Journal: January 2001
Monday 1/8/2001, So another year has come and gone. I hope yours was great and that the coming year will be better. In the big picture last year was pretty good to me. The family is great, kids are thriving and my prediction of driving the Cobra (albeit as a go-cart) came true. My prediction for this year is that it will be done enough to be called done by May.
Since my last update in December I've been assembling the dashboard using the donor gauges from the Mustang. I think this is a really ingenious part of the kit. Factory Five supplies bezels that allow you to mount the Mustang gauges in a configuration that is very similar to the original Cobras. Admittedly they aren't as period correct as the original Smiths gauges but they don't look bad for free. They also work easily with the Mustang wiring harness and should be reliable.
The first step of the gauge conversion calls for removing the gauges from the Mustang pod. Once this is done they are cut apart so they can be mounted in individual bezels. FFR supplies standoffs and sheet metal screws to mount the gauges behind the bezels. I would recommend replacing the sheet metal screws with machine screws and nuts. The problem with the sheet metal screws is that the heads get covered with the fake leather dash material which prevents you from adjusting or removing the gauges after the dash material is installed. (Using the machine screws saved my butt when I destroyed the temperature gauge later in the build. Replacing it was just a matter of removing two nuts instead of tearing the cover off the dash.)
One of the problems with using the Mustang gauges is that they aren't lit. The lights are located in the pod, not the gauges. An easy fix for this to mount some small lamps in the clear plastic tabs on the back of the gauges. I used the recommended bulbs from Radio Shack (Part #272-1092C ) and mounted them in holes drilled in the tabs. I glopped a little clear silicon on to hold things in place. The lights fix one problem but create another. Since there is no pod behind them the light from them beams down on your feet from the rear of the dash. This is something I can live with but I might try to fabricate some sort of cover to prevent light leaks.
I decided to mount the Mustang ignition switch in the dash instead of the recommended location on the 2x2 frame member below the dash. This required cutting down the ignition switch and fabricating a couple of mounting brackets. It took a little more effort but I think it looks better and it's more secure than using a universal ignition switch that anyone can buy at Walmart. It also connects right up to the Mustang harness. Speaking of connecting up, I decided to use the Mustang headlight, flasher and dash light dimmer switches mounted under the dash. This allows for a quick easy installation that works. It also cleans up the dash a bit.
To add some finishing touches to the dash I picked up a couple of those neat red aircraft style toggle switch covers at Summit Racing. (My son is learning to drive and we needed some place to go, so naturally Summit came to mind. ) I'm using one for the wiper switch but I haven't quite figured out what I'll use the other one for. Whatever, it looks neat.
So that's about it for the dash. I originally thought I'd wire it to the gauge pod mounted on the firewall but after looking at it, I think I'm going to replace the pod with terminal strips. This cleans things up behind the dash but more importantly, it will provide much more room for the heater hoses.