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74Argosy24MH 09-03-2003 01:25 PM

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I'd appreciate criticism on my thoughts, and also what others in the forum would include if they had carte blanche in designing an instrument panel
In the past I have always used analog gauges, VDO, SW or Datcon in a pretty standard arrangement. The only thing I really did was turn the pressure and temps so the needles were vertical while in the normal operating range. It looks funny but is easy to read at a glance.

This time I had carte blanche, everything was gone to the bare cowl and aluminum dash support. I don't like looking through the steering wheel at the instrument panel, some gauges are obscured and there is glare off the plastic.

After a lot of thought I decided to use Dakota Digital , speedo, tach, fuel, volts, oil pressure and temp, trans temp, water temp gauges. I am going to miss the at a glance vertical needles, but you can set high or or low points and if they reach these the display will flash. The tach also is an hour meter and I like that.

They will mount on top of the dash to the right angled towards the driver, not too far out of line of sight. I think the digital readout feature will probably be more of a problem than location, but the flashing feature should solve that problem if I don't monitor carefully. I have a tbi with an oil pressure cutoff switch on the pump and ignition power, and oil pressure is the one thing that is an instant killer. Temps usually rise slowly in comparison.

I am in the process of wiring now so haven't hooked these up to senders. But I have hooked up the lighting and they are bright, good for daytime but I think they will be too bright at night (there is a dimmer wire but there is not a lot of difference). I will probably end up with a piece of dark translucent plexiglass for a cover.


thenewkid64 09-03-2003 01:36 PM


You may want to check on the dimmer wires. I would bet the input is variable to allow for infinite levels of dimming. You may need to connect it to it's own reostat to make them work as you wish. The GM reostat changes the output voltage, some others increase the resistance to ground. Since you are using an LED dash I would bet you need a resistance to ground type of setup.

PeterH-Airstreamer 09-03-2003 01:53 PM

I split this thread from the "oil cooler lines".
Just to good of a topic to be buried under a different subject name.
Good work on your dash, John.

74Argosy24MH 09-03-2003 02:01 PM


I would bet the input is variable to allow for infinite levels of dimming.
The displays are fluorescent. I think they probably drop the voltage 50 or 100 volts when the headlight voltage is sensed, but if they dropped it much they would quit fluorescing, sort of bright or not quite as bright.
I have the same sort of thing going with my control panel, which the engraver has promised tomorrow:) :) :) I have a CCFT tube which I want to edge light it with, but think I may change to some superbright LEDs because the light intensity can varied. Tomorrow night I experiment!!


59toaster 09-03-2003 08:50 PM

That's very cool! I like knowing what's going on as well. I hate idiot lights. By the time they come on it's too late. They just let you know your already screwed.

My Burb has fairly full instruments. What it didn't have was a tach and temp gage for the Tranny. Those I added and I also came up with a extra sender that I run in the oil pan. Just a switch so I can choose what sender the gage is on.

With the FI I plan to run WinAldl on a lap top. Lap top will be able to real time monitor what the FI ECM is doing. The lap top will also be tied in to my GPS. Play DVD's to keep the kids entertained as well. :D

87MH 09-03-2003 08:51 PM

Peter: Thanks for the split.
I guess I'm too set in my ways for digital. I've accumulated a fair amount of analog VDO's that I intend to use. (Can't seem to shake some of the other fantasies from the 60's either, Bose speakers, Porsches, Airstreams, etc.....)

Right now, I plan to leave the existing coach guages installed as a backup to the new ones, and set the new temp and pressure sense points where they will do a lot of good (radiator temp in, out, tranny in and out, front and rear airbags, etc.)

What I do not have is a clear picture in my mind of just how I will mount them. I keep going back to the Bluebird Coach guage layout. After filling the cockpit, they proceeded to fill the front overhead area with information points.

Made a couple of trips to the local "Big Rig" junk yard and have garnered some aluminum mount panels and backing racks, but the overall arrangement thing just hasn't fallen into place yet.

Does anyone have suggestions for rigs other than the Bluebirds to use as go-bys?

DMAYRES 09-03-2003 11:00 PM


I'd like to add a tach to my very basic '87 Suburban. Any advice?

74Argosy24MH 09-04-2003 04:26 AM


Right now, I plan to leave the existing coach guages installed as a backup to the new ones
One problem will be where to mount the senders. A BB has only 1 oil pressure port and 1 port in each head and 1 or 2 in the intake for water temp. You can't really run the gauges in parallel off the senders, the factory ones are a close indication at best and will not necessarily be the same ohms as your replacement gauges.

Mounting is a personal preference, but I would duct tape or band tie these to the visor if you are considering an over head mount. I spent a lot of time with moving mine around, stock location, A pillar, overhead, all over the dash. It is a long way up when they are overhead and takes time to zero in on one or two gauges. You need clearance for the visor (or to relocate it) and that pushes them further back.


59toaster 09-04-2003 07:52 AM


Originally posted by DMAYRES

I'd like to add a tach to my very basic '87 Suburban. Any advice?

Yeah it's a peice of cake. I'm using a $40 Sun pro from Autozone. The great thing about 78 up though about 91 Burbs is the fuse box has tons of spare terminals to plug into.
I mounted my gage down under the dash where it makes the transition curve to the center. THe gage will have instuctions with it and you can use male spades and plug right into the fuse box. It's all marked and there is even spare terminals for the dash lamps so it will dim with the resto f the gages.

Pop the air cleaner off. The coil should be right behind the throttle body. On one of the wires there is a unused pig tail taped down. That's the one that needs to be connected to the tech. Use a male spade and plug the trigger wire for the tach in there.

Took me about an hour to install everything. If you install in the same location, Just watch around the peddles. There is a pannel dirrectly under the steering colum that is held in with 7 screws. If you take the pannel off you can route the wires over the duct work and awaw from the peddle a little eaiser.

A easy way to get a wire under the hood is just below the fuse box up against the kick pannel is a rubber plug that holds the carpet up. If you look under the hood below the wiper motor that plug will be sticking through. Cut the tip off with some wire cutters and you can send the tach lead right through and it will act as a gromit. Then route it up through the wire guide over the master cyl and it will drop down right over the intake and stay out of trouble.

DMAYRES 09-04-2003 12:08 PM

Thanks. Should be a fun Saturday afternoon project.

74Argosy24MH 09-05-2003 02:25 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Got the panel from the engraver today, second attempt and still not right. This one is missing 3 holes and some of the engraving, but they keep trying.

It is a piece of Acrylite edge lit with a thin blue fluorescent tube similar to the ones used to light LCD screens. The wires laying across it are for the inverter, it is laying on a black garbage bag, this was just a trial with what they got so far.


thenewkid64 09-05-2003 03:40 PM


I could go on, but WOW!

PeterH-Airstreamer 09-05-2003 04:21 PM

Don't listen to Brett, John.
I hate to be the one having to break the news to you, but thats Awesome!

thenewkid64 09-05-2003 04:30 PM

More superlatives then!

Cool, groovy (pun intended),cool blue, narly, tricked out, oh, and I want one!

I was happy with the dash in my '78 til now. It's all your fault John! :(

Now for questions:

Is the acrylite backed by a color for daylight visibility?

How tall overall is the unit?

What is a ballpark cost on something like that from the engraving /materials side?

I am impressed!

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