Mounting a brake control where the ashtray is in a late model Trooper

Yet again, notes taken from an email posting to the internet newsgroup.  Let me preface this by saying that some consider towing with a timer-activated brake controller to be dangerous.  When I posted this message, the brakes on my trailer were almost non-functional.  Now that they work, I can see where an inertial-controlled brake controller would work more smoothly than a timer-based unit such as the Draw-Tite I mention below, but I have not had any trouble.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Not too difficult to do...  First thing in order for this to work is you will need to have the draw-tite "activator I or II" brake controller.  Take a look at  I know Reese has one just like it with their name on it, may be others as well, but that's the one you will need to fit it exactly the way I did.  Take a look at the pictures on draw-tite's web site to see a photo of it.

Biggest trick is getting it all apart.  Start with the floor console where the shifter is - one screw on either side down low.  Un-screw the ball on the H-L 4wd shifter and remove it.  Pop out the 4 empty plugs to the right of the Power/winter mode buttons.  That will allow you some leverage to pull up - there's a catch right at the back center of the console that takes a bit of tugging to get loose - pull straight up.  You'll have to slide the whole console back to make room to get the the center dash piece out.  Once you've got it moved back, I think there are 2 or 4 screws in the center console trim that you unscrew, then work it all loose.  You'll have to unplug the cigarette lighter connections to get it out - there's a spot you push and it releases the connectors - just make sure you remember which goes where!

Once you can see the back of it, there's a screw (or was it 2?) to remove the ash tray assembly from the trim piece.  There's also a plug for a small light bulb in the tray that you'll have to unplug.  Once you have the whole thing out, you'll have to look at it closely, this part is a bit fuzzy now and w/o the part in front of me.  There are some small screws on top (you'll need a smaller #1 philips bit) then work that plate loose - the rubber at the top front will flex and allow it to work out.  Then there is a metal rod with a C-clamp or whatever you call it you have to work off in order to slide out the pin.  Once that is out, carefully work and remove the sliding tray and spring part.  You can stretch the outermost parts out to help free it (outside held together at this point by the piece of rubber at the front, which will stretch for you).  Go ahead and remove the lightbulb assembly on the side by removing the 2 screws.  Once it's all apart, put the metal plate back on the top.  Next get your drill bits and drill out...take a look at the left side (from the perspective of it mounted in the vehicle) and you'll find a hole that you can get to line up for one of the mounting screws.  (The brake assembly has a mount that looks like a letter E without the middle line in it that you mount and then mount the brake controller onto it with screws from the sides.)  Line up the mounting bracket so that you can get one screw in thru this hole after you've mounted the bracket. On the other side where there is a small slit for the light bulb to shine thru, take a larger (3/8 maybe?) drill bit and make the hole bigger so you can put the other screw thru it.  Drill holes in the upper metal plate and mount the bracket using small (#6 or so) (and will need to be short or cut short) bolts and nuts.  Line up from where the wires come out and drill a few big holes side by side in order to get the wires out the back - will need to line up properly so the wires come straight out or you won't be able to get the controller back in far enough.  Mount the controller in place, put it all back together and you've got the hard part done.  :-)

I was quite pleased with how this turned out in my 2002.  Best I can tell, the 95's and up are all the same.  On the 92-94 models you can just take out the ash tray and mount it in the open hole - that's what we did in our 94.  This may or may not work as well for you if you have a different model brake controller...but if it fits, you can probably make it work.  Here's a photo of the finished product:

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