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How to Make a Laredo Dash
(07/14/08) When I started out on the "Free Jeep" project, I wanted to definitely put a Laredo style dash in the Jeep as I have never had a tach in any of my Jeeps and I wanted to see how that would be to have one, plus I liked the idea of having a clock in there as well. So, I looked and I looked for a Laredo dash and only found super expensive ones. I figured that I could do the same thing myself, so I did.
I found a lot of 3 pretty beat up dashes, plus a very beat up Laredo dash, so for $50 I bought them and they showed up. I was able to practice on one and then build one for someone else and finally one for myself. Here are the steps that I went through. It is not all that difficult, but you will need a welder, grinder, hole saws, and a lot of PATIENCE for the sanding and hammering that has to be done.

The first thing I did was take a hammer and dolly and straighten out the corners and a variety of other areas that were in rough shape. I then moved onto determining what had happened to the dash in its previous life. There were 4 extra holes that were not common to Jeeps from the factory. These had to be welded up and ground down. I cut holes in the dash for the Clock/Tach and then I sanded and sanded until my fingerprints came off.
With it all sanded down, I was able to beat it again with the hammer/dolly and then put on a coat of rust inhibitor paint/primer to make sure all the metal surfaces stayed rust free, after I wiped it down with alcohol and water. All in all, it took a few hours, but it turned out better then I thought. With another 3-4 hours, the backside can be done and the rust pitting can be taken care of with plastic filler, welder, or your material of choice.
Lessons Learned
So, in order to do this, I said you need to have PATIENCE. You really do, as there is more banging and sanding then anything else. Filling holes with weld and grinding them down takes a bit as well. In order to get a dash perfectly straight like it was from the factory is going to take some doing, I wasn't looking for perfection, just a way to figure out how to get a regular dash to look like a Laredo dash.
This is a pretty easy project, but you will need the right tools to do the job. I now have a template on a piece of wood that I can use to make other Laredo Dashes in the future. I am happy with the outcome of the dash and look forward to the next one that I make.

cb (07/14/08)

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