I <3 the initiative and the cheap tactics, good stuff! Stick with the plan, I think you're definitely getting a GREAT deal and I'm glad you realized how terribly taken care of the other one was. You'll be happy with your purchase no doubt and welcome to the Jeep community. Remember to wave!
For The Gauges
You have some options, you can buy an aftermarket gauge overlay like this
Jeep 97-06 Wrangler Glow Gauges 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05: eBay Motors (item 280508202965 end time Jun-15-10 21:59:06 PDT)
or your can go buy a OEM one from Ebay.com or car-part.com
Then, the removal is simple.
1. Remove the two phillips screws underneath the steering wheel on the kick panel
2. Remove the two screws holding the metal kick panel behind that.
3. Take a flathead screwdriver and pop off the dash bezel that runs the length along the top of the dash and has the cutoff for the vin #.
4. Remove the three phillips screws holding the cluster in at the top.
5. Remove the two screws on either side of the steering wheel holding the cluster in
6. Pull the gauge cluster straight out and then seperate the clear bezel from the gauges, I think they're snapped in.
Here's some good instructions after that if you got the el glow gauges
The guide does say to NOT REMOVE THE NEEDLES. Now, I have done this swap on another cluster out of a Mercury Cougar and I pulled out the needles to do a needle-swap and all you have to do is recalibrate them by driving doing like 10 mph w/ a GPS unit and putting the needle back on @ 10mph mark. Take a pic before hand so you can put the other ones on the right way.
And if you wouldn't mind, I'd love those Canadian gauges to swap into mine!
Least I have an excuse if I get pulled over for speeding.... oh nevernmind