Additional Instruments Installed

23 04 2012

In the past air-cooled VW engines often died from overheating, after being driven too fast for too long. So an oil temperature gauge makes a lot of sense. I had installed one when I bought our old bus, the Old Lady, in 1995. For good measure I had also added a battery voltage gauge of the same series of VDO instruments. They both went into the radio slot in the center of the dashboard which was free as the radio had gone overhead, in a self-made shelf above the rear view mirror. I had seen this set-up first in 1989 in a friend’s T2b campervan, Stefan’s Frau Wehbus. And since then I just liked it to switch the radio on “trucker-style” by reaching towards the ceiling. I am now copying this set-up for our second bus, Taiga Lily. And because I really have to stop sinking more and more money into the bus, I decided to take both instruments from the Old Lady, currently in storage and waiting for better times, and transplant them into Taiga Lily. Taiga Lily actually came with a second brand new dashboard which the previous owner had thrown in because the radio slot of the original board had been bent wider in quite an ugly way. Seems the radio slots in the T2 dashboards are half a centimeter too narrow for modern radios, which is why they are usually widened, often in quite unprofessional ways. As the radio slot also had to be widened a little bit to get my extra gauges in, I decided to leave the brand new dashboard untouched and put it into the Old Lady, and instead move her old dashboard over into Taiga Lily. I swapped the boards already last year. Now I finally got around to re-install the gauges. So here we go – this is the cock-pit before the instruments are added, with the empty radio slot in the middle:

Here is a close-up of the radio slot. You see where, in 1995, I had cut out a bit of the metal to get the two round instruments in. I have not yet put the tubes of the heating system back in under the dashboard, so at the moment you can still see through to the wind screen wiper motor.

Next step was to re-install a mask for the two instruments, cut out from plywood, and then to install the two instruments:

Then finally the wiring: Both instruments have light bulbs that need to be connected to earth and a voltage source switched on with the head lights. I connected them to a wiring leading to the equivalent lights of the speedo and the clock in the main instrument block. For earth, there is a convenient little set of sockets on the panel behind the radio slot, a bit below and in front of the windscreen wiper motor. Then the actual instruments needed to be connected to a voltage source which is switched on when the ignition is on. Finally the oil temperature gauge needed to be connected to a temperature-sensitive dip stick that came with the device. The length of the dip stick had to be adjusted to fit the length of the original dip stick of the CJ engine (longer than in the 1600 cc engine of the Old Lady). When the bus was in the garage in autumn 2010, the guys already put a seven-core cable in from the engine compartment to underneath the dashboard – for this oil temperature gauge, for a rear fog light (coming soon) and for five more possible applications. I finally used the first core now to connect the temperature gauge to the dip stick in the back. The last step was then to connect the dip stick to earth.

And here is the completed dashboard, and the instruments in action. Voltage close to 13V when the engine is running, and oil temperature at about 80°C after 30 mins of inner city driving. With the additional oil cooler that was fitted in January 2011, it should be easy to keep engine temperature at or below 100°C. Let’s see over the next couple of weeks how this works.



One response

10 05 2012

Looks really nice!! I remember when I first installed a set of gauges I spent too much time looking at them and worrying. Now they still bug me but not as much. There was a certain level of peace in ignorance lol.

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