Now that you've added enough lights to blow up a nuclear power plant... it's time to give all those relays a place to call home!

Guest Article By Steve Fitchett

Originally posted in SWVA4W Yahoo Group 6-27-2005.

You may or may not remember when I posted up pictures of my installed switch panel. Well I never posted pictures of the relay setup because it was a rushed hack job (and the guys that saw it on the Potts Trail Cleanup can confirm this). And frankly I was embarrassed to show them ;) And I told myself that I would redo everything and post pictures up. Well that was before I severely separated my shoulder a few weeks ago. And I've just now gotten to the point where I have decent movement in it. So this weekend I set out to finish what I started. Here are a few pics of the switch install. It's pretty straight forward and simple. I picked up a small distribution block from Radio Shack to help organize my wiring. Because I have 7 switches, this 8 terminal distribution block would work out nicely to hold both the positive and the ground wires. The blue and the red wires coming from the bottom right are the power and the ground wires. I then made some jumpers to connect the terminals.

Here's a picture with the switch panel all wired up and dangling from the wiring. You can see that I had to cut a rectangle out of the headliner to allow for enough clearance for the back of the switches/wiring. I probably could have used some 90-degree fittings to allow more room, but I didn't want to redo everything. If you look close enough, you can see where I singed the headliner when applying the heat shrink. Oops. The extra wires (the small gauge ones) that weren't in the previous pic is actually Cat-5 (ethernet) wire. It contains a bundle of 8 small wires. Perfect for running 7 switches. And because I only used it for the signal wire for the relay (low current flow) it worked out great. I ran it down the roof trim on the passenger side to the back.

All buttoned up in the "Off" position

Switched "On"

Now on to the relay box.

I chose to mount my relay box in the back cargo area for two reasons. 1) I couldn't find a place in the engine bay that would hold the box (I wanted the relays in a box to help shield them from the elements) and 2) I already had a nice 4-guage wire run to the cargo area to power my amp (that got stolen months ago grrrrrrrrrrr). Here is the hobby box I picked up from Radio Shack. The two strips you see on the bottom are the fuzzy side of velcro. I wanted all of the contents of the box to stay firmly in place but I didn't want anything too permanent. So I tried out the velcro.

Here is the power distribution block/fuse box I used to power the relays. I picked it up from Advanced Auto for a few bucks.

This is how I laid out the box. Everything is velcroed down. Unfortunately, because the relays aren't very big and will get pulled from the tight wiring, using just velcro wouldn't do. I'll show you how I fixed this later. You'll also notice that the fuse box only holds 6 terminals and I have 7 switches to run. So I picked up one of those in-line fuse holders and attached it to the stud that attaches to the incoming power wire.

I then ran the power leads from the fuse block to the relays. I also went ahead and ran my daisy-chained ground wire to each. You can also see the above mentioned 7th fuse holder attached.

This is how I resolved my lose relay situation. I had a small piece of narrow aluminuminuminuminum flat stock laying around. Bent up the ends and later drilled holes to bolt it to the box. Now those relays aren't going anywhere.

And much to my luck, the stock fit nicely in between the reinforcing ribs in the hobby box!

Brace yourself, but here is a picture of everything hackly installed. I did all of the stuff up to this point a few weeks back and was very rushed. So I apologize...

I needed it in and running for an offroad trip. I didn't even have time to bolt it to anything, install my relay retaining aluminum strap, or anything else. I also jerry-rigged the connection from the 4-guage wire to the fuse block. VERY HACKISHLY I might add. :D In a weird coincidence, when I went to Wal-Mart to fill my prescription for pain meds after I separated my shoulder, I found these nice terminal connections that would solve my issue of how to connect that 4-guage wire to the fuse block terminal. [cartman]Kiiiiiiiiiiick ass![/cartman]

Butta! (this pic was just for demonstration of fitment - I crimped and heatshrunk before installation)

Time to install the aluminum relay retainer...

Dang, I need some washers for that, but I ran out. Gotta pick some up after work today.

Time to think about how to mount this up...

If you're wondering why I put a nut and washer on before the box, it's because I wanted to be able to remove the box without having to remove the interior panel. After I did that, I took everything out of the hobby box and neatened and tidied everything up. I also drilled holes in the side of the box and installed grommets to run the wires through.

And here's the finished result:

This is how I ran my wires to/from the box. In my '98, the panel has 6 rectangles cut in it (almost looks like for ventilation). Lucked out again. One less hole to cut.

Repacked everything back up and good to go!

The only thing I have left to do is to install 3 more power wires to run to the other accessories. If you look close enough, there are only 4 wires in that bundle. I ran out of the needed gauge wire. Something else on my list to get tonight. But that'll just be a quick fix. So whatddya think? (besides that you think I need to vacuum my carpet... )

Visit Steve's website for more EXCELLENT electrical tech for your XJ!

If you have pics of your own repairs or can suggest other methods - please contribute your ideas (and pictures) to this article!

Revised on: October 11, 2006

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