Build your own Gauge Pillar

With the unavailability of a gauge pillar for the TBSS I had often thought about building my own but another mod was always getting in the way. After a recent nitrous install I felt I really needed N20 and fuel pressure along with the AFR I already had.

This project was done using an existing pillar and gauge pod that I bought used so you will see some remnants of paint and filler. There are other pods that will work but this one turned out to be a nice size and fit well.

The donor pod is from a 87-93 Mustang and is grafted onto the stock pillar. Three gauges max out the TBSS pillar. The bottom pod sitting about 1/4" above the dash and the top pod infringing on the mounting hole. More on that later.

First and most important, make sure you do all your fit work with your pillar attached to the truck. The stock pillar is pretty flimpsy and you dont want to mold to something thats out of shape.

To get the pillar to fit correctly it can be cut and ground to size using a dremel tool. The cutting wheel works great for removing large chunks and the sanding drum will finish pretty much everything else. I used a weller butane soldering device with the heat tip installed to heat and bend the edges of the Mustang pod to get a decent fit to the TBSS pillar.

Once I had a good fit I marked around the pod with a sharpie to leave a mark on the trucks pillar showing the exact location of the pods (see figure 1). At that point I used the dremel drum sander to roughen up just inside the sharpie line and on the inside of the pod for better adhesion when using the adhesive.

Next step I temporarily located the pod on the pillar and drilled 1/8" holes around the perimeter (see figure 2) with approximately 2" spacing. The intent was to allow the adhesive to ooze into the holes in both directions providing a better bond.

If you want a three gauge pod the top gauge is going to be pretty high and will cover the original mounting hole. This is not a big deal as you can drill a hole through the pod large enough to insert the mounting screw but you will lose the cap that covers the screw. It looks fine without it.

I used plastic weld (2 part epoxy) which is available at most hardware and automotive stores in various brands. It can be obtained with set times from 5 to 60 minutes. I highly recommend getting the 60 minute set time to give yourself adequate working time. Buy two packages.

Since I am in a temp townhouse while we build a new home most of my tools not in my toolbox are in storage. I used vice grips to clip the pod in place once the adhesive was applied but my lightweight spring clamps would have been a better choice. (see figure 3).

Mix one of your packages of epoxy (assuming you bought the 60-minute stuff) and spread a liberal bead along the inside of your sharpie line. Q-tips make the perfect applicator. Place your pod onto the pillar and locate in the marked location. Lightly clip the pod using the vise grips or spring clamps allowing the epoxy to ooze out.

After a couple hours of dry time I removed the clamps and used the dremel sanding drum to remove extra material in the gauge openings to make the back of gauges more accessible (figure 6). I mixed up another 1/3 tube of the epoxy and applied in a few locations from the backside to get additional bonding.

Before applying filler I used the drum sanding tool to knock down all epoxy high spots and radius the edges to make a better filler transition. From there I mixed up a coat of auto body filler and applied. You might prefer the flexible filler used on bumpers but I find it harder to work with. Since the piece does not get flexed much normal filler should be fine.

Sand with 80 grit dry to get it roughed in and another skim of filler should do it.

The TBSS has pretty heavy texture on the stock pillars compared to the rear pillars behind the front seats. To get them to match I decided to prime both pillars using high build urethane primer and wet sand until smooth. (figure 7)

Once complete I took them to a local company called Fabrion and had them sprayed. They are a franchise with dealers located all over the US. If I had a little more time I would have researched it a little more and found a rattle can product) to do the job. As I said above all my tools including my paint guns and compressor are in storage.

I talked to a friend of mine that used to do custom audio installs and he told me to check out SEM products click here. You can see my finish/texture (see figure 8).

There is an access panel on the side of the dash. this will allow you snake your wiring loom (figure 9) up along the pillar. In my case I have an AFR gauge and added a bracket with switch and LED light for calibrating my LC-1 wideband sensor (figure 10).

Materials & Tools used:

TOOLS

  1. Dremel for cutting and grind work (sanding drum and cutoff wheel)
  2. Weller butane mini torch w/heat tip
  3. Drill and 1/8" drill bit
  4. 8-10 clamps

Materials

  1. Plastic Weld (2 part epoxy), two tubes.
  2. Q-Tips to spread epoxy (optional)
  3. Autobody filler (small pint is more than enough)
  4. 80 grit dry sandpaper (rough filler work)
  5. 320 grit sandpaper (primer sanding)
  6. Can of contrasting primer for guide coat
  7. Urethane high build primer
  8. Paint finish of your choice (see SEM link above)

 

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Figure 1 (click for larger img)
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Figure 8 (click for larger img)
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Figure 9 (click for larger img)
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Figure 10 (click for larger img)
 

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