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Topic: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges? (Read 572 times) previous topic - next topic

83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

I was curious if anyone has gone down the path of a complete aftermarket gauge install on the 83-84 cars as I have only seen a couple.

deathbypsi used what looks to be an ABS plate attached to the trim ring around the instrument cluster (one with the AC vent) and used some angled adapters on the speedo and tach and it looks like this:




1WLD BRD also did one and his plate appear to be behind the trim ring around the cluster and looks like this:



Has anyone else done this on an 83 or 84 car?  If so can you throw me the link to the thread or if no thread post some pics?  I am starting on one for my 83 and have a good idea on how its going to happen but I am not opposed to "borrowing" someone else's way of doing it to save myself any mistakes.  I am taking pictures and making notes so when I get done or as progress happens I will start a thread on how I do mine in case anyone else wants to do this the way I end up doing it or just borrow ideas.

1WLD BRD found out that you have to put a keyed 12V+ to the green/red stripe wire in the instrument cluster wires to get the alternator to charge so I have made note of that.

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #1
Don't know how much it will help but there are a few photos on this page:

https://www.coolcats.net/modifying/#interior

Click the 'Custom Gauges' tab. The photos were from pro-street cars that pretty much eliminated the vents but it does give some cool ideas nonetheless.

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #2
I knew I saw one more somewhere and for the life of me could not remember.  Thanks for the reminder.  I really like the pro street one but I am not loosing my AC here in Oklahoma.  I think I am leaning towards something like what 1WLD BRD did on his dash.  I already have three gauges (fuel pressure, water temp, and oil pressure) over in the passenger side dash panel with some PVC pipe angle mounts I made on the table saw.

Angle brackets drying after paint:


Mounted in the passenger dash trim:




View from driver seat (tach and shift light are no longer there):


So what I have left is the speedo, tach, volt, and fuel level which will be installed in the instrument cluster.  I also have a billet tbird emblem that I had made and I am working on figuring out how to put the turn signals in the wings and the high beam in the body of it.

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #3
So here are the shots of the factory instrument cluster stripped down to just the housing.

Front:


Back:


Top:


Bottom:


Left End:


Right End:

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #4
This is the black trim piece that goes in between the instrument housing and the dash trim.  There is also a clear lens that goes on the front of the black trim piece but I am not going to use that.



These are pictures of the black trim piece with the stripped instrument housing:

Front:


Top:


Bottom:


Left End:


Right End:

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #5
Pictures of the instrument housing with the middle cut out of it.

Front:


Back:


Left End:


Right End:

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #6
My idea here is to use a flat piece of 18 ga. steel that will be cut to fit the front of the instrument housing.  The steel flat piece will be notched such that it will allow the black trim piece to fit the tab on the left and right side of the instrument housing as well as the nipple on the bottom of the housing and the factory screws will secure all three pieces together.  Will use hole saws to make the openings in the steel piece for the gauges.  Once its all fit up then I will take it back apart and paint the steel piece.

The steel piece is the reason I am leaving the plastic lens out of the arrangement as they are about the same thickness.  That is its not necessary with the Autometer gauges.  I guess putting this off for over five years is paying off as I looked at this multiple times and just was not sure how to go about it.  I literally was just looking at the two pieces from the side and that is when the plate idea hit me and then I saw how 1WLD BRD did his and liked the result.

Sounds easy enough so I am sure there will be issues...

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #7
Well after digging around I literally found that Autometer has the angled rings for the 2-1/16" gauges here:

https://www.autometer.com/2-1-16-angle-rings-pack-of-3.html

and angled rings for the 2-5/8" gauges here:

https://www.autometer.com/2-5-8-angle-rings-pack-of-3.html

Mine just cost me time as I had the PVC pipe and paint but these would have been easier.

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #8
I am pretty sure this has been covered but I wanted to bring this up in case anyone else goes down this road.  It is not that you do not want to use an LED for the battery indicator light in the dash you just have to understand its function to use an LED.

It is my understanding (will defer to anyone else that has a better explanation) that our cars have an incandescent light bulb (paralleled by a resistor in the printed circuit board) for the battery indicator lamp.  The bulb is inline between the ignition switch and the regulator for the alternator.  As long as the voltage from the battery is lower than what the alternator is putting out the battery indicator light will illuminate.  Once the alternator is generating more voltage than the battery then the light will go out.  This makes sense being the light comes on when the ignition is switched to on and the engine is not running the battery indicator light illuminates.  When the engine is running and the alternator is making more voltage (typically higher than 12.7 volts) than the battery is putting out the light goes out.

The reason for the resistor installed parallel to the battery indicator lamp is in case the lamp fails the resistor will keep the alternator charging and not leave you stranded.  So if your lamp is burned out and the car is not charging don't forget about the resistor if you have exhausted the usual suspects (bad alternator or blown fusible links) and before you start chasing a wiring issue.

The reason for the incandescent light is the resistance of the bulb (2 watts or 160 mA at 12V) is needed to trigger the transistor (which I believer are in the voltage regulator and take about 60 mA to trigger) into conducting which then results in the alternator producing a voltage higher than the battery which turns the battery illumination light out.  Prior to the transistor triggering the alternator to charge it sinks current through the lamp and gives a path to ground hence the lamp illuminating.   That took me some time to digest and googling some terms to I could wrap my brain around that.

So basically the incandescent light is needed to trigger the alternator to start charging and then when the voltage out of the alternator is higher than the static battery voltage the transistor is no longer sinking the lamp to ground and the light goes out.

The use of an LED by itself (resistance is 20-30 mA) for the battery indicator will not generate enough resistance to create the needed amperage to get the alternator to charge.  You can make it work with a diode wired in series but upstream of the LED and a resistor wired in parallel with the LED.  The way I understand it is the diode is there to keep the battery from going dead by back feeding to a ground.  I think it would have to sit a loooong time but its possible.

I found this wiring diagram that shows how to go about wiring what I have described above:



I am going to use an LED and wire it just like this and with the same values on the diode and resistor.  Hopefully this works as I am using LED's on the turn signals and hi beam indicators.  Again, if I have misspoke or provided false information please correct me as this is not my area of expertise by any means.   I am pretty good at 12V stuff (alarm and car audio back ground) but by no means an expert.

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #9
I hope that works...on paper it looks correct.

Had to do something similar on my '86 when I put the aftermarket gauges in. I was all excited to finally have them calibrated and working that I forgot about hooking up the wires for the old warning light. Funny how I remembered so clearly when I was 45 minutes from home and had to be flat-bedded back on the tow truck due to a dead battery from the alternator not charging. D'oh!

Anyway, all I did was just connect the wires with no resistor. There have been zero ill effects form that, and the alternator charges perfectly. FWIW.

Your setup looks awesome BTW. Can't wait to see the final product.

 

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #10
That looks like a lot of work, just to have a LED bulb in that one position! LOL

I would incandescant that sucker all day long.
Mike

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #11
I like the work you're doing. Thanks for the info on the LED warning light set-up.

I've thought about gauges for my car, but I also kind of like the stock look. Just wish there was more info. I hate A-pillar gauges, also.

I've also pondered if it was possible to make a digital dash that mimicked the stock look, but had important info included.
Long live the 4-eyes!  - '83 Tbird Turbo

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #12
So it was more me wanting all of the indicator light assemblies to be the same and they do not make an incandescent one.  These are Taiss units off Amazon that I will be using:



Ordered the diode and resistor but had to get five each so guess I have extras.

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #13
That makes total sense then.  It will look really nice!
Mike

Re: 83-84 Instrument Cluster - Anyone Installed Aftermarket Gauges?

Reply #14
I am going to work on the 18 ga flat piece this weekend and if all goes well will have the gauges mocked up and if I like it I will drill the holes for the indicator lights and get it painted.

83 351W TKO'd T-Bird on the bottle


93 331 Mustang Coupe - 368 rwhp