Some cars come, from the factory, with a full complement of accessories gauges including speed, fuel, temp, charging circuit status, oil pressure, and even RPMs. All of which give you a clear picture as to exactly what the motor is doing and weather or not it is performing properly. Due to the expense of gages and car manufacturers desire to cut costs, few cars came from the factory with a full compliment of gages.
Most only came with the bare basics: speed, and fuel, some times temp, and then leave the other things like oil, and amps/volts as idiot lights. Even fewer cars came with a factory tach and many of those were a dealership addition. To deal with this issue classic car enthusiasts have been augmenting their stock gage clusters with the missing gages from the day the cars rolled off the show room floor.
My 62 Galaxie, and as far as I know all galaxies are one of the many cars that left the factory equipped with the basic gages and idiot lights. In my case the car started with Speed, temp, and fuel but I wanted it to also have a tach. The first question was where in the 62 would be a good place to put it. My car is by no means an original restoration however I still wanted it to appear relatively stock. With this in mind I did not want to mount the gage under the dash, on the column or in any other place that would look un-original. I also did not want to cut up the dash to insert it directly. Then the solution came to me. I decided that the factory clock was really not necessary and would be a prime location for the tach.
The first problem was finding a tach small enough to fit in the clocks original location. I began searching in all the usual places: eBay, Jegs, sumitracing, and JC Whitney. In all those places the smallest unit I could find was a 2” face. I decided to order one from JC Whitney as they had the best price and I had been very happy with one I had gotten from them in the past.
2" self illuminated tach
To install it the first step was obviously to remove the original gage cluster from the car, take it apart and see if I would even be able to make it work. Removing the unit was straight forward, after disconnecting the speedometer cable I simply removed the retaining screws and pulled the cluster out a couple of inches so that I could disconnect all the wires. As the myriad of wires were disconnected I was careful to mark each wire’s location with a marker and some tape. Once all the wires were disconnected I was able to completely remove the cluster from the car.
With the cluster out I removed the screws holding the clock in place and found that the lens for the clock was part of the clock and thus was removed with the clock. I then removed the screws holding the 3 back sections of the gage cluster to the cluster body. When I pulled of the back sections, the lens and decorative backing plate were easily removed, as the only thing holding them to the gage cluster housing were the backing pieces.
Back part of the gage cluster that had to be removed
With everything apart I found a couple of issues that needed to be addressed before I could install the tach and put things back together. First of all as I said before the lens for the clock was part of the clock and so there was a hole in the main lens in the clock location. Also the body of the tach was about 1/6” wider than the hole for the clock in the back of the gage cluster. Both issues were relatively easy to overcome.
To provide a lens for the cluster I removed the lens from the tach. This had to be done for several reasons. First the tach bezel was large and would push the tack to far back. Second I wanted access to the tach so I could make the tach needle orange to match the stock gages (which I did with an orange permanent marker) and I wanted to make the center button silver to match the stock gages. Third I needed the lens to fill the hole in the main lens. To get it apart I pried the retaining bezel off the tach with a small screwdriver.
Once the bezel was loose the lens was no longer held in place and easy to remove. The lens from the tach was quite a bit bigger than the hole left by the clock so I covered the tach lens with masking tape on both sides to keep it from getting scratched, marked the new size I needed the lens to be and uses my bench grinder to grind the lens down to size. As I got the lens close I did several test fits so that it would be a snug fit inside the original lens opening.
At first I was not sure how to hold the lens in place. I did not want to use glue or any thing that would permanently adhere the new lens to the original one in case there was ever a need to put the clock back. The solution turned out to be a homemade snap ring. I cut a thin ring off steel of the end of a piece of 2” exhaust pipe then split the ring at the seam, slightly bent it to be bigger than the lens opening and painted it to protect it from rust.
homemade snap ring
The ring was then gently squeezed so that it would fit inside the opening and once it was put in place the tension of it trying to expand held the lens in place.
With the snap ring pressed up against the lens it stays in place
With the lens issue resolved I then turned my attention to enlarging the opening on the back of the cluster to fit the larger body of the gage. This was easily done with a die grinder and grinding stone, but before any grinding could be done I had to remove the temp gage so that it would not become damaged during grinding. The gage was held in place with two nuts on the back of the housing.
After removing these nuts and the insulating strip under them, the gage came loose from the housing. With an empty housing I used a sharpy marker to make a 1/32” mark around the edge of the original clock opening so I would know how much material to remove. Then using the die grinder I began to remove the marked material. As I removed the material I made many test fits because I wanted the tach to be a snug fit. Once I had a snug fit I pushed the tach in to the housing, and the tension was enough to hold it in to place.
Black area was ground away to make the opening big enough
With the tach in place, I could now re-install the temp gage and put the entire cluster back together. While the cluster was apart I took the opportunity to have the main body powder coated to mach other trim parts I had powder coated during the restoration of the car, I painted the trim lens backing and made sure everything was clean and working properly. The end result was a quality install that almost looks factory.
Here we have it another car modification from DazeCars, Ford Galaxie Mustang tech and restoration