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Jeep Wrangler - Restoration & Custom Outfitting
All photos, diagrams, and text on this page Copyright 2013 - David Todeschini - all rights reserved - see Copyright Terms

 

Locking Console

 

Jeeps with Soft Tops have a bit of a disadvantage other than the glove compartment, there is really no place to secure valuables such as wallets and cameras and such. I was able to buy a Smittybilt #31917 Steel Locking Console (no longer manufactured) which is shown in the photos below. This console bolts to the floor, and has a huge amount of room, even though it fits over the parking brake lever.

 

A large variety of locking center consoles are available (see below) the trick is to select one that fits your particular Jeep's configuration.

 

I decided that since I was at it, I would also replace the worn-out factory carpeting with industrial-grade, rubber-backed carpeting over the Rhino Lining I had just done. These two tasks were done prior to installing the locking console.

 

 

Bestop Under Seat Lock Box for Wrangler JK

 

Bestop Under Seat Lock Box for 97-06 Wrangler TJ

How to prepare a mounting bolt for "fishing" through a hole that you cannot reach.

Since nobody really likes to crawl under vehicles, and it would take TWO people to place the bolts through the floorboard and secure the console in place, I decided that since I was the only one working on this project, that I would simplify matters by using a bit of ingenuity.

I pulled up the factory carpeting and placed the console between the seats, marking the position that the bolts would have to occupy on the floorboard. I drilled small 1/8" holes as pilot holes through the mounting holes provided in the console. I waited until it got dark outside and used a flashlight shining through the holes from above, and a mirror under the Jeep to see where the holes were, and insure that drilling in those spots wouldn't hit anything vital under the Jeep. Once I had determined that the bolt positions were safe and accessible from underneath, I drilled the holes just a bit larger than the 5/8" diameter of the bolts supplied with the console.

I used my  Dremel Stylus Tool with a 1/8" bit to drill a hole in the end of the two bolts, about 1/4" deep. Then used the Cut-Off Wheel to cut a slot wide enough for a heavy-duty screwdriver (see diagram, above).

I went into my scrap wire drawer and found two 4' lengths of #24 stranded copper wire and tied a tight knot at one end, securing it with Super Glue, and cutting off the excess after the glue dried, so I had a tight knot at the end of the wire. I pushed the knot into the hole I drilled in the bolt and secured it in place with PC-7 Epoxy (red arrow, top photo), being careful not to get the epoxy into the threads. I allowed the epoxy to cure for 18 hours.

The next morning I used a wire coat hanger with a hook bent into it (yellow arrow) threaded through the holes in the floorboard to retrieve the wire and pull the bolts with large washers on them (red arrow) through the holes from underneath the Jeep.

The photo at the left shows one of the bolts in the floorboard (green arrow) next to the parking brake lever boot immediately below it. Make sure you have 1" of bolt above the floor, else use a longer bolt. Hold the bolt in place as you thread the nut over the wire and down onto the bolt. Once the nut is secured to the bolt, you can pull off the wire and tighten the bolt with a hex wrench.

When the nut is snug, break off the epoxy bead with a pliers or wire cutter, and dig the epoxy out of the screwdriver slot. If the bolt turns as you tighten the nut, use a heavy screwdriver in the slot to hold the bolt from turning as you tighten the nut tightly to the floorboard.

When the nut is as tight to the bolt as practicable, you may want to make sure it doesn't come loose by applying a few drops of Super Glue close to the nut, and allowing it to seep into the threads.

With both mounting bolts secured firmly to the floorboard, (re)install the carpeting. If you are installing new carpeting, make sure that it lays properly before cutting any holes.

Jeep Locking Console mounting bolt rigged with attached wire to enable it to be "fished" into the hole in the floorboard.
Console mounting bolt, washer, and attached wire used for threading bolt through the hole in Jeep floor without assistance from another person.
Console mounting bolt being "fished" through hole in Jeep floor with attached wire.
Console mounting bolt secured to Jeep Floor. Wire used to "fish" bolt through hole from below the vehicle.
Mounting bolts, captive in the Jeep floor, used for mounting the Locking Console - Photo shows new rubber-backed Industrial grade carpeting.

The photo at the left shows installation of new industrial grade carpeting (covered in detail here). When the carpet is in place, push down on the mounting bolts and use a carpet knife or box cutter to cut an "X" into the carpet across the top of the bolt, and then press the carpet down over the bolts. There should be 3/4" of bolt protruding out of the carpet.

Aftermarket Locking Console in my '97 Jeep Wrangler.

The console fits a bit too snugly between the factory seats covered with Dickies  Heavy Duty High Back Canvas Seat Covers, which fit loosely on the stock Wrangler seats, but offer the best protection when your best friend and constant companion is a dog.

The problem of a tight fit here was resolved when I custom-installed 3A Racing Bucket Seats.

A very tight fit between the stock Jeep seats and the aftermarket Locking Console. I subsequently replaced these seats and solved this problem.

NOTE:  If you are installing a center console, make sure it does not interfere with the rear seat folding up before you bolt it down. This particular console prevented the rear seat from folding up when I tried to push it back a little bit, but I never fold the seat up except to retrieve tools stored under there, so for me, this was not an issue, considering all the secure space it has. I finally compromised and pulled the console forward a bit so that when the rear seat is folded up, it rests snugly against the back of the console box.

 

In the two photos at the left, you can see that the locking console I chose fits really tightly between the factory seats. The up-side is that there is a lot of room inside to store a full-size digital SLR Nikon camera with a 200mm zoom lens, 4-cell Maglite flashlight, extra batteries, paperwork, etc.


This particular console can store approximately 4 to 5 times what you can fit in the Wrangler's glove box, but it is no longer being manufactured. However, the ones shown below are functional equivalents.

I needed to either re-upholster the driver's seat or replace it because of a huge void in the seat padding, and as I went looking for "junkyard" seats one day, I happened to stumble upon someone selling really nicely made racing seats that were (allegedly) removed from a '98 Wrangler, however, he did not have brackets or adapters for these seats to fit the Jeep seat frame.

 

 

The slightly narrower seats solved the "too snug" problem, and my back feels a lot better on long trips or when Jeepin' through the NJ Pine Barrens with these seats installed, but I had to install a new cup holder and re-purpose the one on the shifter console because the front of the driver's seat prevented me from using the cup holder for its intended purpose.

 

The photo at the left shows the Locking Console with the 3A Racing seats installed.

There is much more room between the seat backs and the Console lid than there was with the "stock" Jeep bucket seats.

 

 

Rear view of the Locking Console with the rear seat removed (red arrow) When this photo was taken, I had just installed Industrial, rubber-backed carpeting.

 

Dog leash hanging from Roll Bar (green arrow)

Rear Seat bolts (purple arrows)

Cable Lock (to secure toolbox) (blue arrows)

Clips for Tailgate Net (yellow arrow).

 

 

 

The rear seat when folded up on a "stock" '97 Jeep Wrangler does not lock in this position. Although I do not fold my back seat up frequently, doing so is possible with the Locking Console, and although it seems a bit tight, it's OK because the seat now stays in place in this position without tying it to the Roll Bar.

The Locking Console I installed is a tight fit with the stock Jeep seats.
Locking Console with new 3A Racing Bucket Seats. A lot more space to open the console lid.
Rear cargo area of Jeep with rear seat removed. Carpet looks great.
97 Jeep Wrangler seat in folded-up position with an aftermarket Locking Center Console installed.
 

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