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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hey everyone. i'm a new member and also a newish owner of a ramcharger. i have an 86. the other day my dash light behind the fuel guage burned out and i tried to replace it, but found that it is so cramped i couldn't get to it and i really dont see how i could change it without taking the whole instrument panel out. any suggestions? ideas? how do you guys change the instrument lights? thanks alot!
 

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Howdy Noctifer and welcome to the madness,

Since you said you were rooting around behind the gauge cluster I'll assume you got the facia off.

1.Disconnect the battery.

2. Open the hood and push as much of the speedo cable into the interior as possible. If you have cruise control, just unscrew the cable from the control unit and push about 6 inches into the interior.

3. Remove the lower trim cover from the steering column (only if you have an automatic) and push the PRND21 indicator wire off of its slotted mounting arm.

4. Remove the screws holding the gauge cluster to the metal bracing behind it. Very carefully you will have to push the tension arm (the part sticking out on the right side of the gauge cluster) out from behind the heat/ac control head.

5. From the right side, unhook the round wiring connector from the back of the cluster.

6. From the left side remove the arc shaped connector from the cluster.

7. You should now have enough room to get a pair of slip joint pliers behind the cluster and push the locking tab in on the speedometer cable connector. Once that is off you can pull the cluster forward and remove the rest of the wires. You might have to change the previous three steps around depending on the slack in your wire harness.

8. There are two lights with thier own wire and connectors on the back of the panel. These plastic housings have a locking tab on each side and both must be pushed in at the same time to release them.

9. There is one other two wire connector you will have to unplug before you can completely remove the cluster. You shouldn't have to lower the steering column if you are carefull.

As long as you are back there you might as well replace all the lights. Go buy some #168's as they are about 1 watt more powerfull than the stock ones. Also take the time to clean all the dust and gunk from the insides of your backlighting filters. You can also take those plastic filters out and buy some colored #168 bulbs to change you dash lighting scheme. They come in red, blue, and orange I think. Someone once mentioned using halogens (they are a bit more expensive) but I have no experience with them. You have a total of 11 bulbs back there but only five (I think) are used for back ground illumination, so unless you want a bright "brights" (highbeams) light you don't need the #168's in those slots, just use new stock ones.

As long as the dash is off take the oppourtunity to replace the bulb behind the plastic cover for the headlight/washer wiper control unit. I lined the insides of the housing with aluminum foil to help brighten it a bit too. The headlight knob is released but pushing in on the little button way up under the dash on the backside of the headlight switch. Pull the knob out until it stops, the press in on the button and it should wiggle the rest of the way out.

Cheers

Chris
 

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Or, if you want a really killer looking dash, go to http://www.superbrightleds.com and order the 6-led #194 bulbs. They come in your choice of colors (red, amber, green, blue, white, and UV) , and it looks intense at night. I have the blue ones, and it looks like you spent a couple hundred for the EL gauge kit. The bulbs go for like $3 each, but you'll never have to replace them again (unless you want to change colors)... Don't use halogens in the cluster, because they get really hot and will melt everyting. Also, those colored bulbs look good for about a week, then the color cooks off of them and they turn white... If you go for standard bulbs, you can get different color "socks" to put over them, and they don't burn away.. The LED's definitely look better though, and like I said, they last basically forever.
Matt {peace}
 

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Ohhh..Some red colored lights would look good on those white faced gauges I made...
 

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Dodge 85 RC said:
Ohhh..Some red colored lights would look good on those white faced gauges I made...
Definitely use LEDs... The red glass bulbs turn pink after like a day...
 

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While you have the dash opened you might want to change that # 194 bulb on the heater/ac/vent controler to an LED also. The bulbs get so hot they melt the plastic with age and make the blower motor switch so hot that you think the heater blower is going bad or that switch. With an LED its cooler, an easier to tell if the heater motor or switch is acting up in the future.
 

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I could email you the files if you wanted ones like I have to make them yourself...You can have them made and done in about an hour if you take your time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ram said:
While you have the dash opened you might want to change that # 194 bulb on the heater/ac/vent controler to an LED also. The bulbs get so hot they melt the plastic with age and make the blower motor switch so hot that you think the heater blower is going bad or that switch. With an LED its cooler, an easier to tell if the heater motor or switch is acting up in the future.
that's a really good idea. i was actually wondering what exactly might be causing that heat. definitely going on the to-do list.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Dodge 85 RC said:
I could email you the files if you wanted ones like I have to make them yourself...You can have them made and done in about an hour if you take your time.
i'd really love those files too so i can play around with that sort of dash design
 

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Gimme your email and I'll send them to you.
 

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i think what someone did was scan in the normal gauges on a flat bed scanner and then edited the colors. i bet if ya took apart the stock 70s stlye cluster and did alot of work you could make the print outs onto photpaper like the 80s style is done and have yourself custom gauges.
i also wanted to do the blue leds on mine. and think about swapping out the bulbs used in the taillights, marker lights, interior lights, and other places blubs are used that have led twins. it might end up costing like $1000 but i think its deff worth it. especially on the tails, they are much brighter which is always good.
 

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That is exactly how they did it.
 
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