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Banned
2004 gmc
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26,181 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've been running around for a week with no dashboard (pics here) doing a survey of the available secret hiding places for things like the ham radio, radio aux input adapter, tablet PC, more RAM mounts, dashcam, portable printer, inclinometer, potential HUD (ooops, did I say that? :eek: shhhh....), and also getting ready for the grab handle install I've been wanting to do for a year. So today was grab handle day.

In case anybody's interested, I also did a total camera survey of the dashboard cover, inside and out, plus all the stuff that's behind it. For curiosity's sake, I guess. I had somebody ask once for a picture of the inside of the center console, and I had that in the archives.

About six months ago, I decided after looking at a lot of vehicles, and finally having a Jeep Liberty for a rental in San Jose, that I'd try the Liberty handle. They seem to show up regularly on Ebay, and I got a used one for about $20. There are two of them on Ebay now, but this is a seriously invasive install.

My offroad passengers don't always complain, but when I'm driving, I have the wheel to hang onto, and I can anticipate the bumps because I'm causing them. When I'm riding (which I do rarely), it really annoys me to not have a sturdy grab handle. So it had to be structurally one with the car, not just screwed to the dashboard plastic.

Behind the dash, to the left and right of the glove box opening, are strong channel brackets. They are 15" on center, but the Liberty grab handle is 16", with no good way to cut it down. So I arranged the install to align the left handle stalk with the bracket, and the right one was off to the side. The handle mounts with a 1/4-20 X 5" bolt on the right, and a 5 1/2" bolt on the left. I need to go to the professional fastener store later to get grade 5 or 8 hardware for upgrading this, but the 1/4-20 size seems to work out fine.

After the install, there's less than 1/4" deflection when I push and pull on it with both hands, so it's really in there. Total time invested in thinking about it was about 4 hours, removing and reinstalling the dashboard to get at the brackets was another 4 hours, and the actual install itself with design, two runs to Lowe's, LOTS of Roto Zip / Dremel work, and bracket fab, was a full 8 hours more. Anybody copying my design can save a few hours, expecially the conceptual work.

But you REALLY have to want a grab handle to go to this much effort. Seriously.

In the last two pics, you can see how I cleaned up the edge of the Liberty bezel with some door edge molding. This needs to be painted gray. The black insert on the left snap-on cover is a lamp that illuminated "PASS AIRBAG OFF" or somesuch. I had to remove 1/3 of it, so it's not useful now. Don't know what I'll put there in the long run. Whew - now to relax. :D














































 

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2006 chevy trailblazer_ls
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4,009 Posts
Nice install Bill!

I appreciate the time you take to have detailed descriptions, as well as very detailed pictures for those who want to do the same mods.


Looks like you won't lose any passengers now :)

Where do you find the time for all this???!!!

:tiphat

Chris
 

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Banned
2004 gmc
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26,181 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
On slow speed trails I take out the fuse so I don't risk accidental deployment from hitting a rock, but it should have been clear from the pics that it deploys over the top of the handle and doesn't interfere at all. Wish the air bag was on top of the dash like other vehicles, but alas. On narrow shelf trails where there's a 1000 foot dropoff I want the bags to be armed, but realistically, those kind of dropoffs are ones where you need an 8 stage airbag for the succession of hits you'll take on the way down. You might as well point your toes, arch your back, and go for distance, as my high school chemistry teacher said when I asked him if mixing two particular chemicals was safe. (I knew it would explode - just wanted to confirm he did, too. I was a snot that way. :cool:)
 

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2005 chevy trailblazer_lt
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2,636 Posts
Nice install man. Your imagination must be better than mine, as I would have never thought about this...

Good thing you were able to get it all to work, woulda sucked to have been stuck with two holes in your dash... haha...
 

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2004 chevy trailblazer_lt
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285 Posts
That looks SUH-Weet!!!! :thumbsup::hail:

Well I might just have to add this to the list, I don't sit in the passenger seat too often, but everytime I have I wish I had one!!

Dang, I hold you responsible for my list growing past two pages....:suicide::raspberry
 
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