:

Scads of electronics under the rear cover behind the seats:

Unfortunately no more pictures were taken. This thing ended up taking so long that I didn’t monkey with continued progress pics. I worked on it until 4:00am then came back and hit it again at 8:30am. It was the most time consuming vehicle I have worked on in my 20 year career.

In the last month or so I have had some pretty nice vehicles to work on. I must admit that it’s nice to get to work on cars like this. Generally it really sucks, as far as the install, to work on exotics and old muscle cars. But the quality of the nice ones makes me forget about all the difficult bullshit that goes along with the install.

First up, 1969 Camaro! There literally was not one single part on this car, not one, that wasn’t brand new. Every single bolt, screw, nut, body, glass etc. was brand new. I posted about this car awhile back that I would be getting to work on it. I know it has around $200,000 into the build. I did a modest $3,000 system in it for my customer. I wanted everything hidden to maintain the clean stock look that it had going on.

Firebird tail lights:

Rare ZL1 big block… # 005 of 200:

For the audio, I used a an Alpine CDE-123 to head the operation. The car had an aftermarket gauge panel that has a provision for a single DIN radio… lucky me!

All marked and ready for some air-saw action:

Radio sleeve mounted and waiting for some wiring:

As stated, I like to hide the speakers, but not necessarily at the cost of an audibly bad location. The rear deck was pretty basic; maintain the OEM rear deck panel and under mount the Hybrid Imagine series 6×9’s. The metal did need to be air-sawed out:

Interior back in… you would never know there was anything back there:

Time to get a little more creative for the front stage. I like installing 6.5’s down in the fresh air vent in the kick. There’s a huge cavity and it’s solid metal down there for good acoustics… no flimsy metal that will resonate. I simply make a 1/4″ baffle board to cover up the huge oval hole left over from the fresh air vent:

Some Second Skin sound deadening over the baffle and in goes the Hybrid Audio Clarus 6.5″ mid-bass driver:

Next is to modify the OEM kick panels and still maintain an OEM-ish look. Whomever built the car had already cut the plastic section off the back that housed the adjustable vent:

I also came up with an ingenious location for the tweeters that will push them high on the kick, out from way up under the dash and allow me to customize a grille that will flow with the rest of my work. I also cut out the large location where my mid-bass grille will go:

I ground down the plastic lip so that it would angle the tweeter:

Kick panels ready for grilles:

A quick test fit:

Tweeter grilles, start with 1/4″ wood:

Wrapped in 2 layers of grille cloth:

Glued in place:

Test fitting the mid-bass grille that I also cut out of 1/4″:

Finished drivers side kick:

Passenger side installed:

As for the amplifiers, I used two ARC Audio XDi 804’s. Each one is 80×4, which I bridged down to 2 channels to make 240 watts RMS at each speaker. I simply tucked them under the rear deck out of sight:

I have another cool little work project that was dropped off today.  I will be installing a simple, respectable system into a nice 68′ Camaro.  The car just came out of the paint shop.  It doesn’t have any interior panels except for the seats and dash.  I told the customer to leave the other stuff out to make my job easier.  I will be doing a budget minded system, then a little custom work to go along with it.  To start off I am doing a set of Hybrid Audio Imagine series in the kicks and another set in the rear deck.  I will be fiber-glassing an Alpine iXA-W407 double DIN into the dash.  The center dash area that is a simply fake wood grain sticker now, will be fiberglass and painted body color.  Then finishing off the trunk completely with my own fabricated side panels, back panel, front panel(the subs will be behind it) and a false floor where the amplifiers will be under plexi.  Then he will be coming back for me to fiberglass a center console to tie in the fiberglass piece I do for the double DIN.  I think the center console I’ll do a combination of body colored fiberglass and black leather.  Here are a couple of pics to get you started…. then the usual picture folder which I will be updating by the end of the week: Larry’s 68′ Camaro Audio System

Officially completed the Ferrari today.  The thing absolutely rocks and sounds phenomenal.  A very basic setup of front Hybrid Audio Legatia 7″ mid-bass/mid-range drivers, a set of Hybrid Audio Legatia V1 tweeters and a pair of JL Audio 8W3v3 8″ subwoofers.  However, I have 600 watts RMS just for the doors and 750 watts RMS for the 8″ subwoofers…… so it gets loud for when the top is down.  The amplifiers consist of a JL Audio HD600/4 and a HD750/1.  I used an Alpine CDA-117 for the source unit.  DONE!

Again, please feel free to check out my Fotki account for specific build pics: Ferrari F430 Spider System Build Pics

Here are a couple teaser pics of his next toy I’ll be doing in a couple months or so once it’s done being built.  I still have his company truck and Icon 4×4 to do first though.

Ever since I fabricated my gauge cluster/HUD and all of the other goodies, my inbox gets flooded with people wanting me to fabricate one for them.  I get phone calls and emails from all over the country.  However, once I tell them how much it’s going to cost them, all communications come to a halt.  Maybe they think I just sit around all day with nothing better to do, and that I should make one for the price of a Subway sandwich!?!  And it’s not like I’m quoting them some uber high price just because it’s custom.  Actually, it’s quite the opposite.  I know most 240 owners don’t have money.  So I virtually cut my custom labor shop rate in half.  Because it’s not like I do this exact type of work daily at my shop… so I give them a deal.  You figure If I have 6 hours into making the gauge cluster, then that’s 6 hours @ $55/hr….. so $330.  I usually quote around $150 – $200 for the cluster…. not bad if you ask me.  However, I never get a single prospect to go through with it…….. until now!  A guy I met last year, Mr. Sangwa(awesome guy by-the-way), dropped his S13 hatch off today to let me do my thing.  We’re talking full cluster, HUD, vent gauges, fuel gauge in the center console, JDM digital climate control swap, clean up his engine bay, double DIN Alpine w/navigation….. I think that’s about it.  So congrats to him for being the first recipient of a Broadfield Cluster.  And I thank him for trusting me with his car.