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Has anyone had experience with Bob's Speedometer?


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Bob's advertises in Hemmings and has a great reputation on this forum. I did a search. I sent a gauge cluster there from a very common 70's car. All I needed was the speedometer repaired. No cosmetic restoration needed. He said the speedo would be $500 to repair and the other gauges were needing attention so the final cost was in the $900.00 range. The other gauges seemed OK to me. I was shocked at how high the figure was and it seems I might be taken advantage of. Is gauge cluster repair really expensive? 

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I just paid $1200 to have the speedometer rebuilt in my '35 Lincoln with another rebuilder so I'd say yes, gauge work is expensive. I'd also say that you get what you pay for--are there even any cheap alternatives?

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If Bob is on the level, I will swallow hard and accept it. Yes, I have learned many times on this car you get what you pay for. Like you, I want this car to be properly sorted and driveable. 

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A couple years ago I sent a mid 60s speedometer to Commercial Speedometer in West Sacramento, CA. I don't recall what the repair cost, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't $500. It came back working great and looking new. The guy who worked on it has been doing this since 1958. Worth a phone call I'd say.

 

Prewar stuff IMHO is going to be completely in a different class than run of the mill Detroit stuff from the 60s and 70s. I'm not surprised @Matt Harwood 's was expensive.

 

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I have a speedometer which works, but reads low. It looks okay to me, appearance wise, not perfect. All these other gauges are okay. But when I talked to one shop they basically had one way of doing things: I send them everything and they do the whole thing right, or they don't do it at all. That wasn't Bob's I talked to. That's a good policy, really, but not all customers need or want that.

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Spray contact cleaner on the pivot points has worked for me in the past. As long as the face is ok it is possible to make a noticeable improvement just removing old , dried lubricant and very carefully applying a tiny drop of new. Similar , careful cleaning and lubrication have brought several pocket watches back to life for me as well. You need patience and a steady hand.

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Bob's Speedometer did an excellent job rebuilding my '54 Ranch Wagon speedometer. That was about 18 years ago...and the cost was $360 back then. I still consider it well worth the money today. No problems. Here's my speedometer...when the miles had just turned 66666.6.....👹.

 

 

IMG_0615.JPG

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This kind of work is another example of a vanishing trade. As recently as 40 years ago, every decent sized city had one or two guys who repaired speedometers. You could walk in with your piece and he would give you a price on the spot. No shipping, no packing, no surprises. I guess that laws against odometer tampering and the advent of electronic speedometers, along with old age, put most of them out of business. Now there are just a few people nationally doing this who can charge whatever they like.

 

 

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http://dandmrestoration.com/

 

I had them repair my instrument cluster for my '49 Oldsmobile... speedometer gear was frozen. $225 with 2 week turnaround and they also calibrated the temperature, oil and ammeter guage while they were in there! They also do radio repair as well but haven't asked what they charged 

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2 hours ago, usnavystgc said:

Pardon me if I'm being naive but, why not just do it yourself?  Are these gauges and speedometers that complicated?

Yes some can be.  

My 1929 Cadillac fuel gauge. weird circuit (zero resistance at the middle and high Ohms at either end) Anyway it had a ring/flange crimped around the edge. I have no idea how Bob got inside of it (maybe cut it and had another to recrimp?) $500, but now it works like a champ.

 

I had a 59 Lincoln speedo that squealed and the needle would pop back and forth at random.  Took it to a local shop (there still is one in LA) they disassembled it and machined and fitted two new "jewels" for it. (bearings in any other description) $100 and now it works. 

 

Yeah they are simple mechanical devices, but they are small and if you dont have the tools and experience (such as watch repair skills) you will not be successful. 

 

The LA shop cant reset the electronic odometer in my junkyard tachometer cluster for my 2013 Nissan Versa. An eBay vendor can, but you send it to Texas and its $100 or so dollars. 

Edited by m-mman (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, usnavystgc said:

Pardon me if I'm being naive but, why not just do it yourself?  Are these gauges and speedometers that complicated?

 

Because speedometers are one of the most frustrating things you will ever encounter on a car. Gauges might not be so bad.

 

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Just like all other repair specialty shops they all charge just about what they want to. Your at their mercy since the people that rebuild engines with babbit bearings, rebuild generators, transmissions gauges etc are just not there anymore. The original craftsmen have died, their children are retiring and passing on and very very very few younger generation are picking up the trades like that. I just sent some small parts of to a well known chrome plate shop. Nothing large, just some hood hold downs, an emblem, some other small parts,  Price quoted $1,500. Ouch.  When asked I was told that the major supplier of nickel now is the Ukraine and with the war going on now, prices for plating has just about doubled.  What are you going to do?

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Durant Mik4e, thanks for the information it gives a better picture of what the people working on the parts are facing and not just trying to play you for a fool on a price. This is true ( or was) with the pandemic and the paper supply  when shipping got caked up and ground to a halt. It was hard to get a certain level or type of paper to print magazines on. It just puts a stone wall up against other things : binding, mailing etc.

All of us are focusing on what we need for us, our projects,  but the bigger picture comes into play and is like a domino set, once one falls over the ripple affect starts.

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On 3/29/2022 at 5:18 PM, 8E45E said:

A rebuilder in Portland.

Did JC move to Portland?

Its been awhile but he was up north of Seattle last I worked with them. Lynnwood I believe.

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I saw that cluster and figured that is who it had to be. He was in Lynnwood or somewhere close when I last talked to him, but that was decades ago. Highly recommended.

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5 hours ago, JACK M said:

Did JC move to Portland?

Its been awhile but he was up north of Seattle last I worked with them. Lynnwood I believe.

I suppose I should have added the words "A rebuilder who had a table in Portland" at the annual swap meet.   

 

Sorry for misleading some, but Lynnwood is not all that far from Portland.

 

Craig

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JC Auto Restoration is still at his same place in Lynnwood right next to I-5.

Does a lot of instrument work and complete dash restorations.

Mainly 1955 thru late 60's...specializing in Chrysler's...but does others as well.

Has a lot of parts inventory too for the above same years of MoPar cars.

 

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