Author Topic: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA  (Read 4346 times)

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Offline 461 stroker transam

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help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« on: August 01, 2013, 04:38:41 PM »
hello. new here.
I have an 80 TA that I am trying to have restored. not a numbers matching car, but I've had it since I was 17 (24 years).
anyway, the gauge cluster is pretty shabby. wanted to get it looking new with one extra caveat; a 160mph speedo. the current speedo reads to 85, of course.
found a guy "bob's speedometer" who can do all the work, restore the gauges to factory new, etc after I supply the new lenses and circuit board. he quoted me today at "gasp" $1,500.00   this quite a bit more than I wanted to spend on this.
"performance years" catalog has the lenses and circuit boards correct for my year. they have the rest, but not for my year. here's what the catalog lists:
70-74 speedometer, 160mph
76-78 tachometer and clock gauge -for cars with rally gauges
70-79 volt gauge
75-79 dash fuel gauge - cars w/rally gauge
70-78 oil/water temp gauge - for cars with rally gauges
the grand total for all the parts is $776.00

questions;
what does "rally gauges" mean? my car was fully loaded from the factory. had the clock/tach/speedo/oil/water, fuel, and volt gauges, originally a 301 turbo. will now have a 400 Pontiac (very nicely built) w a shaker hood.

will these gauges bolt in? will they work? will I have to modify them? get different year sending units?
please help me.

also, anyone know where I can find a dash? the resto parts places have been out of stock for a year.
other parts I need are:
any and all parts between the shaker scoop and the carb.
wiper switch with delay
defrost switch
my switches still work (I think), but I was hoping to replace them all with new.
any help you can provide, even just to say "ask this guy" would be greatly appreciated.
my email is criggleman72@gmail.com
thanks

Offline brian c

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2013, 04:47:39 PM »
I can help with some of your questions...

Rally Gauges - this is the full gauge package. Oil/Temp/Gas/Volts/Tach. So from your description, you have that.

For at least your temp gauge, if you buy the 78 gauge, you'll need to get the corresponding 78 temp sender as in 79 they changed the resistance of those units. SO...if you put a 78 gauge with a 79 & up sender, you'll get wonky readings.

As for the rest of the gauges...I'm going to plead ignorance, but when you find out please let me know as I have a base 80 firebird that I plan on doing a rally conversion and I have a full 79 set of gauges to use ;D

As for the dash...well if you can't get one of the repops, then you're stuck recovering yours. I used Just Dashes years ago and couldn't be happier. However, I paid over $770 for mine at the time and I've heard the price is over $1k now. Dashboard Restorations is another option but I believe they're in the same price range of $1k.

Other than that..your source for parts is evilbay, craigslist, putting a list up in the Parts Wanted section here and over on Trans Am Country, etc.

1978 Y88, '70 455 HO block bored 0.060, TH350, 3.42:1 gears...Oct '08 Fbodywarehouse Calendar - Woot!
1980 Firebird - no engine/tranny... to be pacecar clone

Offline 461 stroker transam

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2013, 05:56:22 PM »
I found a recent thread on another site where a guy tried using the 160-mph speedo on the 80 cluster. he had to drill, dremal, and fabricate in order to get it to work. I am NOT that talented...
someone responded to his post saying that the 160 speedo was a direct plug and play into his 79 cluster.
so I guess I have another question;
if I used a 79 cluster housing, would that be a direct bolt-in replacement for the 80?
I have a 79 cluster from a 79 donor car, but it does not have the rally gauges. would the housing still work?

Offline 461 stroker transam

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2013, 06:20:32 PM »
just dashes will do it for "about" $1,350 plus shipping.

Offline hada76

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2013, 11:10:31 PM »
all T/As had rally gauges, and brian is right, your best bet for parts is on forums like this one. it may take awhile but someone will have most everything you need, including info to install
'76 T/A 455 4sp   sold
'78 T/A Y88 auto  sold
'79 T/A WS6 4sp
'70 Z/28 4sp

jeff

Offline brian c

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2013, 08:43:26 AM »
The pods themselves remained unchanged so they are a direct plug and play. What did change throughout the model years are the connectors that plugged into them AND the plastic circuit boards on back (which just love to delaminate). So lets say you take a '78 rally cluster and try dropping it into your '80 bird. You'll get some wonky results IF you don't change the plastic circuit board OR rewire the plug.

Again, I plead ignorance on using a 160MPH speedo. For one, you'll never go that fast (LEGALLY) here in the US and if you do, well its more than likely going to be deemed street racing and most states these days give you the pleasure of watching your car get crushed. Now if you're going down a race track in a controlled environment, well that's a different story BUT you get a timeslip at the end of your run that states your ET and final speed so....still not worth it in my book but your car, your choice.

1978 Y88, '70 455 HO block bored 0.060, TH350, 3.42:1 gears...Oct '08 Fbodywarehouse Calendar - Woot!
1980 Firebird - no engine/tranny... to be pacecar clone

Offline Chuckles

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2013, 10:31:33 AM »
Not true. 1981 Clusters have a vehicle speed sensor in the back of the case so, simply "swapping" the 160 MPH speedo into the '81 cluster box will not work.

Offline 461 stroker transam

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2013, 11:32:01 AM »
This engine build is going to be pretty strong. I wanted as balanced a mix as possible between power, street ability, and reliability (and it had to fit under the hood). The build is more for torque, but should give me a bit over 600 hp. And with the gearing I'll have, it should top out around 157 mph. And then because I ran out of gear, with plenty power left. Kind of ran out of money before I could go to a five or six speed trans. So, will it go that fast? Probably. Safely? Dunno. Probably not.
Where I am in Ohio, I have a quarter mile track 30 min away. Mid Ohio raceway 20 min away, and I just heard about a former landing strip converted to private use for land speed runs that is supposed to be about 1.5 miles long. So I will have some opportunities, legally, to see what she will do. I'll be happy to share all the results if anyone is curious once the car is done, which may not be until next spring.

All that aside, I've been driving the car for 24 years, and it has always just irked me that the speedometer in this thing only read to 85... I mean, it's a TRANS AM!! Not a sunbird!
The car wasn't even close to all original when I got it. So I'm not exactly a "purist" I guess. And it may sound wrong to some that I want a 160 speedo in a 80 T/A, but it's something I always wanted for it, and now that it's finally getting restored , I'm trying to figure out how to get it done. And can really use some advice from you guys who know.

Offline 461 stroker transam

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2013, 11:44:09 AM »
The gentleman at bobs speedometer can repaint the speedo and recalibrate it to look and work just like a 160mph speedo. He will do this and refurbish all the gauges for $1,500.  I can buy every gauge (for a 79) for $775. Including a new 160 speedo, which may or may not bolt in and work correctly. I guess there may be circuit board issues? Lights and such?
I want it all to look and work properly.
My other option is to just have him do the speedo for about 500 and replace the gauges with new. But no one sells gauges for an 80.
So...
I have a 79 non-rally cluster from the donor car. I can have THAT speedo redone. Does anyone know if the rally gauges will go right in in place of the idiot lights? And then just get a new circuit board for a 79 with gauges and tach...?

And will the whole 79 assembly and gauges fit properly into an 80?
Will I need to change wiring connectors? Or entire harnesses? I'm sure I will have to get 79 sending units.

Offline 461 stroker transam

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2013, 11:52:31 AM »
Hada76-- any used gauges I get would probably need to be refurbished to look new, so I'd be in the same boat I am now, only months from now. So I'd rather get new ones if possible.

Brian, you said all the pods are plug and play, so if it all fits right in the housings, and I match the connectors and the sending units, I should be good?

Offline ponchonutty

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2013, 01:00:05 PM »
OK.  I will chime in a bit here.  I've done all kinds of swaps around in these Fbodys over the years.  I had a '70 base firebird that was made into a Formula.  The car was a 4 speed car from the factory with a 350 and base speedo with idiot gauges.  I swapped out the entire cluster for a '74 TA that had the 160 speedo, oil, water, and tach. all of which I bought off of Ebay for $90.  I swapped out all sending units to match the '74 year and ran a signal to the distributor.  I lucked out in that I didn't need to change the speedo gear.  After all the messing around the car was with in a 1.5 mile per hour.

Now, back in the 90's I swapped out the speedo in my '80 TA for the 100 and 160 mph units with no problems.
Rich enough to own a TA, too poor to keep'm all ;)
1980 TA (1st car)
1989 Formula
1976 400 4sp
1976 400 auto
1978 WS6/W72 4sp
1970 455 4sp Formula clone
1980 Indy Pace TA

Offline 461 stroker transam

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2013, 07:21:30 PM »
i'm going to have the speedo shop rebuild mine to 16o-mph specs and refurbish it. and i'll try to take care of the rest of the gauges.

Offline hada76

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2013, 01:16:03 PM »
this guy gets good reviews

http://www.gaugemarks.com/
'76 T/A 455 4sp   sold
'78 T/A Y88 auto  sold
'79 T/A WS6 4sp
'70 Z/28 4sp

jeff

Offline Angelo

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2013, 11:11:22 PM »
1981 is an oddball year, be glad you don't have this year. I do, I had to completely flip the pins on the connector in the back to work with a 79 cluster I assembled.

You have rally gauges, but 1980+ saw changes for a number of reasons unrelated to the rally part.

In 1980 all gauges changed their faces/displays to include ANSI standard images/symbols. Pontiac also changed the font height at the same time, so pre 1980 gauges font lettering looks slightly different.

1980+ fuel/volt gauge assembly added an electric choke light. If you don't need the choke light, find a 70-79 fuel/volt gauge assembly to swap with.

1980+ water temp gauge uses a different ohm sweep than previous years. So if you swap with an older gauge, you will need to swap the temp sending unit as well.

Mid year 1978 they change the clock to quartz. The back of the cluster is completely different on the tach side because of this. The hole in the plastic lines cover may not line up with quartz/non-quartz clock/tachs. I measured and figured they cannot interchange, but others said they do so I don't know for sure.

1981 added a Vehicle speed sensor (VSS) , the speedometer is completely different at the back so you cannot swap with 70-80 speedos.

Most 80-81 "cluster" gauges came with a tripometer. This added a hole in the speedometer side of the gauge lense. (No 100 or 160mph speedo had the tripometer that I could find)

1970-73 clusters use a harness with  12 connectors, 74+ use 16 connector harness.

The pins in the harness can be moved around to match the year cluster you are using, so you can use a 79 cluster in an 81 for example. Only 70-73 swap due to the harness pin limitation. I found using a pick and hook set was the best way to remove the joins from the harness to move them around.

81' ex-Turbo Trans Am - Resto-mod

Offline Angelo

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Re: help! gauge and speedo questions for an 80TA
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2013, 11:35:26 PM »
I spent about $120 or so on my gauges.

Purchased 2 additional clusters and fuel/volt meter gauges. Junk yard charged me $20 for a 79 set, and I got another 79 set from eBay for $50. The junk yard one was in Better shape but I used parts from both to make one good set. I also got a 100 mph speedo 76-78 for $15 because 79 was a special year and it used red /maroon colored font for the kph rather than blue.

Spent $20 on a 3m headlight restore kit, used that to re polish the lenses, they look brand new. Also did the heat/AC controls as well.

Spent $15 in paint, painted my cluster metal housings with a gloss gray, then changed my mind and did the plastikote stop light red mod. I also bought red LEDs, not included in the restore coasts.

I spent $5 n a can of Endust for electronics, got that from Micro center. This is what I used to clean the gauge surfaces.

I used the best circuit board out of the two I had. The original 81 board was not compatible with the 1974-1980 clusters.

I am running a 79 tach with quartz clock, a 79 oil/water gauge, a 1981 fuel/volt gauge with choke light, and a 76-78 100mph speedometer, it has both mph and kph.
81' ex-Turbo Trans Am - Resto-mod