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1940 and 1941 dash gage ID


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Neil Morse recently did a gage and wiring repair and noticed an interesting variation in font between two gages.  I've got restored gages that have the larger font, but I am as curious as Neil in learning which gage is appropriate.  Can you fellow '40 and '41 affecionado's weigh in on this detail?

 

"Notice that the fonts are different.  I haven't figured this out -- maybe there were different fonts for 1940 and 1941, but now the font on my charge indicator/temp gauge matches the font for the gas/oil pressure gauge."

 

Gage number 1

1505548013_Temp_Ammeter(2).thumb.jpg.0194fa0b2dfe51cc67bbd467ac06e29f.jpg

 

Gage number 2

 

startup1.jpg.7a4fa1cd7265c729cb7ee86b8bec76b7.jpg

 

 

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Here are the various gauges and cars which I've seen personally, so I'll label them and maybe there's some correlation. I also have a very original and well-preserved 1940 Buick 81 coming in shortly which should have its original gauges, which should be another clue. Here's what I have in my files right now, although many of these cars are restored so it's hard to know if they were altered during the restoration:

 

1941 Limited 91 6-Passenger Touring Sedan. Restored but the gauges look original to me:

045.thumb.JPG.c1b99718c2f2d48f9cb4d546ba63f4aa.JPG

 

My 1941 Super 56C which was restored almost 20 years ago and won all its AACA awards in the 2000s:

051.thumb.JPG.60b80483eca76b5e00b218180552951f.JPG

 

1940 Buick Special 41. Nice restoration. Smaller font (sorry about the glare):

041.thumb.JPG.09f0bc87c4b56b1563e664dc1f6303c9.JPG

 

My 1941 Century 66S, which I'm pretty sure had its original gauges in it. Photo is small but it appears to use the larger font:

P1010008.JPG.6ea4516253fc0afca2a2008e2539de9d.JPG

 

A different 1941 Super 56C that passed through my shop briefly. Appears to have the smaller font, but hard to tell in this photo:

c4_3.JPG.9edd60ce971a90ac2d239f52448e1f7e.JPG

 

Yet another 1941 Limited 90L limousine (not mine). Looks like large font but I'm not 100% positive:

ab_4.jpg.f07d572cabb4e21a319a901c564d3949.jpg

 

 

If I had to guess I would say that the small font is 1940 since all but [maybe] one of the '41s have large font and the '40 definitely has the small font. I don't have a lot of photos of '40s that I've personally laid my hands on but like I said, I'll have a very original '40 in here shortly and will be able to offer one more data point.

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Excellent documentation.  I was also asking a friend here in Atlanta who is nephew to a second owner Special for pix of his gages.  His car has been in the family since the war.  (That war).  Thanks for your help Matt!

ken

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Ken, let me check what I have.  I bought about six or seven of these off Ebay when I was looking for good replacement parts, and I know I have a mixture of the two different types.  There's only one part that's different -- the plastic ring that has the letters and numerals on it.  I may have what you need.  The plastic ring with the numerals seems to be the part that survives the best from the old gauges I have seen.  Often chunks of paint have "fallen out" of the recesses in the plastic, but they can be repainted pretty easily.  It's the copper-plated surrounds that are almost impossible to find in good condition.  I talked to a guy at Bob's Speedometer in Michigan, and he explained that the high rollers have the copper piece replated and then spun on a lathe to create the correct "sweep" marks.  The original plating is so thin that it gets rubbed off very easily if you try to polish it.  And it has faded to a kind of dull shade of brass on all but the best preserved examples.

 

Neil

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I've checked into a couple restoration shops, Bob's Speedometer being one of them.  For future searching capability, I'll add the contacts to this thread.

 

Bob's Speedometer
10123 Bergin Road
Howell, Michigan 48843
810.632.0400
 
Williamson's Instruments
2018 East Front Ave
Chester, Arkansas 72934
479.369.2552
 
D&M Restoration
57-B Creekside Park Court
Greenville, SC 29615
864.254.9989
 
I talked to Bob's, he doesn't get specific really, but like you said will do or subcontract the spun copper and bezel replating.  Bob also said he can get the plastic pieces.  Mike at D&M is the founder of D&M but sold the business and still works there.  He doesn't do any replating work and does not have access to the plastic face parts.  I have not had any contact with Williamson's, but they show a good example of restored 1940 gages on their website.
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I got one of the plastic reproduction pieces for the "bowtie" in the center of the gauge from Doug Seybold.  It's totally correct in size and shape, but the color is way off -- it has a kind of green tinge.  I ended up using a very good original part off a salvaged gauge instead.  It had some brown discoloration at either end, but I was able to get rid of the brown with 1500 grade sand paper and polishing compound.  It ended up looking much better than the reproduction part. 

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Okay, I checked and I have two "small font" charge indicator/temp gauge faces, and one gas/oil pressure gauge face.  They all look suitable to use, and you are welcome to them if they would help.

 

faces.jpg.cb105a148d97306f90ee16017d71756e.jpg

 

Here's a pic of the reproduction "bowtie" piece I got.  I don't know whether it really shows up in the photo, but as I said it has a kind of green tinge instead of the nice cream color like the originals:

 

bowtie.jpg.cfb2d4baf5596cb726fc309453caa3a5.jpg

 

And speaking of green, this has nothing to do with the topic of the two different fonts, but I just thought I'd post this because I find it interesting.  The directional signal indicators were originally intended to blink with a green arrow, but on my car, the arrows had a kind of yellow/orange tint.  When I started buying these old gauges on Ebay and opening them up, I found out why.  There's a little cardboard tube extending from the hole where the light bulb mounts, and the tube is capped with a green plastic top that gave the original green tint to the light.  On every single one of these that I have taken apart, the green color on the plastic cap has faded away in the area that was immediately behind the arrow-shaped opening in the copper-plated surround.  They all look like these:

 

arrows.jpg.5154a91e810e6e30cb074f9c4a37f92b.jpg

 

I got the idea from Dave Stovall's excellent thread on '40 gauge restoration to use a Kodak photo filter gel to get the green color back.  It worked great.

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Just now, neil morse said:

Okay, I checked and I have two "small font" charge indicator/temp gauge faces, and one gas/oil pressure gauge face.  They all look suitable to use, and you are welcome to them if they would help.

 

faces.jpg.cb105a148d97306f90ee16017d71756e.jpg

 

Here's a pic of the reproduction "bowtie" piece I got.  I don't know whether it really shows up in the photo, but as I said it has a kind of green tinge instead of the nice cream color like the originals:

 

bowtie.jpg.cfb2d4baf5596cb726fc309453caa3a5.jpg

 

And speaking of green, this has nothing to do with the topic of the two different fonts, but I just thought I'd post this because I find it interesting.  The directional signal indicators were originally intended to blink with a green arrow, but on my car, the arrows had a kind of yellow/orange tint.  When I started buying these old gauges on Ebay and opening them up, I found out why.  There's a little cardboard tube extending from the hole where the light bulb mounts, and the tube is capped with a green plastic top that gave the original green tint to the light.  On every single one of these that I have taken apart, the green color on the plastic cap has faded away in the area that was immediately behind the arrow-shaped opening in the copper-plated surround.  They all look like these:

 

arrows.jpg.5154a91e810e6e30cb074f9c4a37f92b.jpg

 

I got the idea from Dave Stovall's excellent thread on '40 gauge restoration to use a Kodak photo filter gel to get the green color back.  It worked great.

 

That's awesome on the signal lenses--years of fading just in that one spot! You could probably rotate them and they'd still look pretty green through those tiny openings in the gauge face, but if the process you mention works, that's even better. My dash signal indicators don't work in the Limited, so that's on my winter To Do list. My thought was to use green LEDs since the bulb is basically the same bulb that I used for the dash lights and I'm pretty sure I can get them in green. That would eliminate the problem of the colored lens and fading and will probably be a lot more visible to my increasingly tired eyes. Since my signals flash properly using incandescent parking light bulbs, the LEDs should work just fine. I'll let you know!

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I did a non Buick with LED bulbs and the blue for high beams and green for the signal was very bright and amazingly distracting during night time driving.  I fixed it by putting a dab of paint on the end of the bulb. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/13/2019 at 12:49 PM, Matt Harwood said:

My thought was to use green LEDs since the bulb is basically the same bulb that I used for the dash lights and I'm pretty sure I can get them in green. That would eliminate the problem of the colored lens and fading and will probably be a lot more visible to my increasingly tired eyes. Since my signals flash properly using incandescent parking light bulbs, the LEDs should work just fine. I'll let you know!

 

@Matt Harwood Your idea seemed so good to me that I went ahead and ordered some of the green LED's for my turn signal indicator lights.  As I reported above, I had used several thicknesses of a photo filter gel to get the green color back.  I said it worked "great," but the truth was that I thought the green color wasn't quite right -- they looked a bit yellowish.  The LED's work much better -- a very nice deep green color.  Thanks for the idea!

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