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INT: Custom Gauge Cluster

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    INT: Custom Gauge Cluster

    It looks hard, but it's rather simple and easy. If you have any questions, I'm free to answer them. If you want me to do it for you, I can do that too. Please read and follow the instructions in the Calibration section before starting. It is neccessary to determine where your needles "live" before cutting them off.

    What this DIY shows:

    1. Key hints when putting indiglo behind the stock gauge face
    2. How to make your needles glow with UV

    The DIY:

    Ok, I started with this because I HATED the white faces of the indiglo gauges. So I started on figuring out how to put them behind the stock gauge face.

    Here's what you will need:
    1 master gauge cluster (the keeper)
    1 extra gauge cluster
    1 set of indiglo gauges
    1 Dremel tool
    1 fiberglass cutting wheel
    Course and fine sanding access. for Dremel

    Q: Why do I need an extra gauge cluster?

    A: To get behind the gauge face, we need to remove the plastic needle from it's metal pivoting core. On other vehicles, you could just pull the needles out of the gauge cluster and replace them; but from disecting the electromagnetic core of the cluster, it is impossible to remove the needles and replace them. When you remove the metal core of the needle, it displaces a rubber bead inside the housing and then renders the needle un-usable. This is why we have an extra gauge cluster, available at your local junkyard or maybe your garage.

    Q: What are the cluster differences?

    There are clusters made by NS and Denso. The design differs between the two. As of today, 25May04, the DIY only applies to the NS brand clusters (identifed by the brand on the lower portion of the gauge face). This will change when I get my new Denso gauge clusters (in the mail right now).

    First step:

    Pull the needles out of the master cluster. Take care in pulling straight up. This has two possible results. 1. the plastic needle face pulls off from its metal core 2. the whole metal bar comes straight out its housing

    This will cause you to end up with some plastic needles. Yank the plastic needles off their metal cores if they did not separate already. We only want to save the plastic needle faces from this process.

    Reference Photos:

    The metal bar here is the needle "core" or "pivotal point." This is what actually rotates. The plastic needle face sits on top of here, but you can't simply pull it off. Even it it pops off the metal, the force it took to pop it off has cause irreparable damage to the core.

    This is a photo of how the needle sits underneath the gauge face. The gauge face screws into the white blastic base, and the screws in the photo hold the assembly onto the cluster, and also provide the electriacl current to the needle assembly.
    Second step:

    Remove the gauge faces. There are two screws in the middle of the tach and speedometer. The gas/temp face is just glued down. Each face has light adhesive holding it down, but peels easily.

    Third step:

    This is when you use your Dremel on the indiglo faces. Use the course sandpaper to remove the paint, and the fine sandpaper to smooth it out for better illumination. Keep the sandpaper always moving. If you stop moving for any moment, it will melt the plastic. Keep the Dremel speed down also. You need only to remove paint where the light needs to cast out. For example, sanding the center is pointless and causes light to emit from around the screws. The end result is to create a large glowing surface that will sit behind the stock gauge face numbers.


    Next step. Take your dremel and cut the plastic needles off the extra cluster. The idea is to have the metal pivitol-bar in tact. This will be the core we use. Careful not to hit the gauge face with the dremel, you might want to use it later. Also, the needles have little metal weights, so don't be suprised when sparks start flying.

    Just cut enough of the plastic needle-face off so that it will slide through the hole in the gauge face. You can finish removing the rest of the plastic later when the face is separated from the needle core.

    This is what you are trying to accomplish:


    The idea here is to have the plastic needles from one cluster, and the acutal needle core and electromagnetic housing from the other cluster. If you gouge a little into the core, don't fret, as long as you don't cut it clean off.

    Glue the indiglo discs down, then the stock gauge face on top. Install the screws. That will finish the indiglo face job. Note, do not put the needles back on. That's very important.



    Now you have little metal bars sticking up where your needles once sat. How do you keep proper calibration when putting the needle face back on? I figured it out.

    1. Tachyometer

    Before disassembling, you need to determine where your needle likes to live. Take your finger and rotate it around to the point labeled in the picture. Knock the needle around a little bit. It should like to sit right above the "C" in "MAINTENANCE." This will be the calibration point for the tach. If it's different, write it down somewhere.

    2. Speedometer.

    Same exersize. Take your finger and rotate the needle around to about the L in "FUEL." If I remember correctly, if you play with the needle back and fourth in super light taps, it should like to rest right above that point. Remember where your needle likes to rest. Write it down somewhere.

    3. Gas Needle

    This one is relatively simple. Once you're done with the project, get a full tank of gas. Install the open gauge cluster and give the cluster needle time adjust to read FULL. Put the needle face on a tiny bit, and see if it's still moving up. This is a try and try again operation. Tap it around with your finger. If you pull the needle down a little bit, it should want to travel up to FULL, but if you push it up a tiny bit, it should want to move back down a little bit. If the needle is pinned against its limiter, then it could be wrong. It should be floating just before its limiter.

    4. Temp Needle

    This is the easiest. There's two ways to do it. You can turn your motor on, and immediately put the needle face on pointing at the L. Otherwise, if it's warm outside, just go drive around a little bit and put the needle face on where you know your engine temp should be reading.

    If you're wrong a little bit when you put the needle fac one, there's variable resistor for each gauge. So if it's reading 1K rpms, and you know it should be reading 800, then you twist the furthest leftt resistor a little till the needle is pointing at 1K. The calibrating resistors are underneath the black tape on the top of the cluster.

    Now for the UV coolness. You can do this alone, without the indiglo.

    What you need:
    1 bottle Wal-Mart acrylic paint (glow in the dark, any color)
    1 Wal-Mart sponge brush, smaller is better
    2 12V UV-LED's (got mine off e-bay)

    Here's the Honda lights next to the LED's I got.

    I just notched each side a little with the fiberglass cutting wheel and twisted the light into place. Then soldered the connections down. Make sure the lights are soldered in the same polarity. They are diodes (one way current flow).

    I just took a foam brush and did about 5 layers of the acrylic paint on the white portion of the needle. Came out nice.


    Last edited by Slateboy; 05-25-2004, 11:05 PM.

    End Result:

    Here's how my cluster looks:


    Indiglo Only

    Indiglo and UV

    My digi-camera doesn't capture UV purple. Be assure, that blue glow is a deep purple, and the needles glow like they're posessed. The more layers paint you use on the needles, the more they will glow.


      And I'm spent.


        Wow great DIY...interesting new look.. i would gave it a shot if you posted it a week ago, I just did mine....

        Oh well im still happy.

        Formerly 91AccordExR33
        11.68 @ 127mph
        Sold: 8/2016


          eh you did it the way hard way! lol Todd on here made it by changing the bulbs in the back to blue and it lights up blue everything but the needle.

          Ill get a pic of it soon.


            nice DIY only problem with some of the info you listed is that not all gauge clusters are the same. the ones you have in the pic are made by NS (listed on the far bottom of the speedo faceplate) - so to get an extra cluster to cannibalize to use for parts, you need one made by teh same company (the internals are COMPLETELY different... the DENSO gauge faces are a different shape and the paint on the back is done differently). and not all clusters have the adjustment knobs at the top of the cluster (my DENSO one doesnt). but very good writeup... its just people with other clusters will need to improvise some.

            - 1993 Accord LX - White sedan (sold)
            - 1993 Accord EX - White sedan (wrecked)
            - 1991 Accord EX - White sedan (sold)
            - 1990 Accord EX - Grey sedan (sold)
            - 1993 Accord EX - White sedan (sold)
            - 1992 Accord EX - White coupe (sold)
            - 1993 Accord EX - Grey coupe (stolen)
            - 1993 Accord SE - Gold coupe (sold)
            Current cars:
            - 2005 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon - Daily driver
            - 2004 Chevrolet Express AWD - Camper conversion


              It's been noted. Thank you.


                you need to get some gas!
                1993 Honda Accord LX Coupe

                My Members Ride's Thread

                StickyDilJoe: "JDM may be a fad, but making your car look like shit... thats forever"


                  you need to get some gas!
                  1993 Honda Accord LX Coupe

                  My Members Ride's Thread

                  StickyDilJoe: "JDM may be a fad, but making your car look like shit... thats forever"


                    What kind of downtime are you looking at when you do this?, I want to know how long I will be without guages if I try this...
                    If you can't hear it before you can see it...It's not worth it.
                    The Pop Tarts guy says: BAAAAAAAAAAYUM!
                    But Lil' Jon says: YEEEEEEEEEEEEAYUH!...and OKAAAAAAAYEH!


                      he needs gas lol its call broken needles lol

                      (O.o )
                      (> < ) This is Bunny. Copy Bunny into your signature to help him on his way to world domination!


                        wow i'm gonna have to read that a couple times to acutally get it but nice write up i just ruined my cluster but maybe thats a good thing(it can be the extra now)
                        also i cant see the pictures of the final results am i missing something
                        My Ride17.34 @ 78mph with 260k on her


                          yes, this thread is over a year old. you will need to try and have the pictures rehosted.
                          - 92 LX coupe
                          - 96 EX wagon (sold)


                            got a ?ion i broke my thermostat needle , can i replace the gauge or do i need a new cluster all togetther


                              Originally posted by pretty_ricky302
                              got a ?ion i broke my thermostat needle , can i replace the gauge or do i need a new cluster all togetther
                              As far as I know you should be able to replace just the gauge. However, there are more than one cluster manufacturer (NS and Denso that I know of, and possibly a 3rd) so that you have to make sure you get the one that matches your car.