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Junior Charter Member
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912 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I haven't seen this in FAQ, As I sat down to begin soldering the gauge wires, I thought, once I get them all link together, how am I going to get these gauges and switches off the dash to cover it with the leather cover and reinstall the gauges? I've seen some folks wire everything on an uncovered dash for prelim. fit and function before finally covering the dash.

Is it the rule of thumb to cover the dash first and install the gauges and switches, then wiring? My dash layout is complete. I was planning to do the prelim. way before covering, but logic tells me that won't work.

Thanks for your help
 

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FFR Craftsman
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5,834 Posts
Troy:

This is why it's a good idea to think in terms of a removable harness. If you're using a donor harness, I suspect you should have used spade type connectors to allow for easy disconnect; gauges do fail so that should be factored in. If not, start crimp and/or soldering spade connectors.

If you have gauges like the autometer, then unscrewing the nuts is a lot easier. That's what I have so after mocking up the dash w/o cover, I just removed the gauges from the marked wires and began the dash cover. Then reinstalled the gauges for the last time.

HTH.
 

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FFCobra Fanatic
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12,975 Posts
I used aftermarket auto meter gauges. All the wireing on the car was done including the gauge cluster before covering the dash. Make plugs and disconnects labeled clearly so all the gauges and switches can be taken out for covering the dash. No rule saying you can't cover before wireing just less chance of damaging the vynal working with a uncovered dash.
Depending on how you plan to mount the dash,if useing hidden fasteners the dash will need to be in it's final mounting position which means the body will need to be installed first,mark for mounting taps and fasten to dash then do the covering.
 

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Junior Charter Member
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912 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ahhh, spade connectors. I think I know what you mean. For example, I can connect my indicator light ground wires to spade connectors as well as the feed wires in order to be able to take out the lights individually when I'm ready to cover.

Oh I forgot to mention, I've got the autometer vintage gauges and American Autowire harness.

Just to let you know, I'm a novice at this and I'm learning as I go. Any other dash wiring tips you've got your sleeves, I'd love to here 'em. ;)

Thanks 289FIA and Hindsight.
 

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Senior Charter Member
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6,104 Posts
I used bullet connectors instead of spade so there is no exposed metal. I would guess that rubber covered spade connectors are just as good.
 

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Charter Member
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1,646 Posts
Take my advice, wire your dash with quick connects, that way if you need to remove a defective gauge, or switch you can remove the dash and pull the broken or defective part without having to break out the soldering iron. Wire your gauges, then put a molex plug on your wiring so you can take the dash completely out of the car. I included some pictures of mine, look at how I have the wiring tied together so if I remove all of my gauges the harness will keep that shape and allow me to put it all back together without labels. Hope this helps.
Lile



 

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Junior Charter Member
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912 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks guys. Uponashelf, those pics help out as well. I like visuals. ;) I guess I'll be looking for some quick connectors for each part on my dash, whether it they're gauges, switches or light indicators.

Troy
 

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Premium Member
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18,135 Posts
I didn't use any quick disconnects on mine. With this car and the last one I built, I'v never had to completly remove the dash for anything. The back of my gauges look the one above. If one fails, I'll simply remove the nuts and the retainer to R&R the single gauge.

The speedometer and tach have spade connectors on the back of the gauge. So I used the female spades on the wire ends. Same with the relays.

For the switches, I soldered the wires directly to the posts, then covered with shrink wrap. If a switch fails, I'll cut it out and solder in a new one; no big deal and not likely to happen.

The way I see it, each spade or bullet connector is a point of possible failure, so I tried to eliminate as many as possible. Every wire and terminal connection is soldered; from the headlamp socket to the tail lights. Wiring posts like the alternator and battery switch have blue locktite on them.

If you really want to a quick disconnect, use a real quality component with a positive locking device, like Weatherpack. Bullets and spades are bulky and a pain to use. Why design it so you have to unplug and plug every wire individually?

I've had one electrical failure. The post on the back of the alternator came loose on an open track day, despite the locktite. It shorted out the alternator, and it quit alternating. Ended my day a little early, because I didn't have a spare.
 

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I have the same gauges as you. The gauge lights will release from the gauge and the other connectons are held on with nuts. I wired all the lights together (daisy chained) and if you need to disconnect them they just pop out of the back of the gauge and the signal wires are bolted on. I have already had to replace one and it was no big deal. I used a couple of good trailer connectors (primative but I think will work) along with the two weatherpack connectors the Rob Weatherbie put in with my wire diet to organize the wires and make it so that I could actually take the dash out if I need to. Hopefully I won't.
 

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FFCobra Fanatic
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12,975 Posts
Tony also used the aaw harness. When making the disconnects what helped for me was to connect the gauges to the harness wires with spade terminals. Once I had all the gauges wired this way I ran them thru the wire clips to make a nice row of wires held to the backside of dash. Once done then the harness was cut and a larger plug discinnect was put inline. Doing it this way for me was easyer since I did'nt need to guess each wires lenth and routing but ran them together and added disconnect at the point easyest to get to. This makes removeing a single gauge a matter of pulling off the spade terminal or removing entire dash by pulling apart the disconnct. AAW harness has plenty of wire that will need to be shortend anyhow or you end up with a good bit of extra wire to coil up under the dash. The harness also has a assortment of multi plug connectors to choose from if wanting to use those.
 

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Junior Charter Member
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Lile - your wiring is a work of art. VERY NICE!
 

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Junior Charter Member
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for your input. I just have to spemd some time and stare at it and figure this thing out. I've already soldered the grey wire (AAW) for each gauge. Each gauge wire is tied together creating one string of wire for gauge lights. I haven't started on the ground wire for the gauges yet. I also need to figure how to connect these wires to/with the light switch with dimmer.
 

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Charter Member
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Thanks Gearhead, I figured this way I don't have a rats nest under my dash. Also makes it easy to remove the whole harness when it's time to cover the dash.
Lile
 

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Premium Member
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1,988 Posts
It can be done both ways, I covered my dash first and then installed the gauges and wired it up. I used disconnects from the dieted harness and allowed enough wire to be able to remove the dash if needed. Worked for me and very sanitary.

 
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