Has anyone built their own switch boxes?

TXDPSCJ

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Aug 6, 2023
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NJ
As the subject reads - has anyone built their own switch boxes when an original style can't be found?

Meaning, where do you source the metal box - just any suitable box seen on Amazon or eBay and gut it to fit in your own switches?

Regarding full size rocker switches (other than illuminated or not and color of switches)... Can anyone tell me what the difference is between the following rocker switch brands (other than the brand name)?

- McGill (acquired by Emerson Appleton Electric Division)

- Carling Technologies

- Cole Hersee

I know there's the "on-off" and the "on-off-on" type of rocker switches, so are all full size rockers similar in design even though made by different manufacturers?

Is there any guidance as to what rocker switch ratings are to be used for operating halogen, strobe, overhead light bar and Motorola Radio equipment (Spectra head unit / Syntor x9000)?

I can't seem to locate an original switch box needed for my restoration (that box was outlined here):

So I'm thinking about possibly gathering available pieces and trying to replicate that original box.

Any tips, guidance, dos/don'ts is appreciated.
 
I built a 4 switch Carling box. I chose Carling as I knew they were a reliable manufacture for the marine environment. Just got all I needed from a marine supply shop and what we know as a Jiffy box to put them in. All handle 20 Amps but I did run separate relays.
 
I built a 4 switch Carling box. I chose Carling as I knew they were a reliable manufacture for the marine environment. Just got all I needed from a marine supply shop and what we know as a Jiffy box to put them in. All handle 20 Amps but I did run separate relays.


On the sides of the rocker switches, like the Carling and the other Manufacturers, do I need to be concerned with a certain type of rating seen printed on them (“VAC”, “amp”, “v”, etc.)?

I’ve also seen the back side or internals of some boxes online and it appears the switches are jumpered together, is that the norm for a “gang” of switches in a single box?

I’ll look up the term “jiffy box”, as that’s the first I’ve heard of a box referred to like that…

I do appreciate all the replies and guidance. If you have pics of the one you built, can you post some?
 
I had a goal of wiring up a Unitrol 330 series switch box as a low voltage control rig in combination with my Cantrol. A Uni 330 was my first light Control in the first POV install I was ever proud of.

I've got most of the parts, but the prices on the Universal Control Modules tripled since I started this, and I haven't found a suitable source for engraving or transfer labels that will match the original Dunbarr-Nunn style (yes, I'm that particular), so it got shuffled to the back burner.
 
My first vehicle when I was a volunteer, I built my own switch box. No pics any longer unfortunately.
It was a plastic project box from radio shack. Had 4 switches plus one master switch. The master was one of those red safety toggle switches. Wired them all up myself. All the way to the right side was a volume control knob I had wired to my scanner speaker.
Mounted the box to one of those long metal arms that bolted to the seat post. Worked well for a number of years.
 
I have some other questions about switch box builds.

On some where the image is showing the backside of the box, some boxes do not have an enclosed back and one can see the switches. If say it's a 5-gang or greater compiled switch box, in those images I see that there are wire jumpers attaching each switch together.

This may sound like a dumb question, but since I'm not familiar with building any such box or the switch pin-outs - is that what is called a "series" wiring? I'm assuming those short jumpers switch to switch are the (+) and (-) tying all together? Then I'm assuming 1 main power lead and 1 main ground come into the box? If there is 1 main power and 1 main ground, where do those leads get connected, just to a single switch on one end?

Again, I'm new to this equipment restoration aspect and learning as I go, by reading on here and asking questions, so please bear with me... LOL
 
That's not series wiring, but rather parallel wiring.

hdIbine.jpg

Source: t3.ftcdn.net
 
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That's not series wiring, but rather parallel wiring.

hdIbine.jpg

Source: t3.ftcdn.net


Thanks for the info/education shues!

Definitely helps as I'm learning all this and by no means proficient with the wiring of the switch boxes.
 
This may sound like a dumb question, but since I'm not familiar with building any such box or the switch pin-outs - is that what is called a "series" wiring? I'm assuming those short jumpers switch to switch are the (+) and (-) tying all together? Then I'm assuming 1 main power lead and 1 main ground come into the box? If there is 1 main power and 1 main ground, where do those leads get connected, just to a single switch on one end?
A common term for series linking with a jumper to the next is Daisy chaining. It's ok to do for small loads but not higher outputs. Very common for the switch illumination ground or low current light activation where the bar has a separate power wire. On higher loads, I recommend having the power wire come in to a main distribution point, then to the individual switches from there.

Never bad idea to ask questions if you are unsure about something, simple or complex. We all had to learn what we know sometime. Most things have more then one answer so the different experiences are great too.
 
A common term for series linking with a jumper to the next is Daisy chaining. It's ok to do for small loads but not higher outputs. Very common for the switch illumination ground or low current light activation where the bar has a separate power wire. On higher loads, I recommend having the power wire come in to a main distribution point, then to the individual switches from there.

Never bad idea to ask questions if you are unsure about something, simple or complex. We all had to learn what we know sometime. Most things have more then one answer so the different experiences are great too.

@Jennifer Rose Towing

Thanks for the additional info!

Yep, asking as I go. This is an awesome site, so many nice folks and the help is great. I also search before asking questions so I'm not asking something that may have already been covered before in the past.

I've been looking for a 6-gang Federal Signal full size rocker box (from the 80's-90's), but so far no luck finding one. So I thought well if I can't find it, then maybe I could build one and make a replica.

I'm patient with looking for what I need, but sometimes due to age of these items, may have to take a different approach... LOL
 
@Jennifer Rose Towing

Thanks for the additional info!

Yep, asking as I go. This is an awesome site, so many nice folks and the help is great. I also search before asking questions so I'm not asking something that may have already been covered before in the past.

I've been looking for a 6-gang Federal Signal full size rocker box (from the 80's-90's), but so far no luck finding one. So I thought well if I can't find it, then maybe I could build one and make a replica.

I'm patient with looking for what I need, but sometimes due to age of these items, may have to take a different approach... LOL
TXDPSCJ, you can actually find some Federal Signal rocker box on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. I've seen some before on there.

-Andrew
 
So I have a question about the full size rocker switches when building a vehicle switch box.

I’ve seen the Carling rocker switches that will have “12 Volt” and “18 volt” imprinted on the side of the case, like this one:
IMG_5030.jpeg

But my question is, can this type of Carling rocker switch seen below also be used in a vehicle switch box application, even though they are this type (ie: don’t have “volts” imprinted):
IMG_5029.jpeg

or are those “VAC” Carling switches only to be used for other equipment and not switch boxes?

Both rocker switches are exactly the same size, with similar spades on them, just only difference being the part numbers (function) and the white imprinted descriptions on side.

Any help is appreciated.
 
VAC indicates Volts, Alternating Current. This means that the incandescent, or possibly neon, lamp in the rocker, if so equipped, cannot be illuminated when using the switch in a 12 volt system.
 
VAC indicates Volts, Alternating Current. This means that the incandescent, or possibly neon, lamp in the rocker, if so equipped, cannot be illuminated when using the switch in a 12 volt system.
Hi Shues,

Thanks for the reply.

So essentially all vehicle rocker switches must have “12 volts” or “18 volts” on the sides in order to work properly (so illumination of the rocker works too). Is that correct?
 
If you want your switchbox to have rocker switches with one, or two, lamps that illuminate whenever those rocker switch are actuated, then you will need to select rocker switches matching the electrical system of the application.

In the case of modern automobiles, this is a 12 volt direct current system. Autos from the mid-1950s and before would have a 6 volt direct current system. Some heavy trucks, especially older trucks or those used by the military, may have a 24 volt direct current system. Many battery powered forklifts use either a 36 volt direct current system or a 48 volt direct current sysyem. Locomotives generally use a 74 volt direct current system.

The pictured rocker switch is meant for 125 volts alrernating current or 250 volts alternatint current, but will hapily switch 12 volts direct current. However, the lamp or lamps if contains, if any, cannot be illuminated.
 

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