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OK, here's the deal. I've got a 99 Mercury Sable w/ Digital Climate controls. I NEED an aftermarket stereo. I've already done the cd changer thing, and its not enough. I'm thinking my best bet is buying the rotary controls/radio part off of another car and installing it where the digital used to be. How difficult will it be to get the rotary and digital controls to interface? Is there anyone who has done this before? If switching to rotary isnt possible, would it be possible to take the climate controls apart from the radio controls and fabricate my own oval faceplate? How much are the two parts integrated? Thanks for any help you can give me. Its very difficult to find info on this topic. Most of what I've found is people just saying its not worth the effort... but thats not the answer I'm looking for.
 

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Pretty bad situation, pal ;) All of us with Digital know the pains.

You're probably not going to be able to retrofit an analog AC in there; the systems are so radically different, it would be hell getting it to work. Fabricating a new oval would be fun, I guess, but there's a less elegant but easier way...

One of the methods some have chosen have been the following:

Put an aftermarket HU into the armwrest, and just bypass the stock system entirely. This is theft safe, but, as Twilight told me, quite unsafe for changing on the freeway and the such (and, I imagine it gets annoying, as well, to open the damn thing whenever you want to change the channel.)

The second method has been to cut the dash where the ash tray is and fabricate a hole that would fit an aftermarket HU. Simple enough, I know of two people off the top of my head with this (Twilight and mcgilles did this). Here's a picture of mcgilles's setup, used without his permission from his superford page :)

linked
 

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I looked into every concievable option right after upgrading to my SHO, I thought of moving the climate controls and using an oval conversion kit (cut out the rotary climate controls and put gauges in there, use the digital controls somewhere else!), or some kind of conversion. its going to be nearly impossible. the manual system uses vacuum hoses to do the controls, the digital one is all electrical, you will be doing major upgrades to swap it out. not really worth it. I started with the armrest idea, didn't like it much at all. yes, its a pain to get to, or to work with, and more noticible, 99% of the head units out there are not designed for use vertically, they work, but the CD player skips with every jump. so I came up with the idea while I was not paying attention in calc class. as far as I know I was the first one that ever did it, but some other's have done so since then. if you want more pics of the setup (note that these pics are very out of date now!) here's my write up on the procedure I followed:
aftermarket in dash CD player, gen III

I expanded the idea with filling in the area below it with a custom built switch panel, the page with many pictures of that process and the final look of my car's stereo it also has some additional pictures of the basic head unit install on there, some shots from behind that are not part of the first page. check it out here:
Stereo Swtich panel
I put all kinds of controls on there, from my McCord power plate switch, to interior light switches, and even mounted the bass boost remote control for my Rockfod amp behind it, hiding all but the knob. there is one additional finishing touch that is not in those pictures, is that the metal plate that came with that bass boost remote was slightly modified and is now in its rightful place labeling that boost knob.

some others that did this also made slight variations to it, the_spy_guy did a very nice install moving the head unit a bit lower, so that cutting into the leather piece of the dash is not necessary, and it gives a bit more room in front of it. his install was for a head unit only, where as mine also included the crossover unit. I did mine the way I did because with that first CD player I had in there I could load and eject a CD with the gear shifter still in park, it was high enough it could eject over top of it. my new Alpine deck has a sliding face, so I have to shift to get the CD out or in, but id doesn't bother me for a second, its a CD-RW, mp3 unit, and I have a 6 disc RW, mp3 shuttle, so I have only changed the CD in the head unit literally less than 10 times or so in the last year that I have had it, when you can fit a few hundred songs on one CD , and put 6 of them in a changer, you really don't have to! even if you change it a lot, shifting into N gives you plenty of room. in addition it is impossible to get the head unit out without shifting the gears, so it makes any potential theives job that much more difficult.

if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me, my address should be in my buttons or its on the main page of my web page. I'd be glad to help out however I can or provide you with additional pics if you can't see them well. since I put that web page up I have gotten many e-mails from people that love the idea and want to try themselves, I'll help in any way you can.
 

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if you search the forums, there any many topics covering this.

YES its doable
NO it has not been done before
NO you can not take the climate controls apart as there intigrated into the radio

If your willing to come to NY and willing to buy rhe parts, id be glad to help with the conversion. Otherwise id reccomend putting the radio under the stock one.

Below this post there is a button for my homepage. Click it and go to the "entertainment system" folder. there are pics of my install there.

Goodluck and search around....you will recieve many answers!

Brad

PS. Welcome to the club!!!
 

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I was going to do the switch from the manual to the digital because my other Taurus had the digital climate controls and I really liked it.

I posted and the_spy_guy replied and basically told me what he told you. I was willing to spend the money and everything, it's just that it's a lot of work and I didn't want to mess something up. Hey, I can get parts out...but I can't really get stuff working on my own car...it seemed like a lot of work.

I would say just live with it. :p
 
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