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Old 04-18-2013, 09:53 PM   #1
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stereo install 81 ford nuwa

So I would like to add an aftermarket cd player to my Ford. But my problem is the original stereo is built into the dash... the knobs come out the the dash panel and the station needle and 8 TRACK slot all come through the dash panel. Is there anyway to remove it, cut the wall and add an aftermarket? Also the stereo only works in the ignition is on is there anyway to route that so it doesn't drain my Drive battery?
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:08 PM   #2
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I'm not familiar with your dashboard, I tried looking for an image of a 1981 Ford van, but didn't see any images. Radios today are built to fit into DIN or DOUBLE DIN rectangular openings. The single DIN is 180 X 50 mm. (7 1/8" X 2 1/8") A DOUBLE DIN opening is twice as high, same width. I'd remove the old radio and make an opening for a mounting sleeve to hold a modern radio. Most radios have two positive leads, one full time, to maintain clock and memory settings, the second 12 v lead is to come on when ignition does. Most RV's have a switch to change over from 'normal' chassis batteries switched by the ignition and a setting to power the radio from the house batteries. Not a hard thing to wire up.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:23 PM   #3
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I'm not familiar with your dashboard, I tried looking for an image of a 1981 Ford van, but didn't see any images. Radios today are built to fit into DIN or DOUBLE DIN rectangular openings. The single DIN is 180 X 50 mm. (7 1/8" X 2 1/8") A DOUBLE DIN opening is twice as high, same width. I'd remove the old radio and make an opening for a mounting sleeve to hold a modern radio. Most radios have two positive leads, one full time, to maintain clock and memory settings, the second 12 v lead is to come on when ignition does. Most RV's have a switch to change over from 'normal' chassis batteries switched by the ignition and a setting to power the radio from the house batteries. Not a hard thing to wire up.
So I will attempt to cut the dash and add an aftermarket. People keep saying theres a switch but ive yet to find one... the only switches I have are on my "control" panel. Batt level, black, grey, fresh, pump, and power panel. That one I believe just turns it the panel on to check the levels
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:45 AM   #4
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I use to install stereo's professionally for a living and your dash definitely needs to be cut to accommodate the new stereo. I would cut the dash using an small reciprocating saw, like an air saw. Usually after you have cut the opening out for the new stereo there will be a gap on the top and bottom where the previous unit came through the dash. For this I would get a 1/8" thick piece of black textured ABS and cut it out to cover the whole area where the stock stereo is then cut a opening out in it for the new stereo's mounting sleeve. Then take the mounting sleeve for the new stereo and install it into the ABS plastic then onto the dash. Bend the mounting tabs on the sleeve to lock it into place and you are done with the mounting portion of the install. As for the wiring, do you happen to have a voltage gauge in your dash that you can switch to view "chassis" or "house" battery voltage? It would usually be selectable by a On-Off-On rocker switch.
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:56 AM   #5
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I use to install stereo's professionally for a living and your dash definitely needs to be cut to accommodate the new stereo. I would cut the dash using an small reciprocating saw, like an air saw. Usually after you have cut the opening out for the new stereo there will be a gap on the top and bottom where the previous unit came through the dash. For this I would get a 1/8" thick piece of black textured ABS and cut it out to cover the whole area where the stock stereo is then cut a opening out in it for the new stereo's mounting sleeve. Then take the mounting sleeve for the new stereo and install it into the ABS plastic then onto the dash. Bend the mounting tabs on the sleeve to lock it into place and you are done with the mounting portion of the install. As for the wiring, do you happen to have a voltage gauge in your dash that you can switch to view "chassis" or "house" battery voltage? It would usually be selectable by a On-Off-On rocker switch.
What install kit do I buy? For the stereo to mount in? And my dash has a chassis gauge and above the couch is a panel with house gauge
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Old 04-19-2013, 12:21 PM   #6
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Most after market stereos come with a mounting sleeve included. It fits in the DIN opening and is held in place by bending tabs to hold it in place. A face plate might be needed as Winnebeater suggests if the opening is too large. You'll need 12 v from both your ignition (the present radio hook up) and if you wish, a switch and a wire from the house battery. This power could come from a light, maybe 12 v accessory plug connected to the house battery, etc. If this sounds like more than you are prepared to handle or have tools for, most audio shops should be able to do it for not too much money. Just be sure to explain you want it to work off the house battery when parked. (If you do)
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Old 04-19-2013, 12:52 PM   #7
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What install kit do I buy? For the stereo to mount in? And my dash has a chassis gauge and above the couch is a panel with house gauge
If you want to minimize the amount of fabrication that you will have to do then purchase a 1/2" DIN trim ring from your local stereo shop or online.

Click image for larger version

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Here is a link to purchase it online: Amazon.com: Metra 89-30-0500 Universal Din Trim 1/2-Inch Border: Car Electronics

It has a pre-cut hole for the stereo and should be the appropriate size to cover gaps left from the stock stereo. You may need to slightly trim the exterior of it to fit in the dash location. Once you have it trimmed you can use it as a template to trace the necessary area that needs to be cut out of the dash. Unfortunately the wiring may be more tricky. Do you want to have to turn the ignition on to use the stereo? Or, do you want it to work at anytime? Or, do you want to be able to do a combination of the two?
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Old 04-19-2013, 12:55 PM   #8
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Most after market stereos come with a mounting sleeve included. It fits in the DIN opening and is held in place by bending tabs to hold it in place. A face plate might be needed as Winnebeater suggests if the opening is too large. You'll need 12 v from both your ignition (the present radio hook up) and if you wish, a switch and a wire from the house battery. This power could come from a light, maybe 12 v accessory plug connected to the house battery, etc. If this sounds like more than you are prepared to handle or have tools for, most audio shops should be able to do it for not too much money. Just be sure to explain you want it to work off the house battery when parked. (If you do)
Could I power it off a 12v interior light? I dont currently have a house batt as I dont boondock. (Yet) I dont wanna buy a batt just for the stereo. Lol I have a factory tape player/stereo out of my 2000 F250. I wonder if I could figure out a way to use that. Then I can use a tape adapter for ipods and such
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Old 04-19-2013, 01:43 PM   #9
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Most newer aftermarket CD players will have an auxiliary audio jack so you can use an MP3 player easily. Some may even have direct iPod/iPhone controls through the stereo, though you will most likely have to purchase an additional adapter cable (generally $15-$30). We installed a unit in our motor home last year and we can charge and control our iPhones, iPad and iPod through the stereo. When you get the stereo out post again (with pics), because you may run into some issues with the wiring. If you are inexperienced with this kind of thing it will be confusing, but I can walk you through it fairly easily. I would lean towards an aftermarket unit because it will give you more usable features and an easier install. Just because you have another Ford radio does not mean it will fit right in. Securing it will be a challenge and the wiring plug on the back is most certainly different.
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Old 04-19-2013, 01:57 PM   #10
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Most newer aftermarket CD players will have an auxiliary audio jack so you can use an MP3 player easily. Some may even have direct iPod/iPhone controls through the stereo, though you will most likely have to purchase an additional adapter cable (generally $15-$30). We installed a unit in our motor home last year and we can charge and control our iPhones, iPad and iPod through the stereo. When you get the stereo out post again (with pics), because you may run into some issues with the wiring. If you are inexperienced with this kind of thing it will be confusing, but I can walk you through it fairly easily. I would lean towards an aftermarket unit because it will give you more usable features and an easier install. Just because you have another Ford radio does not mean it will fit right in. Securing it will be a challenge and the wiring plug on the back is most certainly different.
Ive installed numerous stereos/dvd players but ive always had plug pigtails. Idk what wires will do what when I take the factory one out.
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Old 04-19-2013, 03:14 PM   #11
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Voltage and ground are easy to locate with a multimeter (recommended) or a test light. For a newer stereo; like the previous poster had mentioned you will need a constant +12vdc, switched +12vdc and a ground with less the 0.20 of an ohm resistance. After locating the power, ground and any illumination wires the rest should be speaker wires. You should have two wires for each speaker (four wires for a two speaker system or eight wires for a four speaker system). If there is only three or six wires then you have a common ground system and you will have to run new speaker wires to at least one speaker per each pair to separate the negative speaker wires. You can find the correct speaker wires with a 9 volt battery. Place a wire on one of the terminals of the 9 volt battery then start touching the other wires on the opposite terminal of the 9 volt battery one at a time. You will know when you find the other speaker wire because it will make a "pop" sound. You can tell the phase of the speaker by the direction the speaker moves when it makes the popping noise. If it moves toward the front of the speaker then it is in phase (positive speaker wire is currently on the positive terminal of the battery). If it moves towards the back of the speaker then it is out of phase (positive speaker wire is currently on the negative terminal of the battery). Hope nothing was redundant information that you already knew and if so I apologize.
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Old 04-19-2013, 04:07 PM   #12
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Voltage and ground are easy to locate with a multimeter (recommended) or a test light. For a newer stereo; like the previous poster had mentioned you will need a constant +12vdc, switched +12vdc and a ground with less the 0.20 of an ohm resistance. After locating the power, ground and any illumination wires the rest should be speaker wires. You should have two wires for each speaker (four wires for a two speaker system or eight wires for a four speaker system). If there is only three or six wires then you have a common ground system and you will have to run new speaker wires to at least one speaker per each pair to separate the negative speaker wires. You can find the correct speaker wires with a 9 volt battery. Place a wire on one of the terminals of the 9 volt battery then start touching the other wires on the opposite terminal of the 9 volt battery one at a time. You will know when you find the other speaker wire because it will make a "pop" sound. You can tell the phase of the speaker by the direction the speaker moves when it makes the popping noise. If it moves toward the front of the speaker then it is in phase (positive speaker wire is currently on the positive terminal of the battery). If it moves towards the back of the speaker then it is out of phase (positive speaker wire is currently on the negative terminal of the battery). Hope nothing was redundant information that you already knew and if so I apologize.
Wow! Thanks the info. I did manage to find a wiring harness on ebay 81-88. , not sure if it will work though. ..
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Old 04-19-2013, 05:34 PM   #13
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To just add to Winnebeater's excellent tips, most radios have like colored wires for each speaker, gray and gray stripe would be the (+) gray and (-) gray stripe for one speaker. I'm not sure why you need a wiring harness for the radio you are removing. The new radio will come with a plug that goes into it's back with colored pig tales coming from it. If you can find a compatible plug that will connect to the wiring harness in the van, you can do 90% of the wiring on the workbench. These adaptors are available at any good Audio shop.
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Old 04-19-2013, 07:48 PM   #14
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The motor home might be a 1981, but there is also the chance that the chassis is a 79 or 80. Depending on when the motor home manufacturer purchased it. Earlier I checked the Metra and Schoshe websites and the earliest adapter harness they listed was for a 1982, but if you order one and it doesn't work at least the investment is small.
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