The Garage - Custom Console
Building a Custom Center Console!

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Last Updated: 12/3/2013
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Custom Console

Summit Racing Equipment
Address: P.O. Box 909
Akron, OH 44398-6177
Phone: 800-230-3030
Fax: 330-630-5333
The Order Line is open 24 hours
a day, 7 days a week.
Click here to visit their website.

Various Others:
Professional Plastics, OnlineMetals, FatMat, the local ACE Hardware store, the local Car Parts store, ebay, and a view more...

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The fabrication, modifications and designs you see on this web site are completed by myself. If you duplicate these modifications you do so at your own risk. I do not endorse or make any claims to their safety, performance, On-road or off-road worthiness. Any "Product Reviews" are my sole and personal opinion. These reviews are on items purchased from or provided by reputable aftermarket suppliers. All registered trademarks belong to their respective owners.

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The center console refers to the control-bearing surfaces in the center of the front of the vehicle interior. This area starts in the dashboard and continues beneath and then merges with the transmission tunnel which runs between the front driver and passenger seats of the Durango.

The OEM center console in the Durango is a good design for the average driver and offers a great comfortable arm rest with good storage capacity below. There are a few build in hard pockets for smaller items and three cup holders while two of them provide adjustable arms to hold the beverage tight, while the third cup holder is more convenient placed for the driver and besides being deeper also is a bit wider in diameter.

The OEM console has served me well for the time being but I always wanted a better system as what the OEM console could provide me with.

To simplify the explanation of my project I will name the under dash part of the center console the "Front Console" and the part between the seats the "Center Console".

I started looking for a aftermarket console similar to those made for Police and Rescue vehicles as shown in the picture to the left, but besides being very expensive, they still didn't cover what I really wanted.

After being unsuccessful on finding what I had in mind I went on and made my own. The project needed some sort of plan or at least a list of items to integrate.

The console would be created of two parts. The front part offering a steeper angle then rescue and aftermarket consoles to avoid of collecting pretzels and cracker food particles which I love to snack on during my travels. I also wanted to make the front part of my new console large enough to hide my Kenwood amplifier and my Clarion crossover inside. The front console would needed to give my Clarion Equalizer a home and in addition hold 3 instrument gauges, house a switch panel, and my radiator fan master switch still dangling below the dash from the Fan Delete project. The new front console had to be build in such way that I still would able to access the inside for any adjustments to the audio or to change a blown fuse if needed. Therefore some sort of easy removable side panel needed to be a part of this system.

In the actual center console between the seats I wanted cup holders, one standard and one oversized for holding my Gatorade bottle which never did quite fit into the OEM holder. I always liked the OEM arm rest with the quite large storage compartment below and I will try to duplicate that design in my version including the cool little OEM coin holder.
All of it should come together quite nicely when the front and center parts are joined together to assemble a complete unit..

Shopping List
It was time to make a decision on which materials to use for the project. Wood was out of the question, which leaves Steel, Aluminum, and PVC. I choose to build the entire console from 1/4" PVC and enforce it with aluminum and then paint it to match my Durango's interior by using Dodge interior color coded paint. I also would build a sturdy frame below the dash from aluminum angle. The PVC side panels will be covered with carpet of which I still had plenty left over from the Rear Cab Remake project. Both, the center section and the front part of the console would have an united look to it. The front and center section would be connected together with bolts which need to be easy accessible and I really would like to integrate removable top panels painted in black which could be replaced/exchanged if I have a new layout in mind (such as a floor shifter setup) at a later point in time.

Prices are rounded up or down and include all shipping and handling costs. I tried to remember all parts I have purchased for this project but I am sure I am missing a few in the below list.

Category QTY Description Supplier
Price
Material 1 1"x1"x6' Aluminum Angle Stock Online Metals
10.00
Material 2 24"x48'x1/4" PVC Sheet - GRAY (Standard) Professional Plastics
80.00
Material - Rivets, Screws, Bolts & Nuts ACE Hardware
15.00
Paint 1 Dodge Interior Paint Taupe filled into Spray Can Auto Value
25.00
Paint 1 Primer for Plastics (Spray Can) Auto Value
10.00
Material 1 FatMat Bulk Pack, 25 Sq Ft FatMat
45.00
Material 1 Cup Holder Plastic ebay
5.00
Material 1 313 FAST TACK Industrial Upholstery Spray Adhesive ebay
7.00
Other In addition would be a few more items such as brass stock, a bunch of scuffing pads, etc. which I had on hand and thus I didn't spend any money on these.
0.00

Cost: The total cost for this project at completion came out to approx. $200.00.
Installation
The basic procedure of this project is to remove the center console and fabricate a new one in it's place, install an amplifier and crossover within and wire it up along with an equalizer, gauges, and a fabricated switch panel.

I started the project by removing the OEM center console from the Durango and cut out sections of the carpet below for better access and to allow me to add FatMat as needed.

I placed the Kenwood amplifier under the dash section were the front console will be build for estimating the required width of the frame. I made a quick outline for the frame from welding wire. After that I started on cutting aluminum angle stock to size and started bending and attaching the sections together.

The dash has a different height on the left compared to the right. The dash also angles a bit toward the driver and therefore the fabrication and placing was pretty much done on the go without a general plan. I also had to cut a piece from the plastic shield below the heater mounting panel with my Dremel.

I attached the frame to the floor with self cutting sheet metal screws and the frame part were attached to each other using aluminum rivets. Before riveting, I applied JB weld epoxy for added strength.The Clarion crossover fit perfectly on top of the amplifier using a fabricated bracket.

Discovering that there was plenty of height in my front console design was nice. The top of the frame was bolted to the OEM under dash mounting points which would allow me to remove the dash panel at any point in the future if needed without problems or interference with the new custom console.

I left the project to sit overnight to allow the JB weld epoxy to cure completely through. I tested the structure the next morning and it was absolutely solid, there was no movement in any direction and this proved to me that I made the correct decision by using aluminum angle stock as my material choice.

Routing cables from the engine compartment for the gauges and including some extra wiring for eventual future projects was next. I then ran all the audio cables from the dash unit down to the amp and the crossover and hooked them up.

This part is in more detail explained within the Stereo System project which was done at the same time.
Again I fabricated an aluminum frame but this time for the middle section of the center console.

Card board templates were made for both sides of the middle section, then transferred to the 1/4" PVC sheet and cut out. After applying JB weld epoxy I clamped the panels into their correct positions and attached them to the frame using 1/8" aluminum rivets. It was time to get going on the rear section of the center console.

I began by making a full size model from card board and build the actual part from PVC when I was happy with the look and fit.

All parts were cut with a 16" Variable Speed Scroll Saw which I purchased from Harbor Freight 10 years ago and still works great! It was time for the rear section of the center console. I made a full size model from card board and build the actual part from PVC after I was happy with the look and fit.

Cutting sections of carpet out.


Building the frame for the Front Console.


Placing the Clarion crossover


Held together by rivets and bolts.


The middle section of the console


Test fitting in the vehicle

Placing the Kenwood amp for size.


Side sections of frame


More framing using aluminum angle.


The side panel for the center console.

The rear section of the center console.

The driver side of the center console.
The rear section was also put together using small Phillips screws. I pre-drilled and counter sunk for all screws and again I used a good amount of JB weld for added strength. After getting my head around the layout, I cut and machined the top plate for the console.
I purchased angle rings made by AutoMeter for the instrument gauges. After cutting the holes with a hole saw, I glued the gauge rings with CA glue into place and then bolted them from the rear of the panel with tiny Phillips screws in place. I then fabricated from aluminum sheet a switch panel. I also cut another hole for an additional power outlet on the lower right hand corner of the panel.
I painted the panel black with Dupli-Color truck bed coating.

Again, using card board I made templates for the left and right side of the front console. I then fabricated the side panels from PVC.

...and another look
I drilled the panels and tapped the frame to accept five bolts for easy removal to gain access to the inside when needed.The bottom of the rear section is doubled up with a 2" PVC plate. This will serve as the platform or stop for the inner bottom plate which will hide the mounting tabs and bolts and will give an even floor within the storage box. I glued them in place using JB weld and again used small Philips screws for reinforcement.


The center and rear section are then outfitted with tabs made from aluminum which will bolt the console to the OEM locations in the Durango. The holes are elongated in case small adjustments need to be made The rear and center section are separated during the build but will be joined at a later point before painting.
The center and rear part of my new console is coming along too. Although the picture with my son looks a bit staged, he was actually helping me with the build and is quite comfortable with using basic hand tools.

Next was thinking about the inner layout of the storage compartment and how to integrate the Dodge OEM coin holder. A few card board templates for the dividers of my storage compartment helped to visualize the project.
I proceeded with cutting all the pieces from 1/4" PVC and simply machined all straights and edges to makes it look cleaner. I could have done this with a file as well, but machining it was just quicker and easier. I really enjoy working with PVC, it is strong but nice to work with. It's excellent machining properties makes it perfect for a project like this.

An angle aluminum piece was used to create a horizontal mounting point and two tabs on the bottom offer the vertical support to join the center and rear section later on.

Using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel I was able to cut the coin holder from the OEM console out. I then fitted the coin holder into my custom console and again a good amount of JB weld was used to affix it permanently into it's place.

Next was the install of a small compartment which will give my sunglasses a home, The front of this compartment will accept the mechanism for the arm rest lid and also offer room for a power outlet. I machined the closing mechanism from brass, utilizing a bit simplified design very much like that of the OEM console.
I sandwiched two machined plates of PVC for the lid which will also serve as an arm rest. The lid is mounted to the rear console with a spring loaded piano hinge which I took off the OEM console and cut to length. The bottom part of the lid was machined to allow the hinge to sit flush with the plate. This way I don't have a gap which would wear on the hinge and also would not look to great.
The front plate of the rear console part was prepped by cutting a circular keyed hole for a power outlet installation.

The first attempt didn't go to well, I was off by just a 1/4" inch and I had to cut that section off the plate and had to make a new one to fit in it's place. A small setback but something like this can be expected considering that this is one of a kind custom project.
After a quick function test I joined the rear and center section together and used Bondo as a filler for any gaps and the screw heads. I then made a top plate for the center section and afterwards checked for proper fit in the Durango. Both, front and rear was a perfect fit and all mounting holes lined up with the one in the Durango.

I wanted to have a large cup holder for my medium sized Gatorade bottles but I couldn't find any universal cup holder, like the ones found at RV suppliers and customizers, and thus I had to make my own. I parted a piece off from an aluminum paint gun reservoir which I had laying around and no use for and this was actually a pretty close fit. No complaints here!The cup holder was glued into place by simply taping the hole from the top with masking tape and then poring JB weld into the gap between the PVC and the aluminum. The second cut out from the deck plate was for an universal plastic cup holder. It was glued into place using the same method as for the aluminum one.

The final cut out is for an additional compartment. This is for all the little things or the occasional bag of pretzels. The box below the cut out was again made from the same 1/4" PVC, then bolted and glued to the deck plate. A bit of file work and sanding followed until I was happy with it. I then used Bondo to fill any gaps and screw heads.

I used standard carpet padding for the arm rest. This was left over material when my son got his new carpet in his room. I also filled the center section with padding which I had machined out from the top plate to loose some weight from the lid. The spring from the hinge wasn't able to support or lift the arm rest out from the opening & closing mechanism.

Next I painted the lid and also the rest of center console using interior paint which I had matched and filled into a rattle can at my local Auto Value parts store. I then installed the power outlet and secured it in place with a small screw from the bottom. I also filed a small groove into the plastic part of the outlet for securing it with a simple cable tie.
















I used material from the third row seating, which I threw out a long time ago, to cover the lid and making it instantly into an arm rest. CA glue and web type fabric adhesive were used to get this done. I then painted the top deck using truck bed coating from Dupli-Color and mounted the finished center console into the Durango.

My attention went back to the front part of the console which still needed the side panels completed and the top panel which would house my instrument gauges, switches, equalizer, etc.

After wrapping my head around the layout, I cut and machined the top plate for the console. I purchased angle rings made by AutoMeter for the instrument gauges. After cutting the holes with a hole saw, I glued the gauge rings with CA glue into place and then bolted them from the rear of the panel with tiny Phillips screws in place. I then fabricated from aluminum sheet a switch panel. I also cut another hole for an additional power outlet on the lower right hand corner of the panel.
I painted the panel black with Dupli-Color truck bed coating.

Installing the top plate onto the front console frame was next. I also installed my tranny gauge into the panel and created the frame bracket which holds the Clarion equalizer in it's place. I went ahead and installed the safety switch which allows me to switch off the radiator fan (see the Fan Delete project for more about this) and wired everything up.

The switch panel was made from aluminum and can accommodate six toggle switches. Currently there is only one installed which controls the auxiliary lights. The rest of the holes are covered with firewall grommets until I install additional ones. I made gauge covers from PVC for the unused gauge cut outs.
The right picture shows the installed console viewed from the rear seats.

I needed to fabricate two side panels for the console and both side panels needed a small front section added to them which would wrap around the front console and meet the center section.







Both side panels needed a small front section added to them which would wrap around the front console and meet the center section. They were fabricated from the same PVC and then glued and screwed to the at 90 degrees to the side panels.Utilizing a piece of aluminum flat stock I made a small extension which would hold the side panel via clamping force to the front end of the center console. A small amount of Bondo to flatten the screw heads. I then covered the panels with automotive carpet I had left over from the Rear Cab Remake project.

I am using 313 FAST TACK Industrial Upholstery Spray Glue Adhesive and an Exacto knife for this job. Something needed to be done about not having to hunt for any of the bolt holes in the carpet which hold the panels to the console frame.

The solution to the problem was to use an old solder iron and singe slightly around the holes. The tip of the iron passes through the hole and the cylindrical body of the iron containing the heating element scorches the area around the bolt hole just enough to allow easy identification.
I added a small aluminum tab on the backside of the front portion of the passenger side panel which hooks into the center part of the console frame and assists on holding it in place without play or movement. I then sanded and de-burred all remaining edges on the panels.

With the console face plate installed there wasn't any room left for the cable of my Cobra CB radio to be routed out of the console. By filing a small groove for the cable into the top of the front section of the passenger console side panel fixed that problem. I used a cable tie to hold the CB cable in the correct position on the console frame.

I also had a small unused vent grill laying around which once belonged to the dash of a 1998 Durango and utilizing it to let the Kenwood amplifier breath a bit easier came to mind.

I made a cut in the side panel using the vent grill as a template and installed it into the driver side console panel after painting it to match the OEM interior color.

The difference in carpet color comes from the old carpet being in the Durango for 10 years. The carpet actually matches perfect below the console were it is clean and nobody sees it. Thus, it should be all good in about 10 years ;-)











Well, the custom console project is pretty much finished. A few things like placing black Phillips #2 screw caps with a dab of CA glue onto all the exposed screw heads for a nice look and doing a bit of clean up was all what was left to do at this point.

I loaded up my coin holder in the new storage compartment under the arm rest followed by the essential nicknacks and trinkets I usually take along for the ride. It was also large enough to give my Midland 75-822 which is a 40-Channel Micro Mobile-Portable CB Radio a home. I use it to communicate when I am winching or someone doesn't have a CB when travelling with friends in multiple vehicles. Like in a .... Convoy, that's right!

It's all finished now and after many month of interior work which included the Rear Cab Remake project, the Stereo System upgrade, the CB radio install (and mic mount), and this Custom Console project, I am certainly ready for a new and different project like something on the exterior or inside the engine compartment which is also much more my forte.


Verdict:
It used to be difficult reaching for stuff in the OEM console while keeping an eye on the road. My Gatorade bottle wouldn't fit in the OEM console's cup holder either and the center console also started to make annoying squeaking noises right at the arm rest area. That all is no more!

Now, I got a spot for my Gatorade, I was also able to hide some car stereo equipment below the console, I have created space for my Clarion
equalizer, three gauges, a switch panel, a power outlet, and more!

The new custom console came out really nice, actually much better then I thought it would be and exceeding my expectations by a large margin!
Now I need to get me some new floor mats like the
DigitalFit WeatherTech FloorLiners in tan color for first and second row to show it all off.

This project was completed on 01-29-2013



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