Friday, 6 May 2011

2 Cigarette Outlets

You might think that adding cigarette lighters to the panel would be a breeze. You might think that having executed such amazing woodworking and finishing, that having everything fit and the wires all go in the right places, you might think that after all that, that for me, adding a couple 12 volt outlets would like making a cheeseburger for a gourmet chef. Nearly insulting, but still worth of my time. If that's what you would think, I have other news.

First was the problem of finding the right 12 volt outlet. Finding a generic outlet is easy. There are dozens of them. Many are designed to hang beneath the dashboard from an L shaped bracket. Others are faceplate designs with a plastic or chrome tang that you put a screw through. The style I was looking for was one that screwed together in a sort of compression fitting hiding any mounting hardware. Making things more difficult, I also wanted the outlet to be lit such that I could find it at night.

It took much hunting before I found the right outlet. When I did, they were more expensive than I had hoped, but these things always are. I bought the last 2 on the shelf and dragged them home.

In order to mount the outlets I had to make a sort of bowl in the back of the faceplate. The outlets could be mounted through a board not more than 1/4" thick. I used a spade bit to remove the plywood from the back of the faceplate, until the point was through the wood, but the tangs of the bit had just exposed the Afromosia (which from here in will be called teak).

Flipping the board over, I got a smaller drill bit that barely matched the inside diameter of the lighted trim ring for the lighter. Holding the drill as straight as I could I got it up to speed, then eased it into the hole created by the point of the first drill. Immediately the bit grabbed, twisted in my hand, and dug in with one tang. Before you could say "Insert expletive here" the drill gouged the wood and shook the piece violently. I took the drill out and looked at the oddly shaped oblong I had made. The mark would show, but the outlet would still fit. I decided to fix the problem at a later date. No sense crying over spilt milk. I was much more careful on the second hole, and it went without problem.

Because the trim ring was lit, there was a small light bulb that stuck out the side of the lighter body, like a mole or pimple. I got a chisel, and working from the plywood back of the mounting plate, carved away space for the light to go in the back of the plate, hidden from view.

Now that I had a pair of cigarette lighters in the plate, I tested with a 9 volt battery, and to my pleasure, everything worked. I brought up the plate and showed my handywork to SWMBO. It is hard to describe the level of excitement she reached when seeing it. Oh well, I was happy.

Next step: the install.

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