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59 Chevy Apache radio patch panel repair (Part 1)

Howdy! yeah, I’m from TEXAS! ; )  Well, I finally got around to working on fixing this panel for a radio! I’ve lost more sleep over this~ How am I going to fix this? What! was someone thinking when they cut the dash to install a tape deck?

Fortunately, a radio patch panel is available! Thank you! I bought this one at Brothers Trucks along with another couple thousand dollars worth!

However, I came to the realization that I don’t want the stock radio. I know many that want to maintain the original look and function, but this is my project and whatever I do will be good!  Here I have marked possible radios. A singe din and double din, and of course the original holes already there for an original or aftermarket radio. Well, you already know I do not want the original. ; )

OK, first thing I needed to do is flatten the swells (for lack of better description), that was easy enough~

Then weld the radio control holes shut! I made some filler plugs, then mig welded them shut, the ground the surface relatively smooth. I tried my Tig welder, but I’m not any good  at Tig yet : (

Now for the delicate task of making a hole,or rectangle in this case. Approximately 2″ x 7″, but I used the radio casing as a template. Now how does one cut this metal~ it’s pretty heavy gauge!

This will be in my Tools section for sure~! I bought this cutoff tool from Harbor Freight tools for 20 bucks! and let me tell you, it’s awesome! I also bought some thin cutoff wheels for a thinner line of cut.

Piece of cake, and NO, I did not cut this out on my kitchen table!  ; )

Test fit of the cage for the radio is a tight fit~ it has to be a tight fit or the radio will fall out!

Doesn’t that look nice!?!

And install of the radio itself. This is only a test fit~ the radio will not be in for a long time!

A 7″ screen will be a good size for our little 4 y/0 grand-daughter to watch her favorite cartoons~ like, Shawn the Sheep! What, you never heard of it? Go check it out on netflix now! or when you have time~ it’s funny!

Now notice here I’m not using the upper part of my patch panel! There’s no need, there’s nothing wrong with the upper part. Now to make it fit into the truck. I affixed my new panel via vise grips, then scribed the panels shape so I’ll have a line to follow~

Here again! This cutoff tool is awesome!  Only thing I’ve found is if I use it too heavily by forcing the advancement of cut, the reset switch throws and has to be reset. Best to let it cool down and don’t push the tool~ ; )

While cutting the dash for my panel to fit, was going to be dusty and loud! I’m ready! Gary took my photo here, Gary is my husband! ; ) He supports my habits!~

Here’s where I’m at right now, right this very minute! All I have to do now is weld it in place as it fits the dash perfectly, and that’s a task in itself!  I’m excited now~ PROGRESS IS BEING MADE!

I’ll tell you right now~ the things I did above were much more fun than the following photos!  Eh, just part of the plan! ; )

OK, this was tedious migging/welding! a little zap here, a little zap there~

Everywhere a zap zap! I eventually connected the mig spots into one continuous weld. The upper part of the new patch is narrow, I placed some flattened out copper tubing held in  place from behind with vice grips to absorb some of the heat to prevent warp, or lessen it.


To trim the welds down, I used my cut-off tool from Harbor Freight tools; let me tell you, this tool works fantastic, plus I used my angle grinder also

This was not an hours worth of work, it took about 4-5 hours! Darn! I’d starve working doing this for a living! ha ha! However, though I’m not 100% finished, it’s MOSTLY completed! I still need to finish with epoxy primer, filler, etc. I have the radio temporarily mounted for my sanity! kidding, I love doing this stuff~! It’s very testy and challenging!

So my dear friends~ several weeks from now I’ll be painting the interior of the cab a different color. Why? you ask? Because I’ve got to! ; )

Here was a few days ago, my Ididit column is temporarily in place, and the radio patch panel not installed. The color of the interior must compliment the seat that will be going into this Apache!

The painting of the interior will be another story, or blog. I still have side windows to install, and that too will be another How I Did it blog. Anyway, I’m not sure what color the paint of the interior cab will be~ there’s time to think about that~ maybe you have an idea? ; )

Stay tuned!!! Please refer to part 2 to see the update ; )

As with all my blogs, I hope this is a helpful blog, stay tuned for updates on this particular project!  ; ) dne’

2 Responses so far.

  1. Dave says:

    Great work. Never looked at a blog until this one. Impressive – it shows your dedication on both the truck and blog.

    • admin says:

      HI Dave! Thank you so much for the kind words! Check in now and then~ I hope to be making more progress on the blog and truck and whatever else!! lol The blog alone is a full time job; ) dne’