Author Topic: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket  (Read 268 times)

angelo

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Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« on: October 12, 2021, 03:06:48 PM »
Hey Everyone,

I have been looking at the Dakota Digital gauges for a few years, with a plan to upgrade my gauges. This year I got the New Vintage Gauges which are new for our 2nd gens. I got them installed, look great but I'm not happy with a couple things about the setup and I would prefer to have the factory tach and speedometer at this point. One thing they did which is the primary reason I did not like the Dakota Digital gauges is they allow you to keep your original trim rings on your bezel, that way everything looks uniform with the cluster and you don't have gauges literally fastened to your dash bezel.

Trans Am factory gauge clusters (any cluster with a tach) puts oil pressure/water temp right in the middle of the main center cluster. This is great except both the factory oil pressure and water temp gauges are not very accurate. I noticed however the non tach clusters put the fuel gauge in the center. The factory fuel gauge works well, as does the tach, quartz clock and mechanical speedometers. It's just the oil and water gauges that are not accurate. I am aware you can calibrate the senders to fix this, but I rather have aftermarket high quality gauges for these 2 readings.

I have been doing some measurements and took a center cluster fuel gauge and see that it can mount within the location of the factory oil / water gauge, but it means you cannot use the light bulb sockets for the circuit board. I think I can deal with that and put an LED light in that location. More importantly the 2 wire connections for the fuel gauge power and reading wires cannot use the circuit board. I have a solution for this problem, remove the posts and use ring connectors with wires that do not touch the printed circuit board.

Now this leads to the next phase of my project, put autometer oil/water gauges where the fuel/volt meter goes. The New Vintage kit came with special plastic mounts to recess the gauges. For the oil/water gauge locations, they recessed in this pod gauge location with a few layers of plastic. I am now looking at building something similar out of plastic or metal or a little of both for autometer gauges.

It seems to make the 2 gauge pod out of plastic the perfect solution would be using a 3d printer. Has anyone used a 3d printer for printing gauge pods or similar, and how does one go about that?

My goals are to use the factory bezel without having gauges mounted directly to them, use the factory tach, fuel and speedometer in the center cluster, and use aftermarket oil and temp gauges in the 2 gauge pod on the right. I am aware I will be forgoing a volt meter, but I will have one with the USB port hidden in the glove box.

Thanks,
Angelo
81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

jonathonar89

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Gene-73

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2021, 08:21:21 PM »
I mounted my aftermarket VDO oil pressure and water temp gauges behind the bezel and used the factory trim rings. I used a small sheet of acrylic to hold the gauges and mounted it to the dash frame. I chose the VDO gauges because they have a minimal flat bezel that isn't noticeable once they are behind the dash bezel.

Here are a some photos. Unfortunately I don't have one of them mounted without the dash bezel in place.

« Last Edit: October 12, 2021, 08:22:53 PM by Gene-73 »
Gene


angelo

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2021, 06:32:42 AM »
Oh wow, I did not see the RTX line before, those look awesome. Very expensive though, an upgrade option for me in 2-3 years.

VDO gauges look awesome! I did measurements and I see the AutoMeter lip sticks out a good 3/8". I will checkout the VDO gauges, I like the needles and the font face on yours. A shallow lip will mean I can just use a hole saw, love it!

I got a little further with the fuel gauge in the center of a tach cluster, I am relocating the light socket so I can clear the printed circuit. Will get to that over the weekend. Otherwise should work.
81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

angelo

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2021, 06:34:08 AM »
I assume you painted the factory needles orange, what paint did you use?
81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2021, 06:34:08 AM »

ryeguy2006a

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2021, 06:48:27 AM »
Those look nice Gene. When I had my T/A, I used Speed Hut gauges but never thought about not having a volt gauge. That would have simplified my set up haha.

1976 Trans Am LS1, 6 speed, C5 Brakes, LS1 rear 12" brakes, and much more...SOLD
My Build: http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=24465.0

New project: 1968 Camaro LS6, T56, Speedtech, Hotchkis, DSE, Z51 13.4" front brakes, LS1 rear disks, etc.
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=74591.0

angelo

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2021, 10:13:14 AM »
Same! Volt meters on the cluster are useful but not the same as watching oil pressure, tach, engine temp or even speed. I am 1/2 tempted to put this in place of the cigarette lighter, but the other side of me doesn't want to do it as it will ruin the old school look of the dash. But this solves the volt meter: https://www.amazon.com/Charge-Charger-Socket-Waterproof-Voltmeter/dp/B08LTHS2G1/ I may hide mine in the glove box.
81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

Gene-73

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2021, 10:21:12 AM »
I assume you painted the factory needles orange, what paint did you use?

Correct, I did paint the OEM gauge needles on the speedo and fuel.
I used this paint I found on eBay - https://www.ebay.com/itm/360189793837
Gene


b_hill_86

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2021, 11:20:37 AM »
Same! Volt meters on the cluster are useful but not the same as watching oil pressure, tach, engine temp or even speed. I am 1/2 tempted to put this in place of the cigarette lighter, but the other side of me doesn't want to do it as it will ruin the old school look of the dash. But this solves the volt meter: https://www.amazon.com/Charge-Charger-Socket-Waterproof-Voltmeter/dp/B08LTHS2G1/ I may hide mine in the glove box.

I installed a similar one in my car. It did require modifying the bracket the lighter mounts to so I bought an extra to hack up and kept my original.
-Brian-

1977 Trans Am 400 4 speed

angelo

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2021, 11:24:25 AM »
Thanks! I see they also sell white needle paint. I wonder which is more difficult, to paint the VDO needles or the factory needles. I suspect factory would be easier.

Just confirming you got the following VDO gauges:
  • VDO Gauges Vision Series 350-1041 Oil Pressure
  • VDO Gauges Vision Series 350-1051 Water Temperature

Thanks!
81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

angelo

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2021, 11:29:59 AM »
b_hill_86, that fits in there perfectly!

I did a test fit of the fuel gauge with the tach, it looks like it should be there.



81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

Gene-73

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2021, 12:52:29 PM »
Thanks! I see they also sell white needle paint. I wonder which is more difficult, to paint the VDO needles or the factory needles. I suspect factory would be easier.

Just confirming you got the following VDO gauges:
  • VDO Gauges Vision Series 350-1041 Oil Pressure
  • VDO Gauges Vision Series 350-1051 Water Temperature

It's much easier to get to the face of the factory gauges, plus I prefer the red needles over the white.

I'm not sure if those are the same gauges as mine. I bought them early on in the restoration process and can't find the records for them. It's hard to tell from the photos but the bezels look like they might be a little different. There are another series, same number but without the "1" at the end that looks like it might be what I bought. Summit has the oil pressure like this but not the water temp as far as I can see. Plus there is a pretty significant cost difference and I probably would have gone for the less expensive ones. I would call the vendor to verify if the bezel is the same before purchasing.

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/vdo-3501041
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/vdo-350104
Gene


angelo

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2021, 03:16:53 PM »
I just figured out the differences with the part numbers. The first 3 digits is the type of gauge, 310 is temp I believe, the next three is the gauge. The optional 4th digit 1 means it includes the sender. If your gauge is mechanical them that is moot, if electrical you most likely bought the sender separately or with the kit and it ends with a 1.
81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

DynoLee

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2021, 04:40:34 PM »
What do you not like about the NVU tach & speedo?

I have them, and love them.  WAY more accurate than the factory speedo & tach that I had.  I have the voltage reading in the tach's OLED window.

angelo

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2021, 06:47:51 PM »
The speedometer will not read the signal from my t56 magnum, it will just randomly jump (sign wave). I did use a rostra cruise control signal generator on a drill and the NVU speedo works fine from that. I tried a Dakota digital splitter with the t56 and the NVU speedo will not read the square wave from it. I now have the speedo working with a gps sender but I'm not happy with that, it has a slight delay. The led display is accurate but the needle on the speedo seems a bit lazy, will bounce even though the led display will read 25 mph, the speedo needle will read 21-25 randomly. The factory cable speedo was linear, if I could run the cable a different way they wouldn't melt but the t56 dumps it right where the driver side downpipe runs, I have melted 2 speedo cables already. I have not found a 90 degree joint for speedos that would work, if there was one that would be the best solution.

Last week tach will randomly not work right, I haven't investigated too far yet but they require a resister inline so I suspect the tach is fragile. Also the tach side led menu will randomly flip through the screens, as if I am touching the button. I suspect there is some sort of short with the switch or maybe the bouncing during driving is causing it.

Jury is still out on the NVU gauges but I am in contingency mode as you can see. :)
81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2021, 06:47:51 PM »

NOT A TA

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2021, 08:50:21 PM »
Angelo just a thought you might look into. IIRC GM used some cruise control boxes that were right angle and mounted on the drivers inner fender.
John Paige
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firebirdparts

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2021, 09:16:43 PM »
You can get right angle speedometer adapters.  speedometercablesusa.com has them and recordtechnologies.com also.

I don't know how standardized the threads are, but I guess these companies would know.  They sell all kinds.
I want to be like Paul Kenny when I grow up
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1977 Y82 4-speed (red interior)
1978 Skybird 350
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DynoLee

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2021, 11:41:45 AM »
Give NVU a call.  I've had a set for 8 years.  A few years ago, I had a minor issue - they had me send ALL the gauges back.  I had custom faces made for that set.  They updated all the gauges for me for free, even though they were out of the warranty period.  Some of the best customer service I've ever had - talk to them.

angelo

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Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2021, 10:29:35 PM »
NVU  has been helpful so far. I think the VSS from the T56 is the first issue I am trying to sort. The problem is I also have a Jegs reverse lockout box which also reads the VSS. It's supposed to work with the VSS hooked up to a speedo. If I go back to the factory gauges, at least for now, I will use the Jegs speedhut speedometer driver, though now I am looking at speedometercablesusa.com has them and recordtechnologies.com. Thanks firebirdparts for the tip!

I think the tach issue will be solved when I add an MSD ignition box and use the "clean tach" wire from that to the tach, which will mean I don't have to have that resister inline to the NVU tach.
81' (78 WS6 clone) Trans Am, House of Kolor Jet Set Black, Pontiac 400 solid roller built by DCI Motorsports, FiTech EFI, Tremec Magnum 6 speed (T56), 3.73 rear gears, YearOne 17" snowflake wheels, Pro Touring F-body GT shocks/springs, hydroboost brake booster, factory 4 wheel disc brakes, Ram Air Restorations 2.5" manifolds with down pipes +Thrust transverse muffler dual exhaust with factory tips

Re: Gauge Cluster Solution - Hybrid factory gauges with aftermarket
« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2021, 10:29:35 PM »
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