The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Been making lots of improvements to the F-350. The latest is installing a CB. I wanted to use my old President HR2510 and Texas Star DX667, but they have been sitting in a closet since I quit trucking in the mid-90's. The old skipshooter had a wee bit of dust on it so I figured a trip to the radio shop was in order. Luckily one of the best in the nation is in Weatherford, Clay's Radio Shop.

I bought the radio from Clay when his shop was out on I-20 in Gorman. He's since downsized his operation and is right down the street from the Courthouse doing mostly mail order work now. He's also working with Harley-Davidson developing a new communication system for their touring bikes. Sadly, he spends all his time behind the bench now and no longer does installations so I had doing that myself to look forward to.

As my luck runs, the old President was sick (bad processor) and they don't make replacement parts for that model anymore. I looked at his selection of 10 Meter and CB radios then decided on a Galaxy 939. Good solid radio albeit a tad more expensive than a Cobra or Uniden. He tuned and matched the radio and amp for me then I had Clay fix me up with a bed stakehole antenna mount, coax and some quick power disconnects. I'd already bought a Wilson 5000 antenna off eBay.

Next, a trip to Lowes for some 8ga wire and O'Reilly's for a 90amp fuselink and I'm ready to start installation.

I put the fuselink between the battery and power cord in case it developed a short anywhere along the way then routed the wire along the fender and thru a grommet near the passenger door and into the cab.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? My hands looked like I had been wrestling with a Honey Badger when I was done. To make things worse, right after I took this picture I decided to pull the wire out and wrap it in foam shipping material and electrical tape to prevent the insulation from rubbing against the fender. So... Honey Badger x2.

Now I was ready to mount the radio and amp, except I didn't have a mount. But I know a guy... Hellooo, Brother In-law! He had a small piece of aluminum diamond plate and a metal break. We managed to come up with a pretty snazzy little mount in no time. The only thing left was bolting it to the floorboard. Here's where Ford's engineers screwed me. Instead of rubber insulation, they used fiber and it wound around the drill bit like spaghetti on a fork. I tried to cut a clear path with a box cutter and pushing the material out of the way with a screwdriver and after enough attempts managed to get all 4 holes drilled without destroying the carpet. I needed a leather punch to do it right.

Getting the sheet metal bolts to thread up was a different story. The fiber would foul the threads and cause the bolt to pop out before it could get a firm bite. Again with the screwdriver pushing the matting out of the way then trying over and over again we managed finally to get 3 out of 4 to bite and tighten up. The 4th one is still mocking me but at that point I didn't care. It was solid and I'll fish the other one in the hole someday when I'm not feeling frustrated enough.

Here you can see the back of the radio and the quick disconnect for the power. I can pull the radio in under a minute if I have to. 1 power plug, 1 coax and 4 thumbscrews. I need to come up with a way to tidy up the wires. Thinking about finding a matching piece of carpet and some Velcro.

Here's a closer look at the stake hole mount I used. It worked like a charm. I put the plastic stake hole cover back over the stainless steel mount to prevent the aluminum toolbox from rubbing against it.

Running the coax was the simplest part of the whole procedure. There's a grommet in the lower right of the rear cab wall. Setting the SWR's (tuning the antenna) took about 10 minutes and Voilà! I'm back on the air again and it looks like a professional installation.

You'll notice in the top pic I made sure to leave enough room to use the powerport and open the storage compartment/ashtray. More importantly, the radio is secure and not going anywhere in case of an accident. The last thing you want is 10 pounds of angry electronics flying around inside the cab after some idiot plows into you.


an Donalbane said...

Cool! Back in '77, my first car was a '68 Newport with a 383.

Since the factory radio was only AM, and was not the type you could retrofit (it was styled to the dash profile), I got one of those cheap plastic-with-woodgrain- appliques consoles at Gibson's - the kind that fits over the transmission hump.

In/on this console, I made a stack with a Realistic FM/Cassette deck, a Craig 8-track player (usually playing CSNY Déjà Vu or Steve Miller), and a Roberts 23 channel rig (running to a base loaded trunk lip mount).

Your installation looks great! Your radio, um, probably will reach out, uh, way more than mine did, inasmuch as I only had the puny 5 watt amp inside the case...

So, ya got a 'handle' to go with that?

RPM said...

I used to go by DJ back in the day because I was a Disc Jockey after I got out of the Coast Guard.

The amp really is overkill for what I do now and I'll rarely use it. But if I ever really need to get over a bunch of noise or get stranded in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception, it won't be a problem.