How To: Dash Gauges Rehab

For some time I thought my gauges weren't very bright.
When talking to fellow owners, the common problem I heard was that the bulbs had 20+ years of dirt on them and they just needed cleaning to come back to normal. Well, that was partially true, but in my case I went a bit farther to get what I wanted. There's lots of detail in this part of the car and I've included a ton of photos to help make sense of it all.

Here's an overview of the beast you're about to see:

To get to your dash gauges, you must first take the black cardboard access panel off. After that, get down by your pedals and shine a flash light up near the steering column. You will see three obstacles in your way besides a bunch of wires: the speedometer cable and two aluminum thumb screws.
  1. Take hold of the speedometer cable's screw down and loosen it completely to free the cable from the gauges.
  2. Loosen both thumb screws, making sure not to lose the two washers underneath each screw.
  3. That being completed, sit in the driver seat and pull the gauge pod forward.
  4. Disconnect carefully the cables that are part of the wiring harness. There should be a total of four: 1) at the tachometer, 3) at the Gas/Temp section - one large, one small, and a three pronged cable.

Move the pod out of the way and your dash should now look like this:

NEXT: Lay the gauge pod down on a clean surface. You will notice 8 screws around the perimeter of the pod that hold each of the three sections together. Working from left to right, carefully remove them. Note - they are layered on top of each other.
NEXT, The Tachometer: there are two bulb holders (2 o'clock and 8 o'clock). It's ok to remove the harness that comes from the tack and plugs into the Fuel/Temp gauge setup before taking the 4 screws off.
NEXT: Lay the assembly on it's side and review the bulbs - are they working or not? You can carefully plug the harness back together later in the car without the pod to check the status of all the bulbs if necessary. Using a can of compressed air, make sure and blow all the dust, rust and cob webs out of the assembly and set it to the side of your work area.
NEXT: This view shows the small 3 watt bulbs which are the same throughout the gauge pod. There are only bulbs on the tach and fuel/temp gauge.  These things are plugged into the sockets somewhat like the cheap tiny Christmas tree bulbs. I suggest you take them to an electronic store and order replacements if needed. You can see in this photo the dust particles that were built up inside the pod.
NEXT: These bulbs come out easy as their assemblies are pushed into the tach.
NEXT: The Speedometer should now come out. Remove the two screws to the right of the assembly. Note this view shows a close-up of the two studs which hold the entire assembly to the car's dash structure.
NEXT: Once it's removed, dust and clean as needed. I've provided views from several angles here for those curious as to how it looks under the face of the speedometer itself. (BOTTOM VIEW)
  This is the bottom view with a close-up showing the trip odometer.
  This is the top view showing the Odometer assembly.
NEXT: Take the Gas/Temp gauge out. Note in this photo you can see all 7 locations of individual 3 watt bulbs. The center four are for the idiot lights themselves, the three outer or perimeter lights are back lights for the gauges themselves.
NEXT: This is a view of the Gas/Temp gauge laying on it's back. Dust it off with compressed air as necessary.
NEXT: On it's side, you can see the three "perimeter" lights that back light the gauges. Make sure they all work. 2 of the 3 were burned out in mine.
NEXT: These grey sockets that hold the bulbs are removed by making a 1/2 twist turn and pulling out. The bulbs come out with a firm pull up. Replacing the bulbs is easy, just make sure that the two pins at the base of the bulb are folded over and making contact with the brass connectors in the base of the grey socket.
NEXT: Ok everything's out. Time to clean up the pod itself. I choose at this point to swap out my tacky walnut panel 74 gauge pod with a older, all black 72-73 model pod (head to the junkyard or your favorite used parts supplier if you choose). Mine was in good shape but needed cleaning. I chose to soak the pod by using Ivory soap and warm water. With a tooth brush get into all the cracks and holes that dirt and grime is hiding in. Set aside to dry. Clean the glass components separately, noting that two of the three glass covers are smaller than one. The largest one belongs to the Speedometer, the other two are interchangeable. Also, take out the red Brake Light cover and clean and wash it by itself. On this 72/73 model, the three holes each have a black trim ring that snaps out. If you're using this one, it's good to remove these and set them aside once clean.
NEXT: In order to make your bulbs the most effective, you need to mask all this area off and paint the inside with a white matte paint so that the light will bounce and reflect onto the faces evenly. I used Krylon white hobby primer to do this.
NEXT: You will also want to paint the back of the three metal rings that hold the glass into the pod white also. These are difficult to mask and paint. Take your time here as sloppy masking will show up as white when you put it back together. The end result is that white on these rings makes a huge difference in the overall display. On mine, the paint was very dull and faded. Carefully wash the glass covers and dry them. Put all the pieces back together in reverse order as described previously. I choose to put a dab of silicone caulk on each glass cover on the inside, touching the locking ring and the glass together to make a vibration proof seal.
NEXT: Back together - what a difference this makes cosmetically to the overall presentation of the dash. I choose to leave the red "BRAKE FAILURE" light on the dash here as it creates a conversation piece to the uninitiated !!
NEXT: Back in the car, connect everything back as it was and test the back lights. The wiring harness takes some pressure to put it back on and it won't fall off the back very easy. When you're done you have something that makes your car not only look better, but it's safer and easier to drive at night!



eXTReMe Tracker