OK, I've been home for a whole month (I travel a lot for work), and I've made some progress on mods and upgrades. The first three I'll share are:
I added an Ultragauge engine monitor. It's mounted on the upper-right of the main console. Sorry, no pictures of this one. I haven't done much with it yet. So far I only have one screen enabled with speed, instant MPG, Average MPG, and distance to empty. If anyone has a good set of gauges for the E350 please post!
2 & 3.
I made new driver and passenger-side consoles and upgraded the front speakers. Here are the results.
The tops are solid cherry (the real thing) with a hand-rubbed oil finish. They will darken pretty quickly to that beautiful burgundy-brown that stain (and paper-covered pine) can't come close to!
I built a CNC-router a couple of years ago and used it to make a new switch bezel to replace the original black plastic unit. I painted the tray on the driver's-side with gloss black Valspar plastic formula spray paint to better match the rest of the plastic bits.
Both units are about 4 inches taller than the originals making them much easier to reach. On the driver's side I swapped the location of the switch panel and cup holder. I reach for the cup holder a lot more often than I do the switches. On the passenger side I lengthened the whole unit a bit and added a second cup holder. DW wanted someplace to put a bottle of soda in addition to the cup of ice.
The speakers are Pioneer TS-A6995R 5-way 6x9s from Amazon. I replaced the 110 outlet in the passenger-side unit with one that contains 2 USB charge ports. With two iPhones, two iPads, helmet communicators, and multiple cameras we can use all the charger space we can get!
Construction is pretty simple. The originals are really cheap 1/2" softwood plywood, stapled together, and covered with foam-backed vinyl. The new boxes are 1/2" Baltic Birch ply, glued and screwed together. Baltic Birch is a solid-ply (no voids) hardwood plywood. It's much stronger and more stable than normal ply, but a bit heavier. It's stiffer too which should make the speakers sound a bit better.
I found a perfect match for the vinyl at a local upholstery shop, but they didn't have it foam-backed. No problem though they did have 1/8" closed-cell foam. I attached it with 3M 90 hi-strength adhesive and trimmed it all 'round. More adhesive attached the vinyl which was then wrapped around the back and stapled down.
You can see the difference between the new and the originals. The whole project cost about $150. DW and I are really pleased with the result. They look great, are much easier to reach, and the new speakers are a marked improvement over the original Sony's.
Next up is a replacement for the front table. We generally use it instead of the large table in front of the couch. I glued up a cherry panel while making the console tops. It needs trimmed, edge-routed, and the finish applied. It should look great and is half the weight of the original Formica/particle-board tables. I'll post pictures when it's done.