Recap # 1: Defi Gauge Cluster, Center Vent Pod and HUD 6/6/2007 Part 1

Posted: February 21, 2010 in Interior, Toby Broadfield's S13
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Preview of the end result,

Part 1:  Gauge Cluster

This project was a fairly quick one I did back in the middle of 2007.  I simply wanted something cooler than the OEM 240sx gauge cluster.  I had no idea at the time that it would garner so much attention from not only 240 owners, but I have also seen it posted on many other automobile forums.  So I am greatly humbled that others appreciate my hard work.  With all of the customization I do, whether it’s for my car or for my job, I like the OEM’ish look.  I want someone who knows nothing about cars to think nothing was done in my interior…. or maybe think that it’s an upgraded OEM option.  So onto the cluster.  First off the gauges:  I chose the brand Defi because, well, they are Defi!  They are of the utmost quality, they are the exact look I like, I have used them in previous cars, I like how the gauges are all linked together to a central control unit and I really like the brushed aluminum trim ring they use.  Another plus was that they came in various sizes:  52mm, 60mm, 80mm and 115mm.  Of course there are only a couple different ones that come in the two larger sizes….. so I was limited to what I got to choose for my two larger gauges.  I went with the black face because of my tradition of holding to the OEM’ish look….. especially since they had green illumination.   Blue illumination or white face gauges would of just looked out of place.  The only downfall to this entire gauge cluster idea is that Defi does not make a speedometer.  And since this car is daily driven in everything but snow and salt, I needed a speedometer.  I could of crammed a digital one in with only a small rectangular window to display the speed, but then it would of looked crammed in there.  I wanted a nice simple but not overly bare cluster.  So I got a hair-brain idea to use the Defi HUD and retrofit it into the OEM HUD housing.  I was able to find the OEM HUD housing for next to nothing… cool!  So I ordered everything up only to find out that the Defi HUD that displays on the windshield had been discontinued….not cool!  However, there was a new one that displayed onto its own back plate made of simple plexi-glass.  Sweet, I’ll take it and simply buy the old HUD film and display it on the windshield like I originally planned.  Well, not so fast…… more on this in part 2

Building the cluster was pretty straight forward.  I simply hacked up an old cluster to begin with.  I wanted to maintain the OEM mounts, black interior surround and the OEM clear plastic front.  The only part of the OEM cluster that had to be cut to perfection was the black surround, as this was going to be butt up against the back plate.  So in order for it to look as good as OEM , it had to be perfect.  Once that was cut, I made a back plate out of 1/4″ hardboard.  I cut the holes for the gauges and turn signals.  The gauges were to be flushed in to give a smoother look…. so those holes also had to be perfect.  To be perfectly honest with you, I HAD to flush them in.  The two big 80mm gauges would of hit the clear plastic OEM face had I not flushed them in.  So sometimes things just work out for the better even when you don’t plan on it.   For the turn signals I took the OEM arrow and mounted it underneath a piece of PVC to form the housing,  I then hacked out the white plastic area that the OEM bulbs twist into.  I glued these onto the back of the PVC and I instantly had turn signal housings where the bulb could be easily replaced.

The white housing back of the cluster just had to be hacked up good enough to clear for the back of the new gauges.  It didn’t need to be pretty.

The new plate that the gauges are mounted in needed to be finished in an OEM look.  So I used two of my favorite products.  I used SEM Texture Coat to get the texture I wanted.  Depending on how far away you spray it, you can get varied results with the amount of texture.  For the finishing coat, I used SEM Landau Black.

All that’s left is to glue the plate in, snap the back white housing on and attach the OEM clear front plastic.  Part 2:  HUD, coming soon!

Comments
  1. yashios14 says:

    Hey man I love this gauge setup. I remember reading about it first on zilvia.net. I actually might try to mimic this setup in the future for my s14. Please keep up the good work, you have a great eye for detail.

    • broadfield says:

      Thanks man! I’m actually getting ready to build a couple of them for two hatches. One of them will be my exact setup, only with white Defi gauges. The other will be black Defi gauges, but with a slightly different setup in the cluster.

  2. yashios14 says:

    Right on man. Well if you don’t mind and the owners of those cars don’t mind, would you post up some pix of those two setups when you get done with them? Can’t wait to see the “slightly different” setup as Im sure it will be amazing as well and I want to get some more ideas heheh. Can’t wait for part two on the HUD setup.

  3. broadfield says:

    I usually try to take pictures of my custom work. So I definitely will be posting pictures in my Fokti. So I can always post a link to the pics or throw up a couple of each on here.

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