Electrical, Fuel System

New Overhead Gauge Pod

What did I do to my IDI today?  I installed 3 new additional gauges and a central overhead gauge pod.

I finally have a real engine temp gauge and crankcase oil pressure gauge.  The stock gauges on these old Ford vans are pretty awful, so it’s prudent to upgrade them as soon as possible.   I’ve had this van for six years, so I’m long overdue for some real gauges to get some accurate measurements.

Also, I installed a fuel pressure gauge.  This was the hardest to find.  I wanted a diesel-rated 0-15psi electrical fuel pressure gauge, so that left me with only a few options.  I ended up going with an expensive Autometer gauge.  Ideally, I wanted all my gauges to be black with chrome perimeter, but since the fuel pressure gauge was almost impossible to find, I’ll have to make due.

Since this is mounted overhead, I had to invest in electrical gauges.  The wiring is VERY long to get from the engine bay all way up the pillar to the overhead position.  No stock mechanical setup could be installed in this place because the probes and hoses are way too short.  Also, I’m glad to rid myself of the mechanical style gauges.  My previous mechanical fuel pressure and oil pressure gauges had nylon hoses that leaked.  My oil pressure nylon hose leaked on the dash, leaving a black smear in its absence.  And my fuel pressure hose leaked on the IP inlet hose, leading to air intrusion and hard starting issues.  I’m glad to be done with that mechanical garbage.

The wiring was tough.  To make the job simpler, I bundled my sender wires and combined my power and grounds into one concise wrapped bundle.  The bundle started behind a grommet hole (I drilled in the center of the Ford van trim) that ran over to the pillar, behind the pillar trim piece, through the dash, down to the floorboards, and to the engine.

I made a bundle in my backyard so I didn’t have to sit in the hot van.  Also, I mounted the overhead gauge pod to the trim.  Sadly, the design of the pod didn’t allow me to situate it behind the trim.  Instead, I just bolted it to the trim, so now the trim and pod are basically one.  In the future, if I need to remove the trim for some reason, I’ll install a quick release for the 6 or 7 wires going down to the pillar.

Also, the Autometer fuel pressure pigtail wasn’t long enough to reach the engine.  Not to mention, the pigtail design had end connectors so large, that they couldn’t fit through any of my firewall grommets.  So, I called Autometer, and they stated I could cut the wiring to include some extensions.  Even though I had a lot of various wire colors, I didn’t have exact wiring to match the extensions, so I had to settle for what I had.

The bundle was about 20 feet long.  I thought that was overkill, but I figured it would be better to be too long than too short.  Turns out, my overestimation was almost spot on, because once it was completely routed, I only had to clip off a few extra feet.  Kind of crazy it required that much length, but considering it routed from the central overhead pod, down the pillar, behind the dash, down to the floor boards, through the firewall grommet, along the frame rail (to avoid the heat of the up-pipe), up to the engine bay, over the block, and to the front of the engine, it required every inch.  Bundling was a good plan, because it allowed me to finagle all 7 wires with ease.

I still have to get some rear view mirror glue, but basically it’s all ready to go.  My next project is to clean up the wiring on my pillar-gauge-pod, and replace two gauges there.  I have a pyro, IP inlet temp, gearvender temp, and auxiliary fuel level gauge located there.  I’m still waiting for my aftermarket fuel level sender to be recalibrated, before I tackle that.  Also, I plan to upgrade my fuel temp/pressure/bleeder aluminum assembly (to be featured in an upcoming article) so that I can situate my spiffy new fuel pressure sender probe in its rightful place.

genscripter

2 Comments

Odgreen

Nick, just stumbled upon your site! Holy cow, what a find! I have three 6.9ls, an 85 F250HD, 87 E350 and an 87 F350 crew cab/utility bed. What type/brand gauges do you use for temperature? I was hoping it would be in your post. Sure do love reading your stuff, a lot of it is things I know but I have learned a lot from you also!

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genscripter

I have a conglomeration of temp gauges, because I’m mostly frugal, but also, there are certain things that most gauges can and can’t do.

To calculate my IP fuel temp and GVOD temp, I installed two different 1/8″ NPT brass temp sensors, one in the GVOD Max Overdrive brand deep sump port, and one in a custom fuel supply assembly that I recently built (and will showcase in a future article). That custom fuel supply assembly is mounted on the underside of my engine bay ceiling, and it takes diesel/biofuel line to a front mounted selector valve, which then connects to a grouping of ports for my electrical Autometer 4961 fuel pressure sender, the mechanical Edelbrock/Russell 650350 Fuel Pressure Gauge (minus the nylon tube), a custom highest-elevation bleeder aluminum extension, and of course, the 1/8″ NPT brass sensor.

To track both temperatures on one digital gauge (I’m using an Intellitronix digital gauge on the pillar for both the GVOD and IP Inlet fuel temp), I have a on-off-on switch mounted next to the Intellitronix gauge. When I want to know the GVOD temp, I turn the switch to the right, and if I want to know the IP inlet temp, I turn to the left. In the future, I plan to install 4 more temp sensors (Tranny, Engine, Radiator, Ambient temp) and replace the on-off-on switch with a rotary selector. I even bought a spiffy rotary, but I misplaced it in the garage and it’s probably in the abyss by now.

I originally didn’t want the digital gauges, because 5 years ago, I bought Summit cheapo chinese digital gauges and the LCD’s burned up over the years. I couldn’t tolerate guessing my temps from the nightmarish array of missing LCD’s, so I tried to upgrade to needle electrical guages. However, I couldn’t find any needle gauges that dipped below 100 deg F, because for my IP fuel temp, it is often at or around room temp, which is under 100 deg F. So I decided to upgrade to Intellitronix style gauges because I used them in my Jetta TDI for 8 years now, and they are still running quite well. I hope this Intellitronix gauge in the van lasts as long at the ones in the VW.

As for engine temp, I have another electronic gauge that is mounted in the overhead pod. To be honest, I don’t really have any idea what brand this is. I got it on ebay for a ridiculously cheap price from a so-called inventory sell-off. When it arrived, it was missing the packaging, but the seller claimed it was new and unused inventory. From the condition, it was definitely never used, but just dusty and old. I think it was a “Make Waves” brand IIRC, but the only reason why I ran it was to fill up the pod so I wouldn’t have a vacant socket. Also, it’s nice to have a secondary engine temp gauge from the stock gauge, which we all know is notoriously unreliable.

Thanks for the kind words about my site. I’ll post more about my gauges (and my recent pillar gauge pod upgrades) very soon.

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