Finishing the Dash

Over the last month I have finished the custom dash. It might seem that I've not done much this month but there was a LOT of work involved, especially since I also finished all the wiring for the dash as well.

Here is a quick picture of the finished dash.

As you can see, it's RED! Well Chrysler Red that is. If you're wondering specifically what color that is, its Chrysler Small Block Red engine paint. Yes, I said engine paint! Specifically Duplicolor rattle can engine enamel.

Now, before you go off on a tangent, let me explain. I'm on a budget and I'm also not building a show car here, so that was factored into my decision. I knew I wanted a red interior to go with the bright white exterior color and I looked high and low for an economical paint that was just the right color. However I didn't want to spend $100 just to paint the dash. This rattle can engine enamel just fit the bill.... but its not quite that simple.

I treated this paint the same as if it was a high quality single stage sprayed from one of my quality guns. That is to say that once dried, the paint was color sanded starting at 1000 then 1500 and finally 2000 grit. Then it was buffed. The result is a smooth as glass finish that can't be distinguished from a $100 quart of quality single stage. The cost however was under $20 and it can withstand grease, oil, sun and heat. For rattle can paint this stuff is nice!

OK, enough about the paint. The gauges I used came from Summit Racing. They had a sale on a set of 5 AutoMeter gauges which worked out perfectly since a matching Tachometer was also available. The only glitch was that this kit came with a GM style fuel gauge/with sender, and I've already installed my tank which has a brand new Mopar sending unit installed. The solution was to pick up a matching Mopar fuel gauge from AutoMeter and just put the GM unit and sender up on E-bay. Here's a shot of the gauges installed.

From left to right we have the fuel gauge, Tach, Speedometer, water temp, oil pressure and finally Volts. The speedometer is a mechanical unit and will work perfectly with my stock speedometer cable. The water temp and oil pressure gauges are also mechanical. I like the accuracy of mechanical gauges for water and temp. They also seem to be more reliable, at least in my experience anyway. Above the gauges are the green right and left indicator lights and the bright light indicator in the center which is blue.

To the left of the gauges is the radio, and center AC vents. The radio isn't an expensive unit but will serve its purpose. Because this car will not be exactly "quiet" the radio probably won't get used all that often anyway. The good news is that it is USB capable which will allow me to play my "50's" music.

On the right side is the re-sized glove box door. The chrome strip that runs above the door is a stock piece that I decided to keep. It just adds a little extra class to the finished dash.

OK, so much for the front. If you haven't ever re-wired a car before you probably don't have a grasp on exactly how much wire there really is behind a dash. Trust me, there's a LOT of wires back there. You have the light wiring for the gauges, sending unit wiring, gauge power wiring, wiper wiring, ignition switch wiring, and light switch wiring just to name a few. Here's an idea of what some of that wiring looks like.

Although it may look very complicated, and it is, its not all that hard to do. The trick is to be neat, and do one circuit at a time and after a couple weeks, you'll have it all handled.

A quick word here about wiring. When it comes to old cars, I NEVER use the old wiring. This car is 53 years old and there is no way I'm going to trust all my money and hard work to wires that are old, brittle and may or may not be up to the task. Enough said...

Here's a shot of the back of the radio. The metal strip is a support I made and I used it to mount the two relays for the AC unit. Makes them easy to get to if they ever need to be replaced. The rest of the AC controls are to the right. There are still some connections to be made there but these wires come from the AC unit itself and will simply plug into the back of the controls.

So, here you have it. A finished dash ready to go into the car. However a lot has to happen before it goes in. More on that next month plus some other changes that are in store.

That's about it for this month.....check back next month for another update...

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