Carbon Fiber VDO Gauges/Center Console Rebuild -
My center console is for the Behr A/C unit.
I felt that the A/C was a nice OEM converstation piece but not
very integral to the overall performance of my car. Besides, it
was weighing my 02 down. I decided to remove the A/C unit and
compressor from my 02, which was not a very difficult job. By
removing the A/C, I was able to modify the placement of just about
everything on the console, including stereo, hazard & fog
switches, ashtray and gauges.
first thing is to completely remove the center console from the
car - it is necessary for measuring and modifying purposes to
have the center console out. Now you will need to make some accurate
measurements. I used the existing/stock faceplate as a template
for designing my new one. Here's my template
for the Behr A/C center console. I
recommend completing all of your wiring before installing the
new console. This includes the stereo, gauges, and fog light switch.
I had my template ready, I purchased a 24" X 14" piece
of sheet metal (1/16" thick) and drew my template onto it
using a sharpie. My High School geometry & tech drawing classes
finally paid off! Of course, most shops that cut sheet metal should
be able to transfer the template onto sheet metal, so you might
be able to get away with having the shop do this - probably costs
Original Behr Faceplate
went to several metal shops and they were weary of making the
cuts on the sheet metal, saying the cuts would not be "clean".
I was referred to H20 Precision, a shop in Belmont, CA
that utilizes abrasive waterjet cutting. They use high pressure
water to cut metal; the cuts are extremely accurate and very "clean".
I dropped my template off with them and had it back within a couple
days. Unfortunately, the H20 cutters don't do sheet metal bending/shaping
so I had to go to another shop to have the 4 sides of the faceplate
bent in at 90 degree angles. This is necessary to mount the faceplate
in the console. Once the sides are bent, measure the exact locations
of the mounting holes on the console relevant to the faceplate
and drill some small holes. Remember to be accurate and very careful!
wanted to go with a different look, so I decided to carbon fiber
the faceplate. I've seen many faceplates made with a nice clean,
shiny piece of sheet metal and that looks great, too. It's all
personal preference. I bought a square foot of real carbon
fiber adhesive at GraphTech Graphics in Daly City,
CA for $40. I found out later that TapPlastics sells a
4' X 2' sheet for $85, which is a better deal - wish I knew beforehand!
it's tracing time. Get out your crayons and start tracing
the back side of the carbon fiber. Real easy and straight
forward. Just make sure the carbon is securely in place on the
faceplate while you are tracing it - use clips if you feel it's
the carbon fiber takes some time and patience - you really don't
want to mess the cuts up or you've pretty much wasted the carbon
fiber. I used a paper cutter to do the edges and an exacto
knife to cut the gauges, stereo, ashtray, fog & hazard
switch openings. A ruler will serve as a great guide for the straight
cuts but you will have to go freehand when doing the circular
cuts. I recommend using a pie pattern to cut
the circles. Cut the circles into fourths and slowly work your
way around each 1/4 piece's edge. There may be some excess fiber
hanging off the edges that you will need to clean up with scissors.
you can stick the carbon to the faceplate. Again, take your time;
nice and slow! Start peeling and sticking from the top since this
will be the most visible part of the faceplate. Work the bubbles
and wrinkles out and let it site for a while so the adhesive can
hold on tightly. Now it's time to mount it into the center console.
decided to mount the faceplate before installing the stereo sleeve,
gauges, switches, etc. I used the standard screw
clips that are used throughout the 02 interior and clipped
them onto the holes I drilled earlier. I also purchased some new,
black interior screws to secure the faceplate to the center console.
is a great time to test out installing the center console into
the car - before the stereo, gauges, etc are installed. This is
where each experience may differ. I leave this to each owner's
discretion. Mods can be a pain in the arse, so it's up to you
to decide what will work best. I had to make a major modification
to get the console snug and tight beneath the dash. The Behr A/C
console screws into the bottom of the dash, but I could not pull
that off with the new faceplate. I just did not have enough room
to get a screw tightened in there. I drilled two holes on the
top bend of the faceplate - as far to the left and right sides
as possible. I then added a bracket and flexible (plastic) extension
to reach the back portion of the console sides.
it's time to install the gauges, stereo, ashtray, hazard and fog
light switches. You removed them, so installing them should not
be a problem. You might need to do some light shaving on some
of the openings, but it's nothing a fine file can't handle and
should be minimal. Here's the finished product.
all your wiring and install the console in your 02. Here's what
mine looks like in the car.
Acting Weird? -
times the temperature, gas and other gauges may act erratic -
drops and rises fast for no apparent reason. Before ripping the
dash apart, check the battery's ground. If the ground cable appears
to be properly attached to anything other than the car body, try
adding another small ground wire from the battery cable's negative
connector to a clean (sand it down a bit if necessary) part of
the car's body. This should resolve the problem - you might even
notice other electrical components functioning better in your
Fix Ń 1976 2002 (49-State)
On page 26 of the September Roundel, it was mentioned that 1976
2002 have speedometers that are about 7% optimistic. Jim Ryan,
Technical Services Manager of BMW of North America, informs us
that they have a fix Ń a corrected speedometer face. This item
is available free through BMW dealers. The corrected facing fits
right over the old one. Mr Ryan emphasized that this fix applies
only to 1976 cars, and only to 49-state (non-California) models…weak!
Warning Light Fix
If your brake warning light stays on when the handle is all the
way down, raise the rubber boot at the rear of the handle and
look for the small nylon pad, attached to a small coil spring,
with the rear of the spring secured on the right side by a Phillips
head screw. The sliding screw might be loose, causing the light
to come on. Adjust the screw so the light comes on after the brake
handle is raised one or two notches. Note that the ignition switch
must be on to activate the light. By the way, is the release button
on the handbrake lever slowly disappearing into the handle so
that you can barely release it? Well, the button is staying there,
but the grip is slowly creeping off the handle. To fix, simply
raise the handle and twist or slide the grip back into place.