My Budget Build

How To - Front seat gear panel

Additional storage that's out of the way and within easy reach

Here is a DIY way to get some more storage in your cockpit for small things like a flashlight or powerstick. It keeps the important things (power, light) well within reach and uses some overlooked real estate.

Materials & Supplies

  • 6"x18" sheet of 16 gauge aluminum sheet metal. Lowes didn't have it; got mine from Ace Hardware for $11
  • 1/4-20 x 1" cap screws, qty: 2
  • 1/4-20 hex nuts, qty: 4
  • 1/4-20 acorn nut, qty: 1
  • 1/4-20 flat washer, qty: 4
  • 1/4 x 1" fender washer, qty: 2
  • 1/4-20 x 12" threaded rod, qty: 1
  • Door edge trimming, got mine from Pep Boys for $10
  • Vice
  • Mallet
  • Dremel tool with cutoff wheels
  • Ratchets/wrenches
  • Drill and bits

Steps

Step 1: cut the sheet metal to a length of 13.5"

Step 2: mark out an area 4.75" x 1.625" in the center of the sheet metal. Cut out whatever remains on either side (shown in red):

Here it is after the cuts

Step 3: gently bend the sheet metal to fit the curvature of the seat.

Step 4: bend the tab on the sheet metal over.

It's going to act as a tight hinge, wrapping around the existing bar you use to slide the seat forward/back. Use a mallet as well to get the right shape. Check the fit on the bar to make sure you don't go too tight. Here it is after being bent

Step 5: use pliers to bend the top part of the tab backward.

We do this to make it parallel to the main part of the sheet metal so that the two can bolt down correctly.

Step 6: drill clearance holes for the 1/4-20 cap screws. No particular placement needed, just eyeball it.

Step 7: test fit it

Here you can see the bent tab wrapping around the existing bar used to move the seat forward/back

Step 8: paint it

Here are the products I used This is aluminum, so I began with primer, even if it won't be out in the elements much Followed by 2-3 coats of truck bed liner

Step 9: Add door trim

I chose to add the door edge trimming at this point, but you could wait and do this and the painting last. Note that the trimming does come with adhesive in it, so you only want to put it on once.

Step 10: Add second attachment point

At this point, it'd just act as a hinge and flop downward if pulled on. This rod will make sure it stays in place. Look under the seat and you'll find a 7/8" bar about 6" behind the bar you use to move the seat forward/back. We're going to wrap around that, then bolt to our aluminum. Begin by bending one end of the 12" threaded rod into a hook to fit the 7/8" bar under the seat. Here is a shot of it wrapped around that 7/8" bar

Step 11: drill clearance hole for threaded rod

Mount the aluminum piece on the seat, and line up about where the threaded rod would pierce it. Keep in mind, you need to be able to raise/lower that bar to move the seat forward/back. If you mount the rod too high on the aluminum, your seat will be locked in place. Here is where I ended up drilling my clearance hole Here it is sticking out

Step 12: mount whatever you want to it

I put my flashlight and a portable charger. For instructions on how to make the little hangers you see here, check out this other how-to

Step 13: mount it up

For the two bolts on the tab, the order will be bolt, washer (forgot this but it should be in there), aluminum, washer, lock washer, nut. For the threaded rod, the order will be nut, lock washer, fender washer, aluminum, fender washer, lock washer, nut. You can see all of it loosely assembled here I chose to spray paint my outside pieces so it's all black

Step 14: tighten it up

Begin with the two carriage bolts and snug those down. As you put force on them, they should bend that tab over even more, making a tight hinge on the bar. Don't overtighten. Nothing crazy needed here. Once those are good, tighten the two nuts on the threaded rod up, starting with the outside one. You want the aluminum piece pushing on the seat a little bit so there is a static load there, putting the threaded rod in tension. This way it won't move around as you drive. Tighten both nuts down to lock it in place.

Step 15: finish it off

Thread another 1/4-20 nut on the rod, then use your dremel and cutoff wheel to cut off the remainder of the threaded rod. Unscrew the nut you just put on there and replace it with the 1/4-20 acorn nut for a finished look.

Final Product

Here is a shot of my pasty white legs so you can see the ample clearance when sitting in the seat

That's it!

Scott's Review Down the Road

Overall, this has served me well. It takes some patience to get it just right and the seat doesn't move forward/backward quite as easily, but it's very close. The other downside to this design is that the gear is pretty easily visible and retrieved by a would-be thief when doors are off. But, if the doors are off, there's probably a lot of stuff they could grab.

Bonus stuff

If your gear is brightly colored and you are worried about someone noticing it, just spray paint it! Here is a shot of the powerstick after I put some black on the more visible white areas.

portrait title

About My Budget Build

Just a website with some how-tos to help others on a budget have fun with their Jeep

You can find MBB on Instagram.