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Restoration Tips from the Pros

Look good and go fast with Car Craft's Ultimate Guide to Muscle Car Resto-Mods

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Restore your factory gauges

"Anyone can put a gauge in a hole," says Shannon Hudson, owner of Redline Gauge Works in Santa Clarita, California. "But we're seeing more and more people who want to keep their original instrument panels." And that makes sense to us: While a sheetmetal dash full of gauges is race-car cool, it has to be done right to look good--and even still, sun glare and sharp edges may prove difficult to live with if the car is driven regularly. Plus you're losing a big part of the car's character when you heave the factory dash.

With that in mind, we ventured up to Santa Clarita to talk with Shannon Hudson, owner of Redline Gauge Works, a shop that has been quietly gaining a reputation as one of the top players in instrument panel restoration and customization. Shannon has been working on gauges since he was 18, starting at North Hollywood Speedometer. Since starting Redline four years ago, business has really been taking off, and he's got all kinds of bigwigs calling for his expertise. "We've worked on Jay Leno's cars. I never thought I'd be restoring a barometric gauge for a Duesenberg!," he says. While showing us around his shop, Shannon detailed the process of instrument panel restoration to us. He also had us drooling when he described the customization options we would have if we were to send him an instrument panel to work on--the options are virtually limitless. If you've ever been curious about gauge restoration, follow the process in the following pictures. Feel free to be inspired.

"Speedometer calibration is becoming a lost art," says Shannon. "Many people don't even have the equipment to do it." He uses a machine to spin the speedo cable to 60 mph and, using a large magnet, carefully discharges the speedometer's magnet until its reading matches the calibration machine's reading.

Shannon says that these gauges will be much easer to read, especially at night, because the clean white background acts a reflector, shining more light through the gauge faces.

According to Shannon, about 70 percent of Redline's work is stock restoration. He showed us an example of a completed gauge cluster from a Charger. Its overlay had been sent out of state to be rechromed because "hardly anyone in California will chrome plastic parts." Once back, the fake wood grain will be painted back on, and it will be reassembled and shipped back to the customer.

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