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Hot Rods Making a 37 Chevy dash insert

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by David Gersic, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    It’s too dang cold out to work in the garage right now, so this is mostly in the planning stages right now. Something to wish I was doing. Maybe it’ll warm up enough to get out there.

    Right now, there’s a ball milled billet aluminum dash insert in there. That’s functional, but I prefer the look of an engine turned insert. I could buy one from Haneline, but what fun is that? I’d rather make my own.

    There’s plenty of sample videos on YouTube. It seems straightforward enough. A bit of care taken with measurements, I can do that. Abrasive brush, cratex sticks, other abrasives I can experiment with.

    The opening is about 4”x11.5” or so. I happen to have a piece of stainless steel that is 12”x24”. So the price is right.

    The steel is .06” thick. Is that thick enough? It seems pretty stiff, and I can’t see it going anywhere once it’s bolted in place. There are four bolts on the back side of the dash.

    I’ve only seen stock inserts in pictures. It looks like it originally poked through the dash, standing out from it maybe 1/8” or so. What I have now is, from what I recall, mounted behind the dash. The dash edges are rolled and painted, so I think a flat panel should work.

    I’ll add pictures later.



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  2. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 7,622

    mgtstumpy
    Member

    I fabbed up an aluminum 35 Master style insert and added it to my 35 Standard after I welded up the OEM holes. The panel is twice as thick as your SS however the gauges hold it in place nicely. An engine turned SS panel would look nice. :D
    F0_2363_p.jpg
     
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  3. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

  4. lumpy 63
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
    Posts: 978

    lumpy 63
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here is the one I made for my 37' sorry for the crappy picture. I was driving to the California Hot Rod Reunion. I made mine out of 1/4" thick aluminum plate. Using the original bezel as a pattern. I milled a 1/4" reveal around the outside so it would register in the dash and then polished it. But I think engine turning would look much better. 904.jpeg
     
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  5. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 7,622

    mgtstumpy
    Member

    Correct, no studs as gauges sandwich insert to dash facia. Been there for 15+yrs now
     
  6. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    It’s 35F and snowing, but I got the insert out of the dash and brought it in to do some measuring and thinking.

    [​IMG]

    The gauge layout bugs me. The speedo is ok, but the other four are blocked by the steering wheel. Thinking I can flip the layout and they should be easier to see.

    The lip clearance to the mounting studs I’ll have to make up

    [​IMG]

    Thinking maybe just a piece of steel bent 90* and a hole drilled in it may work.

    I can make a couple at least with the piece I have

    [​IMG]

    Cardboard is cheaper and easier to cut, so starting there

    [​IMG]

    also playing with where to put the turn signal and high beam lights. The little ones here are also blocked by the steering wheel, and are kinda plain and boring. Thinking some nice jeweled lamp holders may help with both problems.

    If .06” isn’t stiff enough, I could double it up, or add some regular steel behind it. Panel adhesive to laminate them maybe.

    Oh, and the gauge mounting hardware is long gone, since it wasn’t needed with the billet insert. Going to have to figure out something there.



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  7. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,157

    GearheadsQCE
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    David,

    I'm going through the same thing on my '37 right now. I realize that you said you didn't have any of the original cluster parts, but this is what I'm doing.

    I took the cluster apart and kept the mounting flange, cut out the center leaving about 3/8" lip. I made the insert from Masonite and glued it in with RTV. Then cut out the holes for the gauges and indicator lights.this leaves the gauges tunneled about 3/4".

    I think this would look real nice with your gauges in an engine turned plate, especially because they mount from the back.

    IMG_2019.JPG IMG_2020.JPG

    Also Tried it with the original chrome surround. I like the bling, but it does overlap the gauge bezels a bit.

    IMG_2017.JPG IMG_2018.JPG
    The chrome trim fits inside the opening, I don't have a picture of it installed in the car with the bezel as I took the cluster back out to add a couple more lights and pre-wire it.

    IMG_2013.JPG IMG_2014.JPG IMG_2015.JPG IMG_2016.JPG
    Mock up pics in the car. Lighting wasn't too good but you can get the idea,
    Bruce
     
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  8. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Thanks, Bruce. Yours looks nice. I think I’m going to try to get the plate up to the back edge of the dash. Then figure out how to attach it.

    How is visibility on the three gauge setup like that? I’d like to have a tach, but then I’d have to give up the other four individual gauges.


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  9. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Looking for jeweled lamps, found these guitar amp pilot lights.

    [​IMG]

    I’ll have to swap the 6V bulbs for 12V, but I think they’ll look good.



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  10. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 5,533

    Bandit Billy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I hope those are 11 watt bulbs. :rolleyes:
     
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  11. 1pickup
    Joined: Feb 20, 2011
    Posts: 836

    1pickup
    Member

    If you could live with the layout, why not just mill the face down so it's flat. That would get rid of the "street rod" look. Then polish it. Then maybe you could do the engine turning on the polished face of the aluminum.
     
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  12. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

  13. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,157

    GearheadsQCE
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I can't tell you how the visibility is yet. I have no seat or steering column/wheel installed. I'm not 100% settled on the arrangement yet. That's why I used the Masonite. There isn't a lot of room to shift stuff around but I can raise or lower the center gauge and rearrange the indicator lamps.

    Here is a link to the lights I used. Non-traditional LED, but simple.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/12V-Metal-...e=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2648

    They come directly from C%*&A but cost less than $1.00 ea. I couldn't find the jeweled lights in the variety of colors or small size that I was wanting.


    Idiot lights.jpg
     
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  14. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    I looked at those, or some very close. Nice looking little lights. With the three gauge setup, you don’t have a lot of room left. With five, I have some empty space to fill.

    I don’t think a tiny jeweled light would have the same effect. No room for the facets.



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  15. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,194

    continentaljohn
    Member

    David , the .060 should be just fine the Stewart warner gauge panels are .048 . In your engine turning I recommend the crater stick rod. The abrasive rod dowel rod with lapping compound works good for a bit but will be inconsistent thru out a large panel with wear on the edges.
    If you need to break a edge or mill something let m know I have a small machine shop ..
    How do you plan on doing the gauge holes?
     
  16. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Thanks. I want to see the pattern the cratex stick makes. I have a 3/8” here. Might be too small?

    I also want to try a Nyalox abrasive brush like this one

    [​IMG]

    pulled in tight with some heatshrink to keep it from spreading. Should make a bigger swirl pattern, maybe too big.

    Planning for gauge holes right now is hole saw and die grinder. Rough cut undersized with the saw, then grind to final fit. A mill would make that a lot easier I suspect.



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  17. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

  18. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,157

    GearheadsQCE
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Just in case anyone is interested in the lights I showed above, I found out that they are not LED. Doesn't matter to me, but kinda threw me when they all lit up when I tried the turn signals. I didn't have the ground wire hooked up and back fed through all the indicators. Kinda exciting for a bit until I figured it out.:D
     
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  19. Lot of good ideas from some very talented people here.

    This is in my 38 Chevy. It was made in 1962 or 62 by Norm Christophersen
    Dash.JPG
     
  20. Ford blue blood
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 584

    Ford blue blood
    Member

    While building my Ranchero I was frustrated trying to find small lights for turn and high beam. Discovered while doing a little six pack engineering that 1/2" conduit will hold a stock 57 Ford dash light socket nice and tight. Used LED bulbs in the gauges and the indicators. Pretty happy with the results.
     

    Attached Files:

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  21. Canuck
    Joined: Jan 4, 2002
    Posts: 1,003

    Canuck
    Member

    Just for more ideas, this is the dash I used in my 30 A coupe, 34 Chevy Master. The insert was milled out of .25" alum, rounded on the front edge and stepped on the rear to sit into the dash and match the glove box. Drilled on the back and tapped for studs to go into original mounting tabs on the dash. Would have liked to recess the gauges slightly but lacked tools to do what I wanted. Milling was done with a router. Ran out of room for the tach so made up a panel under the dash with a raised edge and a lip around the edge.
    IMG_0009.JPG
    The turn signal and high beam indicator light used in the center of the dash might be of interest to you. Wanted a jewelled appearance so used Lucas lights oroginally used on English cars and motorcycles up to the 60's. Available from suppliers of antique bike parts in various colours. One thing that is nice about them is they are closed in at the back and don't spray light behind the dash. Bulbs are available as well.
    image440.JPG
    Canuck
     
  22. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    I stuck cardboard prototype #1 in the dash.

    [​IMG]

    So far, so good.

    Also stuck the old insert’s backing plate in.

    [​IMG]

    To check for clearance:

    [​IMG]

    It looks like I need to pick up 3/8” from where this sits.

    [​IMG]

    Overall, I like the reversed gauge positions, they’re visible now without peering around the steering wheel. The lower turn signal indicator positions look like they’ll work better as well. Playing around with where to put the high beam indicator still, but I think up and right of the speedometer will work.




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  23. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Cardboard is cheap. Prototype #2, now with mounting tabs that are, I hope, the right depth.

    [​IMG]



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  24. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 1,836

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    Damn near same as did on my 37 Chebbie . I engine turned mine , and I made a glove box door and panel at the lower dash for switchs . It’s all about the look , all engine turned and 49 or 50 Mercury knobs I can’t remember which . Good luck your doing great work .
     
  25. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Glove box door is next. It’s got a radio stuck through it right now.

    Got any pics of your 37?



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  26. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,157

    GearheadsQCE
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    David,
    Much better than the old one. Good eye for balance. Keep your eyes peeled for a scrapper original just for the backer plate. I still think it would be cool recessed with the engine turned stainless.
     
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  27. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Felt pretty crappy yesterday after pulling an all nighter at work. Fit prototype #2 in the car, though, and found the mounting tabs to be too long.

    [​IMG]

    So drew up #3

    [​IMG]

    With an 1/8” shorter tabs. Seems better. Maybe now a little too short? The cardboard isn’t stiff enough to be sure.

    [​IMG]

    I’ll round off the corners on the tabs once I’m sure of the mounting holes.

    [​IMG]

    I like this layout. Everything is now visible without the wheel getting in the way. Having lost the room from the gauge bezels being sunken, though, I need to move the four 2” ones in from the edges an 1/8” or so.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Probably going to need one more cardboard prototype for placing the holes once I get the indicator lamps.

    Next up is figuring out how to jig this on my drill press to turn it. The tabs / feet are kinda in the way for the way engine turning is usually done. I’m thinking make the first bend, mount it on some scrap wood, turn it, then make the second bend. I thinks that’ll work.




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  28. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Recessed would be cool. I can imagine what I’d need to do, but lack the tools and experience to pull it off.



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  29. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 1,952

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    Today’s progress. Started by drawing it out with Sharpies.

    [​IMG]

    Used a scratch awl for better lines, but can’t see that in the pics.

    Then out to the garage. Rough cut out with my grinder.

    [​IMG]

    Then finish cut on my little bandsaw.

    [​IMG]



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