Project 59 Instrument Cluster
As promised, here are some pics of the completed instrument cluster for the 59.
The original lower cluster made it impossible to use aftermarket analog gauges, and the Dakota Digital route was not the look that I wanted, so I set about fabricating a new lower cluster that at least kept the spirit of the original one.
In the first photo, you will see the wooden plug that I carved, smoothed and finished in order to pull a mold from it. In the second photo, you will see the mold that I made and a final part, which was cast, from the mold. The rest of the photos show the completed instrument cluster fully assembled with gauges in it.
I used Classic Instruments "American Classic" series of gauges with LED indicators for the turn signals and high beam indicator. I fabricated an aluminum back plate to mount the upper gauges on and finished the plate with a satin finish black urethane. You will notice that I took some liberties with the original design by making the steering column a pass-through design rather than the open bottom with a filler plate like the original. This will make for a clean finished look, and since I am using an Ididit column, it will not present a problem installing it. Corvettes through 57 used the same pass-through style on the steering column, but were discontinued due to problems installing and removing the steering box/column. I also did not replicate the twin bullet style on the small gauge mounting. I made some polished billet bezels that replicated the look, but was not happy with the final look, so I ditched them.
I have not drilled the mounting holes for the switches yet, and will not do so until the wiring goes in, but I will be using some real nice billet knobs from Ron Francis wiring on all the dash switches as well as the AC and heat controls.
I love the Classic Instruments gauges, and the pics do not do them justice!
The quality and craftsmanship are top notch. The added advantage of this lower cluster, is that it allows the steering hub and wheel move almost 2" closer to the dash allowing for more clearance. This coupled with the Ididit column and a 15" steering wheel and seats that sit almost 3" closer to the floor, should make for a car that is much easier for a big guy like me to get into!
Regards, John McGraw
your frabrication of that dash cluster is fantasic and I can see why you choose those gauges. They are beautiful and they do have a very classic look to them.
I'm now envious of your entire project car just from this instument cluster alone. of course I felt the same way when i saw the pics of the body after it's painting, and also when i saw the frame, and than when i saw the exhaust and motor.........
John you've got me with my jaw dropped to the table again. I can't even imagine trying to fab a cluster like that. It is incredible! The gauges are awesome. Could you please slow down a little though your making me look bad.
I dont know what to say
Build your own wood buck to mold a gauge panel.
Now that is really over the edge
Your gauge choice is absolutely perfect.BUT with all of the polishing you did on the bottom and with the gauges I would have thought you would have done a polished peice behind the speedo and tach.
Allthough when you think of the digital as being state of the art.They dont quite have an exciting look to them. You certainly made the correct choice with what you have chose.
LOOKS ABSOLUTELY GREAT
How many hours would you guestimate you have in that gauge package ?
Your car certainly will be one of a kind
Thanks for the compliments. I started out thinking that I would just modify the original lower cluster, but then I realized that I probably still could not get to were I needed to be with the original. You will notice thet the new lower cluster actually is notched at the top to provide a larger opening for the upper gauges.
Actually, the mounting plate for the large gauges WAS polished to a mirror finish until night before last! The polished finish detracted from the look of the gauges, and I decided to go black. The billet bezels that I milled out to go under the small gauges that replicated the double bullet shape of the original cluster was the same, too much shiny stuf competed with the gauges for your attention, so I had to pitch them. I wish now that I had moulded the bullet detail into the glass when I built the cluster, since the flat surface is not as pleasing to the eye as the original style, but you live an learn......
I am guessing that I have over 25 hours of labor in the fabrication of this cluster.
Regards, John McGraw
You never cease to amaze, John, and to echo Larry's comment...WOW.
Most of us are happy if we can make what the General produced look half-decent. You create where we're only try to recreate. I salute you. Wow.
John, remarkable work. You ought to save the mold, and go into the aftermarket business. I'd be a buyer for that console, especially with the pass through design that is clean and puts the wheel 2 inches further away.
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