The Focus’ secret Sunday School Update

Along with Guy’s Fit, the Focus sedan was changed up a little bit for Sunday School ’14. Not everything went as planned unfortunately as the retrofitted headlights were not completed in time. I did have one other little project which did get finished for the show though, and that’s what I want to take a look at today. I had kept it a secret leading up to the show so that I could surprise people.

The Focus’ standard gauges are (in my opinion) rather nice pieces, but I wanted something a little different. I found out about a company called Black Cat Custom (BCC) which produces replacement gauge faces for a number of vehicles including the Mk3 Focus. After seeing a few sets appear on other builds I knew they could help me with something I had wanted for a while. BCC offers pre-designed gauges but I wanted something a little more unique. They allow customers to request changes to the existing designs or even entirely new designs and I knew I wanted to take advantage of that so that the sedan would have something one-off. Rather than explain it all here though, it’ll be easier to show the individual gauges and note what I had asked for from BCC.

BCC gauges 7

BCC gauges 6

For comparison purposes, here’s the original gauges (check out that dust! Wow….whoops). Easy to read, and a nice overall design. For a while though there was one thing that I wished they had, which is why I contacted BCC. They needed a bit more yellow.

BCC gauges 1

Before long a package arrived in the mail and inside were the new faces. It wasn’t as simple as just clicking ‘buy’ and waiting though, as I spent a fair bit of time making sure I was 100% happy with the design. As mentioned I wanted something custom for the sedan so I set about making some tweaks to one of the company’s existing patterns. The main goal for the design was to have a set of clean and minimalist gauges that retained enough information to be usable but that would tidy up the appearance of the cluster. Most importantly though, I wanted a yellow tachometer.

BCC gauges 3

First up, let’s look at the speedometer. Despite only wanting that yellow tachometer originally, it was because the gauges were only sold as a complete set that I took the opportunity to alter all of the designs to make the instrument cluster more unique. If I was going to have a new speedo and temp/fuel gauge face as well I wanted them to be customized too.

At first not many ideas were coming to mind but then inspiration struck and I decided to take a cue from the TVR Sagaris, one of my favourite cars. The numbers on a Sagaris’ speedo have been divided by 10; 20 becomes 2, 60 becomes 6, 140 becomes 14, and so on. Unlike the Sagaris I kept the ticks in place however, as a Sagaris also has a digital speedo whereas my Focus does not (yet…). With a marking every 10 KMH I can still accurately tell how fast I am driving. I feel this is the bare minimum the gauge needed to still be functional yet look clean and tidy.

Also, the lack of MPH is not an issue for me. I can convert between kilometers and miles in my head so I’m not concerned.

BCC gauges 2

The tach – the main reason behind the order. Along with the colour change, to match the Sagaris-inspired speedo I removed many of the tick marks from this as well, leaving one at every 500 RPM increment. A few were tinted red for the redline and a thin black outline ensures they’re nice and visible against the yellow face. To further tidy it up I also removed the ‘x 1000’ from beside the ‘RPM’ marking.

BCC gauges 4

The third and final gauge face was for fuel and temperature. The only change made to this template was again reducing the tick marks to match the other faces. Most of the design time was spent on the speedo and tach, and since there wasn’t much on this face to begin with all it needed was a quick alteration to match the theme.

BCC gauges 5

Despite my desire for a yellow tachometer (because they just look cool) I wasn’t going to change something as important as the instrument cluster if there were going to have to be compromises. With the BCC gauge faces all of the OEM lights remain functional which is important.

The teardown and gauge face swap took almost no time at all. The clusters in these cars are ridiculously easy to remove and take apart; the only tricky part of the entire procedure is making sure the needles are properly aligned afterwards, which can be done by noting where they are pointing before removing them (and installing them so that they point in the same spot) and also noting where they should sit normally (ie, find out what RPM the engine would be at at a certain speed and in a certain gear). Once they are aligned again the cluster’s cover can be placed back on and the whole unit can go back in the car.

I just wanted to highlight the parts in today’s post, so I’m ending it here for now. A full review of what it’s like to use these every day will come, but I’ll say this now – I’m extremely happy with them.

-Bill

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