Hello troops and welcome back to 'The Sarge's Blog'!
We're going to continue with the build of the 2003 Ford Police Interceptor. Today we'll look at the build of the centre console and some of the do's and don'ts when loading equipment into the console.
My console will consist of a Panasonic Toughbook laptop with docking station, night light, Motorola two-way radio, Whelen siren with PA, Federal Signal Information Matrix, Whelen Switchbox and Whelen Traffic Advisor. There are also specific switches and switch boxes which also need to be assembled, tested and fitted.
Now it's important to plan ahead as equipment may require upgrading, repairing or replaced. In addition redundancy should be built in to accommodate additional equipment (you just know your going to buy something else!) I built the console as 'Plug n Play' which allows the easy removal of any one component, all components or the entire console. In order to achieve this I placed fuse boards in the console in an accessible location. All equipment then draws power from this source. The feeds from the equipment terminate in multi-block connectors at the front and rear of the console thus allowing the equipment or console to be removed from the vehicle without further disruption to the wiring or systems. A main heavy duty power lead and earth lead are connected to the console. Remember to over spec your wires there's nothing worse than upgrading only to find you didn't build in enough redundancy to cope with increased amperage.
Now, given the console or equipment will be fitted, removed, fitted and removed many times in the years you have the vehicle, it's imperative you do not use crimp connections unless factory fitted as this is in effect the weakest part of the setup and wires will pull away through time from this type of connector. I strongly recommend based on my experience that quality connectors are used plus soldered and heat shrunk.
The ultimate test of your wiring is when everything is turned on and everything works with no blown fuses. Remember to test everything before the installation. Never assume because it's new it's going to work. I've spent hours, and it's a steep learning curve, checking wiring and fuses only to find the fault lies in the equipment. Doh! Dumb Ass!
Recently a friend carried out an install of equipment and a lightbar in his 1999 Crown Victoria & he's no electrician! He used an earlier style of lightbar which will draw significantly more current as it uses rotators, each with an independent motor, and halogen bulbs. Jokingly I said the true test would be to switch everything on and leave it for 10 minutes. One of three things would happen: 1. It would all work with no issues. 2. It would blow a fuse. 3. The wiring would melt and catch fire. He switched everything on and we waited, after only a few minutes there was smoke coming from inside the console. Switching everything off and inspecting the damage we found the fuse and wiring had melted asit was just not capable of carrying the load. A lucky escape I think! And a two hour job for me to make it safe and functional for the event we were attending.
So let's recap on the build. We've planned the installation. Laid all the power and system cables. Assembled, wired and tested the centre console equipment. All connections have been soldered and heat shrunk plus we've built in redundancy for possible upgrades. All looks good to me!!
Oh! It might be worthwhile recording your wiring on paper for future reference or tagging the wires and plugs. I can assure you, you will forget what they connect to! A little time spent now will save loads of wasted time later on.
Well that's all for now. We'll look at the build of the Canine (K-9) Containment Unit next, the planning, the building and the installation. This was a major project with little or no room for error in the design or build.
A taster of things to come!
Love The Sarge.