A long time back I purchased a 30’s speedometer that was a little bigger than the standard Riley one with a view of having a cable made up to suit the connection to the gearbox and to the gauge. The trouble is that ‘someone’ made the cars instrument panel to look nice but totally missed the fact that the speedo when fitted was so close to the bodywork that the cable drive could never actually be fitted to the gauge. As Homer Simpson would say – Doh! But at least I never commissioned someone to make a custom speedo cable for me.
By chance a fellow on the VSCC forum recently mentioned fitting a GPS driven speedometer when it was needed for long journeys and that triggered a thought – what if I could modify the GPS speed instrument to fit inside the vintage gauge I had? Nothing ventured, nothing gained so I ordered a very modern looking GPS speedometer from China because it was cheaper.
Whilst I was waiting for it to arrive, I started work on creating a new fascia for the gauge so that it was in keeping with the original Jaeger instruments. These are fairly complicated visually but over a three week period using Adobe Illustrator, I managed to produce something that was pretty darn close to the original ones. The part that took the longest was the Jaeger logo – that took several days to produce. The entire image is produced using vector graphics so every single curve or straight line is produced by hand and the software uses mathematical co-ordinates to create the visual side. Because these are mathematical co-ordinates and not coloured in pixels – you can enlarge the image to the size of a house and all teh edges will still be just as sharp as you can see here. Why is this important? Because I may want to re-use the image to make other gauges of varying sizes which I am hoping I may be able to sell one day.
Around the time of finishing the image, the modern speedometer arrived – looking very modern (and plastic) indeed.
Now to take both gauges apart and create my own one. Below is the GPS version dismantled into its component parts. Not exactly clockwork is it?
Using the Vintage fascia as a guide (seen near the metal shears), I marked out the shape I needed to cut from 1mm alluminium, onto which I would stick my laserjet printed ‘Jaeger’ fascia
I now discovered I had two problems – one the plastic casing from the modern, would not fit into the case of the Vintage. This took some head scratching but luckily all I need to keep is the glass front of the Vintage version along with the chrome bezel and ‘some’ of the original case, so I cut a hole in the back of the vintage case then machined out the opening on a lathe until the plastic housing just slid in.
Once the aperture was the right size, the remains of the old case were sprayed black inside and out for no other reason than it looked better. The plastic enclosure was then glued into the Vintage casing.
Problem two: the spindle that the indicating pointer fits onto was too short for the Vintage version to reach so I needed to fabricate an extension sleeve. This requires a tube with one hole that matches the spindle and a slightly smaller hole for a new spindle pin to match the pointer. The spindle was 1mm wide, the pointer has a 0.75mm hole. Ah make that 3 problems, how on earth do I fabricate a 0.75mm spindle that is only 1cm long.
Luckily in amongst my spares I found a number of thin brass rods, one of which was 0.7mm wide. Not perfect but a small amount of glue would fix that. To fabricate the sleeve I cut down the pointer bit off the original sleeve.
Next problem drilling a 0.7mm hole into the end of that little piece of plastic in a straight line with the original hole. This is where life got jolly fiddly but I mounted a tiny drill into a handle and manually, twisted the drill into the plastic extension until I had produced the new hole. You get a better view of the original fascia in this photo. I could have used it and not bothered with my Jaeger version but it is not as pretty as the correct gauges
The new brass pin was then glued into one end of the extension and the extension pushed onto the original spindle. Next the fascia plate was fitted into the housing. The electronics were powered up and the gauge naturally set itself to zero, I then carefully fitted the pointer so that it indicated 0mph. The rest of the speed markings are then in the right place for the right speed.
And here we have the finished gauge which I am actually quite proud of. I am thinking of finding a company who can professionally screen print my fascia directly onto alluminium sheet, but for now – this is perfectly good enough.
The gauge is back in the car and once the device has found the satellites – it works rather well. Driving through tunnels of course means I lose my speedo, but it will not take long to match a known speed for known engine revolutions.
Jaeger also made a racing version of the gauge that went up to 150 mph. Seriously? in the 1930’s cars with vague steering and a nod towards brakes doing 130mph? I dont want to think about that…