By: Terry L. Howe - 9/2003
|The console on the floor.|
|From further out.|
|Temporary POS brand radio.|
|From the back between the seats.|
I've had a lot of Jeeps over the years and a lot of radios in those Jeeps. Locking up your valuables and keeping a radio working in the Jeep has always been a challenge. Tuffy Stereo Center Console provides the security for the radio, a secure place for valuables, protection from the elements, and an arm rest. The Tuffy Deluxe Stereo Security Console offers a lot in a well built and finished product. There are some cool new features to the console, but the assembly and installation is just as easy as it has ever been.
Why Use the Tuffy Stereo Console
Security is important when you own a soft top Jeep. My '75 CJ didn't even have a locking glove box and most locking space on newer Wranglers just uses easy to break plastic doors. It sure is nice to have a place to throw my wallet or other valuables once in a while when I don't want to carry them around. The console is great for this. I also can keep the stereo secure in the console. In the dash, it really only takes a minute or two to remove a stereo.
The console also provides great protection from the elements for the stereo and my stuff. The weatherstripping makes it very dust and moisture resistant. I don't know how many Jeeps I've had that have had water leaks behind the dash at one time or another. Normally, that happens when the fresh air vent gets clogged with leaves and the water starts pouring in. If the radio doesn't get trashed right away, it normally is only a matter of time. Dust also kills the radios. The moving parts get jammed up with dust and you can clean it out one or two times, but after a while no amount of air or other cleaners will make them work properly again. The console, you can close up the stereo and keep it pretty sealed off from trail dust and moisture.
Another great reason to use the stereo console is in earlier Jeeps, like my '75, the dash had no provision for a radio in it. Most people cut and drill the dash for a radio, but I didn't want to modify my dash. With the stereo console, I didn't have to ruin the dash.
Lets not forget the arm rest. You really need to look detached and disinterested when you are driving around the coolest Jeep in town because that just makes you look cooler. The Tuffy console comes with a nice thick padded arm rest to give you that look.
Another great reason to buy Tuffy products is they are made in the USA!
It had been several years since I had worked with a Tuffy console and I was pleased to see they had made some improvements over those years. The biggest improvement was the new locking system. While the older round locks are very secure, they are bulky on the key chain. Tuffy is now using a flat key with a push button lock. Their "anti-twist" lock design looks very secure and latches the top even if the console isn't locked.
Another minor, but nice, feature is they are now stamping "Tuffy" into the sheet metal of the console instead of using a sticker like they have in the past. This gives the console a cleaner and more professional look.
Assembly and Installation
Assembly and installation for my Jeep was very easy, probably a bit easier than most since I didn't have an old center console to remove. Assembly of the console only requires sticking on the weather strip and fastening on the cup holder. I put the cup holder on the front where it would be handy for the people up front. I had to put it on the highest set of holes to clear the shift levers. I didn't attach the seat belt straps because my early Jeep uses a different setup for seat belts.
After the console was assembled, I put it in the Jeep and marked out the front hole. I pulled out the console and drilled that hole. After that hole was drilled, I put the console back in and drilled the back two holes with the console in place and a bolt through the front hole. This made it easy to line up all the holes. I had my wife Diane help me tighten down the bolts since it is pretty hard to do that yourself. That is it, it took all of a couple minutes.
The Sound that Pounds
The stereo I put in the console was just temporary until can afford something better. I had an old stereo sitting around that served in my flat fender for a year and in my CJ-7 before that. The tape deck didn't work, but the radio still did. A friend gave it to me for free and it was actually a pretty reliable stereo for a long time. From my experience, the cheaper stereos with the mechanical buttons for eject, fast forward, and rewind last longer in Jeeps. This one lasted a long time, but it wouldn't play a tape anymore.
Wiring the stereo was fairly easy because I'd already run a wire for hot all the time and a wire for hot on run. You may also need to run a wire for lights depending on your stereo. I soldered and shrink wrapped all the wires even though this installation was temporary, I hate electrical problems! I didn't bother running an antenna wire since I didn't have an antenna, the radio picks up stations around town without the antenna. Some "nice" Radio Shack speakers on the roll cage give the sound that pounds.
Fitment in a Pre '75 CJ
|The modification to the seat bracket. A piece of angle welded to the round tube and some flat stock for a foot. Not pretty, but simple.|
Installing a Tuffy console in a pre '75 Jeep is a little trickier than later Jeeps, but I'd planned for this. The tricky part is that the drivers side seat bracket goes all the way across the front to the passenger side. I'd modified the transmission tunnel making the surface under the console all flat. I'd also cut down the drivers side seat bracket and made it drop down and end as short as possible. This gave me a nice flat mounting surface and no seat bracket in the way for the console.
It would be tough to mount the console in there without at least modifying the seat bracket. You could do it if you mounted the console on top of the seat belt bolts, but that didn't seem to be a good idea to me. I had enough room after the seat bracket was modified for the 8" wide console. A wider console would require also modifying the passenger side seat bracket.
The other odd thing about my installation is I'd increased the size of the transmission tunnel so that it was flat all underneath the console. This made it so I just drilled straight through the floor and I did not need to use the foot bracket. I think the console could be mounted without modifying the tunnel, but you'd need to use the foot bracket or something on the drivers side of the console. On earlier CJs, the fuel tank under the drivers seat would probably get in the way.
Well my mind hasn't changed, I still think Tuffy products are great! Nice finish and rugged construction makes them the console of choice for my Jeeps.