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Hi, My '78 RC has the dimmest dash lights I've ever seen. Even turned all the way up, they're difficult to see in anything except deep dark night. Dusk and dawn . . forget about it. It seems that the light eminates from a spot between the speedometer and the fuel gauge. So even in pitch black, the ampmeter and oil gauge are only dimmly lit.

Is there some way to boost the dash light? Do I maybe have some bulbs burned out? It looks to me like the instrument panel is a closed unit (though I've never studied it that closely) with only the main 12-14 prong harness plug, one negative lead and one posative lead. Am I missing something?

Thanks,
-Sam
 

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I don't know about boosting it but you may have some lights out. Just take the cluster out enough to get to the back of it and the light sockets just screw in the back of the cluster. You may have to undo the speedo cable. Pretty easy job. My 77 lights up just fine. When I bought it the speedo was hard to see, one of the lights was out and so I put a new one in and all is good. The lights are spaced just right that when they burn out the others still show through a little making it very dim instead of dark. When your doing it go ahead and replace them all while you're at it. Bulbs are cheap.
 

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A couple of ideas....
Assuming all wiring and connections is sound....Check the plastic colored lenses that the bulb goes into. If they look like they are hazy etc. try removing one of the lenses and replace the bulb with one of the colored ones. This made mine brighter.
Also, putting headlight relays in will take some of the load off of your dash lights and make them brighter, but the best part is brighter headlights! Two birds with one stone.
 

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Yeah - just check your bulbs first. When I got mine some of the bulbs were burned out, and covered with years of thick dust that had worked in there....
 

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Also check the contact points for those bulbs. I took a knife and scratched the copper traces where the bulbs contact. I also stretched the contact points on the bulbs to make them fit tighter.
 

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Install some white (or any color you want) LED's. They're brighter than regular bulbs, don't get hot, and never burn out. Another thing, pull out your headlight switch and clean all the contacts, and also clean the circular spring and the floating contact in the front of the switch with TV Tuner cleaner. That's the dimmer assembly, and if it's coated with oxidation or dirt or anything else, it's going to cut down the power as it goes through.

Matt {peace}
 

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yeah, the led bulbs work alot brighter than stock whites with covers. and like was said, they are cool and never burn out. another plus is they use like 10 times less energy so that in itself will help the switch load. and does anybody know if the bulb in the climate controls is replaceable? if it is, does it have that greenish cover on it too?
 

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Yeah, the heater bulb is a 194, and I have a 6 LED blue module in there. There is no green cover like in the cluster, but the face plastic has a blue-green strip molded into it, and you can't remove it - it's part of the face sticker. The downside is that if you use an LED, it will effectively filter out everything but blue and green, since LED's are pure specific wavelengths.. Which means if you use a red, amber, or purple LED, it won't show through at all. (except for red, which will only come through on the Warm side of the temp slider - everything else would be dark) White LEDs are really a variety of blue, so they will show blue through it.. Mine lights up blue, but the red part of the slider doesn't light up at all. Also, since it's just 1 bulb right behind the fan switch, the left side is a lot dimmer than the right with the LED. It doesn't bother me, but eventually, when I replace the control because the ears are broken, I'll put loose LEDs all the way across the light channel, and throw in a red one to light up the warm side.

Matt {peace}
 

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Where would i get LED lights for replacement dash lights? I am going to replace them soon, so might as well get LEDS right?
 

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I got mine from http://www.superbrightleds.com. Get the 6 LED modules. They only cost a little bit more, and they're so much brighter. They are a tight fit through the holes in the circuit board, but they will fit with a little persuasion. Expect to spend around $40-50 to replace all the bulbs in your dash(backlight bulbs,indicators,turn signals, ashtray light) Leave the 4x4 light as a regular bulb, because it has a couple different filters in it, and it doesn't light up right with any color.

Here's what mine looks like. White and blue LEDs put out a lot of UV light, so if you use those colors, paint all your needles with fluorescent orange paint, and they will light up a lot brighter (notice the gear selector needle). As you can see, there are a few dark spots, but they look worse in the pictures than they really are. I can read them just fine. I do plan on wiring extra LEDs in the bottom corners and top dead center to make it brighter. Also, does anyone know what kind of paint would be the most reflective to put on the inside of the cluster? I'm not too fond of spray chrome, but what about titanium white?


See what I mean about the color plates filtering the color? It doesn't even look like the red bars are there.


It looks nice with my EL display stereo ;D


Matt {peace}
 

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Before you go to changing lights and stuff like that, make sure all your grounds are good, clean and tight. Also, change out your headlight switch and your bright headlight switch, and make sure the bright headlight switch is well grounded also. Doing this may brighten your gauges. I know it did wonders for mine.

Mac
 

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I went for the white LED's. They are just a wee bit dimmer than the orignial light bulbs, but I think you'll agree, they look pretty nifty. I also got mine from superbrightleds.com, and am pretty happy with them. I also got the festoon bulb led's for the two driver side courtesy lights...you know, the ones that burn through the lenses. They're definitely dimmer than the originals, but again, they look nifty, and suit my purposes. I also added a set of four super bright red LED's to the inside of the console between the front seats. I wired in a small microswitch to turn them on when the door opens. They're wicked bright, and really look cool at night...not to mention, they allow me to find a pen, or a stick of gum when it's dark :) Let me know if interested, and I'll post a picture of that.


 

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Wow! {bigeyes} {bigeyes} Those white ones look awesome! I never tried them in the cluster.. Just red and blue. Now you've got me thinking, it wouldn't be too hard (it would be a little expensive though) to set up an array of all different color LEDs inside the cluster with a rotary switch to select what color you want. Doing that would also put them in more places than the 4 or 5 to get more even lighting. I have an extra cluster, so I'll see if I can come up with something that would be easy to arrange, wire, and glue down, and try to get a good price on LEDs in bulk, and I could do it for anyone who wants it - Single or any combination of colors you want.

If you want to stick with regular bulbs, don't get the colored or painted glass ones. The color burns off within a week or two and it looks like crap. Get clear bulbs, and buy the colored latex socks that slip over them. They last for years, and tend to have more intense color than the colored bulbs.


Matt {peace}
 

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Matt, that's an excellent idea! Sitting here thinking about it reminds me that I have access to fiber optic cabling. That would be neat to string some additional fibers to provide light into the dim areas!!!

Jason
 

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You guys need to look into Luxon star LED's they come in 1,3,& 5 WATTS :eek:
2 of these in the cluster would be supper bright I have used them to mod flashlights.
 

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I was thinking of stars, but even a 1 watt star could be extremely distracting. I used 4 - 3 watts with collimating lenses to retrofit my bike's tail light, and 1 each in the turn signals.. I know I'd hate to be behind me in the dark when I hit the brakes! ;D I also retrofitted track fixtures around the house with them. With dash lighting, you don't really want it bright because it tricks your eyes, and you lose your distance night vision.. Those white ones that martinihenry used would be as bright as I'd want them. (BTW, are those the 4 or 6 LED modules??) I was thinking of using clusters of high intensity diffused LEDs (between 1 and 6 colors, one of each color per cluster) in strategic spots in the panel. They also have the new tri-color RGB (red/green/blue) LEDs, where you can (so long as they put out equal amounts of each color) potentially have 7 different colors in 1 LED - Red, Green, Blue, Red+Green=Yellow, Red+Blue=Magenta, Green+Blue=Cyan, and Red+Green+Blue=White. I haven't played with them yet, but it seems like it would work. I have to play around and see what works, and the reproducability of each way.

Matt {peace}
 
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