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Oil Temperature Gauge install - an alternative temperature source

Bronco638

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Like most of you, I'm not very impressed by the amount of information provided by the stock Ford Explorer gauge cluster. We're all well aware of the short comings of the ‘idiot’ gauges from the factory. I purchased a two gauge pod, for the A-pillar, and two mechanical temperature gauges [Auto Meter Sport-Comp 3341 (oil) and 3351 (transmission)]. The transmission temperature gauge install will be covered in a different thread.

Ideally, the place to measure oil temperature is the oil pan. But, I’m not really prepared to drop the pan so I can drill and tap a hole for the sensor bulb. Additionally, I’m not prepared to drill and tap a hole with the pan in place and run the risk of aluminum chips circulating thru my engine’s oiling system. I’ve seen that idea mentioned on this site. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a bad idea (my $0.02). So, where else can oil be accessed to gauge temperature? The oil filter base. I kicked around the idea of a remote filter base but there isn’t a real convenient location that’s close to the engine AND off-road ‘safe’ (protected from off-road hazards). I’ve seen Aldive’s remote filter install thread.

Trans-Dapt makes a sandwich adapter that includes ports for an oil cooler (part # 1313). This adapter routes the oil out of the engine (to the cooler), back thru the filter and then back to the engine. The ports are 3/8”-14 NPT (National Pipe Thread). Auto Meter makes a 3/8”-14 adapter (part # 2263). My gauges came with 1/2”-14 adapter (part #2264).

21028AdaptBefore-med.jpg


So, now you’re thinking, “if I use one of the ports for the sensor bulb, what happens with the other port?” or “how’s the oil going to flow to/from the filter if the ports are blocked?” Good questions. First, we’re going to use a 3/8”-14 brass plug to close off the other port and then we’re going to drill holes so the oil can flow thru the plate. Trans-Dapt provides a pressure and temperature sensitive by-pass valve as part of the adapter (the hole is visible in the left image, above). This allows oil to flow thru the adapter, bypassing the cooler, on cold starts. A temperature sensitive spring (already removed in the right image, above) closes this port when the oil reaches temperature. We’ll simply take advantage of this by removing the spring and opening up the port. So, how many holes will we need to drill into the adapter to provide sufficient oil flow? If we figure the area of the port (0.60” diameter.), we’ll need that much area thru the adapter. We all remember that the area of a circle is pi (3.14285) multiplied by the radius, squared. I’ll skip the math but we’ll need five 5/16” holes. You’ll notice I ended up with 9. I’d prefer something other than this adapter to be the restriction point. For those of you with access to some type of milling machine (a Bridgeport), do not be tempted to simply hog out the entire area. This portion of the casting provides the support for the oil return tube which also serves to hold the adapter in place.

21028AdaptAfter-med.jpg


Consider where to mount the pod on the A-pillar and how to route the sensor line so that the six feet of sensor line, provided with the gauge, reaches the oil source.

21028APod2.jpg


On my truck (’96), the fuse panel door provides perfect access to the underside of the dash. There’s a small piece of ‘weather-strip’ that conceals an access slot. This slot is large enough to accept the sensor bulb (and the associated threaded fitting) but is not large enough for the 1/2”-14 adapter. You may need to remove the spare fuse ports on the back side of the fuse panel door. I mounted the pod on the A-pillar so it just clears the dash. Mounting the pod low on the A-pillar also hides the sensor and electrical lines (for illumination) as they exit the pod.

21028Dash1.jpg


Here's a close-up of how I ran the lines thru the opening. I used an adel clamp to keep them from rubbing on that bolt head.

21028Dash2-med.jpg


There isn’t a whole lot of workspace under the dash and you will want to route the sensor line and electrical wires so that they don’t interfere with anything important (like the brake pedal, throttle cable or e-brake). I used a convenient bracket just above the brake light switch to hold the sensor line away from the brake pedal linkage. The electrical lines were zip tied to the existing harness. I used the ash tray light to supply electricity to the gauge. But, I had my console apart for another reason (vacuum disconnect mod). I’m sure there’s a more convenient electrical source. In the image below, the firewall is to your left. The upper yellow arrow indicates the sensor lines as they run under the dash. The lower yellow arrow indicates the bracket that I secured them to. The electrical lines (red & black) are simply secured to an existing harness.

21028Dash3-med.jpg


This image is taken from the viewpoint of the gas pedal. The firewall is now to your right. The right yellow arrow shows where the lines enter from the fuse panel opening. The upper yellow arrow indicates their location above the brake light switch. The red/black electrical connections can also be seen.

21028Dash4-med.jpg


Next, select a spot to broach the firewall. If you’ve ever looked, there isn’t any place to try to snake something thru any existing holes in the firewall. I selected a point just to the passenger side of the throttle cable. Drill thru the firewall (from engine compartment to interior). Leave the drill bit in the hole so you can locate the area of insulation you’ll need to remove from the interior side of the firewall. Use a utility knife to remove a 2” x 2” square piece of the firewall insulation from around the hole, under the dash. This stuff has a hard rubber surface and soft foam backing. Be patient trying to cut thru it. Once there is clearance around the drilled hole, I used a 1 inch hole cutter. This is an alternative to a hole saw and leaves a smooth, burr-free opening. The cutter requires a 3/8” pilot hole. Once the cutter has done it’s job, you should use a rubber grommet to protect the sensor line from the metal edge. It’s easier to snake the sensor line/bulb thru the hole and then fit the grommet over the bulb & fitting. Slide the grommet to the hole and fit it in place.

21028Firewall.jpg


Here's a mock-up so you can see the location of the sensor bulb in the oil flow.

21028MockUp.jpg


There’s an insulated A/C line that runs between the back of the engine and the firewall. I used this to support the sensor line as it is routed to the filter base. I also affixed the sensor line to the transmission fill tube with a zip tie. Route the sensor line to the filter base between the exhaust down pipe and the transmission. There’s a convenient loop ear (yellow arrow in image below) in the bell housing for another zip tie. Due to the proximity for the exhaust pipe, a zip tie here is very important. I used a 1.125” socket, 3” extension (a 6” extension would work better) and 1/2” drive breaker bar to tighten the adapter fitting to the filter base. I needed a piece of 2x4 that was 3.5” long, wedged between the 3/8”-14 adapter fitting and the frame, to keep the adapter base from rotating as I tightened it down. Below, you can also clearly see the 3/8"-14 adapter and 3/8" brass plug.

21028Installed2.jpg


Ideally, this installation would be done while you’re changing engine oil. But, I did mine “on the fly” since I changed oil a month or so ago. Removing an oil filter full of oil will result in some spillage. Be sure to clean the top of the filter of any oil, especially any oil outside of the rubber sealing ring. I cleaned the side of my filter with a solvent so I could get a good grip on the filter when re-installing.
Double check your work and account for all tools. Start the engine and check for leaks. No leaks? Good! Go for a ride and check the gauge operation.

Observations:
It does take a while for temperature to register. I had water temp. way before I had oil temp. I noted approximately 205º of oil temperature at highway speeds (70 mph). Drafting (tailgating) results in an increase of approximately 10º of oil temp. Cruising around thru town (35-50 mph) saw a drop of about 10º to 15º. If you’re like me, now you’re wondering where to install the oil pressure and water temperature gauges………..

Notes:
For Summit part numbers, add the prefix; “TRD-“ to the Trans-Dapt part number(s) or add the prefix; “ATM-“ to the Auto Meter part number(s) provided in the text.
 



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V8BoatBuilder

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Very clever - on my list of mods!

You could add the oil pressure sensor to the other hole in the adapter.
 






Bronco638

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V8BoatBuilder said:
You could add the oil pressure sensor to the other hole in the adapter.

I thought of putting the oil pressure sensor in place of the factory unit but, I think you're right, this would be a better location.

Glad you liked my idea, let me know if you have any questions/issues.

Dave.
 






410Fortune

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Dave, great write up and execution.

Alot of people have trouble with these style units leaking, let us know how it turns out. Canton makes billet adapters similar to yours that will not leak and can be rotated 360.

You can use the factory pressure port to run a pressure gage, but you have to run a T fitting if you want to keep the factory gage/light.
I have my oil pressure feed tube (mechanical gage) installed in my Perma Cool remote filter mount, it works fantastic.

Good job! You might heat protect the gage wires, you can buy the fancy heat shield stuff or you can use a piece of heater hose cut down the middle. things get pretty hot within a few inches of those factory pipes.
 






ExplorerDMB

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Good write up! Very nice setup too.

-Drew
 






Bronco638

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410Fortune said:
Dave, great write up and execution.
ExplorerDMB said:
Good write up! Very nice setup too - Drew
Thanks Jaime and thanks Drew.

410Fortune said:
Alot of people have trouble with these style units leaking, let us know how it turns out. Canton makes billet adapters similar to yours that will not leak and can be rotated 360.
I was not aware that Canton made something similar. If I had known this, I would have checked into it. I have used these before, in a vintage race Shelby Mustang. I've never experienced any leaks on the race car and have not noticed any leaking on the Explorer. But, I will be sure to keep an eye on it.
410Fortune said:
You can use the factory pressure port to run a pressure gage, but you have to run a T fitting if you want to keep the factory gage/light. I have my oil pressure feed tube (mechanical gage) installed in my Perma Cool remote filter mount, it works fantastic.
I think I would like to keep the factory gauge working so, most likely, I will go with the T fitting. But, V8BoatBuilder did suggest using the other port on the sandwich adapter. We'll see.
410Fortune said:
You might heat protect the gage wires, you can buy the fancy heat shield stuff or you can use a piece of heater hose cut down the middle. things get pretty hot within a few inches of those factory pipes.
Good point and it's something I've been seriously considering. I used to have access to rubberized fiberglass heat shield tubing and this is something I should have used. When I find something that's easy to install, easy to locate/purchase and does the job, I'll modify my original post.

Thanks for the ideas & feedback - Dave.
 






410Fortune

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Hey Dave!
I was only pointing out the T fitting for people who want to run a mechanical oil pressure gage and retain the stock gage as well, people WITHOUT your setup.

With your setup you have an open port right there at the oil filter, PERFECT for mechanical oil pressure gage :) I have mine very similar to yours, except the filter is mounted remote and I used a 4 way permacool filter mount, blocked one port, added the pressure tube to the other. Oil pressure gage works fantastic hooked up at the filter.
 






Bronco638

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Thanks Jaime, I'll do it that way then.

You know, while taking a cruise last night I noticed that my oil temp is about 210º at highway speeds. I'm wondering if I shouldn't install a cooler at some point. And, now I'm really curious what the water temp. is.

Project, projects.
 






410Fortune

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so now you are seeing the advantages of real gages.
trans temp, water temp and oil pressure are the vitals I like to see.
I had a voltage gage for a while, but it was kinda a waste of space.
oil temp and OBD-II real time gages are next for me.
 






V8BoatBuilder

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Jamie - see how awesome this ODB-II stuff is? When I got into it last spring, I was amazed and what you can access.
 






410Fortune

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yeah except the earlier version, like mine, 96-97 PCM you cannot change shift points and choose grear ratios :(
I want to run a 2000 V8 PCM and eliminate the PATS.
 






Bronco638

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410Fortune said:
so now you are seeing the advantages of real gages.

Oh Dude! After racing for a few years, trust me, I understand the advantages. The issue (for me) is to be able to add the gauges without butchering the dash and still keeping some of the factory storage spots in the console. But, yeah, water temp and oil pressure are up next.........
 






Scott B.

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I know this is an old thread, but I am wondering if there any updates?

I am planning on do this, and am curious if the TransDapt piece turned out to be good or bad? Leaks or not?
 






ranger7ltr

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Here is my solution...Still a work in progress...

I used the T-fitting from the oil pressure hole in the drivers side of the block to run my oil pressure gauge... I also used the schrader vavle to run the fuel pressure gauge I am using... The voltmeter is obvious and I have not mounted the engine coolant or tranny temp gauges yet...I will be mounting the tranny oil temp in the drivers door panel above the mirror control and the engine coolant temp on the steering column mount I bought for an F-150...

The current picture shows the oil pressure, fuel pressure, and voltage gauges mounted to the A-pillar...
 

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Bronco638

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I know this is an old thread, but I am wondering if there any updates?

I am planning on do this, and am curious if the TransDapt piece turned out to be good or bad? Leaks or not?
Hi Scott,

I sold my Ex in the spring of '06. So, I have nothing additional to add. However, the person that purchased my Ex is (was) on this board (MadScottsMan). If he's still around, you may want to check with him on how the Trans-Dapt adapter is working. As I previously stated, I used that very part on a vintage race car (as did quite a few of my vintage racing friends) and never had any trouble with leaks. HTH - Dave.
 






HSS

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Thanks for all the info. I will puting this to work in my 99 sport along with the remote filter system by Aldive.:salute:
 






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