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#725196 - June 30th 2017 1:14 pm Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge  
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 164
mattmansrus Offline
member
mattmansrus  Offline
member

Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 164
Portland, OR
I've always had problems with the gauges in my van, and I've been putting bandaids on for as long as I remember. First an Aux oil pressure gauge, then an aux temp gauge. The speedometer rarely worked and after replacing the cable a couple times (broke one, burnt the other on exhaust, and got one that was a little too short so the tight radius caused problems) the gauge quit.
I've been taking the van on a lot of trips over the past year and I'd been using a GPS speedometer on my phone and a barely accurate fuel gauge on the van and I just got tired of it. I decided it was time to just replace everything and restore my confidence while taking trips.


Here are the stock gauges before I began. I've always liked the two large round units, and wanted to keep it that way.
[Linked Image]

It turns out Autometer makes a couple of gauges that match the original setup pretty well with a good backlight

[Linked Image]

A couple gripes about Autometer: They sell a 'bundle' with the speedo and 4x gauge along with all of the senders, but only with one fuel gauge resistance range, and not the type my van takes. I called them and begged that they swap out the 4x gauge for the same price and they refused. Buying separately ended up costing an extra $50 + the $100 for the VSS sender that replaces the speedometer cable. The bundle also came with a new generic fuel sender that I wouldn't have used anyway. $150 wasted.

I pulled the existing board off of the back of the gauge bezel and removed the old gauges, then drilled out some spots in the back to allow the mounting studs and new wires to fit through and painted the whole thing with some semi gloss black rattle can paint I had laying around (after rough sanding and cleaning the whole thing. Plastic doesn't take paint well if you don't prep it)

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

Since the indicator lights were built into the board that I removed I had to make up some new ones. I simply took some 12V incandescent lights I got at a Radio Shack clearance sale and mounted them to a piece of ABS plastic, then glued that to the end of the 'light tubes' that were already there. There is absolutely a better (time consuming) way to do this, but I was trying to be quick and get the project done, not win any build awards. They work great, the signals show up very well in daylight and at night.

[Linked Image]

For assembly I cut down the provided brackets, mounted the new gauges, then replaced the factory trim ring around each to fill the space and keep the stock look a little bit. There is a little bit of an air gap around them since the bezel isn't perfectly round, but I anticipated that and painted the inside black, and it doesn't show day or night.

[Linked Image]

Once installed they look amazing. Good clean look, crisp and readable, and not an in your face aftermarket upgrade.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

The backlight isn't dimmable, but you can essentially turn off the backlight if you wire it to the stock dimmer wire, then turn the dimmer down on the light switch. It's not too bright at all at night. I was having a hard time capturing a crisp picture. The domed glass causes focus issues on my phone.

[Linked Image]

The things I didn't document with pictures were the sender upgrades and the wiring.
I installed a VSS (Vehicle Speed Signal) sender on the transmission where the speedometer would normally thread in. This uses the output from the transmission and converts it into a pulsed electrical signal that most aftermarket gauges use. Much more reliable.
The 4x gauge came with a cool oil pressure sender that doesn't require you to run an oil line up to the back, but I haven't been able to get the existing brass fitting out of the block to replace it. 2 days of PB blaster and still no movement.
I opted for the speedo/tach combo because I want to be able to set my idle, and keep an eye on RPM while I'm on the freeway. This required a wire connection to the ignition coil, super simple.
I used my shop manual to identify the stock wires and tested them with a digital multimeter (better safe than sorry), then ran new (fused) switched ignition, ground, VSS, tach, temp, and oil pressure wires.

My only gripe about the gauges is the odometer is set about a quarter inch behind the gauge surface and it makes it hard to read from a downward angle.

I have my old gauges if anyone wants them. The board has a solid state voltage regulator set for 5V I soldiered onto the traces. Not sure about the condition on most of these. I know fuel and ammeter worked. Never used the oil or temp gauges.

[Linked Image]

Speedo and circuit board not pictured, but I can get some later if needed.



76 Tradesman 200
#725208 - June 30th 2017 3:35 pm Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 11,277
Reed Offline
Maniac
Reed  Offline
Maniac

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 11,277
Fircrest, WA
Nice work! Looks good. Are you going to stay with the white backlighting or go for a color? Green?


Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!
#725209 - June 30th 2017 4:18 pm Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 164
mattmansrus Offline
member
mattmansrus  Offline
member

Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 164
Portland, OR
I hadn't considered changing the color. These units come sealed up pretty tight and I don't want to mess around voiding the warranty. These aren't cheap. I was going to look into programming the odometer, maybe I'll look into backlight colors and see if it's possible.



76 Tradesman 200
#725322 - July 03rd 2017 10:58 pm Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 34
DadsVan Offline
newbie
DadsVan  Offline
newbie

Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 34
Fl
very nice job....looks like it growed there from the get go....

#725326 - July 04th 2017 2:14 am Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 360
crazyvanman Offline
enthusiast
crazyvanman  Offline
enthusiast

Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 360
Edmonton Alberta Canada
looks pretty good !


[Linked Image]
#725343 - July 04th 2017 5:44 pm Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 105
Greenstreak Offline
member
Greenstreak  Offline
member

Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 105
Warrington, Pa
Nicely done! Updated without looking aftermarket.

#725345 - July 04th 2017 6:53 pm Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 12,994
lukester Online content
lukester  Online Content


Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 12,994
Lake City Florida, United Stat...
Looks great.


[Linked Image]

Arianrhod:2003 Chevy Astro
Black Magic: 1985 Dodge B-250
Serenity:1985 Chevy G-20
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#725403 - July 05th 2017 11:50 pm Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 662
RavshngOne Offline
addict
RavshngOne  Offline
addict

Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 662
Southern New Jersey
Well done. Can you set the odometer to your van's mileage, or do the Autometer gauges have to start at zero?


[Linked Image]
Chris (The Ravishing One)
1977 Dodge B200 Shorty V8-360 4.10 rear w/OD A518 tranny
1993 Dodge B250 Hi-Top V8-318
1994 Dodge B250 Lo-Top V8-318 (RIP 1998-2013)
#725411 - July 06th 2017 10:54 am Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 197
Hasan Ben Sobar Offline
member
Hasan Ben Sobar  Offline
member

Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 197
Tucson,Az.
Engaging....


Tucson-it's a dry heat...like an oven
#725516 - July 09th 2017 6:19 pm Re: Installing 5" Autometer gauges into my mid Dodge [Re: mattmansrus]  
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 4,338
Ram4ever Offline
Ram4ever  Offline



Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 4,338
Dundee, Michigan
That looks amazing! Thanks for sharing the details and the great pictorial with us. The sheer "wow" factor and the reliability improvements were totally worthwhile. Consider it a sound investment from your research and development budget. smile


Getting rid of all of those incandescent light bulbs has the great benefit of freeing up additional Amperes of current which will help charge your battery faster. It might have cost quite a bit in initial outlay, but your battery and wallet will both thank you going forward!


If you care to pursue it, if the back lights power is separate from the gauges and sending units, you may be able to install an inexpensive generic PWM DC motor speed controller from Amazon or eBay to allow normal dimming of your LED back lights. It would be no more complex to install than the solid state regulator you had retrofitted.


-It's been such a LONG TIME... BlueShift>> 1981 Dodge Ram B250 Custom Sportsman Maxi Van


[Linked Image]

It's what you learn after you know it all, that counts...

Are you living to work, or working to live?

[Linked Image]

Learning from my own mistakes is good, learning from yours would be much better! [Linked Image]
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