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Friday, June 16, 2017


Pyle PL63BL 6.5-Inch 360-Watt 3-Way Speakers (Pair)
Before I get started on building my dream car, let's see if we can make a minor repair to my truck. It came with a semi-fancy audio system from the factory, meaning 4 regular speakers and a couple of tweeters. A few years ago I let younger son borrow it and when they came back the speakers were blown. Sure, it could have been age and normal wear and tear, but when there is a teenage boy involved, well, you figure it out.

The blown speakers make the radio pretty much unlistenable, and since I'm still driving across town a couple of times a week, not having any tunes was kind of a bummer. The trip to Miami and my Thunderbird fantasy finally pushed me over the edge and I decided to do something about it.

I could have taken it to an audio shop, but it probably would have cost a minimum of a couple of hundred bucks, and being easily suggestible I probably would have opted for the upgrade which would have been another hunert bucks. But I'm in cheapskate mode and I'm trying to fix things around the house, so let's see if we do this our own self.

The easiest solution would have been to buy the original speakers. That way they would bolt right in and the electrical connectors would plug right it in and the whole installation would be easy-peasy. But OEM speakers are a little hard to find (maybe they have them in stock and maybe this listing was posted 15 years ago and nobody has bothered to update it since) and a little expensive (like $50 each). Okay, we'll buy generic speakers and suffer the hassles that every kid who ever upgraded the speakers in his car suffered.

I finally got started on this project this afternoon and it was fraught with all the pain-in-the-neck hassles that I expected. I started with the drivers door and the first thing is to pull off the inner door panel. There are five screws, three Philips head and two Torx. Pull those out and now you can lift the panel and pull it loose from the door. Except not really because of all the wires and the door handle latch. The door handle (in the inner door panel) connects to the latch (in the door) through a steel rod about an an eighth of an inch in diameter (1/8"). The rod has a right angle bend on the end that goes through a hole in the end of the door handle lever. It is held in place by a clever little plastic clip. All you need to do is unclip this clip from the rod and the rod will come free. Dang, it's a tough little clip, but with some forceful finger action I persuade it to let go and our last mechanical connection comes free.

Now all we have are the wires, and there is more than one. I can't remember how many exactly, but they are all these modern plastic connectors with a latch that you press to release before you can pull them apart. That all went fine until I got to the power window / door lock connector, which has like a dozen wires. Cannot see how this one comes apart. Google provides a clue: remove the switch from the door panel first. At the top of the switch there is a little metal spring clip (this in on the inside of the door panel). Using a screwdriver I was able to push it down which allowed me to pull the switch from the panel. At first I thought it was one of those nasty spring jaws where you push the switch into the panel and the spring clip is like the inward facing teeth on a shark: they grab hold and let you go farther in, but you cannot pull back. But actually it's not. It's part of the switch, not the door panel. Pushing the switch into the panel causes the spring clip to compress, but once the switch is in place it pops up, locking the switch into position.

Now we have the door lock switch hanging loose and we can get a good look at the connector, and there, on the door panel side, where we couldn't see it before, is the locking tab! I use a medium size set of Channel-lock pliers to squeeze the release tab, grip the connector and pull it loose from the switch. We finally have the panel free of the door. Glory Hallelujah!

When I take door panel off, a sound insulating pad falls off on the floor. That is going to have to be glued back in place. Do I have a suitable glue? I root around and finally find a can of contact cement that I used on a kitchen table project 25 years ago. It is still at least semi-liquid, so it might work, if it doesn't eat the door panel. I put a dab on the panel and on the pad. We shall see.

Anyway, we are finally where we can think about replacing the speaker. It looks simple enough, there are three big Philips head screws holding it to the door but taking them out does nothing. The speaker is still firmly mounted to the door. Using my pocket knife and a screwdriver, I pry it loose. More screwdriver work and I pry the speaker loose from the plastic spacer that holds it half an inch from the door. Everything is sealed: the spacer is sealed to the door, the speaker is sealed to the spacer, the grill is sealed to the speaker, and there is some kind of cushion that seals the grill to the door panel. Geez, they sure went to a lot of trouble to seal all this up. Is it worthwhile or necessary? Somebody sure thought so. Maybe we should try to replicate all this sealing.

Meanwhile there is the electrical connector. The factory speakers have a factory connector that mates with a connector on the wiring harness. My economy speakers don't have this. Splices will have to made. Perhaps I can salvage the connectors from the original speakers, that way I can make up a pigtail that will plug into the existing wiring harness, which means I won't have to be soldering stuff while sitting on the floor in the garage. Getting the connector loose from the speaker is not too tough since the speaker is shot and we can pull the cone back so we can access the lock tab that holds the connector in place. Desolder the wires and the connector is free.

Now all I need to do is:

  • make up a pigtail,
  • glue the pad to the door
  • glue the spacer and the grill to the speaker. Probably ought to screw the speaker to the spacer.
  • screw our glorious speaker assemble to the door, and
  • mount the door panel.
Then I get to repeat for the other door. And the back seat speakers. Happy Father's Day.

1 comment:

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