It is hard to say if the build-off between Custom Classic Trucks' and Classic Trucks' '67-72 series of Ford F-100 trucks has had any influence on the aftermarket or not, but we've noticed an increase in the availability of really great parts made specifically to satisfy the needs of people who own one of these models.
There is one thing for sure, though: last May, while I attended the F-100 Supernationals in Knoxville, Tennessee, I was able to get a firsthand opportunity to meet with a bunch of Ford guys who were really digging on the fact that the only two truck magazines dedicated exclusively to classic trucks had chosen to build a Blue Oval. Another fact that did not escape their attention was that Grant Peterson and I were taking two entirely different routes, or perhaps one could say philosophies, to create our entry.
Changing from the blue to...
Changing from the blue to the optional teal-colored Dakota Digital lens required partial disassembly of the cluster. We started by pulling the protective wrap off the teal lens by pulling it straight back.
For those of you who just tuned in, I elected to do a low-buck build, while Grant is building the truck of his dreams, and how much it will cost is not really a concern. Well, I'll be the first one to admit that I've made a mistake, and of course, as you all know we have always maintained that at Custom Classic Trucks we make the mistakes so our readers don't have to.
What I am referring to was my insistence on driving the truck during the course of the build and trying to reuse or rebuild as many original parts as possible. From the beginning I've intended to keep my Ford's factory Tampico Yellow paint job, but in the long run it would have been best to have pulled the engine out to detail and work on it. The one thing I did do right was not compromising on the quality of any new parts I bought. The straw that broke the camel's back was losing seven weeks' worth of valuable time messing around trying to hop up the original cylinder heads the 302 engine came with, but that's a story for another edition of CCT.
The four Phillips head screws...
The four Phillips head screws holding the blue lens to the Dakota Digital cluster were removed, then the lens was carefully lifted from the cluster.
Not to make a pun, but getting back to the issue at (in?) hand, the upsurge of new products available for '67-72 Ford F-100s brings us to the latest offering from Dakota Digital. It is a digital dash cluster featuring a full complement of instruments, including a speedo, tach, oil pressure, fuel, and water temp gauge. New to Dakota Digital's lineup is an optional teal color for illumination in place of the distinctive blue that normally identifies their brand. I chose the new teal color because its greenish glow evokes the feeling of a traditional '60s Ford dashboard. While switching the Dakota Digital cluster over to the new teal color, I photographed the steps necessary to ensure no damage will occur to the new bezel or the instrument's internals, with a few tips to maintain the life expectancy that Dakota Digital designed their product to have.
Removing the Phillips head...
Removing the Phillips head screws backed the mounting studs off, so we applied red Loctite to prevent this from reoccurring before reattaching the teal Dakota Digital lens.
One of the leftovers from my former practice of restoring as many parts as possible was the '72's original surround for the gauges. In this segment I went ahead and did everything in my power to improve the original surround's appearance, but before the truck appears at the build-off's finale, it will be fitted with a new Ford factory- licensed reproduction from Dennis Carpenter.
While we are on the subject of Dennis Carpenter, this would be a good time to mention the genuine Ford reproduction padded dash pad we installed while the dashboard was apart. The procedure for any installation of a new part or parts is proper preparation for the job. Starting with disassembly, care was paid not to break any parts that were to be reused. Naturally, the original dash pad was junk, but we removed it slowly to ensure no damage would occur to the paint and trim parts on adjacent areas. To guarantee the new Dennis Carpenter dash pad would lay perfectly flat, the top of the dashboard was washed and thoroughly prepared using sandpaper on rusted high spots, then repainted with Krylon spray paint to protect as well as improve the interior's cosmetic appearance.
With the dash pad installed, the next phase of the job was to install Dakota Digital's new digital gauge cluster for '67-72 F-100s. Since we have 34 photos to document the process, we'll move to the captions to finish off this story.
We separated the stock Ford...
We separated the stock Ford bezel from the stock gauge cluster to be reused on the Dakota Digital cluster. Notice the dirt accumulated during many years of service.
The date of manufacture on...
The date of manufacture on almost every part of the '72 Ford was stamped somewhere on the part. The instrument cluster revealed it was made on 4/18/72.
We used compressed air to...
We used compressed air to blow the dirt off the stock Ford lens attached to the stock bezel.