good writeup man... here's a little custom mod i did to the HVAC so it would match the guage cluster-
Piece of plexiglass, used a 1" hole bit to make 3 holes. I drew 3 to make sure i got the knobs lined up, one in the center, then the other 2 on the outer edge of the part that fits through the plexiglass and goes into the HVAC unit.
Just screwed it on
Test fit. I trimmed it up alot with a dremal to get it to properly fit and have no clearance issues with the dash piece.