Junkyard Boombox Virus Spreads: Meet The Catbox, Featuring Genuine Lucas Electrics!

Illustration for article titled Junkyard Boombox Virus Spreads: Meet The Catbox, Featuring Genuine Lucas Electrics!

More than two years have passed since I built the car-battery-powered Turbo II, Junkard Boogaloo boombox, and finally some other masochist innovator has decided to experience the headaches joy of a homemade boombox afflicted blessed with genuine Jaguar components: Catbox!

Junkyard Boombox Virus Spreads: Meet The Catbox, Featuring Genuine Lucas Electrics!

The creator of the Catbox, Brian, had his corporate overlords force him to take a bunch of time off from the salt mine last month, so his thoughts- already somewhat scrambled due to the long-term effects of Triumph Stag ownership- started wandering in the direction of a junkyard boombox packed with plenty of British electrical goodness.

Junkyard Boombox Virus Spreads: Meet The Catbox, Featuring Genuine Lucas Electrics!

The result? A junkyard boombox with several orders of magnitude higher build quality and level of fabrication skill than my crude 92-pound monstrosity (note the neatly arranged wiring and connector blocks, in stark contrast to my scavenged-wire-and-solder techniques), yet still equally haunted by the specter of the Prince Of Darkness and thus just as subject to maddening electrical glitches. Who cares that every one of those Jaguar marker lights will fail within several months? This thing has Stromberg carburetor tops forming the carrying handle! Here's a video of the Catbox in action:


And now we'll let Brian describe his accomplishment. As you can see, the bar for junkyard boomboxes has now been raised much higher!

Well, a Triumph Stag with a Buick engine tends to be annoyingly reliable, while Mustangs and International Harvesters tend to be inherently so. This leaves a "car guy" with tools, time, and boredom. Rather than use this pent-up energy to chew garden hoses and destroy lawn furniture (like our Labrador would), I decided that the next best thing to do would be to plagiarize your Junkyard Boogaloo, Turbo II project. Admittedly, I traded a certain purity of junkyard ethos for a modicum of practicality; what, with the Sony IPod-ready, remote-controlled stereo and 6x9 speakers (Bought on Craigslist at least and not retail.) Still, I figured that this sin can be overlooked in light of the cosmic balance created by using no less than 8 (eight!) English Lucas marker lights, seven of which needed painstakingly rebuilt. (Yes, you warned us and I did not listen.)
The remainder of it was sourced from:
2 Malaise-era Jaguar XJS's: (Marker lights, ashtray, side handles, side vents, gauges, Zenith Stromberg Carburetor tops, badge emblem, cigar lighters)2 Volvos: (Two oblong "Hella"-brand red lights, switches)
1 Mercedes: (Hirschman power antenna, hazard light switch)
1 Isuzu Trooper: (Three relays)
3 Ford Trucks: (Three turn signal flashers)
1 Saab: (Two quarter panel amber lights)
1 Chrysler 5th Avenue: (Digital Clock)
It's powered by a 12 Amp transformer when docked, and a motorcycle battery when portability is needed. Three relays are wired in to keep the two circuits apart as necessary or they can be switched together to charge the battery. The Jaguar-sourced Smiths voltage gauge keeps accurate track of the battery condition, while the other three gauges are wired through a ten-turn potentiometer acting as a rheostat for infinite adjustability depending upon mood.
Here's the rundown on the switches from left to right:
1.) Activates the battery powered secondary power circuit when the transformer is not plugged in.
2.) Adds the battery circuit to the main (transformer powered) circuit so the battery can charge.
3.) Activates the power antenna
4.) Activates the three flasher circuits for the light show
5.) Two position switch: Position one turns on all of the gauges and lights the LCD clock to "bright daytime" setting. Position two adds lighting to the gauges, and dims the LCD clock display and stereo lighting to a less-bright "nightime" setting.

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You mean these things have a name? I built one last year from a leftover Honda car stereo and lawn mower battery. It's about as crude as the original, but it has a kind of steampunk quality to it, with nicely stained and varnished finish plywood, burlap front panel, and brass handles. I was listening to it just this afternoon while barbecuing some pork chops.