Aqua Puttana's Cheap Tricks - Nothin' Fancy Here


Well-known member
20170727 Edit:Add your vehicle info to all your posts automatically!!!!!It will help you to get answers. Thank you.

The most direct method is probably in your "Details".
In the Blue bar above click "Quick Links".
Scroll down to the "Custom User Title" box.
Click in that box and type in at least your Sprinter MY (Model Year) and 2500 or 3500.
Scroll down to the "Save Changes" box. Click on that and you are done.
Whatever you enter will be displayed at the bottom of your member icon.

The other place is in your "Signature".
In the Blue bar above click "Quick Links".
Select "Edit Signature".
Scroll down to the text box which looks like what you use to add a post to the forum. Type in at least your Sprinter MY (Model Year) and 2500 or 3500.
Scroll down to "Preview Signature". If the preview looks like what you want, scroll down to "Save Signature", click on that and you're done.
Whatever you enter will be displayed at the bottom of every one of your posts.
(If signatures don't display go back to "Quick Links" and "Edit Options" to allow signature display.)

:cheers: vic

20120406 edit:When I started this thread I didn't know how it would play out. It now has enough posts that going back for reference is time consuming. I created a Cheap Tricks - condensed post in Write-ups which lists one line descriptions of what the posts contain to make reference a bit easier. Sorry for the wide photos in the earlier posts. I have since learned to reduce the photos to 5.00 inches x about 6" so the text doesn't expand out so much.

The Cheap Tricks - condensed link is here:
(The condensed list has short descriptions to aid searching.)
An unabashed advertisement. If you find the style of the above thread helpful I have some others.

Tips for New to Sprinter Owners

Stoopid Things

Used Sprinter Buying Tips

Check Engine Light DTC MIL Codes List

Limp Home Mode comments

Trailer Wiring OEM Harness vs. Light Module

Tools - Quality, Special, Dodge, MB, Mercedes, Hose Clamp

20110908 edit: A recent post by Doktor A. Calling Doktor A can save a bunch of unnecessary parts changing so I would consider it a Cheap Trick. That said, it'd be nice to offer a consultation fee to him.
Re: Searching for Doctor A


My 24/7 Sprinter Hot Line (412-366-6165) is alive and well. I happily return most phone calls within several days of hearing your message.

I ask that callers please leave their phone number, model year of Sprinter and brief details of their Sprinter related issue. Kindly identify if you are a repair tech or an owner.

I find that the Hot Line is a valuable tool which helps expand my data base and my mind. Many callers become friends, clients and visitors.

My new Doktor A commercial annex location, here in Pittsburgh, features 7 day a week complete Sprinter service by appointment. I feature all service from routine maintenance to black death surgery to same day transmission replacement. On site windshield replacement by one of the nations best (and affordable!) Sprinter glass installers.

My in house parts department stocks EVERYTHING for Sprinter, new and used.

Messages asking for emergency road advice are always given priority.

Doktor A

The original thread starts here:

Step Ladder Storage

I got tired of my step ladder being in my way all the time. An outside ladder rack wasn't an option. I only have one added bench seat behind the driver so the back windows don't need to be kept clear. I knew that vertical metal straps would work, but flat strap would need to be pretty thick to have strength across the span.

I found a discarded steel shelving unit in my travels that had bent shelves. The uprights were fine. The design has a long side/short side angle. Perfect for support over the span and not too heavy.There are holes in each angle face for using hooks, bungees, etc. for attaching things. I cut 4 each to length and made some cuts in the angle so they'd fit my window. I flattened the top piece so I could use 2 screws for attachment. I then spray painted them flat black.

My windows are very dark tinted. Even with that the red plastic ladder with aluminum steps hanging in the window was more visible from outside than I liked. I painted the silver step edges flat black. Now the ladder hardly shows at all. When I travel to regattas the ladder will be removed so I can hang my spare sails inside up out of the way. Cost was minimal, fasteners, paint, and time. Pictures below. Hope this helps. vic


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Well-known member
My van is used for occassional camping. I didn't want to go for a full blown built in shore power installation, but messing with a cord coming in the joint of the door and extension cords inside was a hassle.

What I did to deal with the cord through the door was install a single receptacle weatherproof cover on the outside of the van. There are no guts to it, it's just to make a hole to poke a cord through. On this style cover the weather seal also makes a good cushion for the cord to rest against. Inside I used a plastic collar to dress out the hole inside.

To address the cords running around inside the van I installed a plugmold strip salvaged from a scrapped computer rack. To run my power into the van for camping I push the extension cord into the van, plug the plugmold into the cord and then plug my devices into the plugmold strip. Very little cost and does what I need. Pictures below.

I've been thinking.......always dangerous. With the places I "camp" critters and creatures are generally not a problem. Because the little cover door stays open a bit with the cord going through, it could be an entry for unwanted guests. I think the simple solution is to apply insecticide or insect repellent to an old handkerchief or washcloth and stuff it in around the cord entry. That should keep the curious away. Hope this helps. vic


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Great idea on the cord. :cheers: I have heard that dryer sheets (the ones they put in clothes dryers to cut static) will work to repel insects and stuff - perhaps you could wrap a few of those around the cord where it comes in.
I have considered using a regular duplex waterproof outlet - about what you did - except leave the duplex outlet and a box there and simply put a male fitting on both ends of the extension cord and plug it into one side of the outlet. The back of the outlet could be wired to whatever you want in the van. This would leave you the other half of the duplex outlet on the outside of the van if you need it for something. If you didn't want to put a male on both ends of a long cord, you could simply make a male to male adapter on a short cord.
This would eliminate the hole in van when you are using it but it is slightly more complicated..


re: Member
I don't know if the T1N's are the same, but the NCV3 has a boot under the drivers seat, through the floor, that leads cables out under the van, as well as in the firewall into the engine bay. The wrap tie can be cut on these boots and cords run through them, which is where i ran a 12ga. extension cord to hang out underneath. Inside it connects to the power panel with regular 120V outlets. When i need shore power i plug an extension cord into the plug hanging down (it gets stowed above the rear heater lines out of sight), and i didn't have to make any holes in the van to do it.
I couldn't get photos of the boot from above, and it's raining here now so i won't crawl under today. You might look for these boots, great way to pass cables and harnesses through the body without making holes.



Well-known member
We have always referred to the male/male plugs and cable as you describe as a "suicide connector". If you plug in the hot end first the exposed hot prongs are hanging out on the other unplugged end ready to electrocute you or your children. I would not recommend that method.

Actually a single male 120 volt inlet unit that my Crouse Hinds aluminum cover would probably fit is available. Something like this:

I would recommend that route if you plan to hard wire.

Actually there are a few reasons I went the route I did. I had a big, round 1" rust spot on the side of the van right where I installed the cover. It made choosing the location easy. That rust hole is now gone with no paint/body work necessary. If you go the wired power inlet route then there is more wiring and messing around with details. The way my cord feed through is set up I can pull the cord in as far as I need to get power anywhere in the van not just to the outlet strip. This is a cheap and dirty method which I'm certain isn't up to everyone's standard, but it gets the job done safely with little cost. Thanks for the input. Hope this helps.
Great idea on the cord. :cheers: I have heard that dryer sheets (the ones they put in clothes dryers to cut static) will work to repel insects and stuff - perhaps you could wrap a few of those around the cord where it comes in.
I have considered using a regular duplex waterproof outlet - about what you did - except leave the duplex outlet and a box there and simply put a male fitting on both ends of the extension cord and plug it into one side of the outlet. The back of the outlet could be wired to whatever you want in the van. This would leave you the other half of the duplex outlet on the outside of the van if you need it for something. If you didn't want to put a male on both ends of a long cord, you could simply make a male to male adapter on a short cord.
This would eliminate the hole in van when you are using it but it is slightly more complicated..


Good point about the "suicide connector" - plugging to the shore power would always have to be the last connection. And Jef-- the 2005 has that boot under the driver seat - I used that pathway to hook up the "house battery". Good idea to use that for an extension cord connection - guess it is easy to tie up a male plug to something underneath so it isn't hanging.
It I put in a regular socket in the side of the van, might as well put in a 30 amp plug - can always adapt that to a regular extension cord with one adapter. Love the cheap tricks..


This is a nice option top stay away from the "suicide plug".

I installed one on my wifes VW for plugging in the coolant heater. For the VW it is mounted in the lower front valance where the fog light would be installed.

I also picked one up for my sprinter. I was going to mount it into the rear step but then realized there was metal behind it so I'm not sure yet where to put it. I'll probably go with the rear step and just do something to protect the metal from ever rusting.
I was going to run it to my inverter which has an automatic switch in it and also to one outlet in the van.
The single outlet will probably be for a 12v/120v fridge and the line to the inverter will feed the 2 outlets I plan to install.


Well-known member
People may learn to regret their interest and replies which I interpret as encouragement. I'll throw more cheapy's together as I get time.

When vacation traveling with our B250 Dodge vans we would put a wheely Coleman cooler between the front seats. It was convenient as a platform between us (we use a non-skid shelving pad on top) and the co-pilot had access to it for drinks as we were driving down the highway. We rarely if ever moved between the seats to the back of the van so blocking that route wasn't a problem. The Dodge floor was flat, but I found the engine heating the floor chewed up our ice. Actually I now use frozen water bottles instead of loose ice because then there is no melted water to deal with. I made a platform out of plywood and 2x4's to keep the cooler bottom up off the hot floor. As the platform actually became a permanent feature between the seats whether the cooler was there or not, it also became a good place underneath to stuff a snow brush, scraper, small socket set and other items that were seasonal or infrequently used.

I found a couple issues to resolve before using the same idea in our Sprinter. The first was the gray catch bucket mounted on the passenger seat that was in the way. I found that essentially useless so it was no sacrifice to eliminate. As I recall I accessed the fastener(s) holding the bucket in place from under the seat by cutting off the fastener and punching back the stub. After that the plastic bucket slid free. I still have it if anyone is interested (free).

Once that was gone I needed to address the angled floor. What I did first was make a 17" x 25 1/2" inch platform out of 3/8" plywood. For the back end I used two pillars 4 1/4 inches long to bring the platform up to level. The pillars were cut from a scrap shovel handle. I pre-drilled them so they wouldn't split and held each in place with a single 1 5/8" long drywall screw. A piece of stapled down carpet on top helps to make it less slippery. We also use a bungee cord across the back to help further to keep the cooler from sliding around. Cost is minimal as parts lying around are generally all that's needed. Broken shovel handles are plentiful. A piece of press board from a scrapped computer desk or other furniture can be used in place of plywood for the platform. Think of it as opportunity and recycle, not garbage. (Even when you've pulled over on trash day checking a pile for opportunities and your young daughter inside the van is chirping "Dee-AD! I can't believe you're looking at that stuff. What if somebody sees me!")

This idea may not be for everyone. The platform that is, everyone's for recycling right?. We find it convenient for our travel style. Having a custom console platform shelf between us is especially handy. Pictures below. Hope this helps. vic


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'02 140 Hi BlueBlk Pass
People may learn to regret their interest and replies which I interpret as encouragement. I'll throw more cheapy's together as I get time.
Interest interest interest

The first was the gray catch bucket mounted on the passenger seat that was in the way. I found that essentially useless so it was no sacrifice to eliminate. As I recall I accessed the fastener(s) holding the bucket in place from under the seat by cutting off the fastener and punching back the stub. After that the plastic bucket slid free.
I didn't go through all that effort to remove mine. I simply used a Scout foot.


Well-known member
Interest interest interest

I didn't go through all that effort to remove mine. I simply used a Scout foot.
I like that method. Cheap and effective. Like bringing wires up through the boot under the seat. Just the kinda things I hoped people would be posting here.


New member
I used a cooler between the seats on the old Ford E-150, but the van had a wood console w/ cup holders.
The cooler was too low in the Sprinter, and I missed all of the large cup holders.
I bought a taller Coleman, that had a split top and four shallow cup holders.
I installed aftermarket adjustable large deep cupholders into the shallow ones on the cooler, and now we are all set.
I can flip open half, and still leave two drinks or whatever in the other half.
I put a plastic box of odds and ends under the rear of the cooler to level it.
I liked it so much that I bought another one to place next to the sideways facing "gaucho" seat, to provide storage and cupholders that can always be used as an extra cooler anytime.

I wanted a hatch to use for shore power, as well as for twelve volt lines (auxillary battery charging, etc.), and maybe even for RF cable or a water line.
I had a plastic 4"x4" door installed, complete with a key lock.
Sportsmobile uses this for their propane system access, and paints it to match the vehicle.
I put a piece of very dense foam in the frame, and I have a perfect seal around whatever I pass through the door.
$30 installed, not bad.
Just big enough to pass a beer through, provided it hasn't been opened yet.


Well-known member
I've seen the two top door coolers. They look great. I'll need to keep my eye out.

I guess this thread will really bring out how cheap I can be. We have 4 coolers now. I've given away about a dozen to friends. I haven't purchased one yet. Most of the time people have discarded them it's because the hinge material fails. I repair the hinges using webbing from those over the shoulder luggage straps nobody ever needs. This is how it's done.



Well-known member
Our Loft Bed

I installed a "loft bed" for occasional camping in the back of our 2004 140 standard roof. I favored being on the high side with the platform to make it easier to attach my side wall support and also to make storage under the platform more spacious and easier to access. One negative issue with the higher bed is it's a bit more difficult to crawl up onto. As far as sleeping goes it's really great to wake up in the morning and be looking out the side windows like you're part of the outside. As the side windows are right there to pop out if hit and the bed sits up so high I would never let anyone sleep in the bed while we're moving.

I cut 2 ea. rescued scrap 2x4's to length to fit the sides immediately below the rear side windows. Prior to installing I cut notches to receive some salvage aluminum square "U" shaped stock similar to Unistrut electrical frame to use as cross supports.

The aluminum works perfectly for my purpose because it is light and with the open face I can nest it together for storage on top of the left side support. I think it would be pricey to duplicate if it had to be purchased. Unistrut will work similarly, but with a bit more weight than the aluminum stock. The A3300 style Unistrut could be used installed on edge. That would give plenty of support at a bit less cost and weight. It would also take less space to store the cross supports. 2x4's could also be used (laying flat) at less cost and weight, but would be more difficult to store on board. I attached the side 2x4 supports using very heavy sheet metal screws (1/4" diameter thread 6 ea.) with washers. I used a spade bit to recess them because they were a bit short.

Thinner Unistrut on edge. (P2341 fitting needed when used with a Unistrut ledger.)

Weight savings with steel.
Slotted 14 ga. 1 5/8 x 13/16" strut on edge could be used for cross supports. Again, plenty strong, a bit lighter than 1 5/8 x 1 5/8 standard steel. Less expensive than aluminum.

A P2341L fitting will bolt in the 1 5/8 x 13/16 on edge to a 1 5/8 x 13/16 or a 1 5/8 x 1 5/8 ledger. Just orient the fitting properly.

The bolted brackets and thinner 13/16" Unistrut should allow for the "flex" which I feel is needed.
I used a discarded plywood ping pong table top rescued from the trash for my support platform. Threaded stud with washers and thumb nuts secure the platform to the wood side rails. Because the plywood didn't quite cover enough I used a salvaged 1" board to fill the gap. In its former life it was a shelf. Our first use of the bed showed I needed to notch the platform at the back to allow us to reach the rear door handle to open the back doors. Sounds like a small thing, but it was a pain to not be able to open the door from inside before the modification. Not to mention that not being able to escape a fire up front while trapped in the back bed is a safety issue.

We lucked into a brand new $10.00 double size RV mattress that had been replaced under warranty because the edge stitching had let go. It folds at a 1/3 internal plywood supported section which allows us to have standing room at the end of the bed for changing clothes when folded back. By dumb luck there is just enough room to clear the ceiling as we fold it back. The spacing of my cross supports is adjusted to fit the mattress design. You will also notice in the pictures that I only have a platform over part of the supports. That works because of the 1/3 self supported mattress section.

I use hooks off the bottom of the 2x4 supports to hang tool bags for stuff I like to have in the van. Some of the bags show in the pictures. For our casual camping I find that the bags can stay in place 100% of the time. Pictures follow. Hope this helps.

20120904 edit: The 2x4 side supports have worked well for us. Were I to do it again I would consider using 3/4" plywood. It is a bit thinner and would offer similar strength.

I feel that one important design consideration is that you do not want to tie any supports solidly across the width of the Sprinter. The Sprinter body is quite flexy as you ramble down the highway. Any solidly attached cross supports may create point loading on the fasteners which will lead to failure. I've even seen pictures where the body sheetmetal has cracked from the stress. Just floating the cross support system on even just one side, or designing in some other allowance for movement will all but eliminate those stresses.

Edit: I recently answered a PM. This information may help clarify what my concerns are about cross pieces being tied solidly.

It really shouldn't take much allowance for the changing crosswise dimension. Across the length of a metal or wood cross piece there should be enough twist and torsional give that it should be fine that way. My concern with the side to side bridging is that it needs to have some allowance for expanding end to end. In my situation for my bed cross bracing I set the ends of my channel into pockets because that was easy for me.

Off the top of my head. If you plan to use a steel or aluminum angle to rest the cross pieces on (similar to a ledger board), then drilling over sized holes for the fasteners should work. My thought would be 1/2" holes for 5/16" fasteners. Slots might even be better in case the movement is greater than I anticipate. I have no data as to the actual potential movement.

To help prevent rattling a couple fender washers sandwiching a rubber washer or spacer could be included. Double locking jam nuts would keep the fastener from loosening. The cushioned washers would keep the structure tightly attached, but would allow it to slide a bit when necessary.

Any design which allows for some end to end movement should be fine. I believe the problems come from shock load when there is no give at all.





I keep the cross supports nested aboard my van at all times. I've found they can be set into place and used for loading sheet goods. The floor of my van is usually cluttered beyond use. This picture doesn't show the angle piece I used for a bump stop at the forward end.


For my 2006 I used E-track for a similar result.

E-track Rear Deck Bed Support
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Well-known member
Co-pilot Map Light

My wife noticed on our first night driving trip that our Sprinter lacked a map light. I think given that the vertically mounted front area OEM interior light shines right in the driver’s eyes, a passenger map light is almost a necessity. This trick was very cheap for me because one of my many fine neighbours to the north in Canada gave me a light unit as a gift. Even if you need to buy one I think it is good value for what it provides.

The little LED light unit uses 3ea. AAA batteries. You need to purchase it with the optional bracket that adds a bit of cost. The LED unit comes with a holder, 4ea. Screws, a flat mount, and an angle mount adapter. All four screws are used to assemble it with the angle adapter. I placed my unit up near the rear view mirror aiming toward the passenger seat. As you would expect the two screws threaded right into the liner without pre-drilling. In that position it gives plenty of light for the co-pilot, but doesn’t shine over toward the driver.

The unit slips out of the holder so it can be used anywhere and then put back into place. In using it as I have employed that is a good thing and bad thing. Obviously it’s great to be able to use it to find things on the floor, etc. The bad news is that you need to be careful when you want to turn it on while in the bracket. If you’re not careful the LED unit will pop out as you push. Ours has been in use for over a month now and has not fallen out or been bumped.

One source I found for the LED light:

This idea works as a cheap trick mostly because of the ease of installation. There are plenty of other areas in the van where I think this light might work. Picture attached. This might make a nice Christmas or holiday gift.



Well-known member
Rear area handle strap

I looked into adding rear cargo handles to fit the existing attachment bolt inserts. As the bolts were there I assume at one time my van had rear handles. The steel rod handles I found seemed a bit pricey. I considered using Nicro pressed thimbles and cable with a heater or fuel hose cover, but decided to use some strap I had around the garage instead. I set grommets at each end of the strap and used washers with the star bolts.

My gold color flashlight is hanging by a short surplus piece of strap cut off. The red string and little clips normally hold our beer/soda can insulating cozy's. It keeps them handy at the back door for proper tailgate entertaining. (A common occurrence around boat racing.) I removed the cozy's for the pictures. I do try to use everything.

I'm also looking at using a strap for a passenger entrance handle for the front and side doors. So far I haven't decided upon a good location. One thing I do know is that the OEM co-pilot side top mounted (way too high) handle would be totally useless to help my 91 year old Mother-in-law who is 5 foot nothin' get into the van. Right now we are using a small step unit from IKEA to help her.

I had what I needed for the rear straps on hand. I imagine any sail maker or awning shop would have strap and could set the grommets for a reasonable price. This is probably not as good as the OEM handles, but it does what I need. Pictures attached.

Just remembered. When I tried to remove the existing star bolts I found the inserts spun as I turned my wrench. After trying a few things without success what finally worked was to strike the bolt heads at a tangent with a small chisel. I was surprised to see that the chisel barely dented the bolt heads. Once broken loose by that method they spun out with the wrench.



Well-known member
Improve OEM Sound 10 quality

I stumbled upon this one. Because I knew I was getting a better radio for Christmas, before bad weather hit I installed some speakers I had stored in the garage to prepare for the new radio. I installed the speakers above and back as far as I could easily mount them. I cut off the little molded in coat hanger hook that we never used to help free up space. I was a bit concerned that having the speakers right off our side and above our heads would not work well. I find they work fine in that position although I am far from being an audiophile so your mileage may vary.

Anyway the cheap trick is that rather than run the wire over to the radio before installation, I temporarily connected to the OEM speakers. For my temp connections I just stripped back the new speaker leads, bent them over the OEM speaker slide connector tabs and slipped the connectors back on to hold the new wire in place. Just adding the two new speakers and leaving the old front ones improved the sound quality of the Sound 10 radio by a bunch. Except for cutting the hole for the speaker all it took was some speaker wire, popping off the post covers and fishing the wire. There is no point in fishing the wire all the way to the OEM radio that I have because there are no back speaker wires included on the connector.

Wire colors OEM speaker:

Brown/Red = Right Front (+)
Black = Right Front (-)
Brown/Dark Green = Left Front left (+)
Brown = Left Front (–)

By connecting the extra speakers in parallel as I did it does lower the impedance of the speaker circuit. Connected this way if you crank the radio up to very, very loud it could blow your output circuit. Admittedly the better way to wire in the extra speakers would be to put them in series with the OEM's, but that would take more effort and some splicing. Paralleling the speakers should work fine for folks like me that don’t crank bass and volume.

I thought I’d include this trick because it did improve the sound quality of the OEM radio quite a bit for little cost and effort. The speakers I installed are by no means high quality. I do have to admit that my new radio sounds even that much better.

The speaker in the picture looks crooked. I double-checked and it actually looks fine. It must have been my camera angle. Hope this helps.

Some misc. info from my 2006 installation

2006 Radio Installation

Pioneer MVH-X370BT
Bluetooth, Memory Stick, Aux in, No CD player.

Pioneer Wiring / Purpose / OEM

BLK = Grd = Brown (16 gauge, not light gauge speaker)
Yel = Constant 12v B+ = Rd/YL
Red = Ignition = BK/RD
Blue/white = Power amp or antenna = BK (16 gauge)
Wht = L Frt Spkr + = BR/RD
Wht/Blk = L Frt Spkr - = BR (light gauge)
Gray = Rt Frt + = BR/RD
Gray/Blk = Rt Frt - = BK
Green = L Rear+ = ?? (None on Sound10) 16BR/BL
Green/Blk = L Rear - = ?? 16WT/BL
Violet = R Rear + = ?? 16BR/GY
Violet/black = R Rear - = ?? 16WT/GY

OEM wires not used

Blu/Red/Wht = Speed
Yellow = K line TCM/Radio (Not on Soumd10)
DG/YL/BK = Mute
GY/DG/RD = Lamp Driver
Blue wire? = on the 2006 Sound10 - left unused


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Well-known member
Dashboard Magnet Plate

Up until the 1990's when dashboards went completely to plastic I always glue (or double face taped) magnets on a tissue box to hold it up on the dash. With plastic dashboards I started adding a thin metal plate which I double face taped to the dashboard. Generally the metal plate is salvaged from some sort of equipment cover or ductwork. Avoid painting it black. Flat colors are best, but in this case I used some machine gray paint I had on hand. I learned to use refrigerator door magnets double face taped to the tissue box. Anyway, I finally got around to adding one to my Sprinter. I needed to bend the plate a bit to the curve of the dash.

The bottom of the plate showing double faced tape strips:


The tissue box with refrig door magnet strips taped on:


The plate mounted on the dash with tissue box in place. I also put two magnet strips on the top of the box to hold my Altoids. When empty I open the side of the box and replace the tissues rather than building another magnet box. The box can be easily removed from the dash and passed around as needed.


Note my lucky mouse dash rider. He's been riding with me since a '66 VW wagon trip to Miami in 1969. I only needed to replace one engine on the way home. I started with a 40 hp and finished with a $75.00 36 hp 1958 engine. The lucky mouse did loose an ear once, but we found a pretty pink transplant organ donor in the Keys.

This is another cheap trick that needs little money investment.

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