A few words on these cups – awesome, well made, and beautiful. They almost didn’t need refinishing. The finish that Russell of Project M put on them was breathtaking. I’ve never seen a fiberglass part that I questioned painting or not. But, ultimately, the gloss black finish wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Most of the interior plastics are a sort of satin. So, I sanded and painted.
And I managed to not get any pix of the painting. Sorry. You can imagine a piece of cardboard holding the six gauge cups with some black overspray surrounding things.
Here are the cups painted. I’m quite proud of the finish. It’s very thick and OEM-like.
This little template may not look like much, but it’s the result of a silly amount of time spent researching, planning, and measuring. I made several dozen templates. Yes, as in more than 24. I ran out of manila folders and started using the white cardboard mailers I ship gauges in.
It was a matter of getting the spacing just right. I wanted the cups close, but not touching. I wanted them spaced out just a little, but not too much. I wanted them all angled in exactly the same direction. And I wanted them spaced far enough out from the center tombstone so that one edge of the closest gauge wouldn’t be blocked. That’s a lot of fussing over such small details, but that’s how I am.
Tracing the ovals onto the crash pad shouldn’t have been very difficult, but I managed to make it an hour-long exercise. But in the end, I got the holes lined up straight as an arrow. I must have laid down those black tape guide lines 10 times…
Perhaps you noticed the double vision in the lower photo? I’ve got six gauge cups. That’s too many for one Miata. But it’s the perfect amount for two. The second pad is for my buddy Stoly and will be used in his car, Scrat.
Before you ask, no, I don’t plan to go into the crash pad hacking business. Making these two was a ton of work. I don’t think I’d like to do it ever again.
A Dremel and the cutting guide attachment are THE thing for this project. I used one of those cutting bits meant for doing sideways cuts. I think it may have been the Drywall Cutting Bit (#560), but any of them would work. And the proper name for the little frame around the bit is indeed the Dremel Cutting Guide.
After cutting out the holes, a lot of time was spent with a sanding drum getting them angled in the right manner. Thanks to cutting the holes out at a 90 degree angle to the pad, I had to add some expanding foam to make a perfect fit. The edge of the holes closest to the driver needed to be angled inward at about a 30 degree angle.
And then some time passed.
I cut the crash pads up in February. I then spent two months trying to figure out how to secure the gauges and cups to the pad in a reasonably secure manner. The KG Works cups use this funky round frame with prongs sticking out all over. The U-clips that come with all 52mm gauges interface with that and make everything tight. I tried to replicate it. I failed. So I just let the pads sit for a bit while I pondered.
Then it hit me.
Why not make U-clips like the gauges come with? No need to reinvent the wheel. No need for heroics. Just a simple U-clip with legs of different length!
I used 1/16″ x 1″ x 3′ aluminum bar stock. Quite soft stuff, but sufficient for this job. All they have to do is apply a little pressure on the back of the pad and snug the gauge cups down into the foam. Simple. Easy. The result of about 20 hours of off-and-on fabrication. (I even destroyed a sheet metal nibbler!)
Notice the numbers? Each gauge cup is ever so slightly a different shape. They need to have holes cut to fit each one. The cups are numbered on the back side too.
Simple. Easy. I wish I had thought of U-clips at the beginning and saved myself weeks of head scratching. But… well… I figured it out in the end.
Each clip supports his neighbor. The clip at the leading end has a jagged edge cut to help it dig into the crash pad.
That’s pretty much it. Stoly’s crash pad is getting mailed back to him with some holes cut into it and Sharka’s is sitting in wait of being installed. God willing, it won’t take several more months before I get that vintage dash out of my office and into Sharka!
And just in case you missed the link near the top, you can get yourself a set of dash cups from Project M. They make great pieces. I, for one, am a very happy customer.
As promised… err…. somewhere… here is a cup fitting guide! This is exactly how the gauges in Sharka’s crash pad fit. And everything is CAD-perfect. I wish my sad cardboard template had been this nice. You can download a PDF of this guide here. Don’t try to print the above jpg. You’ll only be frustrated. Go for the PDF and print with page scaling set to None.
A quicky sketch of my U-clips. There’s really not much to them. A bent metal bracket with holes in the right spot. But I thought this little guide would help. As above, grab a PDF of the file here. Use the little square to verify that your print is the correct size.