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[C1] 58 Restoration Thread (Update #3)

 
Old 07-11-2019, 10:10 PM
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tgtexas02
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Default 58 Restoration Thread (Update #3)

My last update #2 was in May of this year which primarily dealt with 2x4 restoration. This link will take you to it https://www.corvetteforum.com/forums...pdate-2-a.html. Several RV trips and currently waiting for dated glass, I needed something to do while waiting to finish door and windshield alignments in preparation for painting in the very near future. And, since bare frame is still under the body, I can then remove it, put body on another jig, and simultaneously start putting running chassis together. Since I cannot really do much but wait for glass, thought I would do something on C1 Cluster Restoration. This particular update will deal with restoring a gauge cluster.

Keep in mind that when I bought this car in 2000, nearly everything had been totally taken apart and put into boxes with no sense of organization. You and I will both be learning at the same time on how to restore a cluster as a DIYer as a result. Hope I don't fail! First thing I did was find anything that looked like a gauge item. I had the cluster pods, some speedometer items, some Fuel/Temp items, no Bat/Oil items, no Tach, and no Clock. When I finally thought I found everything, my wife let me use her table to take a picture of everything I found and misc items I purchased such as a used Tach and an incomplete Bat/Oil gauge. I will deal with the missing Clock when I finish the car.

Fig 1 will give some idea of the number of items that I now have. Everything is totally apart. I bought a very nice looking 58 6000 RPM Tach on Ebay and a 58 Bat/Oil gauge which had a 59-60 Oil Gauge (pointed needle) unit in it. 58 gauges used blunt needles. I suspect 53-57 gauges are very similar to the 58 gauges except the small gauge canister mounting flanges will be different. 58-62 canisters all use the same mounting flanges. The 58 gauges will have white dots and numbers instead of dashes found on 59-62. The 58 needles and earlier cars will use blunt tipped needles versus pointed needles found on 59-62. 59-60 used white dashes and numerals and the 61-62 used slightly tinted green dashes and numerals. The only thing I have found on the 58 cluster to not be white is the speedometer needle which is slightly tinted green. The tach needles look the same from 58-62 being chrome appearing with a white tip. Fig 2 is is MAP Gas Torch and Muggy Weld Super Alloy 1 and Flux for pot metal repairs. Fig 3 shows paints and supplies: Mothers PowerPlastic Plastic Polish for lens, white needle paint, Krylon 2754 Matte Black for gauge faces/plates, Krylon 3467 Satin Pistachio for hsg interiors, Krylon 2751 Satin Spring Grass for hsg interiors/plate backings, small bottle of liquid frisket masking, dremel drill bit set, ultra fine tip paint brushes, and package of 9"x12" frisket masking film.


Below photos show cluster housing repairs I have made with the Muggy Weld or other marked areas still needing repair. For the missing tab area I will need to devise some type of wooden mold to contain the melted Muggy Weld and form the tab and then shape and drill a new hole in the tab with my dremel. I will post the results once I finish all the repairs. Tonight I intend to low pressure bead blast both housing.


Tomorrow I will post more details regarding each of the gauges and what I will be doing to refurbish or what I need to buy. This thread may take a couple of weeks to complete as I am derusting things. bead blasting, zinc plating, polishing lens and bezels, painting, and ordering selected items. I hope you will find this helpful as I discuss each gauge and show how they go together and some tips on how to fix a gauge that is not working.

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Old 07-12-2019, 02:45 AM
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SPEEDOMETER. Below photos show essentially every part of a speedometer except that I am missing the Numeral Clear Lens with White Numbers that goes from 0 to 160 MPH. All the vendors carry this lens so I know I need to buy one. Additionally, items labelled in BLUE are also available from the vendors should you need any of these parts. During my initial assessment, I found that the needle and odometer operated erratically. The drive was extremely difficult to turn and caused the needle to bounce. A thorough cleaning and some WD40 and the drive started easily spinning and the needle worked well but the odometer intermittently worked or would just stop. Close inspection revealed that both worm gears had worn teeth and the small nylon odometer spur gear had two damaged teeth. Basically, gears were engaged until they could not mesh because of this worn situation. I will be buyiing the two worm gears from one of the vendors (cost about $30 total). But, the small nylon spur gear doesn't seem to exist anywhere that I could find. Without a good spur gear the odometer wheels will still not function correctly. To solve the spur gear problem, I am buying a 55 Chevy speedometer assembly as I believe it uses the same odometer drive setup as the C1 Corvette. Hope I am right for another $25 expense. If not, I will have to figure something else out and post the fix later in this thread.

With a free spinning drive and three good odometer gears, I am convinced the speedometer once assembled will work very well. So, at this point I will be bead blasting the main canister and face plates, zinc plating, appropriately painting, polishing out the dotted lens, repainting all the dots, and ordering such things as new cushions, red and green filter lens, and a new unfaded replacement odometer. As soon as I have everything cleaned and painted and new parts received I will show what is painted Black and Pistacio and show how everything goes back together.

As soon as I get a little free time, I will provide similar type details regarding the Tach and the small gauge sets.
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:17 AM
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TACHOMETER. Below photo shows TACH parts and as before items in BLUE are available from vendors. I purchased this TACH on EBAY and I think I paid $175 to include shipping. It was in remarkably great cosmetic condition but the cable drive shaft was difficult to spin. Thorough cleaning and some WD40 and it now spins very freely. Inspection found all parts are in excellent condition. I don't plan to replace anything except it will need an OUTER LENS SEAL which had dried out and crumbling. Inspite of its remarkably condition, I will be detailing with zinc plating, painting, lens polishing and MAIN HSG ink stamps. I want to point out that the MAIN HSG interior is Pistacio and the LENS RETAINER & FACE PLATE front in BLACK and backside in SPRING GRASS. I mistakenly labelled the "REV COUNTER" as "ODOMETER" in the photo.



Below: I will be replicating the stampings "REGISTERS CABLE SPEED", part number "1548631-W", and date "MAY 1 1958". Right now I plan to use the same date for my May 28, 1958 build date. I use Corel Draw to create vector images and then will send to a rubber stamp maker and buy some Magenta permanent stamp pad ink. You can see in the photos that the factory stamps were not consistently clear. As for TACH and other gauge dating, I would think four to six weeks prior to build is reasonable.



Some closing observations: The worm gears appear to be somewhat universal and used interchangeably in many early passenger and corvette speedometers and tachometers. They are not identical in configuration but very similar in operation. In this tach it uses a nylon worm gear versus the metal worm gear found in the speedometer. In fact, I found both metal worm gears in a 59 El Camino gauge. I believe Chevy serviced these gauges back in the day by replacing nylon gears with longer lasting metal gears. And, clean inner workings and free spinning cable drives have to prolong gear life. Think about it, a hard semi seized cable drive or worm gear could easily brake the cable and result in no needle movement, needle bounce, or prematurely wear gear teeth to include the Rev Counter failing as in my speedometer. Luckily, this tach configuration does not use a small spur gear to drive the odometer. Also, note that the tach rev counter is seven wheels but only the last six wheels are seen behind the face plate versus six wheels which all show on the speedometer and the tenths wheel is in white.

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Old 07-12-2019, 08:25 PM
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SMALL GAUGES. First photo shows all the components of the gauge housings less the individual gauges. 53-58 used the same style gauges which used white dotted/numbered flat lens faces, white blunt tipped needles, convex clear lens and convex chrome face plate and convex back plate, Just about all the items shown are available but the convex chrome face plate and the convex back plate could be difficult to find. These older style 53-58 gauges do not appear to be reproduced but the new 59-60 individual gauges are. The 59-62 use a pointed needle, a black face plate is printed with white numbers and dashes and they use a flat clear lens, flat back plate, and flat cover. The 61-62 looks just like the 59-60 but dashes, letters and needle will all be tinted green. You can see from the right side photo that one of my gauges is a 59-60 style gauge so I am on the look out for a decent 53-58 individual oil gauge unit. Also, the fuel gauge is as I found it in one of the boxes from when I purchased this once backetcase 58. I believe I can put this fuel gauge back together and make it work. Right now I only plan to replace the oil gauge with a correct one and I will make everything else work and look like new.



At this point I now know what I have, what I don't have, what parts need to be replaced, and what parts need cleaning, plating, polishing and painting, I just need to spend several days doing this with my first priority being getting all the housings less the gauge internals looking brand new. When I have the housing and lens finished I will continue this thread with some "before" and "after" photos and show how the internals go back together. As the gauges get completed I will develop some methods for calibrating to share with you too. Right now I do not know how to do this!

From a cost perspective, I am estimating that it will have cost me $325 to $375 to do this restoration effort if I don't get hosed on buying an oil gauge. Remember, I already bought a TACH for $175 and a half correct BAT/OIL gauge for $125 so I have at least $700 into a gauge cluster doing all the work myself. And, the cluster housing isn't painted yet! Don't kid yourself on what things costs; but, for me this is cheaper than buying a restored speedometer, a new tach, and all restored small gauges. Betting this would cost a lot, lot more. Later as I go to work on things for several days or a couple weeks. Hope you will be impressed with the end result.
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Old 07-12-2019, 08:38 PM
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I admire your efforts! II would not have the patience and attention to detail to tackle that myself. Looking forward to seeing your progress.
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Old 07-13-2019, 10:36 AM
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Wow, great attention to detail, and a great reference post with good pictures.

No way do I have the patience for all that!
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Old 07-13-2019, 10:51 AM
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Great job! Not only on the restoration process, but the documentation process as well!

Pat
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Old 07-13-2019, 11:10 AM
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I really enjoy reading post like this so that one day when I have my crack at a restoration I have a shot a doing it right. Well done and thank you!
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Old 07-13-2019, 06:23 PM
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Thanks for all the kind responses! Pat, knowing your caliber of work and following your threads...your feedback to me really meant a lot too.

I have not bead blasted a thing since I started this thread and I was loosing sleep (not really) trying to come up with a fix for my speedometer spur gear which seems to have gone extinct. But, today a simple solution just popped into my head so I thought I should share a little more info. Then, I am going to have a Stella and "i'm going for it".

INTERCHANGEABILITY. My wife's brother was kind enough to send me his 59 El Camino gauges left over from his restomod build in hopes I might be able to steal parts. Appears to me now that just about any 55 to ? passenger car speedometer will have selected items which work in the C1 speedometers and tachometers. For example, first photo shows the speedometers and tachometer units for my 58 Corvette and 59 El Camino. The Main Frames are nearly identical but they each use a different type of final odometer/rev counter drive configuration. The El Camino odometer does not mount in the frame but in the speedometer front lens plastic lens housing. The 58 Tach Rev Count mounts inside the main frame. The 58 Speedometer odometer mounts inside an extension frame which attaches to the Main Frame. But, the two worm gears and their frame bushings, although designed a little differently, are completely interchangeable. They could be nylon or metal gears and a nylon gear can be used with a metal gear. Middle and Last photo show what I call a First Drive Gear and a Second Drive Gear. Since both gears are bad in my speedometer, I will simply use the gears from the El Camino to fix this part of my problem. Both gears can be purchased from our vendors but I do not think the small bushing is offered. It presses with very little effort into the main frame tight enough to not fall out. It does not have to be hammered in and only slight taping may be required.




I have solved my two bad speedometer drive gear problem by cannibalizing the El Camino very good condition gears but I could have also purchased new metal ones for around $30.00 too. Regarding my spur gear problem, the first photo shows with the RED lines where the odometer or rev counter mounts and the BLUE line shows where the Corvette spur gear with its shaft mounts. From the end of an installed Second Gear, the El Camino uses three nylon gears to reach the odometer teeth and the Corvette Tach uses one gear to reach the Rev Counter. No spur gear with shaft is used. The Corvette Speedometer uses one gear which is located on a separate extension frame. Due to the Corvette Speedometer configuration, a spur gear and shaft are needed (the BLUE line) to reach the extension gear. So, in my case, even though I now have two good drive gears my odometer will not work because the Spur Gear is still bad. I should point out that all these gears have absolutely nothing to do with the speedometer needle operation. They only drive the odometers or rev counter. The needle assembly (which I have removed so you can see things better) takes care of this aspect based on rotating magnets and an ultra fine spiral spring. Forget about the needle assembly until I get to it much later in my restoration. Just be very, very delicate with it if you remove or handle! Middle photo is closeup of the the 14-tooth nylon spur gear which is bad. Last photo is my solution for replacing the spur gear by cutting off the end of the El Camino odometer cylinder which has the very same gear diameter and 14-tooth count. The shaft diameter of the spur gear and an odometer are also the same. Biggest difference will be that my new spur gear will be plastic instead of nylon and the tooth length will go from end-to-end instead of a very small tooth width on the original spur gear. Second problem solved...I think.





My Tach Rev Counter is very nice looking and not faded or scratched; but, my speedometer odometer is extremely faded. I think the vendors sell these for around $50 but I bought a brand new one on ebay to include shipping for $30. To best of my knowledge a six wheel odometer is pretty generic from 53 to 67. You could replace a Tach seven wheel counter with a standard odometer as all six wheels will be displayed but the first wheel will just spin real, real fast. I suspect this is why they made it a seven wheel counter and only showing the last six wheels in the face plate. It just sorta slowed a fast rotation down a little. Reluctanctly, it is now Stella time and I firmly believe I have all problems and solutions taken care of...so far. Again, thanks for kind replies! I really feel like bead blasting tonight. Really!!
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Old 07-14-2019, 04:20 PM
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Great stuff! I’ve got my cluster out to repaint with no plans to go this deep, although with such amazing detail, I may change my mind. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
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Old 07-14-2019, 05:56 PM
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Have to take care of yard work and things too but think by mid-week my results will be much more interesting. Should have all the housing assemblies blasted, zinc plated, painted, lens polished, and chrome polished. I am expecting before and after pictures will show the total transformation from a tired gauge set. I will still be waiting for a few internal gauge items so may take a little longer to actually finish out the individual gauge units and put in the housings. Photo shows qty of items for blasting and forward phase.




This photo (I know, I am really, really, really sick) shows small gauge units taken apart so that I can repaint the front and back of face plates in black. I will rivet the faces back on with tiny as before 1/16" hollow rivets after I get the frames and needles polished and coils tested. Some of these items are fairly rusted/corroded in some places; however, I am still looking for correct oil gauge unit. If someone needs this 59-60 oil gauge send me a Private Message as I am a pay it forward type person. I also think I have also solved my calibration plan...buying a $30 digital handheld revolution counter from Amazon for the speedometer and tachometer tuning and a digital (4N1) Battery-Temp-Oil-Fuel tester on Ebay for $30. Exact details still to be worked out once I receive them. Part of this later calibration phasee will require correlating my gas tank sending unit to the gauge so I guess I will add the Gas Tank Sending Unit to this restoration thread in the future.



Let me be very clear and say, "what I am doing is not for just anyone"! I started essentially with junk so I had nothing to loose. This is an extremely enjoyable effort and I am learning and having fun doing it. Plus, I am betting my results will be a cluster with pristine, accurate and working gauges. Stay tuned and we will see?
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