Studebaker Drivers Club, Inc.®
Studebaker Drivers Club, Inc.®
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | My Subscriptions | Members | Search | FAQ
You are logged on as
 All Forums
 Your Studebaker Forum
 Technical Talk
 Gauge Reface How To
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic
 Send Topic to a Friend
 Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

Cruiser Member

165 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2008 :  3:21:59 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit jlmccuan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
OK, here goes. What follows is a set of work instructions for refacing gauges. In my case, I wanted new gauge functionality while retaining the vintage looks of the originals. For instance, a voltage gauge is much more useful to me than an ammeter, But I want it to look like it could have been original in the car.

Here is a gauge with functions I like. It's a left hand sweep, 180MPH speedometer.

But it doesn't look much like the Avanti tach

Using the process outlined below, I ended up with this.

I used many other folks’ tips and instructions to develop this process and make no claim of any original thought here. There are lots of sites with helpful info if you do a few searches. I just thought it might be helpful to folks if all this was in one spot.

I'll add and edit this post for clarity and as I get more pictures uploaded. Please ask any questions you like, be patient and consider this a work in process.

I used the following items in the process:

Scotchbrite fine abrasive pads
Tac Rag
Scott blue shop towels
Testor’s Dullcote, or any quality rattle-can flat clear lacquer
Clear rattle-can exterior semi gloss enamel
Black rattle-can gloss lacquer
Chrome rattle-can paint
MicroSol waterslide decal solvent
MicroSet waterslide decal setting solution
MicroScale opaque white waterslide decal paper
Various small paint brushes like those used in painting models
Exacto knife
Small hole punch
Inkjet or laserjet printer
Digital camera
Bowl of distilled water

First disassemble the new gauge. I used a screwdriver and gradually uncrimped the bezel from the body.

Pull the guts out.
This gives you access to the face.

I used waterslide decal paper for color laserjets and inkjets to print the gauge faces. I got mine from Microscale.

URL for waterslide paper pic here

I used a digital camera to get a good straight-on shot of the new gauge. You need this to get the angles and needle pivots right on your new face. Using the picture of the new gauge, I outlined the hash marks and needle pivot point in AutoCAD. You can do this in Photoshop too. This keeps the scale correct as the new gauges rarely are the same as the more vintage stuff.

URL for CAD sketch pic here

Then I used Photoshop to place the correct fonts for the lettering and numbers and add the colors. The font that matched the original gauges’ numbers was Century, while the font that matched the lettering was Franklin Demi. I use my print settings to make the background black and the lettering white.

URL for Photoshop gauge face here

You are printing the black and colors and the white decal background becomes the white lettering and hashes. I used a color laser but an inkjet will work as well. It’s much more cost effective to do the artwork for several gauges so I printed the whole sheet. Use the scissors and cut out the individual faces.

URL of printed decals here

The printer I used didn't have a waterfast ink, so I had to apply a fixative to keep it from smearing when the decal is applied. I used Testor's Dullcote, but a flat lacquer clear will work. An enamel paint may react to the decal solvent, so stick with lacquer here.
Two medium coats will do the trick. Allow time to dry completely

URL of Dullcoted decal here

Here is a new fuel gauge and the printed waterslide decal with the fonts and hash marks of the original and the stock fuel gauge.

URL of new gauge vs new face decal with old look

In the meantime, we can work on the gauge face. Clean the face using acetone. Always use a tac rag before paint. A piece of dust here will become a bump in your gauge face and will be forever preserved under glass. Using a semi gloss or gloss black lacquer, apply 2 medium coats to create a blank black face with a slick smooth surface to receive the printed decal. An enamel paint may react to the decal solvent, so stick with lacquer here, too. Allow time to dry completely.

URL of blacked out face

Now we will apply the decal to the face. The process is just like the decals you put on models. Submerge the face decal in a bowl of distilled water. Tap water may leave a whitish residue when the decal dries, so use distilled or rain water. The instructions for the decal paper may say to soak for 15 seconds to 1 minute. Because the decal is waterproofed by the Dullcote on the printed side, it takes a lot longer for the paper backing to separate from the decal -like 5 to 10 minutes.

URL of decal in water

While the printed waterslide decal is soaking apply Micro Set to the blank gauge face with a small brush. Keep brushing out the Micro Set as it beads up on the fresh paint. You may need to use the Exacto knife to get the decal to separate from the backing.

Place the separated decal carefully on the prepped gauge face and using a brush dipped in Micro Set or water, smooth it and push any air pockets to the outside. You have some time here, so don't rush it. As long as you keep it wet, you can work with it.

URL of applied decal

When the decal is centered and aligned lightly press a blue towel to pull the water off the decal surface.

Use a razor knife to trim the edges and put any needed holes in the decal. This will expose some of the underlying white in areas you trim. If it on the outer edge and covered by the bezel or needle, you can leave it, but I use a black permanent marker to touch up any white.

Allow the applied decal to dry overnight. Seal everything down with a double wet coat of clear semi gloss exterior enamel.

Reassemble the gauge, and your good to go.

There are all kinds of tips on modelling sites to learn the little tricks that make applying waterslides easier and improve quality.

More pics to come to illustrate the directions....


_________1966 Avanti II RQA 0088______________Rabid Snail Racing

Edited by - jlmccuan on 07/10/2008 3:48:21 PM

Starlight Member

90 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2008 :  3:46:23 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote

Thank you for taking the time to write up how you did all this. Very much appreciated.

Some questions that would help me (and perhaps others)in the future:

1. How did you remove and then install the gauge pointers with out damage to the sensitive movement?

2. How did you "roll" the edge of the stainless cover back on, so that the gauge would set squarely against the overlay panel when installed? This has been a problem for me in the past.

Is there any special colored printing ink that would prevent the gauge decal faces from aging prematurely, or being damaged by UV?

I know from discussions in the past that the you are extremely sharp on these things, and probably have worked this out.

One of the sign companies in town has purchased a printer that can print on vinyl. These are suppose to be good for fading 5 years in the outside world. They could use the .dxf format from Autocad.

I am very impressed with your work.

Best regards as always.

1963 Studebaker Avanti: C4 Corvette narrowed front/rear suspension, C5 13" calipers/rotors adapted to C4, Viper differential with Intrax 3.54 ratio (the snake has been charmed!), coil overs, stainless tubular frame, stainless chambered side exhaust.
Here are two links for some pictures and information.
Slide Show
Magazine Article
Go to Top of Page

Regal Member

459 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2008 :  3:52:24 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit garyash's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looks great, nice instructions!

Water-slide decal stock for laser printers is also available.
I think the laser toners are more likely to withstand sunlight without fading as much as ink jet decals. However, laser-printed decals won't take solvents on top of them, like lacquer or Krylon, so overcoat with water-based acrylic varnish. Also, Future Floor Finish applied with a soft camel's hair brush works well on laser-printed decals (not for outdoor use, but OK for gauges).

It's a good idea to try out the entire process on a test piece of sheet metal with an extra decal before you do a whole gauge face so that you don't get surprised by some paint or chemical incompatibility.

Gary Ash
Dartmouth, Mass.
'48 M5
'65 Wagonaire Commander
'63 Wagonaire Standard
web site at
Go to Top of Page

Cruiser Member

165 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2008 :  4:01:36 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit jlmccuan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have several sub topics to add the the above, such as removing refinishing, and reinstalling needles, adding lighting, and uncrimping and recrimping bezels. Should I edit the first post or add them as additional posts? I'm thinking edit the first post and then add a post to indicate a rev so that it's easy to see new information was added, but all the info is together for the first time reader.


_________1966 Avanti II RQA 0088______________Rabid Snail Racing
Go to Top of Page

Chucks Stude
Regal Member

426 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2008 :  4:24:33 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
This is great info. You need to put it all in a form that will go permanently in the "Tech Tips" section of the forum.
Go to Top of Page

Commander Member

7297 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2008 :  4:37:53 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit JDP's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Great stuff, but for me it's like someone telling me how to do brain surgery. I can read the instructions, but don't have your skills to do the job.

"I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
Thomas Jefferson
Go to Top of Page

Commander Member

1174 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2008 :  7:01:15 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit bondobilly's Homepage  Reply with Quote
If you want UV and fade resistant decals find someone with an ALPS printer or a Roland. The image is created with resin based inks. Also allows you to print white.
Go to Top of Page

Commander Member

3752 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2008 :  07:34:37 AM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit N8N's Homepage  Reply with Quote

where do you get cartridges for an ALPS printer? I haven't seen them for 5 years or more. I do have an old ALPS printer in my garage that I haven't used in years for that reason.


easiest way to take pointers off without damage is with two plastic knives. one on either side of the pointer, and twist.


any pointers on R&Ring the bezels without damage/distortion would be greatly appreciated.


55 Commander Starlight
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic
 Send Topic to a Friend
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Quick Reply

* Forum Code is ON


Studebaker Drivers Club, Inc.® © 2003-2008 Studebaker Drivers Club, Inc. The SDC logo is a registered trademark. All rights reserved Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.23 seconds. Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000 Version 3.4.06