I bought a Rhino Design Studio Center Console for my Vanagon from GoWesty.com (Van-Cafe.com also sells them) with the sole intent of modifying it in order to house a subwoofer. These consoles are made on a per order basis so expect about a 4 week delivery date which I didn’t have a problem with.
The consoles are very well made and have a slide out drawer with a motion sensitive LED light inside the front panel. As soon as the console came in I began thinking of a plan in order to get a subwoofer in that thing. I really wanted to add a subwoofer to my van BUT I did not want to sacrifice any storage space at all. That’s what got me to thinking about adding the sub in the center console, I get the sub I want without giving up any valuable storage space for those long road trips.
First order of business was removing the stock shelves in order to make room for a box. A quick phone call to Louis, the guy who builds these informed me that the shelves are screwed in from the side and the screws are hidden by the black formica panels. I took a magnet to the sides of the console and marked the locations of the screws.
With the four screws spotted I used a jig saw in order to cut out the middle section of both shelves (not shown) in order to allow me to work on each side separately.
I took a very sharp hatchet and simply placed the edge of the blade on the plywood right on where two of the thin panels met, then used my hand to simply bump the hatchet into the wood. Since it is plywood, the layers just peeled off until I freed the screw loose and removed the shelf section. I was most worried about this portion of the build but it didn’t take long at all and was very easy.
Now that the shelves are removed I used my Dremel with a cutoff wheel and cut off the exposed screws flush with the side walls. These existing console side walls will become the walls of my subwoofer enclosure.
After a lot of measuring and test fitting I finalized my box design. I opted to remove the plastic shroud around my automatic gear shift since that would give me a lot more room to work with for the enclosure. The plastic shroud was removed by 2 screws and 1 set screw on the handle itself.
The box fits like a glove. PERFECT! If you’re wondering how I got such a perfect hole on the face of my box well I’ll tell ya! I bought a Jasper 200J Circle Jig for my router which makes cutting holes of any size child’s play. This tool is amazing! It was so easy to setup and worked out perfectly on my first try.
Another very cool tool I used for this project was a Digital Sliding T-Bevel Gauge. I saw this in passing on Amazon and thought why not, for $22 I’ll give it a try. WOW. All of the weird funky angles on this project were a breeze with this gauge. I simply measured the angle I needed with the gauge, then placed the gauge on my circular saw in order to get the blade set to the needed angle.
I knew I could easily get an 8″ subwoofer into this setup but I was very ambitious and decided on adding a 10″ sub instead. I opted for the JL Audio 10″ 10TW3-D4 which is a shallow mount dual voice coil subwoofer which only requires about .51cuft of air space. I coupled this sub with a JL Audio XD300/1 300 watt monoblock amp. As you can see the sub was a VERY tight fit but it all worked out according to plan. Thankfully. lol.
I took some generic matte black spray paint and painted the backside and the bottom of the enclosure only. These faces would be seen somewhat so I wanted them black instead of a bright yellow wood color.
Now time for the front face and top of the sub enclosure. I purchased a roll of 3D Carbon Fiber Vinyl and a can of 3M Super 77 Multi Purpose Spray Adhesive since the sticky backing of the vinyl wasn’t strong enough to adhere to the box on its own.
I sprayed a light coat on the front, top and the associated edges for the roll over of vinyl. This photo below is AFTER I cut out the hole in the vinyl using a box cutter knife. Simply use the knife to follow the edge of the hole and the vinyl cuts very easily.
I was going to use a basic flat black vinyl but I didn’t want to chance it not really going with the console black so I decided to go with something with a pattern. The carbon fiber look is nice and dark and goes well with the black console.
I screwed in about 6-7 screws per side of the console into the subwoofer enclosure in order to join the two pieces together. I don’t have any photos of this yet since I’m waiting for some plastic screw covers to get delivered so that I can conceal the screw heads and make it all look nice and clean. I used a indoor/outdoor caulk in order to seal all of the joints on the interior of the box in order to make sure it’s airtight.
So after a weekend’s worth of work I finally finished my project. I’m really happy with it thus far and it sounds very good. It feels good to see (and hear) the final product in person since it’s only been a figment of my imagination for the past 2 months or so.
If you’d like any more information on the products I’ve used feel free to leave a comment below and/or check out the Amazon links below for more specs. Thanks!
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