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More SAAB c900 Fun: Painting Instrument Gauge Bezels with Flexidip

I have so many projects backed up in the queue! There's a list of stuff to do on Greeny, and a whole slew of guitar things in the wings (I made a rhyme!).

I managed to get one small project done on Greeny this last weekend. You may recall I put a set of Autometer gauges in almost 2 years ago. I like the faces of the gauges, but I've never been wild about the silver colored bezels. They really don't fit with the interior - you might say they are not very SAAB-like. I have VDO gauges in my other 900 and they have black bezels.

This is a shot of the water temp gauge from back when I installed it.

You can see what I mean about the silver bezels. Just a bit...shiny.

And everything else is black.

Not to mention that the Autometer angle mounting rings were just not working out. They kept slipping and just didn't look that good.

So I decided to paint the bezels, and install a new angled gauge panel.

I decided to use that newfangled Plastidip paint, which is a rubberized type of paint. Apparently people paint wheels and even entire cars with it! It is easily peeled off, so I figured if I messed it up too much, or just didn't like it, it would be easy to remove.

I took the oil pressure and voltmeters out of the car. After pondering how I would mask off the dial glass I came up with a solution: I cut circle masks of index card and used double-sided tape to hold them on. And I used wide blue painter's tape to mask the bodies of the gauges.

How did I determine the diameter of the circles?

I measured the gauge faces with a caliper - they were 1.769 inches. Then halving that, I got .08845 inches. Set the caliper to that and used that to set the distance on a compass.

Then I drew that circle on the index card an cut them out.

They weren't exact, but they were darn close.

Went outside, armed with some Rustoleum "Flexidip" rubberized paint. You will also find "Plastidip," same stuff by a different maker out there as well.

The auto parts store I went to had the Flexidip in quite a few colors - red, green, pink, purple - in addition to black.

Here are the two gauges after painting them.

There were a couple of silver spots that didn't get painted - I just sort of freehanded the circle masks and hit these spots again.

The upside of this paint it that it's easily removed - driving the car just this morning I saw a bit of overspray on the glass of the boost gauge - I'll just scrape that off with an X-Acto knife later.

I mentioned I took the voltmeter and oil pressure gauges out of the car.

On the water temp, the sensor line is 'permanently' attached to the gauge. Of course when I put it in originally, I just threaded the line through the hole in the mounting ring and the panel, then through the firewall to the sender.

Taking it out is a different story!

I just cut the mounting ring and panel since I'm not reusing them.

But this also means I have to paint the thing while it's still in the dash.

So I cut a hole in an big index card, fit that around the gauge and then masked all around it with newspaper.

And then sprayed away.

Worked fine.

After the paint was dry, I reassembled the gauges in the new panel.

Be warned: the paint is very soft until it fully cures - about 24 hours. It's very easy to scrape it off when you handle it.

Ask me how I know this.

Here's the newly painted gauges installed. The panel isn't all the way in the dash just yet - I like to wait a day or so in case I need to pop it out if something doesn't work (e.g. the gauge lights).

But you get the idea.

Looks a whole lot better than the old panel with the angle mounts I think.

And the color is much more SAAB-like, yes?

I hadn't really planned to paint the boost gauge bezel at this point, but since I was in up to my neck, I took it out and painted it as well.


Post a Comment 3 comments:

  • Unknown said...
    January 12, 2018 at 12:23 AM
    Nice write-up mate!
    I'm installing a staggered triple gauge set just like yours, but can't seem to get it to fit nicely in the din slot. The furthest in it will go is the way you have it pictured. Any ideas in getting it to fit? I've trimmed the inner of the spot a fair bit.
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    January 13, 2018 at 2:58 PM
    I seem to recall that on mine, there is a small surface on the right side of the gauge bezel - to the right of the rightmost gauge hole. There are two tabs that go back from that part to hold it in place.

    I trimmed the edge of the tab back about 1/8 of an inch and was able to get it to sit back better. It seemed that my panel was just a bit too wide for the DIN slot, so trimming the right side allowed it to slip in all the way.
  • Anonymous said...
    January 16, 2018 at 9:37 PM
    Cool - thanks for writing back to me :)


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