Born Free Leap'n Lions RV Club

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:45 am
Posts: 462
Location: Ames, IA
CB Radio Installation in Overhead Bulkhead of Born Free 24' RB Coach

CB Radio in Bulkhead - I installed a CB radio in the non-load bearing panel above the driver in our '99 24RB. The bulkhead mount for a CB radio is up out of the way, the speaker is close to the driver's head, the controls are easily accessible, and the microphone can be reached by both driver and passenger.


My CB radio of choice is a big box (Galaxy DX959). A smaller radio would have been much easier to install. Both the depth and height of this radio provided installation challenges. My preference would have been to have the radio face flush with the front panel but this was as close as I could get it. Before selecting a radio to install in the bulkhead, it would be worth removing the lower bulkhead cover to check measurements to see if your radio of choice will easily fit.


I removed the 2 fabric-covered panels under the foam mattress and the non-load bearing front panel where the radio face is exposed. To get this panel out, there were many staples to remove that held the fabric covering the panel. The front panel board is nailed to the plywood and easy to remove.

To make room for the radio, 2 bolts and a piece of plywood blocking were removed where the fiberglass body and the cutaway chassis are assembled at the Born Free factory.

I used a 6' wide steel drywall tool and a lot of wiggling and pushing to get the unit in place. I used a 90 degree adapter on the antenna to save depth space. The radio is flush with the underside of the plywood.


The front panel was cut and mounted after the radio was installed. Removing the front panel made it easy to cut the hole for the radio on a workbench without having the fabric in the way. I cut the hole 1/8" larger on all sides to allow space for the fabric to be tucked into the cutout with the radio.


After cutting the hole and putting the fabric back on the panel, I slit the fabric 45 degrees from the corners and down the middle to make 4 flaps to tuck in the radio cutout for a clean finish. The 4 gray wires in the photo are ground wires terminating at one point on a bulkhead bolt.


I cut a hole in the lower facing bulkhead Masonite/paperboard to make use of the built-in CB speaker. I did not cut through the cover fabric. This was cut with a Dremel abrasive cutter wheel. I cut only partially through the Masonite/paperboard and carefully pealed it away as necessary to make the opening. With the cover fabric intact, no speaker grill was necessary.


I wanted a CB with a side mounted microphone so the cord could be routed to a point between the visors and be accessible to both driver and passenger. The visor keeps the cord from dangling when not in use. To make room for the mic, I mounted the curtain rail closer to the spotlights by the width of the mount. I reused the two inner screw holes in the panel for the outer holes of the rail mount. Then I drilled new inner holes in the panel closer to the spotlights.

I use a heavy, noise-canceling mic and wanted a solid mic mount. I used 2" long screws fastened through the lower panel and into the overhead cutaway van steel.


For the CB antenna, I used a stainless steel fender/hood mount and a 4' chassis grounded Firestik. The antenna mount is pre-angled to work on the van and is pre-punched for additional screws. I did not use a spring on the antenna. This mount will fit a 5' antenna if you want better rearward communications. I put all of the excess antenna wire in the bulkhead in the shape of a 2' long bow tie to prevent RF interference.

For 12VDC power, I added a tap-a-circuit to the fuse box under the dash above the drivers left foot. I chose a switched circuit so the radio will turn off when the ignition key is removed. I used a heavy (12GA) red coated wire to power the CB radio and a rear view camera system also installed in the bulkhead. The power wire and antenna cable run up the driver's side pillar to the bulkhead.



I'm happy with the results. At some point, I will probably swap my 4' antenna for a 5' antenna of the same model.

You can save a bunch of time by doing this: pick a smaller radio with a side mounted mic; remove only the lower bulkhead cover; decide where to put the radio and carefully cut the fabric and hold it out of the way; cut the front panel in place. Cleaning up the sawdust will take much less time than the disassembly/reassembly required in removing the front panel.
If you have an entertainment center or storage cabinet instead of a cab-over bed, the easiest installation approach will be to cut the front panel in place. You could add a trim bezel around the radio to match the woodwork if needed.

AUVAN Stainless Steel Hood Channel Mobile Antenna Mount for Vans

FS4 4 Foot Tunable Tip CB Antenna

MU8R18 18-Foot Single Antenna Coaxial Cable

Submitted by:
Chuck Meadows
'99 24RB PSD

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