We’ve been making some serious progress on our boosted Silverado project. So far, we have replaced the factory rearend with a Moser Muscle Pak and ditched the 4L60E transmission for the robust TCI TH400. One of the more recent modifications involved removing the OEM computer and upgrading to Holley’s Terminator X Max.
While adding the new ECU certainly has its advantages, doing so can cause a dilemma with the gauges. Sure, there are patching methods and harnesses available to get the factory Silverado cluster to communicate with the Terminator X. However, it can get pretty involved, and you’ll need to purchase some additional components to make it work. So we hit the internet to see what our options were.
After looking at several gauges and displays, we decided to go with one of Holley’s digital screens. Our Terminator came with a 3.5-inch handheld screen, but we needed a replacement for the gauge cluster, capable of displaying the same information. Holley offers two screens, the 6.86-inch, and the massive 12.3-inch Pro Dash, which got us thinking: would the gigantic Pro Dash fit in the Silverado gauge bezel? Once again, we hit the web trying to figure out if anyone manufactures a housing for the Pro Dash.
While several manufacturers offer solutions for the Pro Dash mounting, our Silverado was not on the list. Fortunately, we are members of a high-performance Silverado page on Facebook. So we asked if anyone was currently running the massive screen in a Silverado. The name that popped up was CarChains 3D.
We reached out to Cory Nicholson, owner of CarChains 3D, and as it turns out, it offers a 3D printed solution for our project. We talked to Nicholson and figured out that not only did he have the part we needed, but the company offers several mounting solutions, including GM trucks, Mustangs, F-bodies, Corvettes, Trailblazers, and other vehicle makes and models. Nicholson says the best way to get one started is to send them an email.
CarChains 3D’s mounting system for Holley’s Pro Dash in the Silverado is a unique modular setup. The kit includes the outer housing, mounting tabs, and faceplate. The faceplates can be switched out, and Nicholson was kind enough to send us a few different ones to check out. All faceplates are offered with either a textured ABS finish in multiple colors, brushed aluminum, or carbon-fiber. And most assemblies fit all Holley, Haltech, or FuelTech screens.
We started with 3.5-inch screen mounts, then started on all the other Holley screens. Complete dash setups were just the logical progression from universal-style mounts. – Cory Nicholson, CarChains3D
While we had the big pieces out of the box for our installation, there were still some other goodies. In addition to the Pro Dash bezel, we also received a mount for the Holley 3.5-inch screen and a CAN bus splitter from SpeedMax Innovations. This setup allows the use of the Pro Dash and the 3.5-inch screen, which will now mount where the airbag on/off switch is in our Silverado.
Pro Dash Installation
With the CarChains 3D parts and Holley’s Pro Dash in hand, we got to work on the old truck. The first step was to remove the factory gauge cluster. If you’ve never done this, be warned – over time the plastic outer bezel can become very brittle and can break upon removal. So be careful with this process, and don’t use force during reassembly.
Next, we removed the gauges from the dash with the bezel out of the way. Unfortunately, we were not ready to install the new Pro Dash just yet.
The first step with the Pro Dash was attaching the mounting tabs using the hardware included. Next, we slid the screen into the housing after selecting the carbon-fiber faceplate, because we like carbon-fiber. The unit was now ready to drop in the truck. But first, we had to notch the back part of the dash so the Pro Dash cables could pass through, to allow the assembly to sit flush. We then secured the screen assembly with the OEM Silverado screws.
With the Pro Dash in its new home, we removed the airbag switch — always make sure the battery is disconnected before working on a vehicle to prevent any surprise deployments. If you have an airbag switch and remove it, the airbags will no longer function. This didn’t matter to use since the bags were previously disabled.
With the airbag switch removed, we snapped in the new CarChains3D mount with the 3.5-inch screen provided with the Terminator X. Next, we routed the wires before plugging in the SpeedMax CAN bus splitter. This adapter allows the use of both big and small screens simultaneously. We then plugged in the connectors to the Terminator X ECU before turning on the system.
The most obvious advantage of the Pro Dash over factory gauges is it looks so dang good! The touch screen is extremely high definition, and it really adds a modern touch to the interior of a street or race car. – Evan Perkins, Holley
We Have Ignition
We were excited to hit the ignition switch with the battery reinstalled. As the Pro Dash lit up for the first time, we knew we had made the right decision. It’s nothing short of amazing. The dash offers a viewing area of 12.3-inches on the diagonal, with an absolute size of 11.5-inches wide by 4.25-inches tall. It also features a 1280×480 resolution that looks great with all 16 different default screens. You can set up active screens to display differently for warm-up, racing, or driving scenarios.
We reached out to Evan Perkins, the Digital Content Manager at Holley, for additional details. Perkins said, “The touchscreen is extremely high definition, and it adds a modern touch to the interior of a street or race car. You can configure the display to show all the vehicle’s most vital parameters, upload custom backgrounds to mimic an OEM dash, or completely personalize it to your unique interests. The less obvious benefits are configuring custom warnings, such as low oil pressure, points for shift lights, and so much more.”
While the 16 unique preloaded screens in the Pro Dash are admirable, we now know they can be manipulated thanks to Perkins. And since the unit included a USB flash drive, we plugged it into the computer, cracked open Adobe Photoshop, and got to work.
Making a custom screen for the Pro Dash is a simple task if you’re handy with graphics and design. First, you will want to set your canvas size to 1,280×480 pixels since that’s the correct size. We also put our resolution at 300 dots per inch (DPI). Next, we loaded our new graphic, complete with an LSX logo, on the flash drive before plugging it into the Pro Dash port.
We went to the menu screen after inserting the USB into the slot. Then, we hit the customize button on the Pro Dash. From there, the “gauge customizable mode” will pop up, and you will hit “OK.” At this point, we are able to select the new background we named “LSX-Dash,” which we saved to the drive in JPEG format.
After hitting “OK,” the image popped up, and then we were ready to customize the gauges and new parameters. Despite its apparent complexity, the Pro Dash is simple to use, thanks to its captive touchscreen. You can move items around, delete things you don’t want, and add new data without using a stylus or laptop. Instead, all you need is your finger.
Digital Data Delivered
The Pro Dash is an excellent upgrade to the factory gauges because it can display more data than a factory gauge set.
“Our Pro Dash lineup puts as much real-time data as possible at your fingertips. So while a lot of enthusiasts need the basics, oil pressure, coolant temperature, etc., to start, as their vehicle program grows, the Pro Dash has all the capability required to grow with it,” said Perkins.
The Pro Dash keeps all of the critical data where it belongs, behind the steering wheel. And with the unit, you don’t have to worry about buying extra gauges and mounting pods, and you have options. “We now offer it in multiple sizes and even a standalone variant that works in carbureted vehicles that don’t have a Holley ECU,” Perkins explains.
What’s A Wrap
If you’re considering a Pro Dash, the components from CarChains3D make the installation of the monstrous display relatively simple. It also supplies a factory look until the ignition is flipped to the “on” position. Then, when things light up, you really get the “WOW” factor from the new addition.
We are delighted with the fit and finish of the Silverado’s 12.3-inch Pro Dash and Car Chains3D mounting system. And while this dash alone is enough for most people, using SpeedMax’s connector is also highly recommended if you have a 3.5-inch screen. Now, we can monitor all of the data and engine parameters at a glance.