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Thread: Gauges?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Gauges?

    One of the most important additions you can make to your Buick is a quality set of aftermarket gauges. If your car came factory equipped with idiot lights, this is even more important. By the time you see an idiot light, the problem is critical, and engine damage is imminent. Gauges allow you to see a problem coming. If you are familiar with your carís normal readings, you can spot an abnormal reading, stop the car and investigate, before a problem causes damage or leaves you stranded on the side of the road. The stock gauges are better than lights, but they have no markings on them, so you really donít know where your engine is running. For example, the stock temperature gauge on a Skylark/GS will be running at 200-210* when the indicator is halfway. Thatís quite a bit warmer than I like my engine to run.
    The most important gauges to have are oil pressure and coolant temperature. I also run a voltmeter. A broken fan belt would first show as a low voltage reading and a generator light. The engine would then shortly overheat from a non-functional water pump and fan. Gauges come in two popular sizes. 2 1/16Ē, and 2 5/8Ē. If you have the room, I recommend the larger gauges. They are easier to see and read. Get the best gauges you can afford. In my opinion, you canít beat Autometer gauges. They have a budget line of gauges under the Autogage line. Get the better gauges if you can. I like to mount my gauges under the dashboard. If you want to keep the interior of the car original looking, use the smaller size gauges, and mount them in the glove box. Mounting bezels can be ordered from the same place you get the gauges. Jegs, and Sumitt Racing have a very complete selection. You can also get angle rings that let you aim the gauges toward the driving position. There are also mounting cups that enclose the back of the gauge and allow you to aim it. The mounting cups are more expensive, and you need to buy one for each gauge you are using. I use a bezel and angle rings.
    The next decision you need to make is whether you want mechanical gauges or electrical gauges. There is no accuracy difference between the two. Up until recently, electrical gauges were of the 90* sweep design. Mechanical gauges have a 270* sweep. The 270* sweep means there are more lines on the gauge, and that means the gauges are easier to read accurately at a glance. For instance, the Autometer mechanical oil pressure gauge has a line every 5 psi, the electrical gauge has a line every 12.5 psi. If the needle is in between lines, it would be much easier to read the mechanical gauge at a glance, but both gauges would show the same reading. Recently, Autometer has introduced a line of full sweep electrical gauges, but they are close to twice as expensive as the full sweep mechanicals and short sweep electrical. Electrical and mechanical gauges each have their advantages and disadvantages. Electrical gauges can be easier to install. It is easier to run a wire than a tube. Mechanical gauges measure directly, and will work with no electrical power. The oil pressure gauge entails running a tube that carries the oil inside the car to the gauge mounting position. A nylon tube is commonly supplied for this purpose. The nylon can harden with heat and age, and can break spilling oil inside the car. A better choice is to use the copper tubing, or, even better, braided stainless steel hoses with fittings. Mechanical temperature gauges come in two ranges, 120-240*, and 140-280*. I like the 120-240* type. It places the normal readings of 180* closer to the center of the gauge sweep, besides, I donít need a reading of 280* on a gauge, Iím going to shut my engine down once I see 220*, and find out why it is running so hot. Mechanical temperature gauges come assembled with the sending unit. A sealed copper tube runs from the gauge to the sending bulb. The tube is filled with an ether type gas that transmits the readings. These gauges are harder to install because you must have a 7/8Ē hole in the firewall to pass the sending bulb through.
    After you decide where to mount your gauges, and have mounted the gauges in the bezel or individual cups, the next task is to run the wiring, and or tubing. I have found that in the Skylark/GS, the easiest place to go through the firewall is where the climate control vacuum hoses are. There is a large rubber grommet over a inch in diameter. It is easy to poke a hole through this grommet, and run your wires or tubes. If you drill any holes in the firewall, remember to use a grommet to protect the connections from sharp edges. I have found that the easiest way to run lighting for the gauges is to connect all the lighting power leads together, and run one wire that taps into the ashtray light wire. This enables you to dim the gauge lighting along with all the other dash lights. Also run all the lighting grounds together, and run the single ground to a metal portion of the dashboard. I use one of the mounting screws for my bezel.
    If you want to keep your stock gauges or lights operational, along with the aftermarket gauges, you can use a brass tee for oil pressure. With a temperature gauge, a tee is not practical because of size and clearance constraints. I use the threaded hole in the intake that housed the stock thermo-vacuum switch. That way, I can run both temperature gauges.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by LARRY70GS; 09-16-2011 at 07:52 PM.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Whitestone, NY
    Posts
    334

    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by LARRY70GS View Post
    One of the most important additions you can make to your Buick is a quality set of aftermarket gauges. If your car came factory equipped with idiot lights, this is even more important. By the time you see an idiot light, the problem is critical, and engine damage is imminent. Gauges allow you to see a problem coming. If you are familiar with your carís normal readings, you can spot an abnormal reading, stop the car and investigate, before a problem causes damage or leaves you stranded on the side of the road. The stock gauges are better than lights, but they have no markings on them, so you really donít know where your engine is running. For example, the stock temperature gauge on a Skylark/GS will be running at 200-210* when the indicator is halfway. Thatís quite a bit warmer than I like my engine to run.
    The most important gauges to have are oil pressure and coolant temperature. I also run a voltmeter. A broken fan belt would first show as a low voltage reading and a generator light. The engine would then shortly overheat from a non-functional water pump and fan. Gauges come in two popular sizes. 2 1/16Ē, and 2 5/8Ē. If you have the room, I recommend the larger gauges. They are easier to see and read. Get the best gauges you can afford. In my opinion, you canít beat Autometer gauges. They have a budget line of gauges under the Autogage line. Get the better gauges if you can. I like to mount my gauges under the dashboard. If you want to keep the interior of the car original looking, use the smaller size gauges, and mount them in the glove box. Mounting bezels can be ordered from the same place you get the gauges. Jegs, and Sumitt Racing have a very complete selection. You can also get angle rings that let you aim the gauges toward the driving position. There are also mounting cups that enclose the back of the gauge and allow you to aim it. The mounting cups are more expensive, and you need to buy one for each gauge you are using. I use a bezel and angle rings.
    The next decision you need to make is whether you want mechanical gauges or electrical gauges. There is no accuracy difference between the two. Up until recently, electrical gauges were of the 90* sweep design. Mechanical gauges have a 270* sweep. The 270* sweep means there are more lines on the gauge, and that means the gauges are easier to read accurately at a glance. For instance, the Autometer mechanical oil pressure gauge has a line every 5 psi, the electrical gauge has a line every 12.5 psi. If the needle is in between lines, it would be much easier to read the mechanical gauge at a glance, but both gauges would show the same reading. Recently, Autometer has introduced a line of full sweep electrical gauges, but they are close to twice as expensive as the full sweep mechanicals and short sweep electrical. Electrical and mechanical gauges each have their advantages and disadvantages. Electrical gauges can be easier to install. It is easier to run a wire than a tube. Mechanical gauges measure directly, and will work with no electrical power. The oil pressure gauge entails running a tube that carries the oil inside the car to the gauge mounting position. A nylon tube is commonly supplied for this purpose. The nylon can harden with heat and age, and can break spilling oil inside the car. A better choice is to use the copper tubing, or, even better, braided stainless steel hoses with fittings. Mechanical temperature gauges come in two ranges, 120-240*, and 140-280*. I like the 120-240* type. It places the normal readings of 180* closer to the center of the gauge sweep, besides, I donít need a reading of 280* on a gauge, Iím going to shut my engine down once I see 220*, and find out why it is running so hot. Mechanical temperature gauges come assembled with the sending unit. A sealed copper tube runs from the gauge to the sending bulb. The tube is filled with an ether type gas that transmits the readings. These gauges are harder to install because you must have a 7/8Ē hole in the firewall to pass the sending bulb through.
    After you decide where to mount your gauges, and have mounted the gauges in the bezel or individual cups, the next task is to run the wiring, and or tubing. I have found that in the Skylark/GS, the easiest place to go through the firewall is where the climate control vacuum hoses are. There is a large rubber grommet over a inch in diameter. It is easy to poke a hole through this grommet, and run your wires or tubes. If you drill any holes in the firewall, remember to use a grommet to protect the connections from sharp edges. I have found that the easiest way to run lighting for the gauges is to connect all the lighting power leads together, and run one wire that taps into the ashtray light wire. This enables you to dim the gauge lighting along with all the other dash lights. Also run all the lighting grounds together, and run the single ground to a metal portion of the dashboard. I use one of the mounting screws for my bezel.
    If you want to keep your stock gauges or lights operational, along with the aftermarket gauges, you can use a brass tee for oil pressure. With a temperature gauge, a tee is not practical because of size and clearance constraints. I use the threaded hole in the intake that housed the stock thermo-vacuum switch. That way, I can run both temperature gauges.
    thanks Larry, this post has been very helpfull! I recieved my gauges and bezel/angle rings on Fri and can't wait to install!
    Gabe "Goose"
    BCA# 45430
    BPG# 2235
    GSCA# 958
    1971 Buick GS 455 Stage 1
    1973 Chrysler Newport Custom
    1971 Buick Centurion Formal Coupe - SOLD
    1972 Buick LeSabre Custom - SOLD
    aveniarealty@gmail.com



    When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds left to conquer!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    LI,NY
    Posts
    19,993

    Default Re: Gauges?

    You can also rotate the gauges so that when the gauges are in the normal range, all the needles point straight up. Less time spent having to look down at the gauges.
    Jason Cook
    BPG #1675
    "Expert in obsolete technology"

    1968 Riviera GS- some assembly required
    1969 Riviera GS- my first car
    1969 GS-350
    1970 Stage 1 4 speed Aquamist
    1970 GS-455 Bamboo Cream beater
    1971 GS 455 11.93@113.36
    1972 GS-350
    1970 Stellar Industries vintage go kart

    Deo duce, ferro comitante

  4. #4
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    Sep 2010
    Location
    Whitestone, NY
    Posts
    334

    Default Re: Gauges?

    Thanks for the tip Jason!
    Gabe "Goose"
    BCA# 45430
    BPG# 2235
    GSCA# 958
    1971 Buick GS 455 Stage 1
    1973 Chrysler Newport Custom
    1971 Buick Centurion Formal Coupe - SOLD
    1972 Buick LeSabre Custom - SOLD
    aveniarealty@gmail.com



    When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds left to conquer!

  5. #5
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    Dec 2009
    Location
    Brew City Wisconsin
    Posts
    3,320

    Default Re: Gauges?

    Thanks for sharing the information guys.

    I was wondering, are there any disadvantages to using digital gauges other then looking too modern? Are they as good/accurate as the sweep type?

    Last edited by william.ali.kay; 09-28-2010 at 11:02 PM.
    William
    1966 Wildcat


    IF ITS GOOD, IT AINT CHEAP. AND IF ITS CHEAP, IT AINT GOOD!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm". George Orwell

    Dave...

  7. #7
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    3,320

    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by william.ali.kay View Post
    Thanks for sharing the information guys.

    I was wondering, are there any disadvantages to using digital gauges other then looking too modern? Are they as good/accurate as the sweep type?

    William
    1966 Wildcat


    IF ITS GOOD, IT AINT CHEAP. AND IF ITS CHEAP, IT AINT GOOD!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    568

    Default Re: Gauges?

    I'm in the middle of installing guages (oil,water,vacuum).
    I don't really like seeing after market guages so I was thinking of installing them in the glove department (dept. of gloves), and facing the driver (me) and keep the glove box door open only while driving.
    Gary
    65 Special thin pillar 401/ST400

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Milford, NH
    Posts
    1,151

    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by william.ali.kay View Post
    Thanks for sharing the information guys.

    I was wondering, are there any disadvantages to using digital gauges other then looking too modern? Are they as good/accurate as the sweep type?

    [
    FWIW, the Air Force did testing a ways back between digital and needle gauges. They found pilots could process the analog gauges faster because they knew where each needle should point when things were going as planned, with digital they had to process what the number was for each gauge and if it was a good number or bad.

    Speaking for myself, I'm partial to a clean looking gauge with needles.
    Jim Pfannenstiel
    36 year 68/69 STEPCHILD NATION member.
    69 Skylark '430 Stage 1'
    Ex 69 GS California


  10. #10
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    4,135

    Default Re: Gauges?

    Lots of good information, Larry. For my car I bought an aftermarket gauge pod marketed by Autometer for the `68-`69 Camaro to replace the factory rectangle console mounted gauges with the round 2 1/16" units. I had to cut up the front of my console for it but I did manage to trim it to fit pretty well and then used Autometer Sport Comp gauges in it. I also like the way they angle towards the driver. Here's a pic:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Bill

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by buick64203 View Post
    You can also rotate the gauges so that when the gauges are in the normal range, all the needles point straight up. Less time spent having to look down at the gauges.


    Quote Originally Posted by James P View Post
    FWIW, the Air Force did testing a ways back between digital and needle gauges. They found pilots could process the analog gauges faster because they knew where each needle should point when things were going as planned, with digital they had to process what the number was for each gauge and if it was a good number or bad.
    These comments make alot of sense to me. I think I will end up with the needles all pointing straight up.
    Thanks for the good info.
    William
    1966 Wildcat


    IF ITS GOOD, IT AINT CHEAP. AND IF ITS CHEAP, IT AINT GOOD!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    This isn't for the purist, but I mounted my gauges in the dash where they are easier to see. My car didn't have A/C originally (it does now) so I had a blank spot on the left side of the dash. The clock didn't work so the third gauge went in there (it's hiding behind the steering wheel in the photo). There are gauges made now that have very "stock" looking markings that would blend in better but I've grown to like the antique look.

    John
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Ragtops are worth the trouble

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by 73 Centurion View Post
    This isn't for the purist, but I mounted my gauges in the dash where they are easier to see. My car didn't have A/C originally (it does now) so I had a blank spot on the left side of the dash. The clock didn't work so the third gauge went in there (it's hiding behind the steering wheel in the photo). There are gauges made now that have very "stock" looking markings that would blend in better but I've grown to like the antique look.

    John
    John, you had time to take a picture of your gauges with your hands off the wheel all while you were going 95MPH?!?!
    Matt

    Youtube Channel- http://www.youtube.com/user/matthewt2010

    1972 Skylark Hardtop- 350 4bbl Completely Stock

    Rebuild begins soon!

    1994 Jeep Cherokee (Daily Driver)

    "I'd rather handle like a boat than take off like a Honda!"


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    Larry's gauge info is excellent.

    I will only add that disabling warning lights for oil & coolant temp is a recipe for disaster, especially for anyone who spends time at the track, and/or anyone running an electric water pump.

    We can't watch the gages at WOT or while negotiating heavy traffic, we're supposed to be driving.

    As he said, you'll have time to deal with things with a belt driven water pump if the belt leaves thanks to the "ALT" or "GEN" light. Running an electric water pump, you'll need the light.

    Regarding oil pressure, at WOT you'll appreciate a warning light with a sender set to register a lot higher than the stock setting of 7 psi or so. The idea is that you can drive the car full bore down the track with your eyes looking forward and deal with a low pressure situation by shutting it off immediately after the red light stares you in the face. If you're about to shift at 6500 rpm and the stock 7 psi light comes on, it's already too late. I run a 25 psi sender and still hope to never see it light except at startup.

    Gauges and warning lights should go hand-in-hand. Gauges are great for watching trends and casual monitoring; warning lights near eye level, with proper senders, will take care of you in the heat of the moment when you need critical info the most.

    Devon
    Last edited by DaWildcat; 10-10-2010 at 11:09 AM.
    Fuel & Brake Systems Engineer
    "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong." - Feynman
    "Good data is precious. The problem I have is when some damned fool fails to use it properly." - Slingerland

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    Good info. I also have the duplex setup but with the original oil sending unit. DaWildcat, where did you get the 25 PSI sending unit? Do you have a part No. ?
    Glen
    Glen Oliver 71 Stage 1 GSX,

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by MattRush10 View Post
    John, you had time to take a picture of your gauges with your hands off the wheel all while you were going 95MPH?!?!

    I'm still laughing

    Scott
    __________________________________________
    66 Buick Skylark ('70 GS 350-4 motor, TH350, 3:36 rear, more to come later)
    __________________________________________
    Scott

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by stage1gsx View Post
    Good info. I also have the duplex setup but with the original oil sending unit. DaWildcat, where did you get the 25 PSI sending unit? Do you have a part No. ?
    Glen
    I think I actually bought the 30 psi switch: http://www.autometer.com/cat_accessorieslist.aspx?pid=7

    Devon
    Fuel & Brake Systems Engineer
    "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong." - Feynman
    "Good data is precious. The problem I have is when some damned fool fails to use it properly." - Slingerland

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    So I have a 57 and have been looking into getting some aftermarket gauges. But it seems like a ton of people go that rout and the round gauges are becoming more and more common. I'm wondering if, since I'm planning on modernizing my car's interior, if i can use this gauge panel from an 89 Olds Cutlass Supreme? This was one of my first cars and i was always impressed with the classic layout of the digital gauges. i think that it's the only set of gauges from that period that continues to look modern because it's so simple in it's layout. I'd like to set it in the dash and then place a cover over the screen with bevels surrounding the gauges so they look individual. Does anyone know if this would work?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    About two weeks after installing the three gauge unit (water temp, oil pressure, voltmeter) and leaving the idiot lights fully functional, the voltmeter starting showing a charging rate of 16+ volts but the ammeter light was not illuminated. A new voltage regulator corrected the charging rate to a little over 14 volts per the factory manual. The point being is that the ammeter would never light up until something burned up but the voltmeter showed the problem. Love the gauges but the dual installation for idiot lights is very important to provide a very noticeable warning for catastrophic failures. These got mounted on the left side of the steering column for a little more low key appearance.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    I would check with Dakota Digital and some of the other suppliers of digital gauge systems for the Street Machine crowd. They are a common modification for the Shoe Box Chevy ( i.e. 1955-1957 Chevrolet). IIRC they will make whatever you want to gauges; tach, speedo, pressure, temp, level, output, boost, vacuum.

  21. #21
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    Dec 2010
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by N360LL View Post
    I would check with Dakota Digital and some of the other suppliers of digital gauge systems for the Street Machine crowd. They are a common modification for the Shoe Box Chevy ( i.e. 1955-1957 Chevrolet). IIRC they will make whatever you want to gauges; tach, speedo, pressure, temp, level, output, boost, vacuum.
    I took a look at those ones, I'm not a huge fan. Not for the money at least. I really like the look of the Olds cluster and would like to retro fit it. What would it take to do that?

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    I can have a professional contact you about if you'd like. He specializes in custom cars and has extensive experience with insturment cluster modifications. BTW, what part of the country are you in? He's in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    On the analog gauge deal- I had a friend in college who flew fighter jets in the AF. During requalification, he got asked questions about what the oil pressure is, stuff like that. He put his right index finger up and said, "That's where the needle is supposed to be". When you're in a dogfight for your life or looking for the opposition, the last thing you want to be doing is reading the digits on your gauges. In the early days of digital dashes, I hated those things. You're driving down the street, and the speedo's jumping between 34 and 35 mph. What kind of crap is that? I'll take a needle anytime. Just a glance, and I'm done. I like that needle-straight-up trick. Thanks for that, buick64203.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    Quote Originally Posted by N360LL View Post
    I can have a professional contact you about if you'd like. He specializes in custom cars and has extensive experience with insturment cluster modifications. BTW, what part of the country are you in? He's in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.
    I'm in Boise Idaho. Let me know if he has any suggestions.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Gauges?

    it's to bad that all new cars don't have gauges (oil pressure, temp, voltage) as standard equipment instead of those damn idiot lights!
    Gerry
    1972 GS 350 ht #s
    2015 Chev Colorado Z71
    2015 Chevy Cruze

 

 
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