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Old 01-06-2009, 03:18 PM
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Help with custom gauge cluster 87 caprice

I have an 87 caprice. The dash only has an 85mph speedo with a fuel level gauge. Im swapping in a t-56 transmission so I need a tach. What I want to do is pull out the gauge pod/cluster unit and make some sort of sheetmetal? gauge panel and cut out some holes to put in an aftermarket speedo,tach, fuel and a few other gauges so I can keep an eye on all the vitals. My vehicle is no longer computer controlled so I dont need all the dummy lights it has. Any suggestions on how to get started and if I should use sheet metal or something else. I will have to add my own lights for turn signals and hi beams so I know when they are on. If sheetmetal is preferred would it be wise to rubber mount it to keep vibrations down?

Thanks and I hope I didnt confuse anyone.

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Old 01-06-2009, 03:50 PM
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How I would go about something like that is to pull out the old dash panel and then make myself a template of the area to be filled out of thin plywood like 1/8 inch plywood..It may take several stabs at it to get something pleasing in appearance..figure out just where you are going to attach the new panel and fix some brackets or you may be able to drill some screw holes to fasten the new panel..layout the gauges and lites and then cut the holes in the ply..when all this is satisfactory then take a piece of aluminum at least 0.060 and engine turn it and then cut and drill the holes in the aluminum..assemble the gauges to the new panel and install it..I try and find some socket head cap screws or nice stainless or chrome torx screws about a #8 to fasten the panel..looks kinda high tech and hotroddy when done..

If you like you can do a fiberglass dash panel as well..just depends on your fabrication skills and what you like..
I have tried most all of it and now do what is known to work..
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Old 01-07-2009, 07:44 AM
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I like Sam's suggestion, but I would make the pattern out of chipboard (easier to modify and tweak) and back up the aluminum with plastic like sheet nylon, UHMW polyethylene, or UHMW polypropylene. The plastic will fabricate very easily with woodworking tools. This will give you a very stable surface and a solid base for the gauges.

No one lives forever, the trick is creating something that will.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:41 AM
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You guys are on the right track. Make the part out of something stiff, like aluminum, then find a screenprinting place that can laser cut. They can screen a new cluster face and laser cut it to fit exactly. Thats what we do all thetime. Most custom gauge shops can handle this. The artwork is the big cost.

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Old 01-11-2009, 08:59 PM
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Plastic is cool!

Tomorrow I am mounting the dash that I modified. In my '74 Chevy, all of the gauges are pooled together on the left side & looks funky and outdated.

I grabbed another plastic dash and hacked up the two sets and made my own that gives me what I am looking for... all of the gauges marching along the top of the dash, left to right.

Since I don't have A/C in my truck, two of the gauges fit there np, I don't have a working OEM radio, so I built a little cubby hole for junk & stuff.

A shot of gray wrinkly-coat paint & itis looking pretty sharp. Low bucks project.
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