Making Gauges II

Making Gauges II

What began over six weeks ago in remanufacturing my gauge faces is finally coming to completion, and I’m pretty happy with the results!

Reviewing what I did, this is a picture of the first attempt at making these gauges. The one on the right was laser cut from a computer file I had made from a scan of the original that sits on the left. The lettering was cut by the same laser etching process and filled in with paint by hand. It doesn’t look bad, but on close inspection, the laser cut letters are slightly wider than the original.

One of the main reasons I set out on my own to make these lenses was because the cost of getting them done by a gauge restoration company would have been $400 bucks! This was just for cutting the lenses, and printing them, not including disassembly or any other restoration. D&M Restoration in Greenville, SC has been remaking these gauges for years, and has his lenses in many concours restorations, but I wanted to find out why his service was so expensive. Turns out, Mike at D&M has been cutting these lenses by hand, so there was a lot of time spent on something a laser could do in seconds! When Mike saw the accuracy and quality of the lenses I had made, he was able to drop his price by only charging for silk-screening of the lenses.

The combination of my lenses, and Mike’s silk-screening is beautiful! Here’s Mike’s work on the right with the protective paper still on the acrylic lens.

With everything back together, the gauges look great, and at less than half the cost of what it would have cost a without my research! (Trust me, the gauge looks better in person without all the reflections in the glass and the chrome!)

When you look at some of the other old lenses, you can really see the fogging phenomenon. With the edges covered by the chrome ring, I’m pretty sure the old plastic reacted to the sun’s UV radiation. I’m told the new acrylic lenses are much more resistant to this type of fogging. I guess I’ll have to wait another 40 years to see!

For those who plan of doing this work themselves, here are some steps of the assembly process. After cleaning the parts, and blowing off the dust, I reinstalled these rubber spacers that I carefully removed from the original lenses. Try not to wipe the plastic lenses too much because it will only generate static electricity and attract more dust!

The gauge goes back together the same way it came apart, and the tabs that were carefully pried apart are bent back into place, holding the whole assembly together. I tried to bend these tabs only as much as I needed because they’ll break off with too much bending.

Mike and I spoke about my lenses and his silk-screening service, and he wants to use my lenses from now on. He has been making these silk-screens for many years, and has the correct prints from GTEs to GTOs. He’ll give a bulk discount for people who buy my lenses and have him do the silk-screens all at once. I will charge $10 bucks a lens and will send them directly to Mike for silk-screening, and Mike will charge $20 bucks for each print. When you do all six small gauge faces, my lenses will cost $60 bucks, and Mike’s service will cost $120, giving you a total of $180 dollars. That’s less than half what it used to cost!

To insure accuracy in reproducing your lenses, Mike suggests sending him your old lenses. Then he can make sure he’s printing the right ones for your car. He can also check for the correct orientation for your particular gauge. You can send me a check for the lenses, and I will get to work on getting them cut out, and sent down to D&M, meanwhile, you can take your gauges apart, and mail them to Mike. Once, he gets the lenses from me and the old gauge faces from you, he can set up his silk-screening process one time. Mike takes credit cards, and you can arrange payment with him directly.

If you put your order in by August 9th with me ($10 bucks a lens), you will get a group rate of $20 bucks per lens from Mike at D&M. After this batch, Mike may charge a higher set-up fee for individual orders.

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