Ye Beast Logo
Ye Beast Logo
Created by David West
Featured in the inaugural edition of Spitfire & GT6 Magazine
installation of new dashboard
Custom
Dashboard
adapting of the Miata seats
Special
Miata Seats
Installation of Tremec 5-speed
Tremec 5-spd
Transmission
installing the 383 cid engine
383cid
Installation
front suspension upgrade
Front
Suspension
rear suspension upgrade
Rear
Suspension
redesigned motor mounts
Motor
Mounts
modification of the frame
Frame
Modification
Use 'back' & 'next' to Navigate Slideshow.
Scroll Text for Photo Explanations.

The original dashboard has been repaced with a full width dashboard of my design. The new design provides optimal instrumentation placement and aesthetics. The new dashboard design includes the electrical connections to the existing wiring using military connectors - it allows the removal of the dashboard for maintenance and any future improvements. The new dashboard is crafted from Hawaian Koa wood by Prestige Autowood of San Jose.

I drew a set of electrical schematics to specify the wiring additions and modifications required for the project. Many past additions to the car - electric water pump, electric fans, indicator lights, and much more - created a chaotic web of added wiring under the dashboard. It looked like it was a colored web woven by a hallucinating spider.

I designed an interface board to which all wires from the chassis and body are connected. The interface board includes connector strips for grounding, 12 volt switched power, all sensors, and all switched devices. The interface board is then connected to the dashboard by two military connectors. This makes it easy to remove the dash for future mods to the Spitfire and maintenance - and, corrects the messy wiring under the dashboard.

A new dash pad was created to replace the sun-baked, cracked original and is the same color as the Miata seats that are installed in the car.

The photos in the above slideshow provide a visual record of the installation. The photos are arranged to support the installation phases. Put the slideshow on manual by clicking on the 'Next' command and access the photos as they are introduced in the narrative.

  1. Design & Fab
    Photo 2: Shows the accurate template I created. The template was based on the outline of a newer model Spitfire' dash - this assured an accurate fit. The functionality and layout of the new dashboard supports the existing functions of the stock Spitfire - speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure gauge, ignition switch, fuel gauge, water temperature gauge, amp meter, volt meter, analog clock, windshield wipers, dash lights, turn signal backup, high beam indicators, 12 volt switched power source and additions made to the Spitfire such as the twin SPAL electric fans, Moroso electric water pump, and Carter electric fuel pump. The dashboard is designed to for easy removal to facilitate making future mods, or performing maintenance.

    Photo 3: Shows the completed dash fabricated by Prestige Autowood, of San Jose. It was created out of Hawaiian Koa Wood. It was then populated with the gauges, switches, indicators, and other items.

    Photo 4: Shows the redrawn dashboard schematic. The schematic was continually revised during installation to make sure it was a true record of how the dash was designed.

    Photo 5: Shows the dashboard with wiring completed in accordance to the new schematic. It was given wiring continuity checks then powered up and tested to assure its functionality.

    Photo 6: Shows the front view of the completed dashboard.
  2. Electrial Interface - Dashboard to Chassis
    Photo 8: Shows the schematic that governs the function of the interface board. It represents the connectivity of the chassis to the new dashboard. Using an interface board between the chassis and the new dashboard makes it possible to have a removable dashboard.

    Photo 9: Shows the completed interace board with the military connectors attached.

    Photo 10: Shows the design drawing for the interface board.
  3. Label or Remove Existing Wires
    Photo 12: Shows the spider nest of added wiring. The first step was to identify and label those wires that will remain. Those that are not labeled are not needed and will be removed as the interface board is wired.

    Photo 13: Shows a partial, experimental interface board containing just the switched 12 volt power.
  4. Front Steering Column Support Modification
    Photo 15: Shows the side view of the stock installation of the front steering column support. It is necessary to create more room for the new dashboard. The old dash did not extend as far as the steering column support. The new dashboard's speedometer, fuel gauge, and tachometer required more space.

    Photo 16: Shows the side view of the modified installation of the front steering column support. In order to create the space for the new dashboard, the steering column support was turned around front to back. It was pushed back about 2.5 inches.

    Photo 17: Shows a front view of the remounted steering column support.
  5. Remove Old Dash Pad
    Photo 19: Shows the windshield frame raised 1 1/2 inches to allow the removal of the existing dashpad.

    Photo 20: Shows The original dashpad with the windshield blower ports and ashtray removed.

    Photo 21: Shows the dash with the old cracked dashpad removed. It was removed with a narrow bladed putty knife and then solvent to remove the existing glue.
  6. Remove Old Dashboard
    Photo 23: Shows the old dash removed along with many wires that are not needed in the new installation.

    Photo 24: Shows the removed old dash.

    Photo 25: Shows a comparison of the old dash to the new dash.
  7. Modify & Redress Wiring Harness
    Photo 27: Shows the under dash with test interface board before removal and the rest of the unecessary wiring removed.

    Photo 28: Shows the redressed wiring bundle in the engine compartment. It then passes through the firewall to the interior.

    Photo 29: Shows the wiring bundle coming into interior. These new and remaining wires will be attached to the full interface board.
  8. Remove Old Dashboard's Frame
    Photo 31: Shows the old dash's frame removed along with the old dash and a small two gauge frame.
  9. Complete Interface Board Wiring
    Photo 33: Along with the next two photos show the wiring of the interface board.

    Photo 34: Shows initial wiring.

    Photo 35: Shows the interface board fully wired - prior to changes that might be required.
  10. Install GPS Speed Sensor
    Photo 37: With the dashboard installed, the speedometer now requires a speed sender. Initially, a Hall-Effect Speed Sender was purchased. To install the sender required the removal of the seats and transmissin cover - not a small task. Once installed and the interior returned to usable, testing showed that the speedometer was not receiving a signal from the transmission. Even with help from VDO technicians, I could not get it to work.

    They mentioned that VDO manufactures a speed sender that uses GPS technology to sense a car's speed - much more accurate than a transmission mounted sender. And, it does not require transmission and differential gear ratios, nor tire diameter for calibration. So, I purchased one.

    Photo 38: Shows the VDO GPS Speed Sender.

    Photo 39: Shows The wiring was not tricky as was the Hall-Effect wiring. The sender, to receive a GPS satellite signal, must have access to the open sky. Since I was not going to reinstall the dash ashtry, I made a small shelf to set the sender on using the ashtray opening. When the new dashpad is installed, the sender will be flush mounted with the dashpad. Then the sender's status light can be seen.

    Photo 40:Is a closer look at the GPS sender mounted in the dash top. The dashpad will be glued to the dashtop and help to hold the sender mount in place.
  11. Install New Dashboard Frame
    Photo 42: Shows new frame initially installed.

    Photo 43: Shows one of two braces to secure the dash frame. This one is attached to the modified steering column support.

    Photo 44: Shows the second brace on the passager side of the Spitfire. These two braces make the new dashboard fully stable.
  12. Install New Dashboard
    Photo 46: Shows the dashboard template set in place to study the fit with all of the modifications completed and the interface board in place and wired.

    Photo 47: Shows the new dashboard's initial installation. There will be some adjustments to the dashboard mounting places...

    Photo 48: Shows the complete mounted dashboard. Still to be electrically connected to the interface board with the military connectors and tested.
  13. Install New Dashpad
    Photo 49: The last task in the dashboard project is to replace the old, cracked ( 54 years old ) dash pad. A new stock replacement pad was purchased for about $220.00 from SpitBits.com - 2005 - but now costs $295.00. With time to think about the dash pad, I decided the cutouts for the windshield heater vents should be covered. The ashtray cutout will be used to mount the GPS speed sender - ash shown a few photos ago.

    Photo 50: I figured that I could have an upholstery shop cover it with naugahyde and fill in the cutouts with foam from the underside. I found a British car restoration business, British Steel of Fresno, that could work with the dashpad. The owner Rick Rogers, his upholstery guru, Bill, and I discussed it and they said it would be easier to create a custom pad. Now I could get it exactly as I wanted it - make it from the same colored naugahyde that my Miata seats were covered in and create a shifter boot from the same material. I decided that the VDO GPS speedometer sender could be mounted where the ashtray had been. Then the status light would be visible.

    Photo 51: At completion, it was awsome. The color of the naugahyde made the Koa wood of the dash really stand out and I was finally rid of the ugly rubber shifter boot. And no more teasing from many people saying: 'Gee, Dave, how is the dash?'.
  14. Resolve Installation Issues
    At this stage the dashboard has been electrically connected and tested.

    There were several issues to be resolved. The first was that the initial speed sender, the Hall Effect speed sender, did not work. This was resolved - shown earlier in slideshow - by using a VDO GPS speed.

    The second issue was that the tachometer required the adjustment of the set of mini switches - to do this, I had to remove the dashboard. The capability to remove and replace the dashboard proved very helpful. After setting the switches, the tachometer operated correctly.

    In order to check the calibration of the speedometer and tachometer, I created a web page that calculates the speed, MPH, and the engine revolutions, RPM. It takes into account the transmission gearing, differential gearing, and tire diameter. Just enter either the target MPH, or engine RPM. Comparisson of the outcome of the calculations with the input of the GPS signal proved the calibration of the speedometer and tachometer. This web page will be linked to the Ye-Beast website in the near future for visitors to access.

    The third issue was the fuel level sender did not work in conjunction with the VDO fuel gauge. The solution was to take a brand new fuel level sender from British Victoria and combine it with the VDO sender rheostat that is matched to the VDO fuel guage in the dashboard. It required one adjustment after the initial use - not a fun thing to work on since you have to pump out the tank every time a test, or adjustment has to be performed.

Click Here to Calculate Your:
     - Car's Speed from Engine RPM
     - Engine RPM from Car's Speed
Updated: Thu 22 Mar 2018