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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve always liked the look of the KG Works clusters but never could justify the price for something that only affects the car cosmetically. I recently installed a MS2 with all the extras (Wideband, launch control, shift light output, etc.) and figured it would be really nice to have the gauge panel match what I now needed it to show. I also installed a more accurate aftermarket temp gauge so the stock one was dead and pretty much just a waste of space. I saw a write up here on someone making a DIY KG-style cluster using eBay parts and Plexiglas and figured I’d give it a try.

For those who may not know what a KG Works cluster looks like here’s an example:



Here’s my custom interpretation of one:

 

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Discussion Starter #2
Total build time was about 5 hours. Time researching and finding parts on eBay took about a year. For those of you who would like to emulate this without the research time here’s a quick write up on what I did:

I’m fortunate to have a lot of Miata parts lying around. I actually had two full clusters and three surrounds. My original plan was to use one of the $35 stainless steel inserts you can find on eBay as a template. Unfortunately the one picked up did not fit as well as I liked at all so I decided instead to sacrifice one surround for the cause and use it as a template. Here’s the aftermath of that decision:



After making the template I test fitted it on the surround I’d be using. To secure the new face plate I’m using four small cap screws that I tapped into the plastic of the base surround. I’m also using them during the build as reference points to keep everything lined up.




Here are the materials I picked to work with. Originally I planned to use a sheet of anodized aluminum like I did on my center console. After deciding to go with a black face instead of aluminum I realized I could use a material that was easier to work with. For this I went back to my model train days and picked a plastic called “styrene”. I got a sheet big enough to make two gauges surrounds for under $15.00 at the local hobby shop. For the lenses I chose to use one sheet of Plexiglas which I purchased on ebay.


 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I planned to use two sheets of styrene to get the thickness I’d need and one sheet of Plexiglas. When don’t the Plexiglas layer will be behind the other two but for cutting I chose to sandwich it in the middle to prevent scratches and keep it from shattering.



I used the same 4 screws to stick it all together with the template.



I roughly cut it out using my motor tool and a small hack saw.



Once cut out I smoothed the edges with a file. I should have gone a bit further and used sand paper.



Here are the three layers as blanks.



I checked them in the surround to make sure they fit and line up correctly:




-Jason
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
The next step was to cut out the holes for the gauges. I had a whole saw the size of the smaller gauges but did not have one for the speedometer and tach. Since this was about one in the morning I decided just to go with what I had:



Once I was done with the hole saw the process of clearing out the rest of the material was pretty easy. Used a curved file and an exacto knife:



The metal rings on the 1990-93 cluster I used as a template helped guide the file. This part looks hard but only took about 30 minutes tops. Obviously I took the Plexiglas out at this point:



To make sure I was on the right track I test fitted the metal rings I picked up off eBay. Note that the surround is actually backward at this point which only matters it you are not using all five gauges.



Next I tried everything back in the surround. It’s looking pretty good.



-Jason
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Continued...

The next step was to cut in the indicator lights. The lights I used came from three different sources on eBay. The turn signals, high beam light and shift light are “Cobra Warning Lights” I found on the eBay UK site. My MS2 has a shift light output which I located in the high beam location. I really found the high beam indicator being front and center a bit annoying so it will be going where the rear defogger light goes.



Next I cut in the brake and charge warning lights and the four indicators below. The brake and charge lights are red 24 volt lights with housings I found on eBay. Since their position and function are remaining the same I pulled the bulbs out and cut the housings down so they can use the stock bulbs. Other than the ABS light, all the lower lights are now being used for different purposes. Because of this I was able to use actual 12 volt LED’s with housings (even the ABS light will be reconfigured to show when the ABS is turned on, not when it’s having an issue).



Here’s the new High Beam location. It’s powered by simply running a set of wires from it back around the back to the stock bulb location. Originally I used the bulb that came in the light but swapped it out before installation with an actual blue 12 volt LED.



The three big red warning lights are for the track. I have gauges for all three mounted high in the center console but really wanted something more obvious. They will be eventually switched on using one-wire senders.



-Jason
 

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Discussion Starter #11
At this point the messy part was done so I pulled the protective cover off the Plexiglas and tried everything on the spare gauge cluster I had.



I glued the two styrene layers together with some superglue and let them set overnight. In retrospect model glue would have probably made a stronger bond:



The next day I found some time to get started on paint. First I scuffed it up a bit with some scotch bright and then gave it a very good washing with dish soap:



Here are the paints I used to try to match the texture and color of the oem plastic. First I hit it with a paint capable of bonding with the plastic, then a textured paint and then a layer of “tractor paint”. The results almost exactly match the oem parts of the dash:



The results:



-Jason
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Now comes the fun part. For the lettering I used dry-transfer decals which I again pulled from my model-railroading past. They are made by Woodland Scenes and are intended for use on train cars and things. Using them is pretty simple but keeping the wording straight takes a bit of practice. Also, due to the fact that they are made to be used on trains and not dashboards the font types are pretty limited. It’s pretty much this or something that looks like it came out a western.



Lettering done:



Once the lettering is done assembling everything back together is pretty simple:



-Jason
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Last part of the write up:

Here it is all done and on my extra gauge cluster. Before installing it I’ll be doing an LED upgrade, sanding the backs of the faces to make them white at night and painting the needles orange. I’ll put pictures of al that up in the electronics section.



Note that my extra cluster is from a 1990 so the outermost lower LED’s don’t exactly fit. The fit in car is much better. I’ll put some of those up when I get the chance.









-Jason
 
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