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Last fall I thought I'd like to add a couple additional gauges to my Speedster, but I really wanted it to feel integrated (not an afterthought). Additional holes in the dash was out of the question, so I started playing around with cardboard.
After a while I came up with a shape I thought would work, but I still wasn't sure how to fabricate it. I could have done something in fiberglass, but talking with a friend at work he mentioned that he recently picked up a 3D printer and was looking for a project.
Fitting this work in on weekends and evenings it was a slow moving project, but eventually we put together a quick print throw away test model. Putting it in the car we were able to test and refine the approach to mounting, eventually landing on tabs at the front to hang on the dash lip, and couple t-track arms at the back that loop around the square tubing under the dash.
Last week we printed the full strength final model (it took about 24 hours all told to print everything) and I started working on the priming and painting. Yesterday I finished fitting everything into the car. Classic Instruments made the gauges (Head temp and Air temp) using the VDO style font.
I took it out for a drive this evening and it's rock solid, I'm very pleased with how everything turned out. The project took about 6 months start to finish, but was worth the wait.
Hopefully this provides some inspiration for someone else considering a 3D printing project, or looking for ideas on how to mount additional gauges.
I don't have the 3D models myself, but if others are interested send me a note and I'll ask my buddy to share them.

Attachments

Images (14)
  • IMG_0984: Initial cardboard prototype
  • IMG_0985: Testing the placement with cardboard
  • 67245477669__786A927E-2CDB-45B7-8369-8A8B49937939: First test print
  • IMG_1091: First test print
  • IMG_1018: Second test print with gauge
  • image000001: Adjustable lip for varying fiberglass thickness
  • image000000(1): T-track arm to fine tune the angle and depth
  • image000000: Final model printed in two parts, t-track arms
  • IMG_1118: Final model with seam reenforcement
  • IMG_1117: Primer
  • IMG_1119: Paint and sand for the final finish
  • 66983418650__CEB34920-9E34-4A4C-BFE7-B6FD2413D0DD: Classic Instrument air temp gauge
  • 66983417395__496EE9BF-3F3C-49F4-B374-7417E159B2F2: Classic Instrument head temp gauge
  • 67417884277__8EB7ADF0-F26C-4C57-A020-4BC104CD7070: Final fit with paint
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What a nice "starter" project!  And it looks great, too!

When I was working, we did a lot of computer aided design on mechanical assemblies with similar tool packages but that was 25 - 30 years ago and 3-D printing was just taking off.  Our go-to process back then was RIM (Reaction Injection Molding) so the part was designed in CAD and then the RIM tooling design fed off of that part data.  Shows how far behind my manufacturing knowledge is these days.

My 11 year old grandson BEGGED for a 3-D printer last Christmas and we went in with Santa on the purchase so he could get a good one.  Now, his whole family has been 3-D printing stuff.

The international Space Station has a "ReFabricator" 3D printer which they've been using to prove the concept and refine the process of printing in zero G.  Sounds like a perfect use for one when they get it all figured out.  Need a special tool?  Upload the cad file and print one!

Thanks all, it was a fun project and has me thinking about other things we might build. (Working on a design for a small LED battery powered cabin light that could attach to the rear view mirror and still look like a period accessory).

@ALB the head temp gauge has a custom length sender cable and was adjusted to suit that. I thought about measuring the engine bay air temp, but right now it’s just ambient temp under the car… might change that placement. Honestly the second gauge was more about balancing the visual aesthetic and I thought air temp would be more interesting than a clock

@Quadmod posted:

Thanks all, it was a fun project and has me thinking about other things we might build. (Working on a design for a small LED battery powered cabin light that could attach to the rear view mirror and still look like a period accessory).

@ALB the head temp gauge has a custom length sender cable and was adjusted to suit that. I thought about measuring the engine bay air temp, but right now it’s just ambient temp under the car… might change that placement. Honestly the second gauge was more about balancing the visual aesthetic and I thought air temp would be more interesting than a clock

Really cool project.

I know you've already got the gauges you've got - but if I may make a suggestion... the most important gauge you can have, more than the ridiculous fuel gauge, more than oil temperature and head temperature (both of which are really important), more even than a tachometer, is the misunderstood and forgotten oil pressure gauge.

It was a curious casualty of "cost reduction engineering" by the Sainted German Engineers (who may have not been very proud of what they had wrought for an oiling system) before cost reduction engineering was even a thing. Regardless, the gauge is often overlooked by VW enthusiasts as well. "Herr Doktor didn't think oil in the bearings was important", the thinking goes, "why should I?".

Indeed why should you?

Well, when you over-rev the engine, you may (or may not) immediately break something. My money is on "not" the first time you do it. Likewise oil temperature and even head temperature - play with fire long enough though, and you're going to get burnt. The first time, however? Maybe/ maybe not.

No oil pressure is a "shut off the engine before you even pull over" event in any internal combustion engine. "There will be blood" (or at least a lot of galling) with no oil pressure. If you lose oil pressure and ignore it, you deserve what you get - which will likely be "a basket of deplorables" or cool paperweights, depending on your perspective (is the glass half full? or half empty?).

Every other high performance car in the history of the universe has featured their oil pressure gauge prominently. Once Herr Doktor kicked clear of his VW (and Nazi) economy-car background, the oil pressure gauge made it back where it belonged - front and center on the 5-gauge cluster of the 911. It should be noted that this was about the time Herr Doktor's minions decided to give the oiling system more than 15 minutes of thought, and knocked it out of the park.

I'm not advocating for the forgotten oil pressure gauge... OK, maybe I am. Aw heck, let's be honest - I'm shilling for the oil pressure gauge like my family was being held hostage by the oil pressure gauge cabal, and the only way I can save them from a terrible fate is by selling oil pressure gauges. I'm an oil pressure gauge zealot, living in the cornfields, wearing goat-skins and eating grasshoppers, a one-note-Johnny mumbling "the oil pressure... the oil-pressure" like Colonel Walter E. Kurtz.

May I suggest an oil pressure gauge in that spot?

Last edited by Stan Galat

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@Quadmod posted:
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...and has me thinking about other things we might build....



Following up on a recent thread here, this rig should make it easy to crank out pretty good copies of the original 356 dash knobs that will thread right onto your existing switches, if such things interest you.

In any case, considering the prices of concours-quality replica knobs, you could probably fund your own future projects by making and selling those. Same for shift knobs.

I was hoping to mention it later (depending on how the conversation went) but since he's already brought up the subject, I have to agree with my friend @Stan Galat- an oil pressure gauge would be much more useful (for all the reasons he mentioned).  A remote sensor for air temperature mounted temporarily in the engine compartment would be a useful thing to have for experimental purposes- the closer the inside temp is to outside ambient the better the engine will run, staying within it's normal operating parameters/being closer to optimal tune more of the time and (if you believe some of the old guard in the VW performance world) it will last substantially longer too.

Last edited by ALB

Not that I’m knocking having an oil pressure gauge (and I don’t have one in my car), I don’t think it was the Sainted German Engineers who designed out the oil pressure gauge, but Detroit, instead and, IIRC, their reasoning was that most American drivers didn’t understand what it was for in the first place and mostly ignored it.

I did a Google search, and Ford and GM (at least) deleted the oil pressure gauge after 1952-3, just about the time the VW beetle emerged (1952?). As it turns out, most American car drivers didn’t really understand what an ammeter was telling them, either:

”You mean to say that the little Ammeter needle can swing both left and right?  just like a gas gauge, right?   So if it’s on the right, my ‘AMMs’ are full?”

Anyway, think about adding an oil pressure gauge somewhere you can see it easily.  And if it swings all the way to the left, your oil might be empty….    Somewhere…..   So stop right there.

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

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I never could figure out why standard practice doesn't include an ignition cutout relay wired to the low oil pressure warning light circuit. That would stop the motor the instant oil pressure goes critical - not five minutes later when the driver (might) notice the light.

You would need some kind of override for starting, but another relay wired to the starter button could handle that.

I think the gradual loss of almost all true gauges over the years has been equal parts cost cutting and the push by automakers to make cars seem somehow more 'trouble free' than old-fashioned, complex machines that require constant driver attention.

Most consumers probably think the 'freedom' from having to monitor gauges is a good thing - like 15,000-mile oil changes and 100,000-mile maintenance. Make the infotainment as complex as possible, but don't bug me with having to watch some stupid gauge.

You could argue that oil pressure was the first gauge to go because oil pumps are generally more reliable than water pumps and liquid cooling systems. Ammeters pretty much disappeared when more reliable alternators replaced generators. (I remember that generator failure was one of the most common problems in the 1950's, probably because standard practice used brushes that wore out.) But we still have temperature gauges - even on many modern cars.

The original Miata was the first new 'consumer' car in many years to have a real oil pressure gauge, largely because Bob Hall insisted no true sports car would be without one, and every true sports car driver would keep his eyes glued to it. But just to show how much tiny cost savings can influence these decisions, the gauge was replaced after a few years by what was in effect an idiot light made to look like a gauge.

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Last edited by Sacto Mitch

@Quadmod Right good stuff! Nicely done.

It's only my opinion, but there are two reasons VWs didn't have an oil pressure gauge:

It is MUCH cheaper to not include one, and people actually did maintenance back then, and also knew that 2.5 quarts wasn't much, so they'd better pay attention to the level. Not like today, where everything is automatic and DONE for you.

Now yes, the 911(even the new ones) has always had a 5 gauge cluster. However, the Cayman(which IS definitely a sports car) only has a 3 gauge cluster without an oil pressure gauge. Tach front and center, left side speedo, right side water temp and fuel. Kinda stupid if you ask me, there is plenty of room for an oil pressure gauge on the right. A sensor and a needle wouldn't be too much to ask for a an expensive sports car.20200511_190015

I didn't think that was sufficient. I got a 3D-printed pod(designed for a new Golf) and an aftermarket gauge, and hid all the wires. I also picked up an extra speaker grille to mount the pod on, so I can remove it without a trace. The gauge I got is for a Lotus Elise and came from Europe. It has oil pressure, oil temp, water temp, and voltage. I still need to hook up the water temp. The factory gauge tells you the temp that the ECU wants to, NOT ACTUAL temp(WTF Porsche?).

All very useful info. I'm a big fan of the 3D printer. The pod was printed in Pennsylvania and came in a week.

20210608_091230

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  • 20200511_190015
  • 20210608_091230

The early Miatas had a functioning oil pressure gauge, as in my 1991.

A few years later, Miata went to a similar looking gauge, which was really just an idiot light in disguise.  It was either off or on.

Why did Miata abandon a real oil pressure gauge?  They were getting complaints from people who didn't understand that a cold engine has higher oil pressure than a hot engine, and assumed there was something wrong with their car when at idle with a warm engine, the oil pressure dropped.  Miata had to deal with numerous warranty claims from owners.

So, idiot lights really do serve an appropriate audience.

@Bob: IM S6 posted:

The early Miatas had a functioning oil pressure gauge, as in my 1991.

A few years later, Miata went to a similar looking gauge, which was really just an idiot light in disguise.  It was either off or on.

Why did Miata abandon a real oil pressure gauge?  They were getting complaints from people who didn't understand that a cold engine has higher oil pressure than a hot engine, and assumed there was something wrong with their car when at idle with a warm engine, the oil pressure dropped.  Miata had to deal with numerous warranty claims from owners.

So, idiot lights really do serve an appropriate audience.

Do you know what year they went to the idiot light?  We've just bought a '99 (my lovely wife wanted a convertible again and this car was a bit of a deal) and having driven the the thing a fair bit I was wondering why the 'gauge' didn't seem to move a lot (or, come to think of it, at all).  Damn it, Bob, now you've got me thinking about a retrofit- like I don't already have enough to do around here! .

Last edited by ALB
@Bob: IM S6 posted:

Al:  a retrofit to that gauge is quite common.  Miata made the change after the 1994 model year.  That's when Miatas started to move away from the original concept of a 'real' sports car.

https://www.ecosia.org/search?...l%20gauge%20retrofit

Thanks Bob!  Let's see- some house stuff, oil change for the Miata, house stuff, finish the winch/lights install on the FJ, more house stuff, get Bruce to finish the transaxle to get the Speedster moving, help Scott with his new (to him- it's nowhere near new!) truck, and start looking for oil pressure gauge and sender for... oh boy, another project!

@Bob: IM S6 posted:

You forgot beer. 

See?  The list is endless!  And thanks for reminding me, I'm down on rum too- there's not enough hours in a day...

Hey, @ALB!

Went out for a bike ride this morning and passed a house in Douglas, MA with one of those Toyota CJ cruiser thingies.  He actually had two of them (and what looks like another one on the side covered up) but the other one was a pickup configuration - Never seen a Pickup CJ before.....

You mean an FJ Cruiser, Gordon?  Mine's an '08 and looks like this-

FJ- up Norrish Nov 7 '021This is my son Scott and I up Norrish Creek (out in the Fraser Valley just northeast of Mission) last November 7th

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  • FJ- up Norrish Nov 7 '021
Last edited by ALB

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