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1974 Nova SS pro-tour resto-mod.
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In the process of researching gauge bezel options. I have a gauge cluster (aftermarket) for a 1st gen Camaro, I believe, that I bought at a local swap meet for the gauges. So far, I've found a couple of aftermarket bezels for the Nova that have 5" cutouts for the speedo and tach. Mine are 3-3/8". No available rings (that I've found) to adapt the smaller gauges to the larger opening. If this is a simple fix, I've found nothing on the Google to address it. I suppose I could fabricate something but $300+ for the bezel, plus having to frig with it turns me off to this solution. Buying 5" gauges really turns me off - $$$. What's a guy to do? Fabrication mode, activated.

Gauge Tachometer Measuring instrument Speedometer Motor vehicle


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I'm considering sheet metal or lamination from a plug using the existing bezel. I went way down the rabbit hole of the laminating option, eventually pulling back on cost and time involvement. Mostly time. Finally, I did a search here and found the following thread; Anyone make a custom gauge bezel for their 3rd gen?. Thank you to member @G_2 for posting the pictures of his fabricated bezel (back in 2014), which I'm reposting below. They were lost in photobucket hell. I captured and re-touched them as best as I could.

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I was leaning into the plug, mould, laminating option until I saw these pictures. Very nice, and very clean. I have way more experience with sheet metal than laminating. A carbon fiber lamination would be very cool, but somewhat expensive also. This especially when I consider the increased odds of failure. I think I could get the carbon lamination "kit" (1 sq. yd.) for $300-$400. This is CF materials only. I anticipate a good bit of time and materials in the plug, mould and lamination work also (epoxy dough, expanding foam, filler, buck fab, vac bags, cutting, trimming, sanding, coatings) Even just a fiberglass solution would involve a great amount of time. Don't get me wrong, I realize fabricating the sheet metal bezel above will involve a good bit of time, but it feels like less of a labor commitment with higher probability of success - gut feel at this point. The laminated part would likely weigh less (considerably) than the steel part, especially if CF is used. I don't know why I think that, but I do. I'm guessing the steel part is 5-10# and a laminated part would be 2-3#. If these estimates are correct, ~5# weight savings isn't really a factor for me in this decision. I'm guessing here on the weights, if anyone know better, please correct me.

The flip side: I am interested in composites. I love the look of CF, applied appropriately. I would absolutely love to do the gauge bezel, dash pad and custom console in CF. Having a go at this bezel in composite would be an incredible learning experience and open up a new world of possibilities. If I build the mould right, I could try it with glass 1st and go from there. I might even be able to interest my kids in getting involved.

That's a look into my psyche at the moment. Post at will. I'm not an expert so, expert input welcomed. Here is what I have to work with;
Blue Rectangle Wood Gas Electric blue


Kim
 

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With respect to the possibility of custom gauges, check with SNS member DanyR. He makes custom gauges. I don't know the price, but he uses good quality components and can make them to fit your parameters. It might save you a lot of work. He lives in Argentina, but don't let that put you off. I know him personally, he's made custom products for me and other members here, and he's offered to make the gauges for my 3rd Gen when I do my LS swap. Give it some thought.
 

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1974 Nova SS pro-tour resto-mod.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
With respect to the possibility of custom gauges, check with SNS member DanyR. He makes custom gauges. I don't know the price, but he uses good quality components and can make them to fit your parameters. It might save you a lot of work. He lives in Argentina, but don't let that put you off. I know him personally, he's made custom products for me and other members here, and he's offered to make the gauges for my 3rd Gen when I do my LS swap. Give it some thought.
I've conversed with him before about my tail-lights. Super nice guy. I watch his videos whenever they turn up in my feed. Thanks for the tip.
 

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1972 chevrolet 400 special (argentinian first gen nova)
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well let's go by parts, personally I don't like how watches from the aftermarket and accessories look, the edge (I dont know the correct word for "borde") is too big for me. of course it's your car, on my nova i disassembled the indicators and installed only the interior on the original dash (there is a post here on SNS).
but the real question for you is with look do you want in your dash, fiber, metal, leather?? maybe a piece of wood and then a finished with som looking good material.
 

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chevyhotrodder on instagram designed an insert for the orig. dash bezel and had someone 3d print it - does look awesome. curious to see the final installation.

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1974 Nova SS pro-tour resto-mod.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
chevyhotrodder on instagram designed an insert for the orig. dash bezel and had someone 3d print it - does look awesome. curious to see the final installation.

View attachment 451112
@TheBandit does awesome videos. I love the music. That bezel resembles the late 60's, early 70's corvettes right? So, he will insert it into the original bezel somehow?
 

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1974 Nova SS pro-tour resto-mod.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Not sure which style Clint inspired
My wife has instagram and she pulled up his account so I could check it out. He said 70-72 Chevelle. My original is much too brittle, flimsy and damaged to consider a morph with it. I expect that if I took a body saw to it, it would wind up in pieces. I really need it for dimensions/reference unless I go laminated, then it's a plug. I beginning to lean back towards metal now considering the amount of time involved with a laminate project. This will probably be the next project I tackle.
 

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69 Nova 2dr
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When I originally bought my 69 several years ago, the PO gave me a couple of bezels that he had. One of them had the 3 3/8 big gauge holes you mentioned. I decided to go with a digital dash so I got rid of it. I searched the web to see if I could find it somewhere with no luck. I'm sure somebody still makes this though.
Wood Rectangle Metal Ceiling Pattern
 

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1974 Nova SS pro-tour resto-mod.
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
When I originally bought my 69 several years ago, the PO gave me a couple of bezels that he had. One of them had the 3 3/8 big gauge holes you mentioned. I decided to go with a digital dash so I got rid of it. I searched the web to see if I could find it somewhere with no luck. I'm sure somebody still makes this though.
View attachment 451228
Thanks for posting the picture. If they are still being made, they are elusive thus far. Could just be that a very low market demand killed them. If I were starting without gauges, I'd probably go with a Dakota setup myself. I like the HDX.

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I did check out the DD gauges originally. I wanted to be different so I ventured down the custom path. I couldn't find a bezel that would house the Holley 12.3 dash (at least one for a reasonable price anyway) so I decided to customize one of the extra bezels the PO gave me. It's been a ton of hours but I almost have it done. Not sure if I would do it again - I'll be happy once it's done.
 

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1974 Nova SS pro-tour resto-mod.
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I did check out the DD gauges originally. I wanted to be different so I ventured down the custom path. I couldn't find a bezel that would house the Holley 12.3 dash (at least one for a reasonable price anyway) so I decided to customize one of the extra bezels the PO gave me. It's been a ton of hours but I almost have it done. Not sure if I would do it again - I'll be happy once it's done.
I think I’m on that path as well, the custom option I mean. Steering clear if the FI for now. Post a picture if you like. Would love to see it and even learn how you did it.
 

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When I originally bought my 69 several years ago, the PO gave me a couple of bezels that he had. One of them had the 3 3/8 big gauge holes you mentioned. I decided to go with a digital dash so I got rid of it. I searched the web to see if I could find it somewhere with no luck. I'm sure somebody still makes this though.
View attachment 451228
Classic Dash makes a blank bezel like this. The part# is 102690021.
Classic Thunder Road 1969-1976 Nova 6 Hole Dash Panel 5 Inch Black: 102690021
Other sellers offer the same item. I have been thinking about having DanyR make gauges for me to fit this one. Although, my first choice for a dash bezel would be one of the SS bezels from a Nova (Chevy Serie II) built in Argentina. The arrangement looks very much like this, but it's GM. They were never available here for the 3rd Gen., and they're hard to come by in Argentina.
 

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69 Nova 2dr
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I think I’m on that path as well, the custom option I mean. Steering clear if the FI for now. Post a picture if you like. Would love to see it and even learn how you did it.
I'll preface all this by saying this is still a work in progress. I decided to go with the Holley 12.3 Digital Dash. There is a guy on the pro-touring site that makes the bezel out of metal for $3k. $3k is not in the budget so I thought I'd try to make one myself using a spare bezel. First I decided to buy the dash panel to hold the Holley dash. I found a new one for cheap on Ebay. I then had to figure out a way to get the dash panel to fit into the bezel. After a lot of cutting and re-cutting, I got it to fit and used a lot of epoxy to get the two together. Next I had to get epoxy filler (same filler used on plastic bumpers) to smooth out some edges. That's where is sits right now. It still needs more sanding and fine tuning. I also need to put in the radio delete panel. Then figure out whether to paint or cover it with something. If this doesn't work out for some reason, Holley makes a bezel for the 6.86 dash but I'd rather try and have a bigger screen.
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1974 Nova SS pro-tour resto-mod.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It looks really good so far. I watched a video on YT where a guy cut up an original bezel, used wooden plates and rings hot glued in place and then fiberglass with fleece + rondo to lock it all together. The bezel came out looking really good. You have probably seen it already but in case not, here it is.


i haven’t begun to cut on my original bezel yet and I am worried the thing will break apart on me if/when I do. Did you have any problems like that? Even a body saw will be too violent. I’m guessing a small rotary tool with a cut-off wheel of some type is the way to go? Thanks for posting, your bezel looks like it’s going to turn out really nice.
 

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I’m guessing a small rotary tool with a cut-off wheel of some type is the way to go?
Try a hot-knife! I made my own out of an old Weller soldering gun I picked up at a thrift store (Goodwill) for like $5. This isn't my gun but you can custom build blades in any shape and size you need for a perfect fit and finish.
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1972 chevrolet 400 special (argentinian first gen nova)
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I am going to give my humble opinion, you are going to see the dashboard all the time you use the car, I think it is better to get or make a good bezel, give it the exact shape and then disassemble the clocks, make a graphic of the personalized background and assemble it using the inside of the watches and not putting the watches like more than a million cars that have already done it?
if you need some help, I can help you.
 

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If you could make a template for a flat surface to mount your gauges to you could have sendcutsend laser out a piece of carbon, aluminum, or steel to fit. I think all your gauges are going to be a tough fit in the original dash though.

If you get some good measurements/ scan a template I could help you out with the drawings if need be. I could send you a pdf back and you could print it out at 1:1 scale and see how it fits. Could easily have them make holes for lights, fasteners, etc.
 

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This is a great round up of gauge panel options! Thanks @exotec for tagging me here. Below is a recent photo of my 3D print cluster insert during mockup. In this photo it's literally just sitting in place so I could check fitment with things in the car. The plan is to fill and sand out the layer lines, paint the whole piece black, then add chrome on the raised edges / trim rings. I looked at a ton of early 70s interiors looking for ideas before I designed this. It required cutting out some areas of the original panel, which I did with a Dremel tool and round carbide bit. @kimmer71 you mentioned concerns about cutting the brittle original piece. This was a concern for me also, because several of the mounting posts were cracked or broken off on mine. I found it actually cut easily with the Dremel and felt like new plastic as I cut through. I used JB Weld Plastic Bonder 2 part adhesive to repair the posts and some cracks; it is shockingly strong. I'm not trying to encourage you to go this route though, because I think an all metal dash is also a great option and would be a great way to continue building your already-great metal working skills. For ideas, take a look at 1969camaroskunkworks on Instagram; he fabricates these for Camaros and Novas and he has a few posts where you can see the individual pieces as he's making the panels.

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