White Face Gauge Installation - for 280zx

I spent a lot of time on the internet to find anyone that had white face gauges for the 280zx, I found a lot of links for the early generations, 240 to 280z, but nothing for the ZX or even any generation of the 300. I did talk to a guy from Australia who did make some for his 280zx, he gladly sent them on CD for me to use, the only problem I ran into was that he was missing the clock and the small fuel gauge labels. So I scanned my own gauges and made my own white face gauges with different fonts and clear cut out lines for them. The 280zx gauges are easy to do and all you have to do is print the gauges on a white full page label, cut em out and stick em to you stock gauges.

I have recently added US model guages to the collection, as well as the analog quartz clock, Sheet 1 ( 200 KM/H speedometer and tachometer ), Sheet 2 ( rest of gauges - Canadian model ), Sheet 3 ( US 120 MPH speedometer, temp in F and Oil pressure in PSI), Sheet 4 ( Analog quartz clock ) and Sheet 5 ( 80 MPH speedometer ) - you will want to right click the link and click on "save target as" , that way you can save the image to your hard drive to print it or take it to a printers. I put the files onto disk, brought into a print shop and had them printed on the full size label sheets, I got a high quality print on a laser printer for only $2. If you print them yourself you will have to play with the size settings, photoshop or windows XP print the jpg files to proper size for perfect fit to guages. I have higher quality versions in Corel Draw 10 format, you can download the zipped corel files here, KPH and tach, rest of guages, analog clock, US model MPH, temp and oil, 80 MPH speedo( these are full sheet 8.5 x 11 and will print easier then the jpg files )

Including the time to put stickers on faces you should allow yourself at least 7 hours to complete this, given you don’t have problems. Take your time and keep your hands clean when handling the white gauges, they will probably get dirty very easily and you would have to re-print a new sticker for it.

Tools: 12mm socket and extension for steering column, 1 long Philips screwdriver, 1 regular size Philips screwdriver, 1 stubby Philips screwdriver, 1 small flat head screwdriver, 1 90 degree Philips screwdriver and a tiny Philips head screwdriver for the gauges.

Lighting: I changed the factory orange lights to blue at the same time, you will have easy access to the lights and if you are going to change the color do it now. I like the blue but find it a lot dimmer and harder to see the speedo and tach at night, red would look cool or any other color you can find. You will need 8 bulbs, 5 for speedo head and 3 for center instrument cluster.

Gauge needles: you may want to paint the needles for better contrast to the white compared to the stock color . Use a couple light coats of primer and then the color of your choice.

Guage faces: the factory gauges are white on black, it is just a light paint on the gauges. What you will want to do is sand off all the black ( and white ) from the plastic front faces only before you put the sticker on. 200-300 grit sand paper will do the job, 600 or higher for a clearer finish. Your time for installation will be a lot longer, depending how long it takes you to sand. Sanding both the front and back of the plastic face is a NOT good idea, If you sand off the rear of the guages you will lose some of the light dispating ability and you will get a lot of dark shadows from the mechanical guages behind the faces, sand only the front faces. Also, if you do not at least sand off the front black paint what happens is that it is too dark and you see the black through the white sticker and that also looks like crap. I do not have a good enough night shot camera to show it, trust me, it looks like crap if you do not sand off the black paint. ( that was my first attempt )

DISCONNECT YOUR BATTERY - This will prevent any sparks, shorts or feedback to your guages as you disconnect and re-connect the wiring, there are live wires there even when your car is turned off.

Center instrument cluster steps:
- remove glove box cover ( 3 screws )
- remove inside if glove box ( 6 screws )
- remove wire harness from end of gauge cluster
- push out the small white plastic wire holder on the dash frame, it is holding a group of wires that will get in the way when trying to remove the cluster.
- Unscrew the single screw holding cluster in dash.
- Pull out cluster from dash.
- Disassemble cluster to get access to the gauge faces.
- DO NOT REMOVE THE NEEDLES, it will make it very difficult to re-calibrate them in the right position if you do.
- For the oil pressure face you can pull off the gauge face, put on sticker you printed and then replace on gauge.
- For the clock you can do the same thing
- For the voltmeter you should be able to do the same.
( Note: while you have the faces off it would be the best time to paint the needles, I painted mine dark blue )
- re-assemble cluster and mount back into dash.

Drivers instrument cluster steps ( a little more time consuming ):
- Remove the dash kick plate ( where the light is )
- Remove air vent
- Remove steering column cover, top and bottom piece. Remove the light and hazard assemblies from the covers so you can set the covers aside for now.
- Remove the 2 bolts holding steering column to frame. This will allow you to push it down just enough to wiggle the instrument cluster out of the dash without removing the steering wheel.
- Disconnect speedometer cable up by the top of the accelerator pedal and fire wall.
- Remove the trim screws around the cluster ( under the top lip ), wiggle the cluster out of dash enough so that the colored trim is out of the dash, you will need to then remove that trim from the cluster using the 90 degree Phillips on the outer screws, the stubby on the bottom inside left screw and the long one for the bottom inside right screw ( getting the stubby one up by the ignition switch is a pain ), then unclip the 2 clips on the top and then remove.
- Pull the cluster further out of dash again, enough to reach in and disconnect the speedometer cable from head ( easier that way ), and the 3 wire harnesses. You can now pull it completely out of dash easily with the steering column loose.
- Disassemble the cluster to access the gauges.
- Fuel gauges: do not pull of the needle, remove the screws for the top gauge, maneuver it around to get access to the ¼ tank gauge, remove the ¼ tank gauge, put on sticker and replace, re-mount the top fuel gauge and put sticker on under the needle and while mounted. (this is so you do not have to re-calibrate the gas needle)
- Temperature gauge: remove gauge, put on sticker and replace ( do not remove the needle either )
- Tach: carefully note the location of the needle and then remove, use a pliers and pull straight out from center of needle. They are very week plastic and break very easily ( trust me, I did it ). There is a small metal pin that mounts the plastic needle to the gauge shaft, that should come off too ( if you cannot get that piece off then you will have to maneuver the sticker onto the gauge while mounted. ). If it did come off, then remove the face, put on sticker and replace. Be careful to get the needle back into the original position.
- Speedometer: this is the trickiest ( was for me at least ). First remove the entire speedometer from the cluster ( 2 screws on the back side ), remove the stopper at the 0 if you have one before you remove the needle. Make note of the resting location of the needle and if you have the gauge flat or vertical ( that makes a difference ). Then remove the needle like the tach needle. The same little metal piece the tach had may or may not come off the speedo, it didn’t for me so I had to maneuver the sticker on around that piece. Do not try to force it off, you may damage the shaft that connects to the gauge. Once you have the sticker on, re-assemble gauge and put back into cluster.
- You can now put it back together and then put back into dash like you took it out in the first place.

Here are some before and after shoots of them installed.
before and after shot of drivers instrucments (afer shot 2)
before and after shot of center guages.

More pictures on the way - before, after, during, full sheets of the printed labels, sanded faces, etc.