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Extra instrumentation on a van

 
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Old 08-20-2016, 03:31 PM
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Extra instrumentation on a van

I'm back at it with the 88 E350 diesel. It's going in for surgery shortly to get a few upgrades- Turbo, E4OD, and a few other odds and ends. I want a bit more info on what this thing is doing, but the instrumentation space is limited on these old dashes. In the future I plan on making a custom gauge setup, but I'd like to see what other folks have come up with for adding gauges. I know the pickups can get A pillar gauge pods, but what about vans?
 
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Old 08-20-2016, 08:57 PM
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Watching this , I want to add four gauges to a 95 e250 and was looking for a pillar pods on jegs. Pillar would be optimal but also thinking of using a sun visor shelf as a platform . http://www.jegs.com/webapp/wcs/store...ear=4294829831
http://www.streetsideauto.com/p/vert...FQdehgodaiAEKw
 
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Old 08-20-2016, 09:46 PM
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I'm going full blown Autometer Sport Comp gauges in my 89 E350. I'll be running 9 or 10 gauges total. My plan is to build a custom housing to replace the stock instrument cluster. That will house 5 of my gauges. I want to build a housing that will fit the stock instrument cluster/dash trim panel and use the stock instrument cluster lens. Having one large lens to clean is much better then a bunch of gauges to clean.

I still haven't decided on the mounting of my other four or five gauges. In the past I've mounted a couple onto the steering column. And since my van will be a manual transmission that might be an even better option now.

There are a few other options:

1. The A-pillar pod, But this will require building one from scratch or adapting a truck one to work. I don't think anybody makes one for the 75-91's.

2. A gauge pod that will mount on top of the dash. Again a custom piece or modifying one from something else. I'm still trying to decide if I want to mount my tach on top of the dash or not. Don't know If I can pull off the boy racer look in a extended one ton van! I'm already going to be running functional hood scoops!!

3. Make a gauge panel to install gauges in the stock radio location. This would be pretty simple. But it requires relocating the stereo to a floor console between the front seats or an overhead console.

4. A custom over head console to mount some gauges. This will only work with certain gauges ( electric, not mechanical ) .

5. Some other location/s. Like there is a spot to the right of the radio & heater/ A/C vent that you could mount a gauge. Or if it wouldn't interfere with your leg there is a spot on the lower dash to the left of the steering column under the instrument cluster and headlight switch. You'd have to mount gauge cups there and angle them up. The down side is you'd have to take your eyes off the road and look down to see them very well. So it's probably not the best choice. But it is another option.

Whatever you decide/do post some pics of it!!
 
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Old 08-21-2016, 09:27 PM
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I have a temp gauge under the dash and it's invisible. Plus, I have the brake controller there so there isn't any more gauge room.
Once I get to the dress up stage, all the fake wood on the dash will get covered with brushed aluminum, so I can probably reconfigure things a bit to fit some gauges there.
 
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Old 08-27-2016, 08:19 AM
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This is what I did on my '88. I think in the future I will look at installing a couple of gauge pods on the pillar. So far I haven't found one designed to fit my '88, so I will have to modify one designed for a different year e-series. I would be very interested in details about your e40d swap. I have been putting together a list for swapping an e4od into mine.
 
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Old 08-28-2016, 09:53 PM
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The swap is pretty straightforward, I had a friend get a trans controller, TPS and OD switch off a truck in the junkyard, I'm going to build a harness for it, and hopefully it all plays nice together. The trans came from a PSD truck, I'll need to put an IDI torque converter on it and get a transfer case, but otherwise it'll be a fairly straightforward install.
 
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Old 06-19-2017, 02:50 PM
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Thought I'd add a few comments to this older thread. Some time ago (2 years), I added a 4 gauge pillar to the driver's side on my 1982 E350-based Motorhome. I used the 92-97 F-series 4-gauge unit from Glowshift.com and used my handheld heater/blower to warm and shape the pillar to E350 profile. I had to trim the top and bottom of 92-97 piece but otherwise, it came together very well. In the pillar, I mounted an Innovate MTX-L Wideband AFR gauge, a mechanical Vacuum Gauge, a high-resolution analog and digital water temperature gauge, and a digital tachometer. All have served me well!

However, I recently came upon the custom analog/digital gauges by Dakota Digital in their VHX series. Initially, this looked good to me, but then I saw the price and realized that a true custom panel could be put together for less with better gauges. If one removed the instrument cluster from the back of the cluster trim molding, a piece of Aluminum could be attached with two 3-3/8" and four 2-1/16" gauge ports. These are in ready supply on ebay for less than $100. My favorite gauges are done by Speedhut in that they are all full sweep, and fully customizable for appearance and function. My current plan calls for the Aluminum gauge face holder painted a flat black. To this I would add black face gauges with chromed trim rings. I would use their (Speedhut) 3-3/8 Tachometer with a 0-5K full scale (Motorhome with large torquey 460 gas carbureted engine), the 3-3/8 Electronic Speedometer with 80 mph full scale and with High Beam and turn signal indicators. This speedometer can be configured with my current odometer mileage, and a set of digital warning messages for service intervals, tire change/ rotation intervals, etc. For the 2-1/16 gauges I would use their 270 degree full sweep units including oil (0-100 psi), voltage (0-18V), water temp (120-260F), and fuel Level. The water temp and fuel level gauges would be equipped with warning lights. I will also use a Summit racing Ford speedometer sensor to generate the electronic pulse signal for the speedometer while keeping the cruise control function intact. Cost comes out to a bit less than the Dakota cluster but with full sweep gauges, and a real custom look with cannibalizing the dash appearance. Upcoming project!
 
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Old 06-20-2017, 11:23 PM
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I'm noticing that there is generally little interest in the 79-91 series of vans, let alone some customizing efforts. Nonetheless, I thought that I'd share some of what I've learned. Customizing the instrument cluster on the E350 is a lot easier than the effort required to do this with the 70-79 F-series which has the same gauge footprint as these vans. The F-series requires removal of several defining plastic barriers and rework of the whole dash bezel assembly. In the case of the 79-91 E-series, the instrument cluster has a well-defined single trim piece which has an open window to the gauge cluster.

After reading a number of posts on the 70-79 F150 site, here on FTE, I discovered that custom laser cutting of black acrylic sheet is quite inexpensive. Forming a panel that will fasten directly to the back of the Instrument Bezel Trim and would include the machining of one 4-1/4" and six 2-1/16" holes along with all the additional holes for alignment would come to $55 shipped to the front door! After some introspection, I concluded that a 4-1/2" combination gauge with a 0-80 mph speedo and a 0-4K tachometer would be the first line gauge. I'm ordering the unit with GPS sensing for speed. The 0-4K range on the tach covers the key usage areas for my 460/C6-overdrive Motorhome combination. I will then add water temp, oil pressure, voltage and fuel level as I indicated before. But now, I will add my Innovate MTX-L wideband AFR gauge and a vacuum gauge to the cluster. All gauges are full sweep, internally illuminated and dimmable. The High Beam indicator and the Turn Signal indicators are incorporated in the Speedometer face. I'll have to add a brake on indicator. Warning lights on Fuel and Water Temp gauges. Anyway, I've done a combo CAD drawing with gauge face photos to show what I hope the finished product will look like and attached it to this post!
Custom E350 Gauge Cluster Layout
 
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Old 08-06-2017, 07:38 PM
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I realize that there is apparently very little interest in the forum on dash customization or the 78-91 E-series vans. Nonetheless, I have continued with my project and have been extremely pleased with the results. I generated a CAD drawing of the factory instrument cluster after careful measurement of all dimensions, angles and mounting holes. I then generated several mock-ups using 0.250 foam board until I was satisfied with the view and fit to the stock bezel trim of my 1982 E350. Then, I searched the Speedhut site for the gauge set I wanted. I chose five of their standard 2-1/16 gauges and a 4.625" Combo GPS speedometer calibrated for 0-80 mph with an imbedded 0-4K rpm tachometer. My E350 is actually a 14,000 pound motorhome with carbureted 460 coupled to a C6 with Gear Vendors overdrive. As a result, I seldom exceed 75 mph and rarely spin the engine above 4K, so the smaller and custom ranges were ideally suited to my driving approach. I also had Speedhut set the odometer to my current odo reading for maintenance consistency. I designed the instrument cluster for 6 2-1/16 gauges for the basic four (water temp with warning light, fuel level with warning, oil pressure and voltage- switching from the current ammeter display). These four are complemented with an Innovate MTX-L wideband gauge and a vacuum gauge from Speedhut. After careful perusal of FTE, I realized that I could have my CAD drawings turned into real parts by using a Laser Cutting service. I chose Pololu Robotics and Electronics (www.pololu.com) and had the CAD file implemented in 1/8" black acrylic plastic. The six components consisted of a base plate to screw to the E350 trim bezel, a gauge mounting plate, and a top and bottom rail with two trigonal side pieces to establish the desired cantilever. In seven days after transmitting the file electronically, and after transfer of $50, I had the parts in hand. I assembled the parts quickly using liquid plastic cement (acetone) which literally fused the components into one solid piece. For the results, I'm enclosing two photos of the assembled system. The first is of the gauges mounted in the gauge panel and the second shows the gauges mounted in the finished holder and fastened to the E350 trim bezel. Careful observers will notice that I had to substitute a spare boost gauge for the MTX-L wideband gauge as the MTX-L is currently mounted on the motorhome.


Gauges mounted in Custom E350 Instrument Face



Instrument Cluster Mounted in E350 Bezel
 
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Old 08-06-2017, 08:10 PM
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Looks great!

The similar to the lay out I have planned for mine. The main difference on mine is I'm going to try and keep the stock lens over the gauge cluster just for easier cleaning.
 
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Old 08-06-2017, 08:34 PM
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fordman, I considered leaving the clear plastic cover for ease of cleaning also. However several of my Speedhut gauges are programmable (speedo/tach, fuel level, and water temperature) and I either needed access to a button on the gauge front or a separate intermittent switch for each gauge. I finally decided to go with the face access approach. For cleaning, I added two 0.250x0.500" slots, one on each side, on the bottom edge making a gap between the base plate and the gauge panel. Hopefully that will be good enough for an isopropyl spray wash infrequently!
 
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Old 08-06-2017, 11:12 PM
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That's one of the issues I'm still working out for mine. I've got Autometer Sport Comp gauges and my speedometer and I believe my fuel level ( full sweep ) are both programmable.

My van is a work van that will see a lot of gravel road driving. And it always seems like my gauges are constantly covered in dust. And from past experience on other vehicles, cleaning the individual gauges gets old real fast. So that's the reason I want the stock lens. I just need to figure out some kind of extensions for the gauge buttons.

If mine turns out even half as nice as yours I'll be happy.
 
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:31 AM
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That's a good looking gauge cluster!
 
 
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