My Dakota Digital VHX install (w/ dash remodel).

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roger1

roger1

Master Mechanic
Aug 23, 2010
472
93
San Angelo, TX
I'm doing a refresh on my '83 Choo Choo SS El Camino (owned for 24 years).
I've started off with the dash.

I opted for the Silver Alloy color with white lighting. The white lighting option is only one that gives you orange needles with the lights turned on. I really liked that idea. Here are Dakota's stock photos:






I painted the dash and installed VDO gauges back in 1998. Now I want to change the car to white on the outside (instead of the original black) and change the interior to black. The VDO speedometer was acting up so I thought I would start out this refresh I'm doing on the dash and a new Dakota setup.
Here's my before photo:





All torn apart:



I sure am glad to get rid of all this stuff here. The factory wiring on these cars left a lot to be desired.



Here's where I mounted the Dakota control box. Directly to the A/C ducting:



I stripped the old paint off the dash and re-painted it black with Duplicolor flat black vinyl paint:



I used a piece of plastic and epoxied to the bottom inside of the gauge housing for a flat place to mount the GSS-2000 gear indicator control:



Mounted it with 3M butyl tape:



Housing painted and installed and the column painted and installed. Almost all wired up in this photo:



I didn't really care for the plastic switches that Dakota supplies with the gauges. I used some metal mini switches instead. Mounted them on the bottom left of the shell. You can see that I bought the optional dimmer control. I'm mounting it directly above the original light switch:



Getting close to done. I found a great deal on a barely used black Lecarra wheel to replace the gray one that I had.



All done. Everything went without a hitch. The programming was pretty easy.



 
TURNA

TURNA

Rocket Powered Basset Hound
Jul 24, 2009
11,004
113
Socialist NY
Very nice!!
 
ItsnotaGN

ItsnotaGN

G-Body Guru
May 28, 2016
662
93
Colorado
How do you like them so far? My 86 Monte SS requires new gauges with the LT1/4l60E swap I have underway. It's time to retire the stock cluster with 115mph 9C1 Malibu speedo that the 305 could never bury.
 
roger1

roger1

Master Mechanic
Aug 23, 2010
472
93
San Angelo, TX
How do you like them so far? My 86 Monte SS requires new gauges with the LT1/4l60E swap I have underway. It's time to retire the stock cluster with 115mph 9C1 Malibu speedo that the 305 could never bury.
I'm extremely happy with them. It's a huge upgrade. The features are great and everything works perfectly. The wiring is just so much cleaner than original too. It really worked out well where I mounted the control box. I didn't have to extend any of the wires out of the harness to reach it.
 
roger1

roger1

Master Mechanic
Aug 23, 2010
472
93
San Angelo, TX
Nice work! While very pricey, the Dakota set ups are nice. Could you share your source for the momentary switches you bought. I agree the plastic ones Dakota gives you are a bit cheesy.
Thanks!

Yeah, as soon as I unpacked everything from the box, I knew I wasn't going to use them. Everything else was great though.
I did hook them up temporarily while I was waiting for the mini switch order to arrive and I didn't like the feel of the plastic switches either. They don't have a positive feel at all.

Here's where I got the mini switches:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5335822911&icep_item=221876126842
http://www.ebay.com/itm/221876126842?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
They do take a smaller (5/16") hole so if you drilled holes for your plastic switches, it's possible they're too big and you will need washers.

These mini switches seem fine except for one thing. When you solder them, you need to use a heat sink on the terminals or the heat will ruin the switches. Yup, I ruined the first two. Got 'em all wired up and one didn't work at all and the other not very well. No big deal, I've still got 6 left for whatever in the future.
 
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roger1

roger1

Master Mechanic
Aug 23, 2010
472
93
San Angelo, TX
absolutely gorgeous dash man. good job.
Thanks for the compliment!

This was my first stab with using vinyl wrap. This carbon fiber is 3M 1080. I was really impressed with how easy it was after just watching a couple of youtube videos to get an idea how to do it. I am absolutely thrilled with how it all looks. Thrilled with the new gauges themselves too.

The radio bezel was really the only challenge. Tried and failed a couple of times. Not possible to do it in one piece. It's not 100% perfect but you have to get your eyes ridiculously close to be able to see that. Still looks perfect in this close up. Got to get a lot closer than that to see any overlapping.



Here's a better photo of the gauge bezel. I sanded off some of the ribbing where the factory pin stripe was. It had too much I thought.
It was a little tricky and took some time to put the CF wrap on the one area with the headlight switch hole but the other two areas were simple.



I'm still wondering about the area where the old idiot lights were. None of those lights are needed as all of them are handled with the Dakota panel. I contemplated cutting out all the thin horizontal bars and putting a flat piece of ABS plastic behind it and CF wrap it too. Not sure. Maybe something will come to mind to utilize that area in the future.
 
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TURNA

TURNA

Rocket Powered Basset Hound
Jul 24, 2009
11,004
113
Socialist NY
Did the factory wire harness plug into that box? or did you have to cut the plug off and wire it into it?
 
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