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Some background on the fuel gauge triangle:

The Every Little Thing podcast recently took on the challenge of answering that question and tracked down its origin story.

One rainy day in 1986, a Ford interior trim engineer named Jim Moylan said he was foiled by a company pool car that he needed to fill up, when he first went to the wrong side and got extra soaked. Motivated by the incident, he wrote a memo to his supervisors suggesting some sort of indicator should be added to the gauge, then forgot about it. Three years later, it turned up in the 1989 Ford Escort and Mercury Tracer, and was eventually copIed by all other automakers over the years, even though no there are no regulations that require it.

That said, while Moylan’s idea was clearly independent and the spark of genius that led to the symbol’s widespread adoption, an earlier version of the instructional triangle may have turned up a decade earlier.

Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky pointed out on the podcast that the low fuel light located inside of the fuel gauge of the 1976 Mercedes-Benz W123 sedan is shaped like a triangle and happens to point toward the side of the car that you fill up on, but the automaker couldn’t confirm the reasoning behind it. Instead, its first documented use of the symbol for fuel filler location was in 1997.
So Mercedes used it (possibly intentionally) in 1976, Ford first used it in 1989, and Mercedes first used it for real in 1997.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I was on the phone yesterday with Al of Black Cat Custom. Talking with him, I made the decision to go for gauge faces along with LEDs and get the job done right. I am going with the gauge style pictured, but with the following deviations.

  • red info center tint (anyone with experience concerning the info center color?)
  • no "SKY" in the tach
  • no "TIMES 1000" under RPM
  • no 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, "LEVEL" in the fuel gauge (keeping the triangle now that I understand it's purpose)
  • considering a "square font". Al will send me a proposals of both slanted and square fonts.

The special requests cost an extra $25 for a total of $167.25 with shipping.

This is the starting point, my deviations not yet applied.
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Back to the info center color. Al suggested the red tint because his only other color choice is blue/green. He said the red tint is very close to the stock orange I have now. I need to ask Al if the blue/green is brighter and also maybe it is not much different than the clear (blue tinted) color on the gauges. Maybe blue/green will match better.
 

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The red is intended to make the DIC match the Sky radio display. The blue-green matches the Solstice.
 

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The red is intended to make the DIC match the Sky radio display. The blue-green matches the Solstice.
The factory Solstice DIC display is white, not blue-green. The 'native' color of the display is blue/green, so he must be just having a clear display in the area.

I went back and forth with him a bit way back when I got my set. Back then he said he'd tried a few different colors and the nearest he got to white was a greyish color. But I had found a stage light filter color that made the native color into white (Roscolux #32 - Medium Salmon Pink), so I had him just cut a hole where the display was and I cut & constructed my filter behind it.

111897
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Thanks for the clarification fellows. I will ask for clear if he can do it. If not, then I will get the blue/green.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Hey guys & gals,

Al from Black Cat Custom sent me a picture of my request. Here it is.

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The proposal above is supposed to look like this at night with the brighter LEDs.
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I made the following deviations to clean up the busyness of the gauge cluster.
  • deleted the word "SKY"
  • deleted the x1000 under RPM
  • deleted the following 4 items inside the fuel gauge "1/4 1/2 3/4 LEVEL"
  • replaced the word "FUEL" with the symbol of a fuel pump

I am keeping the triangle in the fuel gauge. I thank you for the education as to it's purpose.
I will ask Al to raise the fuel pump symbol and triangle a little higher.
Al sent me a sample of a cluster with a square font. I like the slanted font a lot better, so I am staying with it.

Al is tinting the info-center window in his standard blue/green, and that will have to do.

I would appreciate all comments before giving Al of Black Cat Custom my approval to process my order.
 

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Looks fine to me, but really if you think it looks good, then it looks GOOD! :)

Glad to see he's adding the kappa "trunk open" icon that I created, by default.
 

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I would have kept the x1000 and the FUEL text, but since it isn't going in my car that really doesn't matter. Do you like it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 · (Edited)
OP here following up on this one.

I received my custom gauge face order from Black Cat Custom. It cost me a total of $167.25. Here is what I received along with clear paper instructions detailed with pictures..
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For comparison, I placed the original and BCC gauge faces together.
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Before removing the original cluster, I took a few pictures for reference.
This one was taken with lighting off.
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This one was taken with lighting on. Unfortunately the lighting in my garage washed out the yellow/orange illumination, but you can see some near the top where it is under shadow.
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I proceeded to remove and disassemble the cluster.
Here are the original light bulbs. They are standard incandescent with little yellow boots to create the orange illuminated color. I removed one for comparison.
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For a lighting test, I removed the two on the right side for the tachometer.
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I then placed the original gauge face to compare the difference.
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I then swapped gauges faces.
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If under a very tight budget, and I had the interior removed for other reasons, I highly recommend removing the yellow boots from the light bulbs. Doing that alone is a nice improvement in IP lighting.

But my project continued.

Per the instructions, I removed the incandescent bulbs, then soldered down the provided LED circuits as shown. BCC recommended an adhesive to assure the circuits stay in place during the life of the car. I used silicone caulk on the circuits and wires so everything stays in place. I took this picture before applying the caulk.
Also note the color of the odometer in it's raw blue/green state without filtering.
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Due to forum limitations of 10 pictures, this will continue in the next reply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 · (Edited)
I assembled the IP as shown with the anticipation of adjusting the needles once back in the car. The clear lens is easily removed while the IP is bolted in the car.
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Here is the final illumination, the picture was taken in the dark. I absolutely love it, well worth the $167.25.
I Can See!
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BUT..........
Wow, adjusting the speedometer and tachometer needles is a science project. I still don't have them quite right. The fuel gauge is simple and easy with a full tank of gasoline.

There are multiple parking positions of the two main needles, depending on whether you open the driver door or not. The picture of the assembled gauges on my work bench have the needles parked far below zero. The picture just above here has them parked just a tad below zero. I thought I had the project done and "Surprise" it's still not right. It is a VERY good thing I did not yet assemble the dash board yet. The left and right needle adjusting saga continues.
 

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Let me save you some time. I wrote these steps up back when I did mine and have rolled them out a number of times since :)
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There's a real trick to getting the needles back on and aligned at zero (not as easy as you might think). This is my step-by-step guide. Follow it exactly and you'll be fine. (Whatever you do, don't replace the window/dash etc, until you've driven the car and made sure your needles are aligned correctly!)

1. Start with the clear front screen still off, the wiring connector plugged back into the back of the cluster (if you previously removed it) and ignition off.
2. VERY lightly place at least one needle(s) on shaft(s) at roughly the 0/zero position. DO NOT PRESS DOWN (you will need to adjust placement later). This will allow you to see what's happening in the next step.
3. Turn on ignition and then off again, wait ~20 secs for the needles to settle to their 'negative' position (normally, below the 0's).
4. Turn on ignition and fake start the car by turning key to the start position with foot off the clutch (if you have an autobox, I guess you can start the car and turn it off again). Needles will do the test sweep and return to exact zeros.
5. Turn off ignition. During the 15secs or so while all needle shafts are at their zero positions, gently remove and replace needles to point exactly at each zero and push the needles down on shafts - but no more than halfway. NOTE: be careful, it's easy to knock/turn the stepper motor shafts round while doing this and you'll have to repeat. If you run out of time just do one or two of the needles at once.
6. Repeat steps from #3 above, to verify that needles are set correctly. If not remove/repeat. If they are correct, then push down all the way. Then test again! Go for a short drive then park and lock the car and go away for 10 minutes. Come back and check again!
7. If all's OK, clip clear screen back on and put everything back together.

Note: Doesn't matter how much gas you have, gas gauge will read 0 at step 5
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Let me save you some time. I wrote these steps up back when I did mine and have rolled them out a number of times since :)
-------------------
There's a real trick to getting the needles back on and aligned at zero (not as easy as you might think). This is my step-by-step guide. Follow it exactly and you'll be fine. (Whatever you do, don't replace the window/dash etc, until you've driven the car and made sure your needles are aligned correctly!)

1. Start with the clear front screen still off, the wiring connector plugged back into the back of the cluster (if you previously removed it) and ignition off.
2. VERY lightly place at least one needle(s) on shaft(s) at roughly the 0/zero position. DO NOT PRESS DOWN (you will need to adjust placement later). This will allow you to see what's happening in the next step.
3. Turn on ignition and then off again, wait ~20 secs for the needles to settle to their 'negative' position (normally, below the 0's).
4. Turn on ignition and fake start the car by turning key to the start position with foot off the clutch (if you have an autobox, I guess you can start the car and turn it off again). Needles will do the test sweep and return to exact zeros.
5. Turn off ignition. During the 15secs or so while all needle shafts are at their zero positions, gently remove and replace needles to point exactly at each zero and push the needles down on shafts - but no more than halfway. NOTE: be careful, it's easy to knock/turn the stepper motor shafts round while doing this and you'll have to repeat. If you run out of time just do one or two of the needles at once.
6. Repeat steps from #3 above, to verify that needles are set correctly. If not remove/repeat. If they are correct, then push down all the way. Then test again! Go for a short drive then park and lock the car and go away for 10 minutes. Come back and check again!
7. If all's OK, clip clear screen back on and put everything back together.

Note: Doesn't matter how much gas you have, gas gauge will read 0 at step 5
Thank you TomotoSoup so much for posting that.

I just read through your step-by-step. From my own trial and error of a few days ago, I ended up following your process verbatim. So here I am at this point thinking I had gotten it perfect, but last night I noticed both needles are parked at 1 mph below zero. The way I left it two days back, they should be parked at 1 mph above zero, or 5 mph below zero, not 1 mph below zero. I will drive the car again before making any further adjustments, but I have the driver seat out at the moment.

Thanks again for your help.
 

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Are there 'yellow caps' on the lights of the Redline gauge cluster also or are they just in the 2.4 cluster? I kind of understood that the Redline cluster had LED's.
All Kappa gauge lights, Sky/Redline Sol/GXP, use little soldered incandescent bulbs with colored 'condoms' on. The Sky's condoms are orange, the Sol's are red.

None are LEDs unless you replace them yourself.
 

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Thanks Soup. So one way to improve the back lighting would be to remove those condoms....
Unfortunately not. The bulbs are way underdriven - presumably for long life - so they only glow dim yellow. So won't be much brighter and would just change the color.

But you could always try it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 · (Edited)
OP here,

Per my pictures and the order of the pictures, my lighting experiment was removing the yellow boots only for the tachometer. The color difference is most noticeable with the custom made gauge face.

I really messed up when taking the pictures. I should have had the garage lights turned off. I also have a large window in the garage so I should have also waited until after dark before taking the pictures.

One thing I want to mention is that the original gauge face graphics has very thin line work. You can easily notice that in my pictures. It is so fine that it does not permit much light through the face, hence the gauges are quite dark, both daytime and nighttime. The new face I ordered, the graphics have thicker line work so the illumination is increased by a lot. I was a bit concerned that it would not look as refined as the original gauge face, but it really turned out perfect for my taste, and also so much easier to read at a glance.

For my new gauge face, I am very satisfied with my decision to avoid unnecessary glare by deleting the words Sky, Fuel, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and X1000. I really like the to-the-point clean graphics.
 

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The difference in brightness even with the little yellow boot/condom is impressive.

When you first created the inquiry post, my initial thought was “that can’t really make that much of a difference, can it?”

And you pics prove otherwise.

 
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