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Thread: CSi gauge cluster on the cheap...

  1. #1
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    CSi gauge cluster on the cheap...

    Didn't think that this simple trick would work out as well as it did, but taking a cue from another forum member, I removed the instrument cluster from the vehicle over the weekend and performed the infamous Sharpie trick on the pointers.
    The only advice I would give others is to down two or three beers prior to starting the application to steady the hand while applying the sharpie ink.
    At 59 years old, the hands are not as fluid as they once were.
    Millennials need not apply!
    Pic attached.
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    '94 840Ci "Broomhilda"
    Mission Creep |def|: "When repair X ultimately leads to repair Y and Z"

  2. #2
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    I have to agree that looks good. When illuminated, how do the red needles look?
    I haven't driven my car in so long, I don't remember what my cluster looks like without referring to an old photo:

  3. #3
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    Looks good. One more thing added to the "to do" list.
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  4. #4
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    Red needles look good, but it's still a long way from resembling a CSi cluster.
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    Current:
    1994 E31 850CSi Sterlingsilber/Anthracite Buffalo

    Previous:
    1987 E28 M5 Delphin
    1986 E23 M745iA Arctic Blue
    1986 E24 635CSi Polaris
    1976 E3 3.0 Si Arctic Blue

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwiCSi View Post
    Red needles look good, but it's still a long way from resembling a CSi cluster.
    I was biting my tongue...


    What he made was the "Japan Individual 840Ci" cluster.


  6. #6
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    Except for the speedo scale....
    Current:
    1994 E31 850CSi Sterlingsilber/Anthracite Buffalo

    Previous:
    1987 E28 M5 Delphin
    1986 E23 M745iA Arctic Blue
    1986 E24 635CSi Polaris
    1976 E3 3.0 Si Arctic Blue

  7. #7
    dancerst's Avatar
    dancerst is offline life is a dance... BMW CCA Member
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    Please don't do "sharpie" trick...
    Get E36 M3 needles and with a little modifications they will look stock on ours E31.

  8. #8
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  9. #9
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    Or... go full bore and install the actual CSi gauges.
    Bert
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  10. #10
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    Only 26,500km on the clock! Can't believe you have been behind the wheel long enough to notice the needles!
    1994 850CSi, 2007 M5, 1990 VW Westy Syncro

  11. #11
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    Since I already have a red Sharpie, I am going to use it. Quick and cost effective. And the money I saved from not buying a CSI cluster will be reallocated to buy something else I don't need for Eva.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Major Cheese View Post
    Only 26,500km on the clock! Can't believe you have been behind the wheel long enough to notice the needles!
    ......yeah, that picture was taken the day I first bought the car, back in 2013....and yes, the odometer reading certainly draws attention away from the subject of the needles!
    However I'm pleased to report that it's done a few more kms since then - 31,500 now.

    Back on topic, the Sharpie method appears to do the trick, but I also like the idea of swapping out the needles rather than painting them - a good option if you're going to all the trouble of getting access to them.
    And while you're in there, if your speedo is an imperial instrument, why not de-clutter the dial face by blacking out that annoying km/h scale?
    Current:
    1994 E31 850CSi Sterlingsilber/Anthracite Buffalo

    Previous:
    1987 E28 M5 Delphin
    1986 E23 M745iA Arctic Blue
    1986 E24 635CSi Polaris
    1976 E3 3.0 Si Arctic Blue

  13. #13
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    Blanz, did you remove the needles from their axels or did you paint them while still attached? Once you pry off the needles it is a simple matter to lift off the gauge faces and replace them with custom made ones. Way cheaper than buying a CSi cluster. I used hobby shop paint to do mine.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by garylafortuna View Post
    Blanz, did you remove the needles from their axels or did you paint them while still attached? Once you pry off the needles it is a simple matter to lift off the gauge faces and replace them with custom made ones. Way cheaper than buying a CSi cluster. I used hobby shop paint to do mine.
    I removed each individual gauge from the backside and then applied a single pass of the sharpie. I say single pass because you do not want to deposit too much ink that would impede the translucency of the needle. Ask me how I know.
    A single pass of the sharpie gives a good contrast of color while still illuminating at night when the lights are on.
    '94 840Ci "Broomhilda"
    Mission Creep |def|: "When repair X ultimately leads to repair Y and Z"

  15. #15
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    Can you describe the "little modifications"?

    Quote Originally Posted by dancerst View Post
    Please don't do "sharpie" trick...
    Get E36 M3 needles and with a little modifications they will look stock on ours E31.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancerst View Post
    Please don't do "sharpie" trick...
    Get E36 M3 needles and with a little modifications they will look stock on ours E31.
    What difference does the E36 M3 needle have vs the E31 needle?

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

  17. #17
    radlaw's Avatar
    radlaw is offline SoCalEights Member BMW CCA Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwiCSi View Post
    Red needles look good, but it's still a long way from resembling a CSi cluster.
    Now he can try this:
    dash2.jpg

  18. #18
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    Which also looks good. Do they illuminate as needed?
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  19. #19
    dancerst's Avatar
    dancerst is offline life is a dance... BMW CCA Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangcla View Post
    What difference does the E36 M3 needle have vs the E31 needle? Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
    The difference is in the hole diameter.

    E31 needle pins are thinner.

    You have to take E36 needle, heat up the hole end with a lighter or torch and press it agains something flat, it will expend melted plastic slightly, just enough to sit firm on E31 pin.

    E36 stock needle



    Modified:










  20. #20
    radlaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 72tpik5 View Post
    Do they illuminate as needed?
    No, just light as usual. However, I did put in LEDs, so they are brighter.

  21. #21
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  22. #22
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    Would look so much cleaner without the km/h scale...is that a legal requirement in the US?
    Current:
    1994 E31 850CSi Sterlingsilber/Anthracite Buffalo

    Previous:
    1987 E28 M5 Delphin
    1986 E23 M745iA Arctic Blue
    1986 E24 635CSi Polaris
    1976 E3 3.0 Si Arctic Blue

  23. #23
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    Not to the best of my knowledge.
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