BOB'S GARAGE

Cleaning up the SkyDome

What the heck is a Sky Dome?

No, it is not a sports arena. In the 54 it is the speedometer unit that just so happens you can see through. It is a big bubble like speedo unit that sits on top of the dash. It also houses the turn signal indicators and the high beam indicator.

A refresh of the SkyDome assembly

One thing leads to another. Well! Duh! First the Dome, then the dash and then the heater box too!

Not really complicated but it was in serious need of a refresh. The disassembly was easy I just had to take care with the 60 year old plastic lenses. And they used some sort of foam stuff to stabilize the speedo bezel to the upper shell. So it was on the upper bezel with more all over the upper edge of the speedometer face. Well this had turned to a black crusty stuff so I had to carefully remove it. Just a bit tedious but it came off uneventfully. A careful washing in warm soapy water got rid of most of the years of residue.

The pieces were reassembled except for the upper dome bezel and the front lamp bezel. I decided to strip these down for a fresh coat of paint. Some quick work with a brass wheel took off most of the finish. So I got down to scuffing the units in prep for prime and paint. Got the primer and got the paint. Now we can do some damage.

A quick shot of primer on the trim and after that dried I scuffed it off with some 360. Then I got a chance to shoot it with a coat of gloss epoxy black. It looks a bunch better and once it dried over night I went ahead and attempt to reassemble it. After reassembling it with all he cleaned up parts it looks nice. Once mounted back onto the dash I ran all the pigtails for the unit and will find a common spot to tie them in with the dash panel wiring. The SkyDome and the gauge panel sit on top of each other so it should be easy enough.

Tech Note - Because I am upgrading the drive-train to a 302/AOD combo there was a mechanical issue with hooking a speedo cable to the original head in the 54. According to the 54 Ford Club of America - Forum there are a couple of ways to tackle the speedo cable issue. One is a NAPA speedometer cable - PN# BK6151646 works well in C4/AOD applications. Another is to simply mod the speedo end bell shorter and use a simple clamp to secure it.

Now the dash looks crappy!

What can I say? I was trying to find a place to tie in the dash wiring and managed to cut the fire out of my hand reaching into the dash while upside down. So .... in a fit of agitation I made the decision to do a DASHECTOMY. 10 screws later it was removed. With it out I was able to easily get to the innards of the thing and accomplish my task. I should have done this at the beginning! And as usual I was looking over the dash and It wouldn't be right to put a freshly painted SkyDome into a faded dash now would it?! A quick strip down of the remaining trim and hardware and it got a 360 scuff down and a shot of primer. A couple of hours later another quick scuff and wipe prepped it for a shot of gloss black epoxy. The glove box door, ash tray and speaker grill all got a similar treatment. With the dash repainted I reassembled it with the trim and gauge panel. Now I have the whole thing out where I can work on it and do the pre-wiring.