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This is for optional upgrades to the engine which are not exactly required.

Gas Cluster w/modded tachometer

TheSamba - Gas cluster to diesel mod

Diesel Cluster w/ tachometer

NOTE: This has assumed you've upgraded your alternator to one with a W terminal (usually a 90a)

Shout out to Jason Newton @ Peace Vans for the help!


TheSamba - Diesel Tach availability problem - Solved

What you want

Vanagon Diesel Tacho Cluster.jpg

What you start with

Vanagon Diesel CF.jpg

Okay, the easiest way to do this is to obtain a MK2 CE1 cluster like the one below:


It has a diesel calibrated tachometer already. It should be a plug and chug and go! Well, that's AFTER you connect the wire to the W termina off your alternator.

NOTE; You should use an optical tachometer off pulley to verify cluster tacho. If you need to adjust it use the small flat head screw on back of cluster tacho.

In addition, you'll need a later 86-90 dash cluster, I got an 87 that was in good condition.

The key then is to swap the diesel components over into the gasser cluster. Those two things are

  • Glow Plug LED ; The OXS isn't yellow, so this LED will need to be swapped over.
  • Glow Plug LED Indicator sign; So it doesn't say OXS
  • Diesel Tachometer; swapping the gasser for this one

Disassembling Clusters

Most of the cluster is pretty self explainatory with what screws and nuts to remove. It also indicates on the ribbon well where to pull up and where you can't, so I won't cover much on that.

Use a salad fork for areas to lift off of prongs and what not. It'll make it easier to work with.

Some key points to remember though are:

  • Remove ALL cluster lights BEFORE removing any of the ribbon cable; the twist and pull lights
  • LED's have polarity so remember how you removed them and put them into the other cluster.

GP Indicator Swap

So, when you move the backing and the ribbon cable has some flex you'll see this box with one screw towards you. Away from you will be two progs the box locks into place. Remvoe the screw as indicated in the below photo.

Vanagon Diesel CF-b.jpg

In the photo below you see the other side which has two nubs which if you spread out will let that assembly pop out

Vanagon Diesel CF-c.jpg

The box removed

Vanagon Diesel CF-d.jpg

Now, I'll save you the experience I had! The boxes for the Diesel & Gasser is different as seen below:

Vanagon Diesel CF-e.jpg

Now, you'll need to modify the diesel box. You need to break off the tabs going around the grey/white center box. In the below photo I show you what the tabs are to break. I have some broken already (as you should do) and a few unbroken ones on the left.

Vanagon Diesel CF-f.jpg

When you swap the diesel one over, and set the LED's and the back-plate back on, you'll have this:

Vanagon Diesel CF-g.jpg

Assemble Diesel Tachometer

The main issue with the MK2 tachometer is the white backplate is NOT wide enough for the Vanagon cluster box as seen below

MK2 tacho in vanagon test fit.jpg

As you can see it won't work.

What you need is the Vanagon tachometer backplate to retro fit on it as such. Remove the backplate screws and the plate should slide apart.

Vanagon tacho backplate.jpg

Remove the MK2 unit from it's backplate

MK2 tacho unit removed.jpg

Now swap over the MK2 unit to the Vanagon Backplate; CAUTION! The connector three pins can get bent if not careful!

You can also see the adjustment hole on the left; Clockwise lowers the tach rpm, counter clockwise highers the rpm

Mk2 tacho swap vanagon backplate.jpg

Final result of unit:

MK2 in vanagon tacho cover.jpg

You may notice above that there is ONE screw currently in. The face-plate screw holes from the MK2 and Vanagon are ever so slightly off.

What works is put the screw tightened (not stripped) on the right. Then on the left put the screw in the hole alinged up as even as you can visually get it. It should basically side to the left of the hole against the shaft of the plastic screw hole. What I did was siliconed a blob there to keep the screw in place and adhear to the surface and hold. It works. Photo after dried

Assembling Back together

It's all pretty straightforward.

  • Reinstall Tacho
  • Lay down ribbon cable and place back over plastic holding prongs
  • Use the four screws to hold the tacho backplate down
  • Place the heat-sink back on as such:

Cluster tacho heatsink.jpg

  • Tighten the nuts back on the posts (snug)
  • Put the cable plug back on from the tacho back


End result:

BetsyTacho Upgrade.jpg

14-Pin Electrical Additions


This page is very useful https://www.vanagon.org/instrument-cluster-14-pin-connection-explained

You basically run a green wire to pin 9 and to the rear to the W off the alt. Done!

Engine Block Heater

I installed a Zerostart 3100034 Block Heater for a 36.5mm freeze plug which will fit all the VW Inline 4s

VW-inline4-zerostart block heater-a.jpg


8mm socket / screw driver

Remove Freeze Plug

Remove the second (middle of the three) freeze plugs.

AHU zerostart blockheater freezeplug removal.jpg

Install Zerostart

Use coolant on your finger to go around the Zerostart o-ring and on the engine block mounting part of the freeze-plug hole.

Then push in the Zerostart into the freeze plug hole at a 6 O' Clock orientation till it won't go in any-longer.

VW-inline4-zerostart block heater-install-orientation.jpg

When pressed in tighten the 8mm nut @ 25foot/inches, or by hand till it gets tightened. I did mine by hand.

End result:

VW-inline4-zerostart block heater-installed.jpg


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