Junk yard radio is good enough

Posted on 2015-07-18 16:55

One thing I need in a vehicle is a working radio. It doesn't have to be flashy, or even have bluetooth or a touch screen - I just need it to be able to tune in AM and FM radio and have a clock in it. The Van of Doom didn't have a radio. It was supposed to have had a radio, but when I went to pick it up (at a used car lot that sells these kinds of used workhorse vans) the radio had gone missing. Probably it had found its way into another van on the guy's lot for some reason and by the time I was there and wheeling and dealing I just couldn't be bothered with that detail. I'd been looking for about 2 months and various vans had slipped through my fingers for one reason or another, and this one was just what I was looking for... minus the stereo. I had some funny idea that I would put one of those amazing new touchscreen models in there, maybe with a backup camera since the Van of Doom is very large and ponderous to back up. But when I finally made it to an audio shop to price it out it looked like I wasn't getting anything installed for less than about $600 and $850 if I wanted that backup camera. Theres no way I was going to drop that kind of coin into this old hunk - its just for hauling stuff around! So I headed over to the local junkyard.

The junkyard had some stock radios for my van (or so they said), but when I got one home and hooked it up on the bench I couldn't get it to turn on at all and a quick internet search suggested it was out of a much older vehicle and not even the same model. I was pretty dejected and almost gave up, but got the gumption to go back there and see if I could get a working one. The guys were really cool about it and it turned out they had a case full of after-market radios for pretty cheap which had been tested (unlike the stock radio they just yanked out of some car on the premises) and so I took one of those as an even swap. I ended up with a JVC KD-R320 which had an AUX port (unlike the stock radio) and can be bluetooth if I get the adapter for it some day.

JVCI knew I'd need a trim kit of some kind, and whoever had taken the radio out of the Van of Doom had just cut the wires and didn't even leave me the stock connector so I couldn't even get a wiring harness adapter to make life easier - I'd have to manually splice all the wires. It took a while to figure out which wires were which and how they were supposed to mate up to the JVC because... Ford. Once that was all figured out, Best Buy had a radio installation trim kit which worked - mostly, but of course some little tabs didn't fit exactly right and so its not a perfect install - I'm gonna end up with some fun tack holding on one corner of a trim bezel but I don't really care - all four speakers work! I ended up going the lame route and just crimping the wires instead of soldering, but they're pretty good crimps and I just wanted it DONE.

Now the fun part - figuring out how to use the thing!