The previous owner of Murray had gone to a lot of effort to graft a Holden instrument panel into the International dash board, but as time when by some of the instruments started to fail. First it was the temp gauge, then the oil pressure, but when the speedo went it was time for some new instruments. I had planned for this project for quite a while buying a set of white faced, brass bezel gauges at the 2009 Toowoomba swap meet, and collected other bits and bobs along the way. I had a vague idea of what I wanted, something to go with brass bezels, (Being a steam Engineer I love brass). I also wanted to to do away with two things; the Hurst gear shifter, which I hated, and the key start, (my idea was to have a combination of switches which had to be in the correct order before the truck would turn over or start). Below are some photos of before, during and after. I expected the project to take about 3 months, it ended up taking 7 !
Apart from the new gauges I used 240 volt brass light switches for head & tail lights and thermo fan. The brass centre piece is from some type of vintage car, English I'd guess, I modified it to control the ignition, reversing lights, start button and hand brake warning light. The wooden panel below it covers the radio/CD, (it looked modern and out of place on the dash so I had to cover it). The lever at the bottom is the auto gear selector, this by far took the most time, design and construction. It's a piece of 5/8" bar turned down to 1/2" for 3/4" of it's length to look in proportion and to take the brass draw knob on the end. It pivots in a piece of 2" x 1" box section behind the brass facia plate, up and down as well as sideways - the sideway motion was to activate micro push switches that activate the gear indicator lamps, (the red and 4 green ones on the instrument panel). The lever is spring loaded to close the micro switches and must be pushed to the left when change gears. I had intended the brass face plate to act as a guide with finger slots machined into it, but the lever travel between gears was just too small to work with the 1/2" lever, and any smaller diameter wouldn't be strong enough. I'm still looking for stick on letters for the gear selector lamps but am having trouble finding ones no bigger than 3/8" (10mm) high - If anyone reads this and knows where I can get some please leave a comment. The indicator and high beam lamps on the instrument panel are LED's, same as the gear selector lamps, from Jaycar in Woolloongabba Brisbane, (great source of gear). I was going to make my own lamps out of brass plumbing fittings with multi-facetted lenses, (hard plastic buttons), for the turn of the century look, but it was too much work, so opted for the off the shelf lamps, which works well. The only issue I have is the blue indicator lamps are so bright at night they light up the cab, so I'm going to glue on some red multi-facetted buttons, (that I had already bought as test pieces), to reduce the brightness and turn them purple. I'm still having some problems with the horn, I had to make a slip ring to transfer the power from the Holden Commodore steering column - power wire comes up the outside of the steering shaft, whereas the Studebaker Hawk steering wheel I used has the horn wire coming up the middle of the hollow shaft. The slip ring consisted of a piece of sheet metal cut into the large washer and a press in wire connecter soldered onto it, then I turned up a piece of nylon to the same size to insulate it against the steering shaft and column components. A spring loaded wire with a brass end soldered on rubs on the slip ring when the steering wheel is turned making sure of power all the time - well, that't the intention ! The hold down nut keeps working it's way loose and the connection is broken = no horn. I've been tightening it about every two weeks, but I need to take it apart and shim the slip ring up a little and fit a rattle proof washer to stop the nut coming lose. Other than that Murray drives well, the gauges look great, especially at night lit up, I have to replace the top cover strip for a larger one as the glue holding the ply veneer has let go on the bend above the gauges.
|The dash before the renovation|