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2002 Dodge Dakota, Bed Cut Through, Work in Progress


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Hi All! First, a little boring back story! I was really into car audio back in the 80's/90's and for some reason, call it a midlife crisis (a sad one), I was bitten by the bug again. Ever since my dad brought home his first Dakota back in 93', it's all I've ever driven. I started with his 93, then a 96, then in 2001 I bought a new Dakota off the lot. I drove that until it was totaled in 2012. Then I bought a used 2005 which I then sold to a family friend. Now...I've gone backwards and bought a used 2002 SXT. It was a work truck with some body damage, but has low miles and runs well.

So, in the year and a half I've had it, I've put a mild 2/3 static Belltech drop. Gibson headers and a Gibson Cat-back exhaust. I've frenched in the license plate, removed the rear tailgate handle, and had a through-body exhaust tip added. On the agenda are new wheels and tires, drop it down another inch or so, and new body work/paint to fix up the current damage. But, as this is an audio forum, I'll move on to the good stuff...

Since I'm putting all this work into the truck, I figured I might as well go big on the audio install. Since this is a single cab, there's very little room behind the seats. When I first got the truck, I installed a single, shallow-mount Infinity 12, and JL XD500/3 behind the seats, with Focal Performance 130AS components in the doors. It was fine for a year, but just wasn't enough. Since there's only so much space to work with, I decided to do a blow-through, or in this case, a cut through.

First, I have to apologize about the quality of the pics. I took these stills from video I shot for a Youtube build log I'm putting together. So please bear with me. This has also been going on for the last few months, so things have changed since these original pics. But I'll start at the beginning so you can follow along. And all criticism is welcome as I understand that everyone has an opinion. I hope you enjoy!

Kota.jpg

Dakota_Back.jpg

Exhaust.jpg

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Well, not much progress to show. I'm still without a system, but I got a new job and haven't been driving, so no big. Did decide to go with (2) new DC Level 2 12's to start. I know they're not the mos

Time to install the box...finally! It's a super tight fit, but it works. Had to put some foam pads underneath the back of the box in the bed to accomodate the weight of the box during the cab/bed flex

Finally started wiring up the amp rack. I was in a bit of a rush, so the rack isn't finished. However, I'll be switching it to a solid piece of plexi so it'll get swapped out down the line.  

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So first off, I removed the original box and system from behind the seats. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pics of the original system, but you can see the aftermath. The entire cab is covered in NVX sound deadener.

Original_Inside.jpg

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My original plan was to put (2) Polk Audio MM1240's in the bed, and have the front of the box actually sit in the cab, so the full force of the 12's would hit me behind the seats. Well, that plan didn't quite work out because the bed and cab floors don't line up. But more on that debacle later. I already built the box out of 3/4" MDF and made sure the height worked in the bed.

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So, I taped up the bed wall, where I wanted the hole, and started grinding! I used a hole saw to drill through all (4) corners and then used an Angle Grinder to cut out the straight edges. Once I started cutting, it occurred to me just how thin the sheet metal is on these trucks. It sure made for easy cuts though. I was able to cut through in no time.

Taped_off_Bed.jpg

First_Cut_Bed.jpg

Second_Cut_Bed.jpg

Second_Cut_Cab.jpg

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So I trimmed off the NVX around the new cut through in the cab so I could clean it up and add the boot. Another issue with these mid-size trucks is that there's only an inch and a half between the bed and the cab. At minimum, the boot compresses to 2.5 inches, so there's a lot of rubber to stuff in between the cab and bed. It made for a sloppy install, but I figured if it was sealed properly, it wouldn't be an issue.

Cleaned_up_Edges.jpg

Original_Boot.jpg

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I was able to install the boot using silicone to get a decent seal. The boot installation went well, considering the distance issue. Everything was sealed up and I thought I was on my way.

Original_Boot_installed.jpg

Original_Boot_installed_Bed.jpg

Original_Boot_installed_Bed2.jpg

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Once I made the cuts, I had the realization that because the bed and cab floors sit at different heights, there was no chance in hell that the current box with (2) twelves would ever be able to sit in the cab. I could have cut higher into the cab to match the height in the bed, however in these trucks, there is a brace that juts out in the cab, below the rear slider. I'm assuming it's to help strengthen the cab, but it made my plan completely worthless. As you can see, from the pic, the full face of the sub doesn't quite make it all the way into the cab.

Old_box_withBoot.jpg

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Now this would have probably been fine, and I've seen plenty of builds with this setup, but they were always ported or band-pass boxes. I have nothing against those, but ever since I've been into car audio, I've always enjoyed the sound of a sealed enclosure. And that was my plan here, hence why I wanted the sub face entirely in the cab. It took me a couple weeks to finally come up with a new course of action...

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And so a new plan was hatched! Because of the height issue and the fact that I couldn't use the 12's the way I intended, I decided to switch it up all together. I decided to go from (2) 12's to (4) 8's. I've never used subs this small, but they seemed to be the right size for the opening, and with (4) of them, they should get plenty loud. So I went ahead and ordered four CT Sounds Tropo series Dual 4ohm 8's. Not the most powerful subs, but the reviews I read looked good and the RMS was in range for what I was looking for.

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