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Instrument Panel Modification


Alfadog

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For those of us doing a GT-R replica, it can be tiring (and expensive!) to find all the little bits that make up the differences. We have to draw a line somewhere...

The cover on the instrument panel in our cars is woodgrain, but the GT-R had a brushed aluminium one (and the same for the centre console). One of the easiest ways to replicate the "look" without spending a bucketload is to get some silver/chrome spray paint and give it a lick. Good enough for some.

Just recently Peter (440K) came over to pick up the parts car I had, and invited another guy who has recently been inspired - Sasha. We were talking and he mentioned that he was told that underneath our woodgrain is actually the same brushed aluminium as the GT-R's had!! Stay with me now... stranger things have happened. Seeing as I have a couple of the old woodgrain ones spare, I decided to give it a shot.

Warm water didn't seem to get the faux woodgrain off, nor did a knife. It was stuck on tight and didn't look like it was going to budge. So I impetuously got out the old rusty PAINT STRIPPER can. If this didn't do the job, nothing would.

Left the paint stripper on all over the woodgrain for a good couple of hours to let it do its magic. Sure enough, with the help of a little more warm water (careful now not to make it too hot, as I warped the panel doing this), it peeled right off to reveal a nice looking metal finish (ref picture 1*). A bit of gooey residue but nothing Big Kev couldn't remove with his Goo Remover™.

Now, as I expected the finish isn't exactly right... It is metal yes, but not brushed aluminium. I don't know if there are any places that could replicate that finish... but would be very interested to hear if anyone knows. Anyway, the metal does look similar and could pass (ref picture 2). If you get out the metal polish and give it a bit of a go it will come up like chrome (ref picture 3). Horses for courses, up to you. What was disappointing however was the strange horizontal lines on each side of the holes (ref picture 4). Not sure what they are, perhaps something to do with the manufacturing process?

Anyway, thought I would share this information as I hope it will be useful to some. If anyone could shed some light on whether there is such a place that could "brush" the metal, I'm sure a lot of people here would really appreciate it.

So thanks Sasha for sharing this story, and the mystery 240K man who discovered it!!

* I made the pictures quite large (~200KB) to maximise detail. Sorry to those with 56k!

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Interesting.

I guess you could take it somewhere to have it given the brushed metal treatment. You'ld have to clear coat it to stop it corroding/tarnishng, since its not aluminium. Maybe you could try brushing it yourself with a wire brush wheel.

You could paint it with silver paint.

Or you could use it as a template and have some place cut you a new one out of aluminium.

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that brings me to something that i have been meaning to ask...

has anyone got a spare dash fascia (including the plastic surround)? i don't need the guages etc. just the plastic surround and this front panel..

i need to start thinking about hacking mine up to fit all my autometer guages, but i don't want to kill my original one incase the aftermarket guages don't pass engineering (i hope they will!)

pm me if you do and are willing to post to syd.... please please please please please !!!! :D

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I've probably got a couple of them... and I know the parts car that Peter now has has one. So plenty to go around!

If I can find one you can have it for whatever it costs to post. Unless you can find one closer first I guess!

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has anyone got a spare dash fascia (including the plastic surround)? i don't need the guages etc. just the plastic surround and this front panel..

Which panel of the two variants do you need?

The later one has the brake system and parking brake warning lights in small rectangilar cutouts in the lower right corner but the earlier one doesn't have them. It has a single warning light for brakes in the tacho.

i need to start thinking about hacking mine up to fit all my autometer guages, but i don't want to kill my original one incase the aftermarket guages don't pass engineering (i hope they will!)

If you can fit the guages in behind the panel so that they are visible through the stock openings AND the guages have plastic lenses AND the guages have plastic cases AND the guages are metric then you have no problems.

If all those conditions are true then the conversion even complies with our ADR's.

Otherwise, if the guages are metric and you show the stock panel is metal faced then you have a good probability of it going through.

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The version with the warning lights would be nice as i would probably be trying to add a few warning lights to it myself.

The guages that i am using are autometer carbon series for speedo/tacho/boost/fuel and autoguage performance guages for oil pressure/temp/water temp (probably housed above the radio).

so they are all metric, with plastic housings and plastic lenses (i think), but seeing as the guages are slightly bigger, i will need to enlarge some holes and build a better way of mounting them.

i was worried about speedo calibration issues and ADR's if the guages where aftermarket, but i guess hot rods, kit cars etc. would use them so they must be passed somehow?

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Kent,

You might have to rethink your guage choice - according to both Auto Meter and Rocket Industries (OZ distributor) the speedo is MPH and all others are imperial.

That could be wrong, but the latest data on both websites supports it.

Most speedos available aftermarket are electrical or electronic now so just get a suitable sender with it.

Even better if it is electronic, it will be programmable to match the car.

Worst case scenario of non-programmable speedo head and output from sender giving wrong readings can be easily fixed with a small kit from Jaycar.

Check which ADR's your car has specified on the plate then do some research on those.

Your car may happen to be required to meet the 'field of vision' rules and I would be very surprised if guages down over the radio would comply - a problem if you get an anal retentive type either inspecting it or later in a policeman.

As you intend fitting other warning lights I would suggest sorting out the lights first and use an early panel. That way you can match all the lights in appearance and put them where you want.

Have a look at

http://www.altronics.com.au/

http://www.arrow.com/

http://www.dse.com.au/cgi-bin/dse.storefront

http://au.farnell.com/jsp/home/homepage.jsp

http://www.futureelectronics.com/

http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/StoreCatalogDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId=-1

http://www1.jaycar.com.au/

http://www.mouser.com/

http://www.rockby.com.au/Myindex.cfm

http://www.rsaustralia.com/cgi-bin/bv/rswww/home.do?cacheID=auie&returningUser=N

go for optoelectronics and you will get all sorts of ideas!

Art C

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I forgot to include

Do a cut'n'paste job on a virtual panel to create your dream design including everything (guages, lights, the lot).

Colour print the final image, on more than one sheet if needed.

See what it looks like in the car.

Attach copies of the data on all components used together with images of the stock bare Datsun panel.

Talk to your inspection / engineering people about it first (they like to feel they are being consulted).

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wow!, i checked the US autometer website and your right! no more metric guages! that isn't very good :(, luckily i bought my guages (well most of them) a year ago.. so i already have it :D

I choose to go with the Carbon Fibre automoeter series because they were the best looking meter that came (then) in Metric, i ended up getting:

Autometer carbon fibre series

3 3/8" Speedometer in KM/H

3 3/8" Tachometer

2 1/16" digital Air / Fuel meter

2 1/16" short sweep boost guage

then, i was looking at getting an oil/water temp and oil pressure guages, but none of the autometer ones suited (all imperial), even a lot of the ones in Australia where imperial except for a few wich didn't really suite the look i was going for (VDO etc.), adn some that just looked like they wouldn't be reliable (autoguage). I ended up with:

Speco Thomas performance range (Black face, silver bezel)

http://www.speco.com.au/gauges_perf.html

235-20 2 5/8" 0-100psi electric oil pressure

235-15 2 5/8" 0-170c mech oil temperature

235-30 2 5/8" 40-120c electric water temperature

luckily i got most of the speco guages for insanely cheap prices off ebay (around $20 each!).

I was going to fit the speco guages down near the radio as they arn't often reffered to (so i didn't think it would be a problem down there?) The R32 and R33 GT-R's have torque spit, oil temperature and boost guages in a DIN space in the centre console, so i figured it would be okay.

The only guage i am still to get is a 2 1/16" carbon fibre fuel guage. I havn't tested to see what the resistance values are yet of the stock fuel sender, but i assume that i am going to have to either modify it, or use an autometer generic sender to match one that matches their guages (empty-full: 0-90ohm, 73-10ohm, 240-33ohm)

thanks for the web links, i will have to spend some time over the weekend and go through them all!

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With a little luck you can get away with the 0-90 ohm sender version.

I haven't yet checked the full range but a stock 240K system gives 1/2 full on the guage with 33 ohms between sender wire (yellow) and ground.

Using a 36 ohm gives a very slightly higher reading and I would be VERY surprised if the guage system is anything like linear.

Should have a tank out of a K soon so I'll check then and post it.

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Thanks Art, i read last night in the service manual that it was 33ohms in the middle, but i wasn't sure if that was linear either.

I would appreciate it if you could have a look for me, fingers crossed that it would certainly save messing around trying to mount the autometer float

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  • 3 months later...
  • 4 months later...

i finally got sick of my faux wood contact paper dash so am in the middle of peeling it off

very time consuming

i'm using a small, flathead screwdriver to cut through and lift up the faux wood, then i scrape up the excess adhesive and clean it off with goo remover

anyway, seeing the brushed aluminum dash kits on fleabay gave me the idea to search for the stuff in bulk sheets

here it is available online: alsacorp

just cut to fit, remove the backing and apply

similar stuff is said to be available at certain home improvement stores, so i'll check that out as well

either way, i'll post a reply when mine is done

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  • 2 months later...

i wonder if the faux-wood stuff can be simply steamed off? they make household steam cleaners. i imagine this is similar an operation to removing wall paper, so i would look into wall paper removing techniques as well. that is essentially what the wood stuff is.

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  • 11 months later...
With a little luck you can get away with the 0-90 ohm sender version.

I haven't yet checked the full range but a stock 240K system gives 1/2 full on the guage with 33 ohms between sender wire (yellow) and ground.

Using a 36 ohm gives a very slightly higher reading and I would be VERY surprised if the guage system is anything like linear.

Should have a tank out of a K soon so I'll check then and post it.

What ohms Fuel guage should I buy to match the original sender?

I've just had my tank cut and welded to fit in between the strut towers in the boot and have also purchased a nos fuel sender unit so I want to get it right. My original guage would only go to half way when full.

Cheers Andrew

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you need to have a look at your new sender and see what that specifies.

did you get any baffling put into the tank while it was apart?

i bought a 73 empty -10 full autometer 4715 carbon one (for ford/chrysler), i havn't tested it though to see how accurate it is.. i probably should but i havn't.. i can't remember why i didn't go with 0-90.. there must have been another post about it on here..

i guess i really should test that or maybe i have already, and completely forgotten about it.. i swear i have a 3kb brain!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I didn't get any baffels put in it, I seem to remember that it had baffels in it when I peered inside. I must have the same 3kb brain as you.

Have you tested your fuel sender yet? I couldn't find any relative info on the sender unit that would tell me what to get, guess I'll actually have to read the workshop manual.

I still haven't picked up my tank from the welders yet so can't check the baffels. will do shortly.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 1 year later...

Old thread! I did some work on this over the weekend and from what I can see the corrosion under the wood grain is a common thing. It appears that the stainless has been neutral anodized perhaps. I used gun wash to remove the wood grain, thinners would do the same. Soaking the part turns the wood grain into a balloon like rubber which just lifts off. There is not other way to remove this stuff, it's very durable and needs to be removed chemically.

Using 1500 Wet & Dry or 3M steel pad you can refinish the alloy. I'm thinking of making a mitre box and fixing the steel pad to the base the passing the metal piece through to keep the brushed finish uniform. I'll experiment of this piece and then do it again on another panel I have.

I'll probably get the piece neutral anodized again when it's done. I'll post some pics up in my build thread.

Edited by Adzmax
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  • 1 month later...

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