View Full Version : Gauge Reface How To

07-10-2008, 03:21 PM
OK, here goes. What follows is a set of work instructions for refacing gauges. In my case, I wanted new gauge functionality while retaining the vintage looks of the originals. For instance, a voltage gauge is much more useful to me than an ammeter, But I want it to look like it could have been original in the car.

Here is a gauge with functions I like. It's a left hand sweep, 180MPH speedometer.


But it doesn't look much like the Avanti tach


Using the process outlined below, I ended up with this.

I used many other folksí tips and instructions to develop this process and make no claim of any original thought here. There are lots of sites with helpful info if you do a few searches. I just thought it might be helpful to folks if all this was in one spot.

I'll add and edit this post for clarity and as I get more pictures uploaded. Please ask any questions you like, be patient and consider this a work in process.

I used the following items in the process:

Scotchbrite fine abrasive pads
Tac Rag
Scott blue shop towels
Testorís Dullcote, or any quality rattle-can flat clear lacquer
Clear rattle-can exterior semi gloss enamel
Black rattle-can gloss lacquer
Chrome rattle-can paint
MicroSol waterslide decal solvent
MicroSet waterslide decal setting solution
MicroScale opaque white waterslide decal paper
Various small paint brushes like those used in painting models
Exacto knife
Small hole punch
Inkjet or laserjet printer
Digital camera
Bowl of distilled water

First disassemble the new gauge. I used a screwdriver and gradually uncrimped the bezel from the body.


Pull the guts out.
This gives you access to the face.

I used waterslide decal paper for color laserjets and inkjets to print the gauge faces. I got mine from Microscale.

URL for waterslide paper pic here

I used a digital camera to get a good straight-on shot of the new gauge. You need this to get the angles and needle pivots right on your new face. Using the picture of the new gauge, I outlined the hash marks and needle pivot point in AutoCAD. You can do this in Photoshop too. This keeps the scale correct as the new gauges rarely are the same as the more vintage stuff.

URL for CAD sketch pic here

Then I used Photoshop to place the correct fonts for the lettering and numbers and add the colors. The font that matched the original gaugesí numbers was Century, while the font that matched the lettering was Franklin Demi. I use my print settings to make the background black and the lettering white.

URL for Photoshop gauge face here
You are printing the black and colors and the white decal background becomes the white lettering and hashes. I used a color laser but an inkjet will work as well. Itís much more cost effective to do the artwork for several gauges so I printed the whole sheet. Use the scissors and cut out the individual faces.

URL of printed decals here

The printer I used didn't have a waterfast ink, so I had to apply a fixative to keep it from smearing when the decal is applied. I used Testor's Dullcote, but a flat lacquer clear will work. An enamel paint may react to the

07-10-2008, 03:46 PM

Thank you for taking the time to write up how you did all this. Very much appreciated.

Some questions that would help me (and perhaps others)in the future:

1. How did you remove and then install the gauge pointers with out damage to the sensitive movement?

2. How did you "roll" the edge of the stainless cover back on, so that the gauge would set squarely against the overlay panel when installed? This has been a problem for me in the past.

Is there any special colored printing ink that would prevent the gauge decal faces from aging prematurely, or being damaged by UV?

I know from discussions in the past that the you are extremely sharp on these things, and probably have worked this out.

One of the sign companies in town has purchased a printer that can print on vinyl. These are suppose to be good for fading 5 years in the outside world. They could use the .dxf format from Autocad.

I am very impressed with your work.

Best regards as always.

1963 Studebaker Avanti: C4 Corvette narrowed front/rear suspension, C5 13" calipers/rotors adapted to C4, Viper differential with Intrax 3.54 ratio (the snake has been charmed!), coil overs, stainless tubular frame, stainless chambered side exhaust.
Here are two links for some pictures and information.
Slide Show (http://www.electro-dynamics.com/chassis/avantislide.html)
Magazine Article (http://www.electro-dynamics.com/magazine.html)

07-10-2008, 03:52 PM
Looks great, nice instructions!

Water-slide decal stock for laser printers is also available.
See http://www.beldecal.com/
I think the laser toners are more likely to withstand sunlight without fading as much as ink jet decals. However, laser-printed decals won't take solvents on top of them, like lacquer or Krylon, so overcoat with water-based acrylic varnish. Also, Future Floor Finish applied with a soft camel's hair brush works well on laser-printed decals (not for outdoor use, but OK for gauges).

It's a good idea to try out the entire process on a test piece of sheet metal with an extra decal before you do a whole gauge face so that you don't get surprised by some paint or chemical incompatibility.

[img=left]http://www.studegarage.com/images/gary_ash_m5_sm.jpg[/img=left] Gary Ash
Dartmouth, Mass.
'48 M5
'65 Wagonaire Commander
'63 Wagonaire Standard
web site at http://www.studegarage.com

07-10-2008, 04:01 PM
I have several sub topics to add the the above, such as removing refinishing, and reinstalling needles, adding lighting, and uncrimping and recrimping bezels. Should I edit the first post or add them as additional posts? I'm thinking edit the first post and then add a post to indicate a rev so that it's easy to see new information was added, but all the info is together for the first time reader.

_________1966 Avanti II RQA 0088______________Rabid Snail Racing

Chucks Stude
07-10-2008, 04:24 PM
This is great info. You need to put it all in a form that will go permanently in the "Tech Tips" section of the forum.

07-10-2008, 04:37 PM
Great stuff, but for me it's like someone telling me how to do brain surgery. I can read the instructions, but don't have your skills to do the job.:)

"I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
Thomas Jefferson

07-10-2008, 07:01 PM
If you want UV and fade resistant decals find someone with an ALPS printer or a Roland. The image is created with resin based inks. Also allows you to print white.

07-11-2008, 07:34 AM

where do you get cartridges for an ALPS printer? I haven't seen them for 5 years or more. I do have an old ALPS printer in my garage that I haven't used in years for that reason.


easiest way to take pointers off without damage is with two plastic knives. one on either side of the pointer, and twist.


any pointers on R&Ring the bezels without damage/distortion would be greatly appreciated.


55 Commander Starlight

07-13-2008, 09:11 PM
I just bought a large supply of them from some compnay in New Jersey.

I don't have the invoice handy but join the Yahoo Group on AlPS Decals, not ALPS Printers.

I really perfer using the ALPS over an Inkjet saves a lot of grief with over spraying. If you don't have a MD5000, there is a trick on the Yahoo group on how to make an AlPS print with white.

07-15-2008, 06:12 PM
Any chance of making a set of decals for Avanti's and selling them?

63 Avanti R2, 4-Speed, 3.73 TT
Martinez, CA

07-15-2008, 08:23 PM
I probably wouldn't sell them, but an offer in trade might work.:)

_________1966 Avanti II RQA 0088______________Rabid Snail Racing

07-17-2008, 11:30 PM

Thank you for putting this up. I may follow your lead and replace my amp meter with a voltage meter also. Is the Stewart Warner part number of the gauge you used 82309? Reason being is that when I took the dash out my car the positive wire to the amp meter was melted and damaged a few others.


07-18-2008, 12:25 PM
Here's a pic of mine new in box. PN 82309

_________1966 Avanti II RQA 0088______________Rabid Snail Racing