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How To Do The Electronic Speedometer. In the event your Astro/Safari didn’t have it…and change out the 86 era dash to the 92 while you are at it… Advance the show by mouse click or hit your spacebar. By 86astro.

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How to do the electronic speedometer l.jpg

How To Do The Electronic Speedometer

In the event your Astro/Safari didn’t have it…and change out the 86 era dash to the 92 while you are at it…

Advance the show by mouse click or hit your spacebar.


By 86astro l.jpg
By 86astro

  • This is the way of adding the 92-94 Suburban gauge cluster into your old fashioned cable driven Astro/Safari.

  • I will show the proper way to hook up the electronics, as well as where to obtain the parts.




Lets begin l.jpg
Lets Begin!!!

  • The new cluster has a tachometer, which I wanted for the looks, and besides, I hate the “graph paper” look of the astro cluster.

  • Some of big differences are…

  • Size of the clusters – The Astro/Safari cluster is a little bit smaller in every direction than the new tach cluster. Many people have chosen different ways to mount the cluster, such as removing the lexan, boring out the dash, or even mounting it to the bezel itself. Different strokes for different folks…


Slide6 l.jpg

Oil Pressure Gauge - You need to pay attention to this because some of these clusters had 0-40-80 psi, and others had 0-30-60. There are 2 different senders for these, so make sure that you get the appropriate sensor for the cluster. The Astro I have uses the 0-40-80, and the cluster I obtained uses the 0-30-60. I will be changing sending units…lol

Cable VS Electric - In my case, I had one other big hurdle to overcome. I had the issue of the cable driven speedometer, and this new tach cluster is electronic. This is not as big a problem as it would seem. I like crawling under greasy cars piled 2 high at my local yard. I have found 2 different schools of thought on how to do this job, I simply had to choose which school I wished to go to… Let’s look at each one.


School 1 the magnetic vss l.jpg
School 1 – The Magnetic VSS

  • Some folks get the magnetic type of VSS from the donor truck, and also get the little white DRAC box that goes with it. Then you can proceed to mount the VSS sensor and wire it to the DRAC. You MUST also remove your cable driven ring gear from the tailshaft, and replace it with the 40 tooth reluctor ring from the donor truck, or any other RWD GM truck, van, or car with electronic speedometer. If you do not use the 40 tooth reluctor ring, you will NOT get a signal. REMEMBER! If your Astro/Safari is a 89 or newer, this is what you should have, unless you have all wheel drive, then it looks a little different. I was going to use this, but I changed my mind…


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The Ring

  • This is the 40 tooth reluctor ring. I opted NOT to use this because I understand these are VERY brittle, and a real PAIN to install on the tail shaft without destroying the internal bearings in the transmission. The are made of pot metal and could possibly break too.


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Magnetic Sensor

  • This is the magnetic VSS sensor that you would use if you were going this route. It installs the same way the cable driven gear did.


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The DRAC

  • This picture shows the DRAC unit that is needed for the swap as well. Bear in mind, that you should look for a truck that has the same gear ratio that you have and remove the unit from that vehicle, otherwise there is some complicated jumpers that need to be installed and reset. If you get the correct one, it just makes the whole job easier. I found my DRAC in a truck equipped with 3.73 rear gears…Just what the doctor ordered!

  • The DRAC usually resides behind the glovebox area, and is generally velcro’d to the top of the glove box itself. Simply remove the glovebox and you should be able to peel it off. Remember to get as much wire as possible, you will be glad you did.


Drac wiring l.jpg
DRAC Wiring

  • This is one of the wiring diagrams used for the DRAC…Use caution, and look into the shop manual for the exact diagram, they may be different according to truck and options.

  • Class Dismissed from School 1.


School 2 the gear driven vss l.jpg
School 2 – The Gear Driven VSS

  • Another way to add the speed sensor to your system is to use a VSS speed buffer module that was used on the 1986 to 1992 4 cyl. and 6 cyl. Firebirds and other GM makes such as the mid 80's mid size Delta 88 and similar. The yellow speed buffer is usually mounted behind the glove box on the passenger side. Be sure to get the connectors that go with it.

  • I will explain the whole thing as we go along…


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Removing the Tail Shaft Cover

  • My transmission was already out and on my workbench. The 4 red arrows show the bolts that you will need to remove to remove the cover.


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Sensors 101

  • These are the two speed sensors together. The magnetic one (school 1) is on the bottom, and the gear driven (school 2) one is on the top. The gear driven one is the one that we are concerned with now. This simply compares the two of them.


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Gear Choices

  • Various replacement gears for the VSS. Pick the color that best matches the gear driven speedo gear you removed, then use it on the VSS. These gears can be had for like 6 or 7 bux. I called Mary at Performance Transmission Center in Louisiana and she was very helpful.

  • HOT TIP!!! A 3.73 ratio will require a 15 tooth drive gear in the trans, and a 44 tooth driven gear. The driven 44 tooth unit is the grey one below. This is what I needed and we calculated to get the proper speedo reading. You will also need the tire HEIGHT.


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4 Output Speed Buffer

  • This is a picture of the speed buffer that you will need to use to hook this system up

  • Make sure that you get as much of the harness as possible, it will benefit you in the end when you wire things up.


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Wiring Pinout

  • The pinout and wiring is shown in the following diagram, and the picture on the next page.


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  • The main concern with either school of thought is to get the speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.

  • Lets go finish the gear and VSS install on the workbench.


Drive gear removal and installation l.jpg
Drive gear removal and installation speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.

  • There is a little black clip under the gear that must be depressed, then simply remove the drive gear from the tailshaft. Installation of the new gear is the reverse.


Sensor in l.jpg
Sensor In… speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.

  • The speed sensor will push in exactly like the old one came out. The gear will be loose on the sensor, but this is normal. Tighten down the 10mm bolt, and plug in the wires and this part of the job is done!


Mild change of plans l.jpg
Mild Change of Plans! speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.

  • I decided to take out the WHOLE entire dash from the 86, since I found a mint condition one from a 91. I always did like that style better, so lets follow along as we rip, er, remove the old dash.

  • My understanding is that the new cluster fits better in this dash anyhow.

  • For details on how to remove this old 86 style dash, there is no better source than this on the astrosafari.com board…just do a search for this…A hwtc2002 HOW-TO: Dash Removal . He documents it very well with pictures…saves me time taking pictures! With his permission, I am using his pictures here, they are numbered in the order they are in…


Don t be intimidated by what you will see here l.jpg
Don’t be intimidated by what you will see here… speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.

  • It is actually much easier than it looks. I was downright scared at first, but it actually quite easy. I did my removal in under 2 hours…

  • The tools you will need are a 7mm socket or nutdriver, a 10 mm socket, and a small blade regular screwdriver to aid in plug removal.

  • Grab a phillips head in case…


Removing the dash step 1 4 l.jpg
Removing the dash, step 1-4 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Steps 5 8 l.jpg
Steps 5-8 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Steps 9 12 l.jpg
Steps 9-12 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Steps 13 16 l.jpg
Steps 13-16 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Steps 17 20 l.jpg
Steps 17-20 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Steps 21 24 l.jpg
Steps 21-24 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Steps 25 28 l.jpg
Steps 25-28 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Steps 29 32 l.jpg
Steps 29-32 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Steps 33 36 l.jpg
Steps 33-36 speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


The last step l.jpg
The last step… speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.

  • Please don’t let this intimidate you, It is easier than it looks.

  • When it is all said and done, It will be worth it.


It should look like this now l.jpg
It should look like this now… speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.


Another shot l.jpg
Another shot… speedometer to work. If you can accomplish that, then you are gold. My attempt will be with the 2nd School, and the gear unit and the little yellow 4 out buffer. Seems like a good way to go.



Slide37 l.jpg
This is the other end that plugs into the old VSS. You will splice these three wires into the yellow speed buffer to match the colors.


The buffer revisited l.jpg
The buffer revisited splice these three wires into the yellow speed buffer to match the colors.

  • The remaining wires on the buffer are easy, the green is Speedo, the red is cruise, and the separate plug with the yellow and purple go to the trans sensor.

  • Be careful not to run either of these wires near spark plug wires or the tach lead, or you will end up with the speedo acting like a tach!

  • I mounted my buffer under the brake padal on the firewall with self tapping screws. Works nicely there.


Slide39 l.jpg

Fortunately, GM uses mostly the same color wires in their harnesses between vehicles. In my case, all I did was re-wire the new plug from the existing one.

  • It’s really easy to match the colors.

  • Give yourself a little extra wire, you can electrical tape the wires together as a loom.

  • Test your connections and if all is correct, you will get what you will see in the next slide…


Got to love it l.jpg
Got to love it! harnesses between vehicles. In my case, all I did was re-wire the new plug from the existing one.

  • I like this cluster much more than the other one.

  • I also installed wedge base illumination bulbs, Sylvania # 2825. These are rated @ 5 cp each. Significantly brighter!

  • I chose not to install the 2825 lamp in the shift quadrant…was just a bit bright, so I substituted a 194 bulb there.

  • Lets move on to installation…


The painful ductwork l.jpg
The Painful Ductwork… harnesses between vehicles. In my case, all I did was re-wire the new plug from the existing one.

  • This is what the new ductwork for the new dash should look like…

  • Like anything else involved in this project, a little “modification” was needed…

  • Trim here, trim there, then it fits…the lower left bolt will screw into the existing hole, but the right side will need to be “created”.


You need to seal this hole i used duct tape l.jpg
You need to seal this hole…I used duct tape harnesses between vehicles. In my case, all I did was re-wire the new plug from the existing one.


I had to duct tape this yellow area as well perhaps i got over excited with the cut off wheel l.jpg
I had to duct tape this yellow area as well… perhaps I got over excited with the cut off wheel…



Some helpful hints l.jpg
Some helpful hints… screws…

  • When you install the dash, remember to bring it in from the top down…seems to fit better that way…

  • I am finding that mounting is going to be trial and error, with a little “engineering” tossed in for good measure…

  • Don’t get too carried away with the cut off wheel…it can be your friend, but it can screw things up too…for example, I accidentally cut away the mounts for the steering column support…whoops! Had to rebuild!

  • In any event, it looks a whole lot better than the old dash, which was all cracked and torn…




And the view from the drivers side l.jpg
And the view from the drivers side… closer to the windshield….

  • Obviously, the wiring is not all complete, and the dash is not bolted in yet, but what a difference…

  • Now is a excellent time before you do this job to decide if you wish to change the interior color.


Lets continue l.jpg
Lets continue… closer to the windshield….

  • The dash bezel needs to be trimmed a bit to fit the new cluster. I would recommend having a spare one or two from the yard for this part of the task in case one gets messed up.

  • I took about ½ inch on the sides by simply running the whiz wheel directly along the side curves.


The cluster gets a shave too l.jpg
The cluster gets a shave too… closer to the windshield….

  • I then took approximately ½ inch off the top of the cluster too, in order for the bezel to “snap” into place.

  • I then used black electrical tape to seal the opening in order to prevent the dust from rolling in.


How to cut clear lexan 101 l.jpg
How to cut clear Lexan 101… closer to the windshield….

  • In order to make a nice across the top cut on this clear faceplate (Lexan), I simply too 2 pieces of 2X4 and wrapped the towel around them as shown below, then sit the face between the towels

  • Then carefully use the cutting wheel to slice the amount you need removed. Be careful so you don’t break the lens! Take it slow, and it will work without breaking. Mine did!


Hvac hookups l.jpg
HVAC hookups closer to the windshield….

  • Once the bezel is in, simply reconnect the AC (or heat) controls the way you unhooked them from the earlier dash.

  • You will need to change the controller light from the twist socket to the new wire plug from the new dash. It then plugs in the controlled as well.


I forgot l.jpg
I forgot… closer to the windshield….

  • I mentioned earlier that I installed my yellow speed buffer under the brake pedal on the firewall. I wanted to clarify that a little by showing you how it looks now.


While we are on the hvac l.jpg
While we are on the HVAC… closer to the windshield….

  • I did forget to mention about the doghouse… If you plan on using the dogbox that came WITH the new dash, disregard this step. If you are using the original, then read this…

  • The old doghouse will simply bolt right in, but you will need to seal off the big hole in the center. I covered mine with the super heavy duty postal tape. This stuff is so strong I think they used it to hold together Boeing 747s.


You can now toss this l.jpg
You can now toss this… closer to the windshield….


The left side is done l.jpg
The left side is done! closer to the windshield….

  • Since I replaced my column too, I decided to snap a picture minus the wheel…

  • The wheel is a cavalier wheel with a Monte SS center emblem.

  • At this time you will want to hook up the hood and brake release cables.


Gotta have the tunes l.jpg
Gotta have the tunes… closer to the windshield….

  • I took the stock speakers out and replaced them with Infinity legacy speakers.

  • The factory cover fits right over them with no problems…


Center almost done l.jpg
Center almost done! closer to the windshield….

  • I took the liberty to install and wire up the interior light switch, and I added the fog light switch.

  • The interior light switch has the same color code as the old, so simply re-wire to the new plug…piece of cake!


A little bonus l.jpg
A little bonus! closer to the windshield….

  • Changing out the cable speedo for electronic left a nice size hole in the firewall. I simply added a rubber grommet and now have a perfect place to run wires through


She s in l.jpg
She's IN!!! closer to the windshield….

  • Well, finally, it is all together. Even though it was a little on the hard side, it is a project I would do over. I am sure that it would be easier the 2nd time around…

  • I would love the new style front, but I don’t see that anytime soon…lol


I love this l.jpg
I love this… closer to the windshield….

  • I really love how this looks at night!

  • I had the van on my 1955 Hein Werner jack in order to do a engine test. I wanted to test the Speedo, and it worked!


The end l.jpg
The end… closer to the windshield….

  • I would like to thank you for viewing my presentation. I hope it helped you. And if you have any questions, You can find me or other info on AstroSafari, which is a awesome owners forum

  • I want to give special thanks to hwtc2002 from the AstroSafari forum for allowing me to use his terrific pix on removing the older dash. Made this project way easier!