Hey Everyone -
I had a couple of powered components I wanted to install inside the Nitro. Rather than run all my interior wiring jobs through the engine compartment, or run just one artery that would kill everything every time a fuse blew, I decided to install an auxiliary fuse panel inside the Nitro. Thanks to a great suggestion by NitroTech, I looked into products by Painless Wiring, and wound up picking a Cirkit Boss kit, #70107 (Figure 1). This kit comes with all the hardware needed and the panel itself has 4 ignition-switched circuits and 3 hot circuits, all rated at 20 amps. It's totally idiot proof, which works out well for me.
The panel is designed to ground at the location it is mounted, which was an important placement consideration. Waldorf and NitroTech had given me a great tip, that the area behind the driver's side dash is wide open. Sure enough, when I pulled down the knee guard underneath the steering wheel, I found where I would mount the panel (Figure 2). With my Jeep Wrangler, the fuse panel is mounted in a very tight spot, which makes changing fuses very frustrating. I wanted to make sure the mounting location was not only out of the way during normal activities, but also easy to get to when I needed it.
I was thinking about mounting the panel on the left side, but fuse removal and installation could become frustrating. Do you see the two black bolts sticking down out of the cast metal in Figure 2? The right one has a nut and washer on it, which I thought I could use to my advantage. If I created a bracket to fasten onto those bolts onto which the fuse panel could mount, I could have the fuse panel facing outward for easy access, and still have it grounded.
I wound up creating the bracket out of scraps of aluminum I had lying around and screwed together with small machine screws. The dimensions are roughly 5.5"L X 1"W for the horizontal piece, 8"L X 1"W for the bent piece, from the top, bends placed at 2", 5", and 7" (Figures 3 & 4). After creating the first side of the bracket, I tested it out and discovered that it was more than strong enough without having to attack the bracket onto the left bolt. I'd strongly advise anyone going this route to make their own measurements. I'd also suggest that you drill the holes in the bracket before making the bends.
To run the wiring, into the engine compartment, I went through the infamous grommet everyone refers to; it took some time before I discovered that everyone was not talking about the grommet through which the factory wiring harness ran, but a smaller one above it. I used an awl to punch a small hole in the center, through which I ran the power cable and the wire that will tap into an ignition-switched source (Figure 5).
The kit provides more than enough wiring to reach the battery and the fuse block inside the engine compartment. Once the wiring has been run through the grommet and you have a general sense of how long they need to be, trim the wires and connect a ring terminal (provided) to the thicker red power wire and a female spade disconnect (provided) to the pink wire (DO NOT install the terminal yet if you are running the wire through the fuse box. Read on below). The power wire will connect to the provided circuit breaker, which will connect to the positive terminal of the battery.
The pink wire connects to a power source that is only hot when the key is in 'Accessory' or 'On' positions. I used a digital multimeter to measure this, although the fuse descriptions can be pretty darn helpful. I mentioned previously that the kit is idiot-proof. They even include fuse taps, metal inserts that are designed to fit into the existing fuse panel in conjunction with the fuse, onto which the female spade disconnect we just installed can attach (Figure 6). For what it's worth, I chose to tap in at the existing power outlet's fuse.
As you can see, I had some trouble getting that stupid fuse tap to fit in conjunction with the fuse. This kit is idiot-proof, but not idiot-friendly.:chuckle:
It has been mentioned multiple times in different threads, but this particular fuse can be moved to the left (at the camera angle above, it would be going AWAY from the camera) to change the power outlet from being ignition-switched to constant-hot. As you can see in Figure 6, I chose to drill a small hole into the side of the fuse panel. I then proceeded to stare at the end of the pink wire, to which I had already crimped on the female disconnect (hence the warning above). After much cursing at myself, I cut the terminal off in order to run the wire through the hole, and reattach another terminal I had. To be safe, I also covered the hole with silicone. You could also file down the top of the plastic lip and run the wire that way. I would still recommend running it above the heavy-gauge cable. panel itself has that indent, while the lid does not, so you're just afforded better protection than if you're filing or drilling along an outside edge of the lid.
Well, now with the hard part over, the only thing remaining is to mount the fuse panel (Figure 7). Notice in this picture there's a stud protruding from the right side of the bracket. I decided to throw a bolt in at the last minute in order to have the grounding location for my components that was as convenient as the fuse panel. Fortunately, it just barely fit between the two machine screws used to create the bracket.
The nest of wires you see behind the fuse panel are for each of the individual fused circuits that I now have at my disposal. The three-amp fuse is for the ignition-switched wire, so even though there are 8 fuses, I only have 7 circuits at my disposal.
After running numerous electrical jobs throughout my Wrangler which resulted in fuses all over the place, and wires splicing into others every which way, I wanted to start things off the right way in the Nitro. By installing an auxiliary fuse block inside the car, I'm able to sidestep future wiring headaches, isolate each component electrically, and have a single location to refer to for fuse replacements.