Archive for January, 2010

Gauge Cluster Work

January 17th, 2010 No comments

I’m posting some pics of my new floor pans.  It is really nice not fearing my feet falling through the floor :)

I had originally wanted to finish the floor of the interior with bedliner and leave it at that.  But my first winter with the truck has convinced me otherwise.  Also, I don’t think it would look quite right with the replacement floor pans.  So my new plan is to fill the few holes that are left (just small holes in the caulk where the floor pans were replaced) to make sure no water gets in, then spray in the bedliner, then put in a die-cut heat and noise reduction pad and then a carpet kit.  The carpet and noise reduction kit will be a little over $200 from LMC, which is a bargain if you ask me.

Gauge work is coming along.  My master plan with the gauges has ballooned a bit, but it is certainly doable.  And a pretty good focus for cold-weather projects.  Currently, the gauges work as follows:  there are four ~ 2″ (nonworking) gauges on the left.  Those were clock, temp, volts, and oil pressure.  In fairness, the voltmeter works still.  but it is the only one.  On the right are two ~5″ gauges.  They are the speedo and fuel.  (You know what is ridiculous?  A 5″ fuel gauge.  Waste of space.)

The truck came with some aftermarket gauges as well mounted to the dash.  A 2″ tach and a gauge cluster of mechanical oil pressure, temp, and volts.   This cluster type also came in arrangements where the fuel was in one of the small gauge slots.  So I figured “Hey, GM probably used the same gauge for them both with just a different face, right?”  So the plan was: migrate the fuel gauge from the large slot into the small one, then migrate the aftermarket tach innards behind the face where the fuel used to be and migrate the aftermarket gauge cluster innards into the small slots.  Then I’ll design new gauge faces and have them printed on adhesive backed vinyl by PostNet.  And of course replace all the lighting with LED lighting while I’m in there.

Well, that is a lot of work, so I’m not done yet.  So far I have moved the fuel behind the face where the clock used to be.  I’ve also designed some new faces in Illustrator (printing out mockups on transparency paper to test them out and line things up just right).  I haven’t really tested out the fuel gauge yet.  I’ll have to rewire it into its new location and mess around with the needle to get it pointed right.  (That, or I’ll break it trying)

I won’t really be able to use the original aftermarket cluster as it turns out, because the needles sweep in the wrong direction.  But SunPro makes another similar set that will work too.  They’re just $25.

I’m going to start illumination experiments tomorrow.  I’ll be wiring in a whole new set of LED illumination.

I noticed something funny when I was testing out all the traces on the back of the cluster (in case I accidentally screw something up).  Now I preface this with “I am not an electrical engineer, and I’m not used to working on circuits that have incandescent bulbs in them.”  I was doing some tests on the pins in the pigtail that goes into the cluster when I noticed that all but two of the pins had continuity with the chassis.  This was weird to me – because I knew for a fact that two of the pins went to the high-beam indicator light.  That meant both pins were grounded out somehow!  After checking with my bud Dan and posting on the forums, I discovered that the signal was backtracking through other bulbs and systems in the truck (they’re bulbs – not diodes!  Duh…).  So mystery solved – but it made for some confused moments from yours truly.

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Dash Crystal Repair

January 6th, 2010 No comments

The truck is back home!  New floor pans and rockers have been welded in place – so my foot is no longer in danger of going through the floor.  And that is nice.  It makes me realize how much work I have to on the doors.  They are pretty beat up – and one of them is gnarly enough along the bottom that it is in danger of doing some rubbing on the rocker.  In fact some of the new primer is already warn off.  New door shells may be in my future.

But now that I have it back, I want to get cracking.  I’m tackling instrument panel stuff because I can do some of that indoors – and it is wicked cold right now.  I’ve decided I’m just going to muscle the instruments I want into place.  But before I do that, I have to do something about this nasty crystal – it is mostly scratches.  I tried to polish it out – but it is actually old enough that the plastic has started to yellow.

First problem – a vast majority of the tabs on it are broken off, which is pretty common on these trucks.  I looked around, but it looks like most people are just replacing them.  I don’t particularly want to spend any dough on it.  And I already have some thin Lexan.  and some brass sheet.

Each tab has a hole for a mounting screw in it.  The failure usually results in part of the plastic surrounding the hole to break away, leaving a partial hole which is pretty useless.  But it is enough to act as an anchor point!  So I cut out some appropriately shaped brass reinforcements, carved out some Lexan bits to make up for the missing plastic that had long ago fallen away, scuffed up all the bits with sand paper for better adhesion, and put it all together with 2ton epoxy.    The finished product is remarkably strong.  Certainly stronger than the original plastic.

Next up:  replacing the old nasty bits of foggy plastic with new crystal clear Lexan!

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