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Monday, May 19, 2008

How to make an OEM looking boost gauge.

People keep asking me about this.

People also keep asking me if my car is overheating. For the last time, MY CLUSTER IS BAD. It reads one tick too high consistently.

Anyway, I've had several people ask me how to make this. Surprisingly, nobody's asked me for a part number. Before I continue I have to give blackfnttruck credit for informing me how to perform this mod.

So here's the breakdown of how to make one of these.

Step 1: Get yourself a gauge.
I used a Revo Rev2 mechanical boost gauge with white LED backlighting. I bought it from here:

As you can see, it's <$40. The more expensive option is a Defi D-series; the Rev2 is a copy of the D-series. Unfortunately, the D-series is discontinued and therefore rare. Also, the D-series is typically found with amber backlighting, which can be converted to white but requires the extra step of removing the amber tint on the back of the gauge face to convert it to white.

However, the D-series is a higher quality gauge. The Rev2 is not bad especially for <$40, however it is not entirely smooth when in vac compared to other gauges. You could tell the
difference between the two.

Step 2: Get yourself an OEM cluster needle.
You're on your own for this one. You have to find a spare cluster and pull the coolant/fuel gauge needle off. The needles can be pulled using your bare hands.

Step 3: Paint the inside of the cluster needle.
The inside of the cluster needle is completely clear; the LED's in the cluster itself are what makes the needles light up in their characteristic red. The needles simply have an orange/red backing that allows them to be seen in daytime. However, when you light them up, this orange/red backing becomes a dull orange that doesn't match the stock gauges at all.

So we have to paint it. Mask off the entire needle except for the inside of the "button" section, where the light is going to be shining through. Paint this with some translucent red...I used some translucent Humbrol hobby paint I happened to have (used for taillights on model cars etc) and went around with a toothpick painting the inside of the needle. Give it ample drying time.

Step 4: Open the gauge.
I've never opened a Defi, but I'd imagine it's similar to the Revo. The Revo's face is held on by a sort of sheet aluminum ring which is crimped around the edge of the gauge. Use whatever you can to start getting under the crimp...a VERY small screwdriver usually works. Then just slowly pry around the crimp until the face comes loose. Don't rush this.

Step 5: Swap needles.
The Revo needle pulls right off. The OEM cluster needle has a slightly smaller orifice in it for mounting to the gauge; augment it slightly with a needle or something like that. If I recall, the cluster needle's mounting base is also too long and needs a tiny bit of trimming. Make sure the needle is at zero when you install it!

Step 6: Reassemble, install.
Self explanatory.

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