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Jerry Feather 07-15-2010 07:48 PM

FLUSH Center Console Development
Not as in "flush" the toilet (although that could be real handy on a long trip), but "flush" as in smooth or even with something else. Actually I looked in the Dictionary and there are at least a half dozen other definitions of "flush."

Credit for the original development of the flush center console goes to Kieth Widom. Credit for the further development by me goes to Nicole, who referred the this concept in her post in my previous thread as "the ideal, perfect solution would be a complete console reorganization that's also flush with the console--as done by Kieth Widom;" and to James Morrison who also said "I love what Kieth did! Developing a sort of base in which the original console components can be moved around to provide space for some up to date tunes/Nav/DVD etc. would be the way to go."

Based on all of that, and careful study of the pictures in Kieth's thread, I decided to do just that. As you may recall, I changed directions a little in my trim piece HOW TO thread and completed that lesson with a prototype lower trim piece for this flush console development. More to the point, I completed that lesson with a nice machine that can now be redirected to the fabrication of different versions of the lower center console trim piece.

I am pretty sure that the design of the lower trim piece will get changed and will probably result in at least two different versions of the item, one for the auto and one for the 5-speeds. The nice thing is that now I know how to make the forms for the different versions of the trim piece and I have a prototype to develop off of in terms of allowances, curves, angles, and such; and, I already have the machine to put the new forms in to form the trim pieces in whichever design is needed.

I will need to make another forming machine to form the flush upper panel which will be the real basis of this new "KIT" or "SYSTEM" for making the flush console conversion. It will be much less complicated than what I dragged many of you through in the HOW TO thread, and since you all now know how-to-do-it I don't plan on posting so many step-bystep pictures as I develop it. I will show you what it is like and probably how it works in this thread. My thrust here will be the development of the two primary flush Console components as and after they are formed.

So, my objective here is to complete the development of a system that anyone can use to make a Flush Center Console Conversion in their 928 incorporating a Double DIN Navigation/DVD/Etc. unit (hopefully) of the owner's own choice. I am however designing now around later versions of the Pioneer unit that keith put in his conversion.

If this development becomes viable from a commercial standpoint I will probably put it in my sponsorship as one of my commercial offerings. Therefore, the thrust of this thread is more about the development and not so much about promoting this concept commercially. I hope you understand the distinction.

One difference is that, as with my HOW TO thread, I don't know at this point if this concept will be commercially viable. One problem I anticipate is that there may end up being a BIG gap between what I develop here and a finished flush center console conversion or installation in someone's 928. Whatever that gap is will need to be filled by someone with the skill and knowledge to do the mechanical and electrical work and additional fabrication, such as mounting the Double DIN unit. In other words, it will not likely end up the be a system to "plug-and-play" that many or most of you might like or require.

Next I'll show you the preliminary work I have done on the two new forms I think will be needed. I'll need to take a couple of pictures for you and will then post them. I will also tell you some of my other thoughts about where I think this project is going. I will also encourage all of your thoughts and input about what might work the best of most of you in this development; since that kind of stuff is what actually has me going in this direction.

Thanks for watching. Jerry Feather

zoltan944 07-16-2010 01:10 AM

can't wait to see the outcome!

Nicole 07-16-2010 07:23 AM

Yes, I'm a big fan of Keith's flush console solution. I think this would be a great option for those who

a. don't want to invest in the awesome carputer system

b. want more space inside the console

c. want to reuse original hardware in a more modern and ergonomic arrangement

My take is that there should be a double-DIN space for electronics; if someone only wants to use a single-DIN, the other could be a nice little storage compartment for sunglasses, CDs, or whatever.

andy-gts 07-16-2010 07:29 AM

cool, where can you view the original flush mount idea...any links?

Mike Frye 07-16-2010 07:49 AM

Very cool concept and I'm looking forward to this thread.


AO 07-16-2010 09:34 AM

Originally Posted by andy-gts (Post 7738152)
cool, where can you view the original flush mount idea...any links?

hessank 07-16-2010 09:54 AM

Excellent. I'm using the same Pioneer Avic double din dvd/gps unit so I am definitely interested too.

Stromius 07-16-2010 12:40 PM

+1 very interested. Has anyone thought in consolidate Valentine1 input into one of these types of units? Perhaps there's a hack out there already to pickup the signal (wired or bluetooth).

M. Requin 07-16-2010 01:54 PM

Take a look at this (no personal involvement) :

Franks928s 07-16-2010 06:27 PM

Valentine 1
perhaps a tangent to this thread - "sorry" but I thought worth mentioning. I "borrowed" Andrew O's set-up of mounting the V1 under the sunroof cover using the visor clamp. I then run the V1 remote off of the built-in cig lighter...easy...remote tilts to angle u desire. Really "stealths" the V1 from the traditional windshield mount.


Jerry Feather 07-17-2010 05:03 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Here are a few pictures of what I have done so far on this FLUSH console project. They basically show the start of the fabrication of the two new forms for the lower center console trim piece.

What I have done is rough saw four of the sides of the forms with the bandsaw and then sandwiched them together to file and machine them into final shape. Then I have concaved some material for the upper cross bars and cut off some flat bar material for the lower cross bars for the trailing edges. I have also drilled and tapped the side rails to mount on the forming machine base plate and then I will be bolting that onto the mill table and machining each to most of the shape I will need.

When they are machined enough while bolted to the base and have been drilled and tapped and bolted together I'll take them off the base and finish the milling in the mill vise. I hope to have both forms done by tomorrow so I can form some more plastic with them.

I am going to reduce the thickness of the plastic from 1/8 to 3/32 inch because I think I will get better definition in the finished pieces and because I was surprised at how little thickness I lost in forming the prototype trim pieces. In addition I am going to be forming even less with these new designs; so I think you will be pleased with the results from the thinner plastic.

Since I am reducing the plastic thickness I need to adjust for that in the size of the forms. I am adding about a sixteenth or slightly more to the size of the forms to take up the loss. However, I am still allowing space for the finished product to be covered with leather; and that will be required for these inserts made out of 3/32. However, it occurs to me that some of you may be interested in utilizing these inserts without leather cover. In that case I think I will retain the option of making these parts with the new forms with eighth inch plastic and let the extra thickness take up the space where the leather would otherwise go.

Later, when I come back in again, I am going to post a lengthy narative about what I have in mind for this whole FLUSH Console project.

Jerry Feather 07-17-2010 05:43 PM

I had mentioned before at one point or another that I intend to take the FLUSH Console concept to a new level! (Now I wonder if I made that same pun before when I did?) Anyway, what I mean by that is that the development of the lower trim piece has come a long way from what I had started out to do in my HOW TO thread. It has even gone quite a bit beyond the trim piece that I ended up with in the other thread.

By what I have to say about what I intend to accomplish I do not intend to take anything away from what Kieth did; and I will say that his flush console conversion is probably the best executed one-off flush conversion we will ever see. That being made clear I nevertheless want to start with his conversion and from that or with that in mind or even in view (which it is for me while I am writing this out by hand), I want to point out where I am going to further develop and improve upon what Kieth did in some minor ways and in one or two not so minor ways, and, at the same time, end up with a "system" or components that will take most or all of the fabrication and trim-fitting out of the process, and some of the mounting fabrication.

I am looking at one of Kieth's pictures, the one that has a quartering view of the console from the right side. Starting at the top, one thing that I notice is that the slot on the right side of the AC vent is empty. I think that is because only the vent grill was roatated up flush and not the body of the AC vent inside. What I intend to do is cut the inside vent out of the console with a coping saw and then fasten it onto the insert that I am going to make for the upper console area. Then the grill will press into the insert from the front. That is going to put the grill slightly above flush but it will fit closer to the edge of the console and will keep the vent functional. Of course that part of the conversion will have to be done in the field by the installer, but I can provide instructioins about where and how to cut the vent out and will provide a place for it to be fastened in the insert. In addition I think I will be providing some kind of connecter to fill the gap between the relocated vent and the airbox under the dash.

Moving down a little you will notice the double DIN unit has a nice trim piece around it which is also flush, but with the face of the unit about a quarter inch above flush. In my system there will be no need for the trim ring and the 2XDIN unit will be mounted a little deeper, probably putting its face surface at about the same level as the AC vent grill.

At the bottom of what will be my upper insert you can see that the HVAC and AC/lock panel are essentially flat but that there is some slight curvature in the upper edges of the console there. You can also see that these two items are trimmed with what was the original trim pieces. In my system these two items will also be located here but with the new upper insert, again, taking the place of the trim. It will also be formed so that its outer edges match the console curvature here. In addition, I have noticed that these two items next together in their original location and their combined fronts are flat. However, I find that they can also be nested together in such a way that their fronts will match the curve a little better.

As to the upper insert I think I will be reducing some very slight gaps and joints that will give a slightly smoother and continuous look.

More to follow.

P.S. If you haven't figured it out yet go to one of the earlier posts where you will find the link to Kieth's project

M. Requin 07-17-2010 09:11 PM

Good thinking here, I really like what you are doing here. Keith's job indeed set a DIY standard, and it looks like you are going to take that to another level, more consistent with a "production" approach, if you will. I'll be following this closely, which I think makes me a member of a pretty big posse...

Jerry Feather 07-18-2010 09:18 AM

Moving now to the lower insert or shifter trim/clock panel, what you can see is that where the clock panel has been moved to has a tiny bit more curvature to the console than the area above it where it was before.

(Again, look at post number 6 for the link to Kieth's thread if you want to follow along with this narrative.)

It is barely noticable, but I have put more curvature in my forms to fix it. You will also notice that in using the original trim piece and shifter boot there is a failrly large gap just foreward of the boot and below the clock panel. You will also notice that although the trim panel is raised to where its outer edges are flush, it is still beveled so the inner areas are not flush.

You will recall that in the conclusion of the HOW TO thread I ended up with a shorter trim piece that raises a little more of this piece up to flush and that has a smaller shifter opening, but which is still substantially recessed. What I am going to do here is raise the whole upper surface of this trim panel to flush and then form in its surface an indent about only 3/8 inch deep and only slightly bigger than the space necessary to clear the shifter orbits. On the one for the 5-speed that will be somewhat squarish and on the one for the auto it will be a longer and narrower rectangle. Both of the recesses will be offset a little to the left. Then, whatever space is left over on what used to be the clock panel and now quite a bit of space on the right and to the rear of the shifter, especially the one for the auto, will be blank for whatever you want to put there, including the clock of your choice, power outlets, gauges. lights, switches or whatever else.

In the recesses for the shifter I will fabricate a base plate for the shifter boot and make a boot for each of the shifters that will have only one seam up the back and will end up being much more compact and trim looking than the originals. That will do away with the gear selection indicator on the auto shifter, but one possibility is that one of us might come up with a way to put some lights along the left edge of this new panel that will correspond to the gear or shifter position in conjunction with the indicators in the instrument cluster.

On the trim piece for the auto there is going to be scant room for a clock foreward of the shifter, but plenty, I think, for a clock off-center to the right and for the two rear AC controls the the right of the shifter.

If I elect to form the plastic for the flat face of the clock in the curved areas of this piece I'll do it only fairly shallow--not so much as in the prototype trim piece I formed in the other thread.

Later yesterday I got one of the forms partly fabricated on the base plate of the forming machine and will finish that one up today. I may even get much of the second one done today also. I made drawings of the two shifter boot recesses yesterday and will make a little plastic pattern of each and put it in place on one of the forms so I can give you a preliminary idea of what I am talking about as to their size, shape, and placement. Forming plastic by later today is not too likely because I forgot that I also need to do some work on the upper forming menbers, particularly making a form member that will press the plastic surface down into the curvature on the upper surface of these forms.


Jerry Feather 07-18-2010 02:42 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Here is a mid-day report. I have one of the new forms nearly complete. I still have to round the corners of the trailing edge and I have to cut and rasp the two bars that are describing sides of the indent for the shifter. This one is for the auto shifter cars.

The first of these shows where I ended up yesterday and here with a piece of plastic cut to the size of the indent for the 5-speed shifter indent layed approximately where the indent will be. The rest of the body of this trim piece will be flush with the top edge of the console.

The second one shows the same but with the aut shifter indent pattern in place.

Third and fourth show that I have fastened the tail end cross bar and have cut the indent opening out for the auto shifter.

In these pictures the form is still bolted to the base of the forming machine, so I have not trimmed the ends of the cross bars yet. I did that and that will show up in the next three pictures.

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