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EL dash cluster modification 

 

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 Post subject: EL dash cluster modification
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 9:37 pm 
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Hey guys, first off I'd like to say sorry for yet ANOTHER thread on dash modifying, but I felt the need to pop my posting cherry.

Long story medium-length, I'm in the final stages of buying my first car (a 1998 blue EL GLi wagon, 155,000km, good nic, $1500) and have been hunting around the forums for a little while for some inspiration as to what to do with it. Unlike many other P-platers, I'm not too concerned with huge performance (or police magnet) upgrades at the moment, as long as it goes I'm happy. But I certainly wouldn't mind it at least being a bit unique-looking inside.

ANYWAY... I was thinking of doing some dash mods, such as the blue cluster, with the rest of the interior to follow, to match the colour of the car. But as to how exactly to go about that, I am not too sure.

Even though I am fairly savvy with electronic components, I saw THIS and thought it would be a cheap and easy way to get the blue dash look. However, the cluster lights in the wagon certainly aren't the brightest, and so the LED option would probably be more beneficial, as long as it doesn't turn out patchy and uneven like some of the ones I have seen.

I was also looking at custom dial faces, but didn't know which method for the blue lighting would be best for it. Also, I'm not sure as to either print them on normal paper, or (seeing as I work in the photo-processing department at Kmart) use our printers and paper to get a better result. I was after the effect where when it is dark, the dash lights only shine through the needles and the 'ticks'.

So, yeah. Cheers to anyone who's actually read all this, and/or who can give me some insight as to what to do, and I look forward to hopefully joining the Fordmods culture!

 

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 Post subject: Re: EL dash cluster modification
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 10:00 pm 
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steedy wrote:
However, the cluster lights in the wagon certainly aren't the brightest, and so the LED option would probably be more beneficial, as long as it doesn't turn out patchy and uneven like some of the ones I have seen.

In my opinion you'd be better off trying replacement stock globes 1st, I never found any LED's or SMD's that didn't look crap and blotchy by comparison. As said in the thread, it is actually still quite bright and easy to read after the mod.
steedy wrote:
I was also looking at custom dial faces, but didn't know which method for the blue lighting would be best for it. Also, I'm not sure as to either print them on normal paper, or (seeing as I work in the photo-processing department at Kmart) use our printers and paper to get a better result. I was after the effect where when it is dark, the dash lights only shine through the needles and the 'ticks'.

I have also gone down this path with cluster mods, and again by comparison to the stock dash cards the photo paper ones just don't cut it as well as I'd hoped. Looked great in the daytime, but not so good at night.

 

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 Post subject: Re: EL dash cluster modification
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 10:02 pm 
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Hey mate, the mod is pretty easy and there are a few threads on it throughout the site, Ive had mine done for a while and was really happy with it. I pulled it out last weekend and applied a strip of alfoil all around the extremities of the inside edge of the cluster, it was the genious idea of one of the guys on here (flick through the posts and you will find it) and the difference was pretty wild constant light across the entire cluster with the only exception being where the gauges go into the red and by default it makes the light look darker.

I havent played with custom dials....yet. But there is a thread on it as well if you search for "photoshop" you should be able to find something on here.

Good luck with it all

 

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 Post subject: Re: EL dash cluster modification
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 10:06 pm 
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Landau510 wrote:
I pulled it out last weekend and applied a strip of alfoil all around the extremities of the inside edge of the cluster
:) I just sprayed the inside of my cluster with chrome finish spray paint while it was disassembled.

 

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 Post subject: Re: EL dash cluster modification
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 10:09 pm 
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yeah that would have been easier.....

Does that chrome paint come up anything like chrome or just a bit of a mirror finish?

 

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 Post subject: Re: EL dash cluster modification
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 10:19 pm 
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Esteven8 wrote:
In my opinion you'd be better off trying replacement stock globes 1st, I never found any LED's or SMD's that didn't look crap and blotchy by comparison. As said in the thread, it is actually still quite bright and easy to read after the mod.

Yeah this is what I was worried about with the LEDs, so perhaps the cellophane is a better idea to start off with, and seeing as it's also the cheapest option if it doesn't pay off it isn't a big deal.

Esteven8 wrote:
I have also gone down this path with cluster mods, and again by comparison to the stock dash cards the photo paper ones just don't cut it as well as I'd hoped. Looked great in the daytime, but not so good at night.

So do you suggest just normal paper, or to not do it altogether?

Esteven8 wrote:
Landau510 wrote:
I pulled it out last weekend and applied a strip of alfoil all around the extremities of the inside edge of the cluster
:) I just sprayed the inside of my cluster with chrome finish spray paint while it was disassembled.

Wow, I didn't see or think of that, how did it turn out?

 

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 Post subject: Re: EL dash cluster modification
Posted: Sat May 12, 2012 12:47 am 
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Landau510 wrote:
yeah that would have been easier.....

Does that chrome paint come up anything like chrome or just a bit of a mirror finish?


If I had gone to the effort of sanding between coats etc it would have come up much smoother and shinier, but as it was it brightened it up considerably.

steedy wrote:

Esteven8 wrote:
I have also gone down this path with cluster mods, and again by comparison to the stock dash cards the photo paper ones just don't cut it as well as I'd hoped. Looked great in the daytime, but not so good at night.

So do you suggest just normal paper, or to not do it altogether?



I found that photo paper was too thick to be of any use for lighting etc, whereas plain paper just looked like crap full stop. It was very difficult to find a even and consistent finish. I ended up sticking with the stock (well, modded EL gauge cards in an EF cluster) for these reasons and also as I found it suited my 'Improved Factory' theme I was looking for.

My advise is to give my mod a shot, cost you less than $15 and if you don't like it, it is reversible as long as you use the stock gauge cards.

However I do advise caution with disassembling the entire cluster if you plan on painting it as I have mine, if you aren't VERY careful you can damage the LCD for the odometer and ruin it beyond repair. It would pay to practice disassembling and reassembling on a povo cluster first.
My cluster is a mix 3 different ones. The gauges themselves and white oil press/volt/fuel/temp needles are out of an EF Monty, the gauge cards and orange speedo/tacho needles are from an EL GLi and the actual cluster housing and EPROM for the odometer are the original GLi spec out of the wagon. I am extremely happy with the result I achieved, but unfortunately the photos just don't do it justice.

 

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 Post subject: Re: EL dash cluster modification
Posted: Sat May 12, 2012 9:55 am 
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Esteven8 wrote:
I found that photo paper was too thick to be of any use for lighting etc, whereas plain paper just looked like crap full stop. It was very difficult to find a even and consistent finish. I ended up sticking with the stock (well, modded EL gauge cards in an EF cluster) for these reasons and also as I found it suited my 'Improved Factory' theme I was looking for.

My advise is to give my mod a shot, cost you less than $15 and if you don't like it, it is reversible as long as you use the stock gauge cards.


Yeah I had a look at your build thread. Even though they look white in the photo, it looks great! Nice and even, and still very bright. I think doing that with new cluster globes is the go.

I'll try get an old cluster from the wreckers or something to test it all out, with that chrome paint idea and everything. Might also try the photo paper on that (seeing as it won't cost me anything). But your cellophane idea shows the most consistent lighting I've seen.

 

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