View Full Version : Temp and oil pressure guages

08-19-2013, 01:46 PM
I'm going to be getting my motor rebuilt soon and will need to have a working temp and oil pressure gauge when I'm done.
Up until this point I really didn't care because I knew I would be getting the 390 rebuilt. I don't care if the gauges are factory, maybe even just a set of gauges I can bolt to the dash - this is the rusty Rat rod type build I'm doing in case you're not familiar with my car.
It has a 390 that will be getting a 428 crank, edelbrock RPM Performer intake and carb, headers, etc. Does anyone know of the easiest, fairly cheap way to add a temp sensor and oil pressure gauge to this setup?

thx in advance, Dave J

08-19-2013, 03:18 PM
Any auto parts store worth its salt will have a set of triple gauges on the rack somewhere, usually oil pressure, coolant temperature and voltmeter, and the kit should come with the pressure and temperature senders.

I just don't "get" the rat rod thing. There's a few around here that I admit are rather cool, but they are monster looking , nondescript with truck-like bodies, huge rear tires with wide white walls and many sizes smaller front wheels.

I drove a rat in college but it was not intended to be. It just turned out that way because it was an old car and I lived in the NE where they salted the roads then spayed it all under and over your car just for good measure. That and my fellow drivers kept crashing into me, even when I wasn't in it. Then later on when I had a new car I stored it over the winter and bought an old pick-up for a "winter rat".

Who knew I was ahead of my time with these dilapidated looking vehicles that ran great?

I have a friend who's building one for another guy from a early 60's C-10 pickup. He dragged it off a the corner of a field, where it had sat for at least the last ten years. Someone needed a piece of thick steel at one point so 1/3 of the front bumper is missing. His instructions are to strip the paint off, then leave it outside for a month or two to get a good coat of dripping rust on it, then clear coat over the rust. :confused:

08-19-2013, 03:35 PM
Funny thing is, I drove an early 60's C-10 for my high school job, moving furniture. There wasn't a body panel that wasn't dented, but it had a nice new coat of paint: white latex house paint, brushed on. It had a stove bolt 6 that ran great, and usually stopped well. It had no gas pedal, I had to reach up and push in the throttle lever with my toes.

08-20-2013, 09:32 AM
Funny but I was thinking the same thing when I bought this car for my project Steve - I wish I still had my old rusty 63 plymouth Sport Fury rag top with the push button automatic! I haven't done anything with cars since I was a kid. I also had a 1960 VW with a metal spring drivers seat. No cloth, no padding, and no other seats. The starter was shot so while I was in Tech school I had to park facing downhill everywhere I went in order to push start it. I'm sure we all have our stories.

When I saw this Bird that had sat in a field in southern NM for more than 15 years I thought it had the perfect antique "patina" for a sort of Rat rod build. Mines not a "rod" so it's not really a Ratrod. I want to make it mechanically sound with the disc brakes etc. and i want it to be able to spin the tires and shred asphalt. It's what I liked in a car as a kid and besides I used to do body work and don't care to do it again. Here's a link to pictures of the project. It's all just for fun - to each his own as they say.


Thx, Dave J

10-09-2013, 12:37 PM
So here's another question related to this thread. (Didn't think I need to start a new thread)
On top of the oil filter fixture is what I assume is the wire and sending unit for my oil pressure on this 1959 T-bird with a 1967 390 motor. Being that it is a wire and not a tube it must be an electrical unit??? The wire must go to the dash oil light and come on if the pressure is below a certain threshold???

Can I run this wire to an after market electric oil pressure gauge instead of the idiot light? Will that work?

Sorry for the dumb question but I've never done any gauge work.

Also, while I'm at it. For the engine temp gauge, (I'm using an Edelbrock RPM performer intake manifold). Do I buy a new sending unit to screw into the Edelbrock, and will it work with the existing gauge in my dash?

Guess I should look up in my manual what the "L" and "H" ranges are temperature wise when I get home.

thx, Dave J

10-09-2013, 02:33 PM
...Can I run this wire to an after market electric oil pressure gauge instead of the idiot light? Will that work?

...For the engine temp gauge, (I'm using an Edelbrock RPM performer intake manifold). Do I buy a new sending unit to screw into the Edelbrock, and will it work with the existing gauge in my dash?..
Sending units come in two flavors. Actually, one (oil pressure) is a on/off switch and the other is a resistor. The fuel and temp sending units are resistors. If you want to ditch the OIL light, you need a sending unit that is a resistor to run the gauge.

So now, which resistor sending unit? It depends on the gauge you buy.

Regardless of your intake manifold type or style, there should be a pipe thread somewhere around the thermostat housing for the temp gauge. Since water is a good conductor of heat, the length of the sending unit really doesn't matter (so you can put it in a tee if you like). They simply make them long so all the internals fit.

Our Y-block has a factory temp sending unit on the back of cylinder #4. It gives false readings that drives Robin nuts.

Now I have a silly question for you... Since I'm a human and my eyes are drawn to lights (especially red ones), why wouldn't you want the OIL light? If it were me, I would buy a mechanical gauge and screw it into the engine. (There are oil plugs all over the block.) That will tell the real story. The working light will alert you when it's time to look at the gauge. - Dave

10-11-2013, 10:01 AM
Excellent point, I could see myself (or anybody for that matter) not bothering to look at the gauge for many miles, but the red light would catch my eye right away. I'll definitely keep the light. I may still add the gauge.
I found a gauge package on e-bay, http://www.ebay.com/itm/DOLPHIN-3-3-8-QUAD-WHITE-MECH-STREET-ROD-GAUGE-SET-/230856423431
I don't care if I keep the original gauges and my speedometer is shot so I was thinking about buying this. I'm having a hard time finding out how the speedometer works though. Is it a stand cable on most cars? I imagine the modern cars are electronic and not mechanical. Anyone have any knowlegde on these gauge sets?

thx, Dave

10-11-2013, 11:19 AM
Yes, the Squarebirds have a simple "gear driven" speed-o cable. It runs to the gear set in the transmission tailshaft.

10-11-2013, 07:21 PM
Thx Jon, actually I already replaced the cable and the gear in the transmission. (the trans is a 4 sp toploader. What I can't figure out is if the one I want to buy has the same hook up. It's mechanical, but are they all the same?

Hopefully the seller will reply eventually.

Dave J

10-11-2013, 09:04 PM

A few years back I bought a couple of gauge sets for the clocks.:o Most of the gauges were not worth restoring but might still have a factory style speedo that will work?
If it works and it's something you think you can use I'll send it for postage cost.

You could always buy a cheap used TomTom or Garmin - most show your road speed although in tiny little numbers.

I think the car is coming along great - can't wait for you to post a picture with lots of smoke - :D


Here's what I did with the clocks....made some desk clocks......yeesh........this pic is 2008!
Time flies (can't believe I said that :rolleyes: )

10-11-2013, 09:18 PM
Dave, Eric just offered gold for free. OEM gauges are hard to come by and usually very expensive IF you can find them. Yes, most Ford speedometer setups are the same.

Eric, that's a very kind offer and one I've never seen. I would estimate around 85% of them can be restored; more if they come from the South. You're a great guy. - Dave

10-12-2013, 09:40 AM
Wow, thanks Eric. Your clock idea is fantastic, very creative. My wife and I are art fans.
Whether your Speedometer works or not I can send you mine. It's shot but I'm sure a gauge place can fix or recalibrate it. Also, I removed my non working clock and trim ring to put my tachometer there. You can have it too. I'd love to see them put to use in your art work, or on a car. When I sold the 390 donor 1967 LTD I bought I was asking $300. All I wanted out of it was what I could get from a scrap metal yard. I always figure that I would rather see it go to someone who can use parts rather than have it crushed.
I'll PM you in a little bit and get your mailing address.

thx, Dave J

10-16-2013, 10:16 AM
Dave J - sent you a PM.



10-16-2013, 03:20 PM
Eric, here are pix of the clock. The set knob works, but I do't really know how to test the clock. If any one can tell me, is it OK to just hook it to a car battery + and - terminal to check?

thx, Dave J

10-16-2013, 05:24 PM
...is it OK to just hook it to a car battery + and - terminal to check?Sure, that's how it works. Connect the NEG to the clock case and POS to the fuse.

The OEM clocks are really 'wind-up' clocks. There is an electrical solenoid that comes in to wind it back up every few minutes or so.

Don't be alarmed when you first power it up. The solenoid should energize momentarily, then the clock should start ticking down to the next cycle. - Dave

10-16-2013, 06:00 PM
Thx Dave Dare.
Well, I hooked it up and sadly it doesn't work. I double checked that I had 12 volts across the screw on the back and the case (in case the fuse was bad).
At any rate Eric, it seems to be OK mechanically but you'd have to fix what ever the electrical problem is.

PM me and let me know what you decide. Thx again Mr Dare.

Regards, dave J

10-16-2013, 06:16 PM
Wait a minute... Don't give up too soon, there is a contact that gets dirty. If you look inside you can see the solenoid that pulls in the winding mechanism. It's not small or fragile. Along with that is the contact. Run a small strip of sandpaper between the contacts and try it again.

Once it winds up, the mechanisms usually free-up with very light oil (like sewing machine oil). I use a teethpick to apply the oil. (Folks in Ohio call it a toothpick. I won't say why. "Hi'ya, I'm from Ohi'ya. Nice tooth...")

10-17-2013, 12:51 PM
Thx Dave Dare!
Eric and I are swapping these parts so he will give your fix a try when he gets the clock. Hopefully it's a win/win for us. Either way we have nothing to lose because neither one of us is using what we have anyway, but we may be able to us what the other guy has.

regards, Dave J

12-05-2013, 12:00 PM
Thought I'd follow up here and ask another question. I have the new speedometer (thx Eric!) and a new speedometer cable with the correct plastic gear on the transmission end, but the speedometer still doesn't work. If I take the speedometer out and turn the end shaft with a drill it works, thus I believe the speedometer itself is good.

Soooo, what I'm guessing is that the gear inside the 4 speed toploader is no good. I will check this weekend by pulling the cable out of the speedometer and feeling the end of the cable as I drive it. It should move.

Is it very hard to remove the tail end of a toploader to replace the plastic gear inside? Would I have to pull the tranny to do it?

thx, Dave J

12-05-2013, 01:18 PM
...Is it very hard to remove the tail end of a toploader to replace the plastic gear inside?..
Top Loader transmissions have a 'type 4a' plastic, color-coded pink (6 teeth) or black (7 teeth) drive gear pressed onto the output shaft. This is easy to access and change.

Automatics machine either 8 or 9 teeth into the metal output shaft. To change an automatic gear, the whole output shaft must be changed. Not so for manual transmissions.

Support your car on solid jack stands, pull your driveshaft off, pull the speedometer gear out, loosen the tail shaft and pull it off. I didn't look in the service manual as it might have further instructions. - Dave

12-05-2013, 07:45 PM
Thx Dave, I think I bookmarked a link a year or so ago that showed a toploader rebuild. Hopefully I can still find it and see how it comes apart. I believe the David Kee site might have directions also now that I think about it.

I did all the math for my tire size, differential size, etc and got the cable end gear that should make my speedometer fairly close to right on. I'm pretty sure I have the pink gear in the tranny. It'll probably wait until summer, but it sounds fairly painless and I'd love to have a working speedometer.

thx Again, DAve J