How to Install Classic Instruments’ 2-5/8 Classic Series Gauges for Hot Rods

Classic Instruments’ 2-5/8-Inch Classic Gauges Combine Vintage Style and Modern Technology

By Ron Ceridono –  Photography By Brian Brennan

Back in the ‘40s era of hot rodding, updating interior dashboards with an assortment of gauges began to trend. The upgrade not only provided much cooler aesthetics, but also provided detailed data of how all that work under the hood was functioning.

002 Tate Radford installs the Classic Series electronic GPS speedometer
Tate Radford installs the Classic Series electronic GPS speedometer.
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And while the common 2-1/8-inch-diameter versions were often used, the larger 2-5/8-inch gauges had much more visual impact. One practical advantage was they were easier to read, and as a result were often found in competition cars. However, the fact that they looked way cool was the real reason they are a popular choice for hot rods that spent more time on the street than the track as well.

Over the years trends changed and 2-5/8-inch gauges for hot rods became less common. Then came the welcome resurgence of traditional build styles, and along with that came the demand for equally traditional components, such as those vintage, large-diameter dials.

003 The Classic Instrument Classic Series gauges are available in a six-gauge set (shown), five gauges without the tachometer, or individually
The Classic Instrument Classic Series gauges are available in a six-gauge set (shown), five gauges without the tachometer, or individually.

It seemed what the world needed was a line of 2-5/8-inch gauges with the nostalgic styling and contemporary movements, and thanks to Classic Instruments we’ve got them.

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Read More: How To Install Classic Instruments’ New Bel Era III Gauge Panel

004 The vintage mechanical pressure car gauge has a curved brass tube (arrow) that straightens when pressure is applied and moves the dial
The vintage mechanical pressure car gauge has a curved brass tube (arrow) that straightens when pressure is applied and moves the dial.

From the outside the new 2-5/8-inch Classic Instruments’ Classic Series have a vintage look with polished stainless steel bezels, curved glass lenses, crescent moon pointers, and black dial faces with white numbers and letters. On the inside these hot rod gauges have the latest air core movements for accuracy and reliability.

Oil pressure, water temperature, volts, and fuel gauges are 2-5/8 inches in diameter, speedometers and tachometers are offered in 3-3/8- and 4-5/8-inch sizes, and all are available as individual instruments or as part of a five set without a tachometer or a six-gauge set that includes an 8,000-rpm tachometer. Turn signal and high-beam indicator lights are available as an upgrade option with either Halo lightening or surface-mounted indicators.

005 Compared to mechanical pressure gauges, Classic Instruments Classic Series gauges feature an air core movement for reliability and accuracy
Compared to mechanical pressure gauges, Classic Instruments Classic Series gauges feature an air core movement for reliability and accuracy.

As all Classic Series instruments are electric, they require a good ground to the chassis for proper operation and all require a switched 12V source. Connecting the remaining wiring is simple, however one precaution to be observed is disconnecting the ground lead from the battery. Voltmeters do not require a sender, so all that’s necessary is a source wire and a ground and power for the internal light. The tachometer is similar, a 12V source, power for the light, and a signal from the minus side of the coil.

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Both the oil pressure and temp gauges require senders, which are included with the gauges. It should be noted that Classic Instruments advises that the single-wire temperature sender has tapered threads, which are designed to be self-sealing. Using sealant may cause a poor ground, causing inaccurate readings. The three-wire transducer used with the oil pressure gauge may have sealer designated for senders applied to the threads.

006 Air core movements with Classic Instruments gauges are unique in that they make it possible for an electric gauge to have a full sweep needle movement of 270 degrees
Air core movements with Classic Instruments gauges are unique in that they make it possible for an electric gauge to have a full sweep needle movement of 270 degrees.

Read More: Out Of This World 1963 Ford Galaxie

These all-electric classic gauges for hot rods rely on a compatible sending unit for proper operation, and that is certainly true of the fuel gauge. Classic Instruments supplies the appropriate fuel level sender in their complete kits, however, in some case a different sender may already be in place.

Senders are rated by their resistance, measured in ohms, when empty and full, and Classic Instruments offers fuel gauges calibrated to work with the most common senders: 240-ohm empty, 33-ohm full (Stewart-Warner and Auto Meter); 75-ohm empty, 10-ohm full (pre-’87 Ford); 0 empty, 30-ohm full (early Chevy); and 0 ohm empty, 90-ohm full (’66 and later GM).

007 Classic Instruments Classic Series gauges have vintage-style curved lenses
Classic Instruments Classic Series gauges have vintage-style curved lenses.

When it comes to speedometers, cable drives are as outdated as the leisure suit hanging in Brennan’s closet. The Classic Series electronic speedometers rely on an electrical pulse signal sender that mounts where the cable would normally attach. Using Classic Instruments’ ZST technology these speedometers will hook directly to any ECT (electronically controlled transmission) or VSS (vehicle speed sensor) of a modern transmission. This simple arrangement uses easy-to-route wires rather than a bulky cable and eliminates the maintenance and periodic replacement that cables often require. Electronic speedometers make calibration simple—no more doing math in your head to account for an inaccurate mechanically driven speedometer when you see a police car.

008 The Classic Instruments Classic Series electronic speedometer is an SN16 pulse generator and cable
The Classic Instruments Classic Series electronic speedometer is an SN16 pulse generator and cable.

While electronic speedometers are vastly superior to the cable-driven variety, another leap in technology from Classic Instruments is the SkyDrive GPS satellite system. An antenna generates a signal from satellites for the SkyDrive GPS speedometer, which is particularly useful when a pulse generator is impractical, or impossible, to install.

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The best location for the SkyDrive antenna to guarantee a good satellite signal and trouble-free speedometer operation is inside the car where it will have a clear view of the sky. In some cases, this may not be possible, so if the antenna is hidden Classic Instruments recommends testing the SkyDrive in that location before permanently mounting it.

009 Classic Instruments Classic Series electronic distributor and the SkyDrive GPS antenna are high-tech with vintage appeal
Classic Instruments Classic Series electronic distributor and the SkyDrive GPS antenna are high-tech with vintage appeal.

Once a suitable mounting location is determined, the SkyDrive can be mounted using Velcro or double-sided tape.

Classic Instruments Classic Series 2 5/8-inch gauges have combined today’s technology for reliable and accurate performance with the traditional look of a bygone era. Nostalgia just doesn’t get any better. MR

010 Here’s the Classic Instruments SkyDrive GPS antenna status indicator
On the end of the SkyDrive antenna is a status indicator. The status LED will be RED when the SkyDrive is powered but has not acquired a satellite signal. The status LED will be GREEN when the SkyDrive is powered and has acquired a satellite signal.
011 A look at the Classic Instruments Classic Series oil pressure sender, also known as a transducer.
This is the oil pressure sender, or transducer. It has three contacts and does not rely on grounding to the block to operate. An approved sealer for senders may be used on the threads.
012 Classic Instruments Classic Series gas gauges are available in configurations that are compatible with popular fuel tank senders
Classic Instruments Classic Series gas gauges are available in configurations that are compatible with popular fuel tank senders.
013 The Classic Instruments fuel tank sender is adjustable to accommodate tank depths of 6 to 15-1_2 inches
The Classic Instruments fuel tank sender is adjustable to accommodate tank depths of 6 to 15-1/2 inches.
014 With the pivot point of the Classic Instruments Classic Series sending unit at half the tank’s depth
With the pivot point of the Classic Instruments Classic Series sending unit at half the tank’s depth, the float arm is adjusted so the float is approximately 1/8 inch below the bottom of the mounting bracket.
015 While the Classic Instruments Classic Series temperature gauge requires a sender, the voltmeter simply requires a switched 12V source and a ground
While the Classic Instruments Classic Series temperature gauge requires a sender, the voltmeter simply requires a switched 12V source and a ground.
016 A close look at the Classic Instruments Classic Series temperature gauge sender
A close look at the Classic Instruments Classic Series temperature gauge sender.
017 Classic Instruments cautions against using Teflon tape on the threads of temperature senders, but paste sealers available
Classic Instruments cautions against using Teflon tape on the threads of temperature senders, but paste sealers available.
018 Here, Colin puts the finishing touch on wiring the Classic Instruments Classic Series gauges.
Here, Colin puts the finishing touch on wiring the Classic Instruments Classic Series gauges.
019 Classic Instruments offers a universal gauge wire harness with quick disconnect connectors
To simplify wiring, Classic Instruments offers a universal gauge wire harness with quick disconnect connectors.
020 Most aftermarket wiring harnesses have a keyed source on the fuse panel to power the Classic Instruments gauges for hot rods
Most aftermarket wiring harnesses have a keyed source on the fuse panel to power the Classic Instruments gauges for hot rods.
021 When installing electronic components for your Classic Instruments gauges, such as a SkyDrive, there may be wires that aren’t used
When installing electronic components for your Classic Instruments gauges, such as a SkyDrive, there may be wires that aren’t used.
022 There are several methods to heat shrink tubing when installing your Classic Instruments gauges, the most effective, and safest, is a heat gun.
There are several methods to heat shrink tubing when installing your Classic Instruments gauges, the most effective, and safest, is a heat gun.
023 Two unused leads from the Classic Instruments gauges that have been protected from possibly shorting out.
Two unused leads from the Classic Instruments gauges that have been protected from possibly shorting out.
024 Connecting Classic Instruments Classic Series 2 5_8-inch gauges is a simple matter of plug-and-play
Connecting Classic Instruments Classic Series 2 5/8-inch gauges is a simple matter of plug-and-play.
025 The Classic Instruments Classic Series 2 5_8-inch Gauges feature push-button adjustable lighting
The Classic Instruments Classic Series 2 5/8-inch Gauges feature push-button adjustable lighting.
026 Classic Instruments gauges features warnings that make the faces turn red when oil pressure or water temperature are outside of normal readings
Classic Instruments gauges features warnings that make the faces turn red when oil pressure or water temperature are outside of normal readings
027 Classic Instruments optional turn signals and high beams
Classic Instruments optional turn signals and high beams.
028 Classic Instruments Classic Series 2 5_8C clock provides a nostalgic look
Classic Instruments Classic Series 2 5/8C clock provides a nostalgic look.

Source
Classic Instruments
(800) 575-0461
classicinstruments.com

Radford Auto
(208) 745-1350

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