My Rusty Hell or: How I decided to restore an old, rusty, semi-obscure vehicle with no experience and even less money (Part 7)
It's been a while since I have done any updates on the Scout. Life has been busy, and summertime is a time for enjoying the Scout, not so much for working on it. These are usually about reversing the ravages of time, or fixing things that are broken, but this entry will be slightly different, unless you consider a lack of music in the Scout is something broken, which I do, so lets go.
Like many vehicles of the era, if you wanted music in a Scout, your only option was a super-fly AM radio, and a single 4 x 10 speaker behind a metal grate in the dash. My Scout has this setup, but the radio doesn't work, and even if it did, AM isn't really what I'd want to listen to anyway. I do dig the way it looks in there though, and one day I would like to get the stock system working again, so when it came time to tackle putting some tunes in, removing the stock radio and hacking up the dash (this was before standard DIN sizing) wasn't an option. If you have lots of cash to blow, you can get your stock radio gutted and retrofit with modern components, but I most certainly DON'T have lots of cash to blow, so as usual, we're doing this on the cheap.
A common solution in a case like this is to install a radio in the glove box. It doesn't detract from the stock look of the vehicle, but it does necessitate opening the glove box to change channels, adjust the volume, swap CDs, etc. There are some workarounds, but again, I'm poor, and I want to keep this simple. Another common option is to install a center console with a built in space for a head unit. They are mounted securely, and often times have locks on them. A viable option, except, and I apologize if you have on of these, they're god-awful ugly.
While I was pondering where I could put a head unit, I started giving some thought to what I wanted out of the radio I was going to install. After thinking about all of the things it would be cool if my radio could do, I realized I already had something that did all of that and way more sitting in my pocket. With my phone, I can listen to locally stored music, download podcasts, stream Pandora, listen to local FM radio, use GPS and a million other cool/helpful things. So that was it, my phone was going to do double duty as the in-car entertainment center in my Scout, I just needed to find a way to make it all work.
After getting lost down the Amazon.com rabbit hole, I eventually settled on these components:
Belkin Bluetooth Adapter
It takes incoming audio via Bluetooth and outputs it via standard 3.5mm headphone jack. It runs off a standard 12v power port, has an additional aux input, and a USB port for charging.
Ground Loop Isolator
To clean up the output signal.
Marine Grade Amp and Speakers
Designed to take input from a 3.5mm headphone cable with 4 marine grade 6.5" speakers.
***A quick note to anyone who followed that last link. Yes, I know Pyle is, well, a "pile" as it were. The kit was cheap, waterproof, and if/when components fail, they're easy enough to replace with higher quality pieces. Sound quality isn't an issue, as riding in the Scout isn't exactly quiet. All I need is loud, and this definitely fits that bill***
With components in hand, I needed to decide where to put everything. Obviously the speakers would be visible, but I wanted the amp and Bluetooth gear accessible but out of sight. The glove box seemed like a no-brainer. It doesn't lock, but a lock probably wouldn't keep anyone out anyway. As for speaker placement, I eventually settled on a pair in front of the rear seat, and a pair in the footwell. Staging isn't ideal, but again, loud trumps acoustical nuance in this application.
The rears were easy. The speakers came with very handy adhesive templates for cutting holes. There is plenty of clearance between the inner and outer surfaces, and the space is empty. A pilot hole and a little reciprocating saw action, and there you go.
Yes, I cleaned up the edges of all the holes and hit them with some paint to try to give rust one less place to take hold.
The speaker flanges are foam backed, so rattling isn't an issue. The fitment is just fine back here.
Immediately after I took this picture, I decided I hated the white speakers. A quick trip to Lowe's, and a few minutes with a rattle can, and they were now the proper black.
The fronts were a little more challenging. There's a lot less space to work, especially on the drivers side, with those pesky pedals in the way. Additionally, the kick panels have steel L beams on the back side of the sheet metal for support. A fat lot of good they did, as both of my kick panels are a little wavy. I used a Dremel and about a trillion cutting disks to cut out the needed circles, and drilled out the spot welds so I could remove the sheet metal and expose the L beams for cutting.
Lacking the tools to take out the L beams (the reciprocating saw won't fit in the footwells), I turned to my buddy Shaun, who is a tech at a local Honda dealership. He had me bring in the Scout at the end of the day one day, and he went to work. I got some damn funny looks pulling the Scout into a service bay at the Honda dealership! With an air saw and air grinder, he made quick work of the steel bracing.
With the braces cut and ground, the fronts went in with no problem.
With the speakers mounted, it was time to tackle the rest of the gear. I picked up a cheap universal 12v power port and got it wired into the glove box. It's tapped in to switched power, so I won't kill the battery. I got all the speaker and power wires for the amp pulled up to the glove box and got everything mounted. I still need to pick up some wire loom and do a little cable management, but it all fit nicely with plenty of room left over for airflow around the amp.
All that was left was to get an el-cheapo phone holder. I found this one at AutoZone for less than $10.
It all works perfectly, and I am able to easily control everything from my phone, including volume. I have a 32GB SD card in my phone, so there is tons of space for music. Streaming works flawlessly, and I get a good GPS signal for navigation. The whole system is compact, relatively inexpensive, versatile and plenty loud and the speakers definitely shrug off water with no issues. At some point, I'd like to add a small sub somewhere, just to fill out the sound a little more. The 6.5" speakers do mids really well, and highs fine as well, but they are missing something on the bottom end. I don't want anything with too much thump, because 1) it might rattle some important parts off the Scout, and 2) I'm driving with no top on the truck, and I'm a considerate human being who doesn't want to rattle the car next to me at a stop light.
So, I now have music to enjoy, and with the kids back in school and cooler weather approaching, hopefully I will have a little more time to dedicate to the Scout soon. It's been a great summer driving it around though, and, knock on wood, no mechanical issues whatsoever. Stay tuned for another installment of My Rusty Hell, coming soon.