Variable Oil Pressure Gauge Modifiction


ratdude747

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Original Poster: Larry Bolan (ratdude747)

Difficulty: 6 out of 10 (depending on soldering ability)

Time to install: 1-2.5 hours

Disclaimer: The Ranger Station.com, The Ranger Station.com Staff, nor the original poster are responsible for you doing this modification to your vehicle. By doing this modification and following this how-to you, the installer, take full responsibility if anything is damaged or messed up. If you have questions, feel free to PM the original poster or ask in the appropriate section of The Ranger Station.com forums.

Brief Explanation: This modification converts the "switched" oil pressure gauges used by Ford 1987+ to a variable type that moves with oil pressure.

Tools Needed:
- Whatever tools are needed to remove your instrument cluster (1995+ uses 7mm and 8mm sockets/nut drivers)
- Soldering iron and supplies (solder, etc.)
- Wire stripper/cutter and scrap wire (about 20 gauge will do, stranded preferred).
- 1 1/6" /27mm deep socket Socket
- 9/16" open ended wrench
- "King" 1/2" drive Gator Grip socket (if using a 45 degree fitting without threads)
- Teflon tape/pipe dope (if using a 45 degree fitting)
- Socket extensions and a swivel/u-joint adapter (if there are sensor access issues, such as with my 3.0 V6)



Parts Needed:
-Ford Motorcraft SW-1547-B. As cheap as these are (I paid around $13 + shipping at rockauto in October 2015) I see no reason not to go OE on this. That said, aftermarket ones will (probably) work as well. EDIT- the one shown actually was faulty out of the box, and got worse over time. Wells and Duralast ones are exactly identical to Motorcraft (same manufacturer). BWD one are made by somebody else but so far do just fine.
-45 degree 1/4" NPT Street Elbow. Needed if the sensor is in a tight area. I personally bought a galvanized steel one at Rural King (the only brick and mortar carrier of said fitting); however, these (both galvanized and brass) can be ordered elsewhere, such as here. If you have the choice, get one with wrench flats; however, round ones will also work (as I did, see below).



---------------------------------------------------------

Steps 1:

Verify that this modification is possible. Remove your instrument cluster. For 1995 and later, this guide has good instructions. I haven't personally worked on pre-1995 rangers, although the process is probably similar. Once the cluster is out, look on the back of the cluster, near the oil pressure gauge for a 20 ohm (Ω) resistor (color code red black black); on many vehicles this will be marked "20 Ω". If such a resistor is not found (possible on later models), then this modification isn't possible; re-install your cluster and follow this guide to add a separate oil pressure gauge. If you found that resistor, then continue on...

Step 2:

Solder a jumper wire across the 20Ω resistor, like so (the pictures are from my 1995 Ranger 3.0):



What we are doing is removing the resistor from the circuit. The way oil pressure gauges work is through current flowing through a coil in the gauge's needle. The existing setup used a switch at the engine (which will be swapped out in the next step) and this resistor to regulate the current flowing though the gauge. The way the pre-1987 gauges (and what we are converting to) works is through a variable resistance sensor; since the current regulation is done through the gauge itself, the existing resistor is redundant and will over-regulate the current (resulting in a gauge that will barely rise above "L"). Shorting out the resistor re-directs the current around the resistor, allowing the current to be solely regulated by the sensor.

Step 3:

Re-install the instrument cluster. Do not start the engine, for the sake of the presently de-regulated pressure gauge. If you need to (emergency comes up, etc.), unplug the sensor at engine (see below)

Step 4: Open your hood and locate the oil pressure sensor. On the Vulcan 3.0, it will be located behind the cylinder head on the passenger's side. It may help to remove some of the wiring in the vicinity (IIRC I unplugged the O2 sensor, disconnected the ECU harness, and removed the cable restraint/ground for said harness). Either way, the existing switch will look like this:



Step 5: Disconnect the push-on connector from the sensor. Remove the sensor with a 1 1/16" or 27mm socket. In my case, there was a clearance issue with the automatic transmission fill tube; while the "ideal" solution is to remove the anchoring bellhousing bolt and remove the tube (which isn't a bad idea, more work space), due to the bold being difficult to get to and remove with the tools on hand, I just nudged (bent) the tube back a bit. Maybe a few millimeters if anything. As long as the tube isn't kinked, it will still read the fill level correctly as the tube is still the same length.

Step 6a: If a 45 degree fitting is needed for clearance issues, apply a small amount of teflon tape/pipe dope to the male end. The tape is there to reduce friction, not to seal (as the tapered threads tightening creates the seal. Likewise, the threads will cut through the tape at the thread's edges, which will provide the necessary ground connection to the engine block.

Step 6b: Install the 45 degree fitting. If you have a round (no flats) fitting like I did, the only way the turn it tight (with the engine installed) is to use a 1/2" drive "king" gator grip socket. Press the socket on the fitting and wrench on it. The socket will want to tilt towards the female end of the fitting; use one hand to turn your ratchet while using the other to brace the socket. Turn until reasonably tight, with the fitting pointing towards an empty space big enough for the sensor and near the wiring loom with the sensor connection.

Step 7: Install the new sensor with a 9/16" open ended wrench. The Ford Motorcraft sensors come with teflon pre-applied; additional teflon is not needed. Connect the push-on connector to the new sensor; with some re-location of the wiring harness the cable should reach. Once installed, in my case, the sensor + 45 degree fitting looked like this:



Step 8. Replace any wiring or the like that was removed to gain access to the sensor. Start the engine, and verify that the gauge is reading plausibly. Check the sensor area for oil leaks. Hopefully your engine is healthy and you observe good pressure. If not, well... your engine may have seen better days (or the jumper wire isn't soldered correctly to the right places). In my case I had a bouncy needle; I later (during a partial engine teardown out of the truck) found evidence that a previous owner didn't like to change their oil which may be to blame. I have also heard that since these gauges were designed for switches, they may be a little twitchier than a gauge designed for a variable sender. EDIT- anything more than a tiny twitch (barely noticeable) is NOT normal and indicates a faulty sensor. If this happens, either swap the sensor or verify with a mechanical gauge.

Step 9. Enjoy having an oil pressure gauge that actually works as a gauge. If you ever give/sell the truck away, be sure to have this modification noted somewhere, for the sake of the next owner.
 

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ratdude747

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This was written based on a request from this thread: http://www.therangerstation.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164957

The pictures were taken over a month after I completed the install. I did this based on some other sources, mainly http://www.rowand.net/Shop/Tech/FordOilPressureGaugeFix.htm

The point is that I am not the first to do this mod on a Ford vehicle or to post about it, but I am the first to document it here on TRS in the form of a tech article submission.

Other notes that weren't relevant enough to include in my write-up:

-I also read on another forum that some F150's with tachometers have gauges that only work for half the needle travel (IIRC it was 1995 and later) and the fix was to swap for a gauge out of a non-tachometer cluster of the same vintage.

-I have heard that sometime after 1997 the oil pressure gauge circuit went solid state and this mod was no longer possible. However, since my one and only Ranger I have ever owned or worked on is my 1995, I personally do not know. The next time I'm at pull-a-part on a nice day with some spare time, I may pull a couple 1998+ clusters and look to see if the resistor is present (and not take them out of the yard, as that would be wasteful).

-The main reason this works is Ford didn't change the gauges in 1987 (all they did was swap the sensor and add the resistor) and after that they didn't change the circuit (even with the new interior in 1995), which resulted in unintentional reverse compatibility.

-Oddly enough there are some test points on the cluster that can be shorted to do the same thing (easter egg from the engineers?); however, I (and the article linked above) didn't like the look of such as a place to solder; I found using the resistor crimps to be a better place to solder the jumper.
 

ratdude747

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Update:

1 Year later after the mod, I've discovered some things:

-Apparently the Duralast brand oil pressure sensors are made by Wells, who also makes Motorcraft sensors, to the point of the Duralast one having the same marks (and ford stamp) as Motorcraft.

-BWD sensors are a different manufacturer, but work fine as well.

-I know those because my readings were getting worse and worse (lower and bouncier)... but a mechanical pressure gauge revealed that the sending unit had been wrong this entire time. I put in a new sending unit, and that fixed it. I would have gone with the Duralast sending unit had the local Autozone's internet not been out (cash only). Instead, I popped over to Advance Auto Parts, and grabbed a BWD one there... which revealed much better looking oil pressure readings. Lesson learned: even OE parts can be faulty out of the box... Hence why I'm going to edit my original submission to reflect such.
 

Mark_88

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Good write...all the images pop up when clicked so easy to follow and informative...

I think this might be helpful to a lot of people...hopefully it makes it to the published stage!
 

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yes, nice write up

It should be added that the dash was changed in 1995/6 when electric speedometer was added and there is no way to by-pass the resistor, so this modification won't work.
You would need to add a "real" oil pressure gauge to use the new sender
 

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yes, nice write up

It should be added that the dash was changed in 1995/6 when electric speedometer was added and there is no way to by-pass the resistor, so this modification won't work.
You would need to add a "real" oil pressure gauge to use the new sender
He did mention this in his second post but not a way to work around it...such as your method of adding another gauge.

I was tempted to do this on my 1988 just to be sure (I thought I had a "real" oil gauge from other information) but after the swap to the 1996 wiring I sold the truck...but I would have had to add another gauge to make this work on that version.
 

RonD

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I personally like the "idiot gauge" and/or an idiot light for oil pressure
Most people don't know or care about oil pressure but 0 oil pressure would raise an eyebrow for most of them, where consistently low pressure wouldn't.

And even most novices know that a light coming on while driving needs to be looked at :)

Can't even remember the last car or truck I owned that had a real oil pressure gauge
 

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True...and even if I did have a real gauge it wouldn't have mattered too much because I was so in the habit of popping the hood and dumping a litre or two that the gauge would only distract me from driving because I'd be obsessing over it.

Only once did my oil gauge read 0 and I hastily pulled over to find that there was actually 0 oil showing on the dipstick...not sure how far I drove it like that but it lasted another two years after that on the first block.

A light would have drawn my attention immediately though. I would imagine it wouldn't be too hard to have both a light and a gauge...
 

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The new model dashes have a Check Gauge light
Covers oil pressure(low) fuel level(low) and temp level(high)
 

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That would be much better than a single application. I think the Dodge has a similar "check gauge" light...I will have to watch the next time I start it up.

Haven't been paying too much attention...which is much better than my Ranger that required several checks and watch this or watch that. It would have been so nice to drive the rebuilt version and force myself to learn more about fuel injection. :) which I'm still working on...
 

ratdude747

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yes, nice write up

It should be added that the dash was changed in 1995/6 when electric speedometer was added and there is no way to by-pass the resistor, so this modification won't work.
You would need to add a "real" oil pressure gauge to use the new sender
I'd beg to differ.

I've done it twice (see below) to 1995's w/o issue, which was the first year of eletronic speedometers (and OBDII for that matter).

I've also looked at a 1998-2000 cluster at a JY and found the same resistor. That means that this mod works for those years as well,assuming that the gauge internals work for the whole sweep of the needle (something which w/tachometer F150 clusters have an issue with apparently).

Just short the resistor, 0 ohms parallel with anything is still 0 ohms. Look for a resistor in the vincinity of the oil pressure gauge, and if it's not labeled, check the color code (should be Red Black Black).

I haven't yet looked at a 2001+ cluster, but if i find one sitting the next time I'm at Pull a Part, I'll take a look.

---

Times have changed and trucks have met their end... the 1995 ranger I did this mod to (and took picture of) got wrecked, so I replaced it with another 1995 ranger. The second one has a 4.0, and since I moved over my cluster, I also repeated the mod. For the 4.0 it's a bit different, so here's an addendum for doing the mod on the 4.0 (OHV at least, although from what I've seen the SOHC should be similar).





Note- the instrument cluster portion of this is the same; all that is different is the engine compartment portion. I'll re-list the tools and parts, but the how-to on the cluster mod is the same as the original post

Tools Needed:
- Whatever tools are needed to remove your instrument cluster (1995+ uses 7mm and 8mm sockets/nut drivers)
- Soldering iron and supplies (solder, etc.)
- Wire stripper/cutter and scrap wire (about 20 gauge will do, stranded preferred).
- Wire crimper
- 1 1/6" /27mm deep socket Socket (Or large vice grips, as I found out this time)
- 9/16" open ended wrench
- 3/4 or 19mm socket or wrench

Parts Needed:
-Ford Motorcraft SW-1547-B. As cheap as these are (I paid around $13 + shipping at rockauto in October 2015) I see no reason not to go OE on this. That said, aftermarket ones will (probably) work as well. EDIT- the one shown actually was faulty out of the box, and got worse over time. Wells and Duralast ones are exactly identical to Motorcraft (same manufacturer). BWD one are made by somebody else but so far do just fine.
-Two #10 ring terminals and 4" (or so) of compatible wire
-Electrical Tape or Heat shrink/Heat gun
-10-32 Screw (1/2" -3/4" long, brass ideal, galvanized also works), two 10-32 nuts, and (optional) #10 internal lock washers

Step 1-3: See original post


Step 4: One issue that will come up later is that the oil pressure switch wire won't be long enough. To fix this, make an extension by crimping two #10 ring terminals to about 4" of wire. Add a 10-32 screw, lockwashers (optional) and nut to it:



Note- I made mine extra long as I didn't know for sure how much I needed at the time

Be sure to insulate it with some electrical tape or heat shrink



Note- Heat shrink is a lot better. I'd have done it that way myself but my heat gun and heat shrink bag went missing at the time of this mod


Step 5: Attach the end of the extension wire w/o a screw to the end of the new oil pressure sensor with a 10-32 nut and (optional) lockwashers.

Step 6: (Optional) Raise the front of the truck on jackstands, wheel ramps, or a lift.

Step 7: Locate the Oil Pressure switch under the truck. It is near the front of the engine, near the steering box:



Step 8: Remove the old pressure switch (not the long 45 degree fitting) using either a 1 1/16" deep socket or a pair of large vice grips.

Step 9: The current orientation will not work as the larger new sensor will hit the steering box. Using a 34/" or 19mm socket/wrench, rotate the 45 degree fitting about 270 degrees clockwise, so the female threads point down, parallel to the steering box's input shaft (see next step for photo of orientation)

Step 10: Install the new sensor using a 9/16" open ended wrench. Connect the existing switch/sensor wire to the screw coming out of the extension wire:



Step 11. Replace any wiring or the like that was removed to gain access to the sensor. Start the engine, and verify that the gauge is reading plausibly. Check the sensor area for oil leaks. Hopefully your engine is healthy and you observe good pressure. If not, well... your engine may have seen better days (or the jumper wire isn't soldered correctly to the right places). In this case (4.0L), I saw the same behavior as the 3.0L that I originally modified.

Note- anything more than a tiny twitch (barely noticeable) is NOT normal and indicates a faulty sensor. If this happens, either swap the sensor or verify with a mechanical gauge.

Step 9. Enjoy having an oil pressure gauge that actually works as a gauge. If you ever give/sell the truck away, be sure to have this modification noted somewhere, for the sake of the next owner.

---

I know my extension wire looks like ****. I was using the 20 gauge wire I had a bunch of as the extension was an afterthought (I actually had to drive it with the new sensor unplugged to run to the store to get the 10-32 hardware, whoops!). At some point I may re-make it with better wire in the right length with heat shrink and brass hardware. But for now, this will work to get me by.

And before anybody asks, no I haven't done the 2.3 or 2.5L yet, but based on what little I've read and seen, the sensor is in a somewhat easier location to access (rear of the block, near the cylinder head IIRC).
 

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