Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1968 Mustang Gets An AutoMeter Custom Built Gauge Cluster

Who doesn't love the sweet glow of Autometer's large line of gauges. From classic to futuristic they've got you covered in ace's. My project mustang deserves no less then the best, so its no wonder I turned to AutoMeter to find some jewels to monitor our beast. The mustang factory dash contain three 2-5/8 gauges and two 5 inch gauges. Now you can buy aftermarket or factory pre-built gauge clusters, but where's the fun in that. Not to mention the price tag that come along with pre-built ranging from $1100+. AutoMeter offers a range of gauges that fit our needs, but I settled on the Cobalt line. the black face and LED blue at night is a great pairing. Now this project is not for the timid, but if you want to make your own here's how to do it.

First choose your gauges (make sure they have a 2 5/8 and a 5" size) I recommend using the 5" areas for tach and speedo and for the smaller I choose the essentials (water temp, oil pressure and fuel level). I can always add more gauges later on the a pillar or in a center console. Next if you have a good factory cluster you can skip this part. If not, like us you'll need to order a new cluster fascia, depending on your selection a basic one like ours runs about $30-40.

Next disassemble the cluster. All you need is the fascia and the metal backing plate. Everything else can go. Ours was pretty worn so we had to replace some of the blinker bulb lights and the plastic warning lights. With everything removed you can move to the next step, prepping the fascia. The fascia has factory tabs to line up the gauge glass and metal trim rings, these are no longer needed and have to be removed. I used a hacksaw to cut them off and a piece of 80 grit to sand and smooth the remainder.

Once fascia is finished. Place over the now empty metal housing. Using a sharpie I marked the gauge openings onto the housing, since our gauges are longer the the factory the back housing will need to be modified to fit. After marking the openings, take the fascia off. I used a 2-5/8 and 4-1/2 inch bi-metal whole saw to make easy work of drilling out perfect circles for our gauges.

Now the scary part. AutoMeter gauges come with nice trim rings that keep everything in place and accent the gauge nicely. Unfortunately that will not work for our setup, there is simply not enough room. So to fix the issue, they have to be cut off...... Scary right. Not so much, its a lot easier then you think it is. Using the same open end hack saw mentioned above, cut the back of the metal trim ring, then the top edge. once through (doesn't take much) I used a butter knife to lift and separate the trim ring from the gauge. Once apart you'll see the gauge is made up of of a few pieces. The gauge housing, the gauge, the glass and the now unneeded trim ring. Since we don't want pieces rattling or moving around during assembly, I used so electrical tape around the ridge of the gauge to hold everything in place while we fit in the housing.

With the hard and scary part over, now its all down hill. Simply place the gauges though the metal housing and reattach the fascia. Then slide the gauges forward fitting the flush in to the fascia. Using some self tapping screws and a couple washers, I secured the gauges into place. This way they can't rotate or slide while driving.

Lastly just follow the wiring diagrams supplied by AutoMeter and done, custom gauge cluster. For about $400 cheaper then a pre-built one and a nice piece to claim as your own.


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