Installing a Tach in a '64-66 Chevy Truck | Early Classic Enterprises

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Installing a Tach in a '64-66 Chevy Truck

Publication Name: 
Classic Trucks
Publication Date: 
March, 2004
Section: 
Tach It Up

When '64-'66 truck owners get together and talk about rare factory options, several items are always up front in the conversation.  Factory air-conditioning, big back windows, and triple bucket seats are always on the list, but one of the rarest factory options available on the '64-'66 Chevrolet trucks was the in-dash tachometer.  Many people are misled into believing that the 5,000-rpm tachometer was only available in the C-40 and bigger trucks, but it could be ordered in the C/K-10 through 30 series as option RPO U16.

Thankfully, now any gauge-style '64-'66 Chevrolet instrument cluster can be converted to a tach dash with this new reproduction kit from Early Classic Enterprises.  Installation is a basic bolt-in affair and requires only basic tools and skills to accomplish.  In less time than it takes to watch a few Saturday morning cartoons, you can upgrade your '64-'66 Chevy truck dash with one of the coolest options available.  Follow along as we show you how.

The original dash in our donor truck is in reasonably good shape, and all of the instruments are in working order. Because the lens is scratched and dull, a new one will be installed at the same time, along with a new outer bezel.

How To Steps and Images: 
After disconnecting the battery, the instrument cluster needs to be removed from the dash to access the rear of the housing. The trim bezels for the headlights, wipers, choke, and ignition switch all need to be removed. The headlight rod and knob are removed by first pulling the rod to the on position and by reaching under the dash and depressing the spring- loaded button found on top of the headlight switch itself. Depressing the button allows the rod to slide out of the switch, and the bezel can now be removed.
GM offered two choices for windshield wipers in this era of trucks. The standard setup was a single-speed wiper, and the knob was simply pressed onto the shaft of the wiper switch. They also offered a three-speed wiper motor with a washer pump. The deluxe wiper knob has a small set screw on the backside that holds it in place on the switch, and the washer button protrudes through the center of the knob. The choke knob is threaded onto the shaft of the cable itself. Removing both knobs allows the trim bezels to be unthreaded and removed.
The ignition-switch key cylinder does not have to be removed in order to take the bezel off, as is the case with the '67-'72- model GM trucks. The cigarette lighter assembly will also need to be taken out.
The five bezel screws that hold the cluster into the truck's dash can now be removed. The wiring harness, speedometer cable, and oil- pressure gauge line also need to be disconnected, and then the entire cluster can be lifted out of the dash.
With the cluster removed and laid face down on the bench, the seven screws that hold the cluster together are removed to allow the main housing to be separated from the outer front bezel. This step only needs to be done if you are changing the instrument lens and outer bezel. Early Classic sells their Tach conversion kit with and without the lens and bezel. If yours are still in good shape, the installation is even easier and less expensive.
At this point, the crew at Early Classic highly recommend cleaning out the dust and dirt that has accumulated after decades. This can be accomplished best using a blow gun. Be careful not to use too much pressure.
The gauge face was then gently wiped clean with a soft cloth.
Because the orange needles on the original gauges tend to fade over the years, the guys suggest repainting them using model paint. This will help make all the gauges match the needle on the new tachometer. They sprayed the paint on a piece of paper, and then used a Q-tip to apply the paint to the needle.
The instrument lens is captured in place between the outer bezel and the inner shadow plate. Replacing the lens is a simple step -- just make sure that you have the numbers facing the proper way!
The left-hand backing plate on the back-side of the housing is removed to start the tach installation process.
GM used a blank gauge to fill the void in the cluster on non-tach models. The new tachometer gauge simply replaces the original blank or dummy gauge as they were called back then.
Since it is impossible to read the terminal identifications on the back of the tach once it has been installed onto the backing plate, the guys at ECE recommend marking the wire connections prior to installation.
The new gauge comes with clip-on arrows to mark your high and low-rpm shift points. These are optional, but if you decide to use them, they need to be clipped on before the tach is installed. The new assembly bolts right back into the main-cluster housing.
The tach wiring harness has three wires. The pink wire connects the tach to the ignition/power terminal located in the fuse box. The brown wire connects the negative post on the tach to the negative on the coil.
The light-bulb socket on the gray wire plugs into the center hole of the tachometer housing.
Along with the tach conversion kit, Early Classic also offers replacement dash components such as the knobs, switches, and cigarette lighters.
The newly assembled tach dash re-installs back into the truck in the reverse order that it came out. And there you have it, a factory-style tach dash in less than a few hours work. This upgrade is simple to install and adds a whole new look to the dash of our truck.
Category: 
Technical Articles
Sources: 
Address: 
5843 E. Clinton Avenue, Dept. CT
Fresno, CA 93727
United States
Phone: 
(559) 291-1611
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