May 5th, 2007 : Leather Trim On Dolphin Gauges
I've really enjoyed my Dolphin gauges these past four years - they look great and they perform great - and it sure was cool to get blinker lights on the dash (the original gauges don't have them).
The Dolphin dash inserts are a bit small and don't fit the gauge-holes in my dash very well; they are about an eighth-inch smaller than they should be. But better too small than too large and, now that I'm covering them with elk leather, I'm glad of it because I need a larger hole to accomodate the thickness of the leather.
The trim rings are aluminum (a metal which I'm growing to dislike more and more) but no matter; the aluminum is covered now. Here's how they originally looked in my truck when I installed them, back in 2003:
After selecting two nice pieces of elk, I used a compass with a white pencil to draw a circle and hand cut the holes with a pair of scizzors. I cut the holes about an eigth-inch smaller ... leather is very supple (it'll stretch or compress as needed) and making a tight fit around the gauges will hide any discrepancies in my less-than-perfect cut of the circle.
After cutting the circle for the speedo, I laid it over the gauge and trim ring, eyed up the high-beam and blinker lights, marked them with a white pencil and punched holes ... again, a bit smaller than the lights.
With the gauge mounted in the trim ring, I stretched the leather around the gauge and glued it to the trim ring ...
... trim off the excess leather and, voila! One trim ring, finished.
The speedo was a bit trickier to glue. After putting glue on the trim ring and on the back side of the leather, I dismounted the high-beam and blinker lights, pushed them through the holes in the leather and mounted the speedo in the trim ring ... all done while the glue was setting up. Then I pressed the 3 lights into their holes in the trim ring, along with setting the leather and stretching it around the speedo gauge. As you can see, it worked out well.
This is the first of many projects I'll be working on while the truck is away, getting painted. But when the truck comes back, I'll have these beautiful elk-trimmed gauges to install in my newly painted dash!