Keeping Tabs

Updating a tired instrument cluster

To me there are few things more aggravating than cruising down the road while watching and listening to my speedo needle bouncing and squeelin'. It always screws up my concentration as I try to remember if my half-tank fuel reading is really a quarter or an eighth. I know I could remedy the situation by installing a set of aftermarket gauges, but in this particular car I really like the looks of the stock cluster-even with its scuffed lens and dull bezel. Well, thanks to the folks at Classic Industries my troubles can be remedied in a few hours, and the old Chevy II's dash will end up looking like new.

Armed with this good news, and a box full of goodies from Classic, I swung by to see my pals over at Stitz Street Rods to see if they'd let me photograph the cluster being rebuilt-while they did the work, of course. As usual, Erin agreed to help and had the cluster handled in a matter of minutes. All that's left is to get the rest of the car to look as good as its new gauge cluster. Maybe if I just leave the car at the shop they maye hint. Anyway, take a look at the accompanying images and see how good a new, and correctly working '63-'65 Chevy II dash from Classic Industries, could make your car look.

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As a part of their ever-growing offering of classic Chevy parts Classic Industries now offers everything you need to refresh your Chevy II's instrument cluster, including the gauges, clock, bezel, and lens.

Here are the individual replacement parts laid out and ready for installation. The four-gauge cluster even comes with a fresh inner bezel.

The quad cluster is an exact duplicate of the factory items (as are the rest of the components) and also installs in the exact same manner as the originals.

Disassembling the old cluster is a piece of cake; just remove the four screws that hold the gauge housing to the outer bezel and gently separate the two.

As I stated earlier, the original cluster was in pretty sore shape. The speedo was on its last legs, the lens was scratched and beginning to get cloudy, and the hot-stamp chrome plating on the bezel was dull and chipping. And, of course, the factory clock hadn't worked in years.

The instruments are as easy to remove as splitting the bezel from the housing. Just remove a few screws and the gauges just lift up and out. One thing you've got to watch is the colored indicator lenses for the turn signals and high beams. They tend to dislodge when you flip the housing.

The quad cluster was the first of the new gauges to find a home in the housing, and like the rest, it's attached by just a couple of screws and hooks up just like the original unit.

Aside from the fresh new look and feeling of security you get from having a shiny new cluster that you know is accurate, is the fact that you'll end up with an analog clock that actually works! The clock grounds through the housing and needs only a one wire hookup.

Unlike the other gauges the speedo inserts from the front of the housing rather than the rear. This is also held in place with a couple of screws.

Once the gauges are secured and you've double-checked that the indicator lenses are still in place, you just flip the unit over and reattach the original faceplate. Since the cluster lens has protected the faceplate all these years, most only need a swipe or two with a cloth to clean 'em up. Some may take this opportunity to perhaps polish or paint the faceplate to their particular taste.

At this point you can peel away the protective covering off the new lens and place it on the cluster assembly. Be wary of fingerprints, as you wouldn't want to have to pull the assembly back apart because you ended up with an unsightly fingerprint on the inside of the lens.

The next step is to set the shiny new bezel into place. Make sure it's right side up as it may be damaged if you've got it flipped.

Once the bezel is in place, it's back to threading in a couple of screws to finish up the job.

The last order of business is to step back and take a look. In just a matter of minutes that nasty old cluster has regained its youth and looks and works every bit as good as it did on the showroom floor those many years ago.

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