Jump to content
2002isGuy

Instrument cluster makeover

12 posts / 2814 viewsLast Reply

Recommended Posts

Hey guys,

I thought I'd post a pic and some info for anyone who's been considering doing anything to their instruments. First off, I bought the set of white gauge overlays from the guys at whitegauges.net for 19.99.

white-gauges.jpg

I also bought their carbon fiber look overlay (don't do it), I'll get to that in a minute. For anyone considering doing this to their instrument cluster, here's what I learned and the steps I took.

First, there is a pretty good write-up on the my2002tii.com website you may want to read located here >http://www.my2002tii.com/how_to_dash_gauges.htm. You really need to completely disassemble everything and repaint the inside of the cluster white, the gauge locking rings, and the front snap on instrument cluster face to do it right.

I was already pretty familiar with most of this since my 2002 experience goes back to 1975, and this is the fifth 2002 I've owned. Back to the whitegauges.net carbon fiber look overlay. It's more of a decal than an overlay in my opinion, and it's 35 bucks. The only reason I bought it was laziness, not wanting to cut anything myself (bad idea).

I probably spent over 30 minutes repositioning it over and over, only to find myself seeing the same result. When I got it centered side to side, and top to bottom, the center cutouts for the gauges would not adhere right and would stand up or bubble slightly.

They say in their instructions you can optionally use a blow dryer or heat gun to smooth things out while squeegeeing, but after many attempts and considering the look of it, I took it off.

My solution again in my opinion, turned out MUCH better. I bought a 24"x48" roll of carbon fiber look vinyl from the guys at http://store.ijdmtoy.com. This stuff is BAD ASS for anyone wanting a carbon fiber look on anything! It's well under $20 including shipping, and very easy to apply.

All I did was cut a section that was slightly larger than needed and then used a very sharp retractable knife/box cutter type blade working slowly, and I was done.

For the needles I bought a small bottle of neon orange acrylic paint from a local hobby store that was just over 2 bucks. I'm really pleased with the new look, and can't wait to see how the blue LED's I ordered will light it all up!

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Barry,

Looks fantastic. I bought the white overlays, their neon orange paint and the blue LEDS.

I have yet to tackle the project because:

1 Patience

2 Working with sticky stuff

3 All the cut-outs on the speedo are intimidating

4 How to slide the overlay over the needle

5 Fear

I bought an extra cluster so I have no excuse now. I did try the blue LEDS but when I turned them on my headlamp/cluster light knob starting smoking. Not sure what that was all about.

Your's looks so good, I have to do mine. Thanks for the inspiration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your comments on my instrument cluster Koblenz. Hey, doing this compared to all of the other things I've done on an 02 like switching out stub axles, is CAKE.

I was really surprised how it all came together. I really like the new late model car look the instruments have now. It took me three days to do this letting things dry overnight. I laid out some steps in my head and just worked through them. Here are the steps I took for anyone considering this that I've detailed below.

First get everything you'll need:

A white gauges overlay kit

A roll of the carbon fiber vinyl

A can of gloss black and flat white spray paint

Some 320 grit sandpaper

Some orange paint for the needles

A small paint brush

A small flat tip screwdriver (to get the odometer knob clip off)

Frog Tape, if you're thinking - what the hell is Frog Tape? read below

A sharp blade of your choosing

Patience

Disassemble the whole instrument cluster, (including the plastic press fit wood grain front that pops off and the odometer button). You need to paint the metal retaining rings that hold the glass in also, those have to be removed too. I had never removed these rings before in any 2002 I've owned, and discovered an easy way to do it.

It takes a small pair of pliers (not needle nose because they may slip) with one side on a raised plastic piece, and the other on a notch on the metal ring, and squeeze slowly. If you look closely at the metal rings you'll see what I'm talking about. Be careful not to let anything slip the wrong direction because you could break an instrument glass.

Next step is to mask off the back outer edge sides top and bottom of the instrument cluster and paint the inside with flat white spray paint. Make sure to stuff something down deep into the back of the brake fluid warning lens hole so you don't paint the back of the red lens. I used several coats of white paint applying a little at a time so I didn't get any runs.

While you're waiting for that to dry you can get started on the metal rings painting one side at a time and letting it dry before flipping them to do the other sides. It's important that you don't get any runs on these either because it will show through the front.

Then I sanded down the plastic press fit wood grain front with some 320 grit sandpaper and sprayed the front with gloss black. Again, several light coats with no runs. The reason you want to paint this is primarily because you want the gauge holes to have a high gloss black surface that will help reflect the light off the trim rings.

The gloss black paint I used specifically states it works well on wood, metal, and plastic. I used Rustoleum Painters Touch Ultra Cover 2X gloss black. Even though I didn't get any runs, it bubbled on the front of the plastic press fit wood grain front piece, and I had to sand it down with the 320 grit sandpaper again to have a smooth finish so the carbon fiber vinyl wouldn't have any bumps and lay flat.

Once that dried the inner gauge holes had a high gloss black on them. The next step actually went much faster than I expected. I cut a piece of the carbon fiber vinyl with some scissors a little larger than the plastic press fit wood grain front piece. Then wiped down the piece so I knew there wasn't any dust, peeled the backing off of the carbon fiber vinyl and pressed it onto the face of the plastic press fit wood grain front piece. Now the cutting comes.

I knew I'd have to use something as sharp as a razor blade, but I didn't like the idea of working with something that small because I wanted better control while cutting. So I used one of the blades that is stored inside of this green cutter.

cutter.jpg

I was going to use the smaller knife beside it, but the blade wasn't as sharp. To make the cutouts for the gauges, brake warning light, and the odometer knob, you just make a slit in the center of each hole, slowly work to the edge of each hole holding your blade at an angle, get a hold of the vinyl and keep a little tension on the vinyl while slowly cutting around the hole, holding the vinyl while applying light pressure while cutting and rotating the plastic press fit front piece. It's so much easier than I thought it would be.

Applying the white gauge overlays takes a little patience. First there's the whole getting it over the needle part while the overlay sticks to the gauge face every time you get too close. Then there's the stretching the overlay hole a little while you pull it down to get past the needle end, and it sticks to the face of the gauge again. Once you get past that part, then you can expect the overlay to keep sticking to the gauge when you don't want it to because it's not centered correctly.

It's a process getting it centered. My advise on that is make sure your needles line up where they are supposed to on the low limit lines, and try your best to align the horizontal and vertical lines on the overlay centered on the gauge. Here's another important tip if you don't read the instructions that come with the overlay kit. Make sure you have a clean gauge face, or you'll get something stuck to the adhesive on the overlay that will create a small lump that you'll have to remove. Don't ask me how I know that...

To me probably the most frustrating part was painting the needles. My paint wasn't going on smoothly, and I did one gauge three times (taking the paint off and repainting) three times, and another needle twice. Here's a BIG tip for anyone doing this. DON'T use 3M blue painter's tape, that tape SUCKS!

I used it under my needles on the face of the gauges so I wouldn't get any paint on the faces, and that went okay. But when I had to mask off the black round part of the needles on the tach and the speedo, when I pulled the tape off after I painted the needles, it pulled the paint with it.

There's a tape called Frog Tape that I would have bought had I known what the 3M blue painter's tape would do. What I ended up using is a shiny silver tape with black print on it that is used for taping heat and air ducts that I found in my garage. It's not a metal tape, it's like a package sealing tape.

That's all I've got on the process of my instrument cluster makeover. I'll re-post a pic of my blue LED's lighting it all up shortly after my order arrives. They're on the way to me now...

Damn guy, your headlamp/cluster light knob starting smoking? Have you replaced your hazard flasher with an LED flasher? I just replaced mine a few weeks ago with a Tridon EP-26 LED 4-pin flasher, and I now have LED's everywhere around the car except the headlights. The two extra bright blue LED's in my dome light are really BAD ASS!

If anyone is considering doing the LED conversion to their 02, I can probably shed some light on that as well - pun intended...

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Barry,

Great write up!!!!!

After the night I had at work (12 hr shift, one 30 min break), it was good to read this. I think your description has given new direction.

I want the LEDs throughout the interior including under the dash to be activated by a on/off toggle. I am not familiar with the LED hazard.

BTW, my tag lights are LED from the same supplier as you. They were $14. And are a lower profile. I converted the head lamps to HID.

I hope to catch up with your progress.

Thanks

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

this could be the final touch to your complete LED conversion. LED Headlamps. I work in the trucking industry and came across these a while back. unfortunately I do not sell them but you can find these at almost any truck part shop. prices may very depending on shop. They are both High & Low beams and also work with both 12V or 24V.

Good Luck

Mark

post-19977-13667666300033_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the head's up on the LED truck headlights Mark. I counted 10 LED's in those. They look as if they'd create some serious bright white light. I'll look into it.

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No problem. I believe only the upper 5 light up as low beam and all 10 light up as high. Let me know how it goes and great job on your project. But yes, I hear these will outcast the hid lights.

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gary,

This is what my blue LED's look like in my dome light at night. Excuse my messy interior.

interior-led

I've considered under dash lighting also as a wow feature. My thoughts are if I don't use LED strip lights I'd have to chase down some light sockets to mount them. The LED strip lights seem easier to install, and you'd have more light coverage also in a 12" strip.

Below is a pic of the LED flasher I just installed a few weeks ago with the pin out. I bought mine from Amazon.

tridon-ep26.jpg

tridon-ep26-pinout.jpg

You'll need a plain jane relay socket to wire it, a very small flat tip screwdriver to release the female connectors out of the factory connector that has the L pattern, and a small knife to pull the barbs back out of the female connectors so they'll lock into the new relay socket.

A simple way to make certain you're pushing the flasher wires into the right spots in the new relay socket connector is to save a copy of this pin out and print it. Then when you're ready to do the switchover, put a small piece of masking tape on each side of the new flasher labeling the pin numbers, and disconnect one wire at a time from the old factory connector and insert it into the new relay socket connector.

An added feature of this brand ep-26 flasher is it's audible also.

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the dome light. Where did you get it? I put the flasher on my shopping list.

These are the tag LEDs. They work well and are a plug and play.

shaved.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
this could be the final touch to your complete LED conversion. LED Headlamps. I work in the trucking industry and came across these a while back. unfortunately I do not sell them but you can find these at almost any truck part shop. prices may very depending on shop. They are both High & Low beams and also work with both 12V or 24V.

Good Luck

Mark

Thanks. I would like to see those installed. BTW, I'm in Baldwin Park FL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought my dome festoon blue LED's in a two pack because in my 74 with a sunroof my dome light uses two. I bought mine also on Amazon from these guys > http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009AQGMS4/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i01

I've seen those license plate lights while I was shopping for mine. I switched out my license plate lights (because the factory 2002 license plate light covers seem to crack easily and they're silver), and I wanted a flat black larger squared look so I'm running the Mazda 626 license plate lights below: license-lights.jpg.

As you can see, my 02 hasn't had it's final bodywork or new paint yet. I'm using these LED's below that are SUPER bright white because they have 22 little SMD's on them and fit an 1156 socket:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006RFC60Y/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WOW, those 626 lights look like they could have been an original design.

Thanks for the link. Mine too is a sunroof.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.