Saturday, March 22, 2008

The DeLorean clock, a modern update

The first DeLoreans, up until about VIN#s 6000, came standard with a center dash panel mounted digital clock. For some reason (cost savings?) the clock was eliminated and all DeLoreans produced afterwards came with a modified center panel that did not include a cut out for the clock. Unless your DeLorean had a later, or after market radio which had a digital display, your car would not have a digital clock display.

My DeLorean being a relatively lower VIN series production car, came with a clock, but it had stopped working for many years back. The previous owner had tried to repair it, but the clock was pretty well out of commission. There are may DeLoreans with orignal clocks that either do not function,  or are malfuctioning; apperently the years have taken its toll on this component. Since I have had the car I have been looking for a clock solution, and after many dead ends, I believe that I have found a suitable compromise: a modern, functional, retro and near OEM good looking console digital clock.


Our current clocks:
Our current clocks seemed to have been sourced from an 80's existing application, the clocks on the Lotus Esprits. The two pictures below are of the housing, and opened up you will see the main circuit board/display. The clock's DeLorean harness connector is shown in the left picture in the upper left (a four wire, white cylindrical connector).




If you're interested in looking for the just as out of production and rare original Lotus version, (and lucky enough to find it), it will work with a small modification. The Lotus clock is a near exact duplicate part, except the end connector is different. For your reference, the Lotus Part # is: A089M6034F.

Repair/Replacement options that I tried were:
* Reanimating the current dead clock – no good, possibly delaminated circuit board traces or bad components.
* Utilize an older Ford Thunderbird digital clock – no good, extra wires were tied into the corresponding OEM stereo.
* Found another older digital clock, simple to wire, but it would not fit in the envelope of the current clock.
* Searched the internet for any remaining old Lotus Esprit clocks (same clock).
* If you could find one on eBay, they would typically sell in the $200 range, and that was a still 25 year old clock.

Then I got a tip from a DMCTalk posting, about digital meters by a company named Dakota Digital, digging around their website they had a “custom” option.

An alternative: A new digital clock.
A few conversations with them, some special instructions, the results came in the mail.

After installing it I have to say that I am 99.99% pleased. The clock is bright, readily visible, looks nearly original, and is really, very useful when driving - especially if your current radio does not have a clock display.




The Good and The Bad.
As stated earlier this is a compromise solution, and perhaps not for all. So allow me to discuss the pros and cons that I can see.

Cons:
* Since Dakota Digital uses their proprietary existing clock design/circuit board (in picture below) in replacement of the original clock, this requires modifications to the center dash panel.


The panel removes easy enough (tip: write down the wire colors for the three wires of the rheostat - or take a picture), especially with a manual transmission shifter. The original mounting studs on the panel are replaced with larger brazed studs, and a dark bezel is glued on to the dash (details seen below).


* Dakota Digital’s existing clock design has the time adjustment buttons on the left side, as opposed to the bottom on the original clock. For this clock you then have two options, you can have them put the set buttons on the bezel on the left of the clock, or you can have the buttons mounted remotely (see picture below) – I chose this options and ran them for access, under the dummy switch. For you concours guys, this may be a significant difference.  




Tip: See those red/black buttons, they are small plastic caps that are lightly press fit, on top of the spring loaded trigger buttons that set the time. I suggest that you remove them (just pull up on them), before you route them through the console, since they can come off quite easily especially when you "fish" the wires up though the console hole, as shown. Once you have the triggers where you need them, you can then easily pop back in the red/black caps.

* In order to hook into the existing clock connector, you either have to cut the harness connector and splice the new clock into it, or alternatively, you can cut the existing connector of the original clock, and splice it into the new clock and then just connect the harness to the clock connector. (Wiring notes further below.)
* The fit of the center console, is a little snug - just make sure you tuck all wires away from under the clock when re-installing the center panel. Unless you know where to look, you would never notice. 
* This clock will add a small (2mA) load to your car when it is off (to preserve clock time) - normally not a big deal, but it will add an additional drain and these cars have been known to, if grounds aren't clean, loose a battery's effective charge in 1-2 weeks w/o use.

Pros:
* You now have a modern, working digital clock – and it is useful.
* The display dims with headlights on, like the original.
* Relatively easy to install.
* ALL Vins can utilize this. The Vins that originally had clocks in them (roughly up to the 6000s), can directly plug the new clocks in using the connector options above. I am sure that the higher Vins that never came with clocks, still have the clock connector; these came with the center dash consoles that did not have the cutout for the clocks, so it would need a new plate – but guess what? DMCH has these in stock, so you could easily purchase a new plate, move the rheostat and assotiated bracket from your existing to your new plate, and then send it in to have the clock built in. If they did finally remove the clock connectors in the later VINs, the hook up of these new clocks is pretty straight forward (battery power, ignition power, ground, and optional light dimming).  
* Attention DMC: With this solution, you can sell your new DeLoreans, with clocks.

OK, you are sold, what’s the next step?
Dakota Digital has now made two of these clocks for me, what I have done is to send them my center dash (I had a spare) as pictured above, with my original clock mounted on it for volume references.   
UPDATE (03/31/08): 
Just confirmed with them, you only need to send the panel, they do not need the original clocks as they now have the volume requirements defined. Just to be safe, make sure the original moutning studs are on the back of the panel so they can reference locations.
If you have any doubts/questions on your panel, call them up to discuss it.


My main contacts there have been Scott (Sales) and Justin (Custom Shop), both have been cordial, responsive, and overall very pleasent to deal with. Their contact information is here I suggest you call and speak with either of them (tell them Ozzie says "Hi" - btw: just in case anyone is wondering, I have no ties nor profit/gain from recommending them), for any specific Dakota Digital information and to coordinate your retrofit. By this point they are familiar with the DeLorean clocks so it is just a matter of sending above and following further instructions below.

Once they receive your panel, they typically call you back with three questions:
1) Color preference of display (Teal is best match to original),
2) Location of time set buttons (so far I have chosen remote), and
3) Credit card for payment of $135 plus S/H, to your address.

They seem to able to turn these around within two weeks. I did ask about a group buy, but they said since this is custom work, they are all still being made on a one by one basis.

INSTALLATION 

Removing existing center panel (two types):
The center panel used on both applications of shifters (5 Speed or Auto) is the same, their removal however is slightly different.
On a 5 Speed: Unscrew the shifter ball. Remove the two screws at the bottom of the panel.  Rotate panel up and back from the rear, lifting up, while simultaenously moving the shifter boot above the shifter.
On an automatic: I haven't done this, but there is a good walkthrough here at DMCTalk.com

Wiring
Per notes above you will have to decide to splice into your existing clock connector, or directly into your harness wiring.

You will find this connector either just under the front of the center panel, or if not visible, it is most likely pushed in under the A/C panel.  If the connector is not visible when you remove the center panel, the worst case is that you may have to remove the center console (relatively easy job), in order to have better access at it.



Interestingly enough, I have been getting feedback that even the latest VIN#s, still have the clock connector even though the clock option was eliminated. This is significant because this means that ANY DeLorean can have this clock mod, as long as you have a center panel with the appropriate hole for the clock (tip: in stock currently at DMC, Part #108240). If you are going to swap your existing non-clock panel for this panel, you will need to move the rheostat, rheostat bracket, and the side trims.

The splicing configuration is as follows:

DeLorean Harness:   1) Black  2) Purple(x2),  3) Green/White, 4) Red/Orange 
DeLorean Clock Connector:  1) Black, 2)  Red, 3) Green, 4) Blue
Dakota Clock:  1) Black, 2) Orange, 3) Red, 4) Blue

Just match the numbers above, depending on your wiring preference.

Example 1: If you are hooking up the Dakota Digital Clock to the original clock's connector, the new clock's Orange wire, would be spliced into the connector's Red wire.

The picture below is an example of this wiring:

(The blue and red sleeves above are heat shrink tubes, on a soldered splice. Tip: don't splice so close to the connector as above.)

Example 2: If you are not going to be using the harness nor the original clock's connector, then I suggest you use shielded spade/lugs, and mate per numbers; for example, the Dakota Red wire, to the harness' Green/White wire.  Doing so will allow you to remove the center panel if you should ever need so in the future, without having to cut the wires.

For reference, these are the DeLorean's harness clock wires, and their function: 

Green/White: 12V, with ignition on.
Purple (2x): 12V, constant (for clock memory) 
Black: Ground
Red/Orange: Dimmer

Disclaimer: The above wiring configuration worked for my VIN# harness, wire colors, for my application. Please use this as a guideline only and make sure you verify your own wiring first. If you car wires melt while you do this, I will feel bad for you, but you were warned - seriously, worse that can happen is you'll blow Fuse #11, or maybe damage the clock, but just be cautious messing with the electrical system if you are not sure. If you are not comfortable there, then get a fellow D owner's assistance/expertise to assist.


Summary:
I believe this is a good solution to dead/malfunctioning DeLorean clocks. DMC had stated that they would not be remaking clocks, so unless you have seen another solution this may be the only one out there. Let me know what you think.


***** NOTE (03/25/08) ******
I am writing this posting from The Traders Hotel, in Changzhou, China at the end of a long business trip day. When I get back to the states I will upload the pictures above. Oh, and get this, guess what room number I am staying in? I am in room number: 2109. What are the odds of that?

***** NOTE (03/30/08) ******
It is SOOOO nice to be back home. Since I've got a 12 hour jet lag, I have just updated some text above and have uploaded the majority of the pictures. Feel free to email me if you have any additional questions.


UPDATE (June, 2008): See a picture gallery of other owners who have put this clock mod, into their own DeLoreans. Click Here.


>>> If you have a few minutes, be sure to check out the "Best of" postings. Thanks.<<<

3 comments:

Best Visuals said...

Wow - I just love your BLOG. I'm bookmarking it so I can keep up with fixes & maintenance. Please keep the BLOG going!

Bill Schafer said...

Ozzie,

Thank you for taking the time to make the entire clock update so easy. Your instructions on how to do everything were so clear and concise even a 62 year old could follow them. I am delighted with the way the clock looks and in my opionion it is a nicer look than the original. The remote setting is the only way to go. The two holes that were used for settings in the original clock will never be missed. The holeless effect makes for a cleaner looking set up. Of particular help was the wiring match up. Thanks for taking the guess work out and for sharing all your trade secrets. This was a fun project and I appreciate what you have done for the DeLorean community.

Bill Schafer
05117
11546

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