Kenmeri build part 4

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Posted on January 29 2010

Lets talk gauges here for a minute.  When it comes to installing aftermarket gauges in a car I think the style, make, color, and quality can make a huge difference in the overall presentation of a vehicle.  For me quality is paramount in choosing a gauge.  Not necessarily for the longevity or cool factor of having an expensive gauge, but I’ve installed many gauges over the years and what some people don’t think about when quantifying the cost is ease of installation and quality of sending units/hardware etc.  One example is hooking 3 Defi gauges that all use one central unit, greatly reducing the amount of wiring and and clutter under the dash, compared to installing 3 (name your Autozone or ebay brand here) and having a rats nest of wiring and adapters and fittings all over the place that will all need to somehow be hidden.

The Kenmeri we have here came to us with about 5 of the type of gauges that fit into that second category.  The factory dash was hacked up and the speedo and tach were removed in order to install the gauges.  Not to mention an engine bay full of wire taps, fittings, and wires strewn about here and there to make them work.  This might work for some, but we felt that the aftermarket gauges and install somewhat detracted from what we were looking for and didn’t fit the style of builds that we do here at JDM Legends.

So the plan was to order another factory instrument cluster surround and reinstall the factory gauges for a more classic, oem feel to the interior.  Here’s where it gets a little tricky,  if you have been reading some of the past kenmeri build posts you may recall this car has an RB26DETT  out of an R33 Skyline and RB25 RWD transmission.   So how do you get old gauges to work with a motor that is 20 years newer?

First off is the speedometer.  This is not too difficult if you know the right combination of parts.  The RB25 transmission has an electronic speedo sensor in the transmission and the kenmeri uses a manual cable-driven speedometer.  First off you need to know what exact transmission you have, and what final drive is in the car as this will dictate the tooth count on the manual speedo sensor which can drasticly change the speedometer readout.  A little searching around to find the right  sensor and cable to go to the back of the gauge cluster (I can’t tell you too much, we have to make $ somehow ;) ) and you’re done.    Here’s a little comparison of the electronic speedo sensor (top) out of the RB25 transmission and a cable driven speedo sensor (bottom)

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Next up is the tachometer which is a little more difficult.  Most older cars use the positive side of the ignition coil for the tach signal as opposed to newer cars using the negative side.   There are a couple of companies claiming to make units that convert the signal but I have heard many mixed reviews as to whether they would work for our application or not.   We decided to go with what we thought would the best possible way to get or tach working and that was to use the internals out of an R33 gauge cluster and install them behind the original face of the kenmeri gauges.  Easier said than done.  Modern tachometers and speedos are very delicate things and you must be VERY careful when attempting to disassemble and reassemble things as they’re not exactly cheap either if you break something.  This pic shows the the R33 tach motor being installed behind the oem face, removing the needles is a little more scary than enjoyable.

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While I was cleaning thing up I also decide to remove the abundance of notoriously intermittent wire taps in the car and hard wire everything.  Please, unless they are for your L.E.D. hood squirters on your Geo storm never use wire taps as I will guarantee that they will eventually fail and cause you many headaches down the road.  If I only had a dollar for every wire tap I’ve removed in my lifetime…..

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Another thing that always bothered me was the way the ecu was mounted, definitely an after thought.

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So after some looming and and remounting of the ecu, I decided to make a cover as it was now hidden up under the dash out of harms way.

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Much nicer don’t you think?

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And the speedo and tach work like factory now.

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Now when you sit in the kenmeri you would have no idea as to what lurked under the hood, just a nice clean oem interior.

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