LED Replacement Bulbs

Discussion in 'Ranchero Tech Reference & Articles' started by OldFordGuy, May 27, 2008.

  1. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    I read all the threads on the forum and ordered my bulbs from Superbright. Maybe I messed up because nobody talked about 90 vs 120 degree bulbs and I had to choose. I went with the 120's for the blue and put a couple in this morning. They are dimmer than the 194's. I took the cluster all the way out and took out a couple of the blue filters and polished them. They don't seem to pass a bit more light but my big concern is the brightness of the bulbs. Anybody have any recent experience the forum threads go back a ways and I really am not anxious to take this apart many more times. I really would like to be able to see my gauges at night.
     
  2. lynched1

    lynched1 In Second Gear

    Messages:
    42
    Back in the 80's I had two Torinos and the lights were bad then too. I took the blue filters out and went with white dash lighting. I believe there are blue led replacements that someone installed and removed the filters, it was posted on another website with some photos. I'll dig around and see if I can find the site.

    Chuck
     
  3. burninbush

    burninbush In Maximum Overdrive

    Messages:
    8,278
    Location:
    near SF
    My instant free opinion, LEDs are not the best choice for a dash lighting situation, where you'd like the source to spray light around in all directions. The reason LEDs are the shape they are made in [bullet shaped] is so the front curved part acts as a lens to direct light forward. If you illuminate a bare LED in a dark room you can see how narrowly it projects light.
     
  4. 72GTVA

    72GTVA Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,277
    Location:
    Chesapeake, VA
    Having gone through all my dash clusters and rebuilt or rebuilding some now I've discovered that the majority of the problem wasn't so much in the lights, it was a combination more of the electrical path and a little the aged yellowing of the cluster plastic. I cleaned up the contacts on the printed circuit and light bulb sockets (contact cleaner and an electric typewriter eraser), cleaned or replaced the headlight switch (two different cars) and cleaned the ground wire at the dash to solve the electrical which took care of 90% of the perceived dimness. I painted the inside of the cluster cases with white Krylon Fusion and that seemed to take care of the rest.

    The Mustang parts houses have replacement filters, $9.95 for a set of 4, you might need two sets to have enough. They also have them in yellow and red if you want to change the lighting color.

    If you have a volt meter you might want to meaure the voltage on the printed circuit connector (light blue - red stripe), try the full range of "brightness/dim" settings to see the variation. If at full bright you don't have almost battery voltage look into the switch contacts and clean the dimmer coil and contacts and don't forget to clean the ground connection between the dash frame and the main wiring harness.

    If the voltage on that wire appears to operate the full range 12V down to zero then look at cleaning the printed circuit connector and the socket contacts.

    Good luck!
     
    HVAC22 likes this.
  5. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    I just put a meter on my cluster plug and got 12.1 v at the battery and 11.8 at the plug so my headlight switch seems to be fine. There is smooth meter change down to 0 and back up. Also, the light for the heater control goes bright to dim nicely.

    What do you use for contact cleaner? I used to use Radio Shack tuner cleaner but several people have recommended staying away from it.

    Is Krylon Fusion a Krylon color or type of paint? My case is very yellow and the backside of the front cover that the lenses attach to is fogged heavily with flat black overspray around the speedo and tach.

    I am going to go ahead and take out the guages and paint the inside of the cluster case and I guess I'll also paint the back side of the front cover also (did you do both?). I'm also going to clean all the printed circuit connections on the back and the bulb bases.

    If I go for new blue lenses what year am I looking for or are they all the same?
     
  6. 72GTVA

    72GTVA Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,277
    Location:
    Chesapeake, VA
    The Krylon "Fusion" is the name of the paint line, I would expect you can find it at most hardware stores, I haven't seen it at auto parts places. It is their line of "no prep" plastic paint although I would suggest you clean the case as thoroughly as you can with isopropol alcohol to remove as much of the factory mold release agent as you can or the paint may fisheye, and I'd suggest you mist a first coat, then paint for cover with a second, I had a bad time with fisheyes even though I thoroughly washed and wiped down the parts (hence the suggestion for alcohol). I painted the inside of both parts of the case except for any gauge masks, mask carefully so you don't make more work for yourself. If this is a GT Cluster take the metal inserts out so you don't fog the edge light gauge labels. Standard gauge case you should be good with just a clean masking to keep overspray off of the outer part of the case, especially the speedometer and gauge openings.

    Contact cleaner I use is purchased at an electronics parts store and is whatever has replaced the carbontetrachloride we used to use before it was banned. I've actually gotten better results using a white ink eraser and gently going over just the copper contact areas and then using the contact cleaner and a cotton swab to remove any residue. Alcohol works well with this too.

    The Mustang source I use only has one replacement lense of the type that was "melted" to the cluster case (~65-70), you need to trim the little pin off of these but otherwise they work fine. On this note, on the GT cases I had a bad time with the retainer clips breaking off of the gauge case, I used a clear silicone RTV to retain the blue "filters" where the retainers were broken off.

    Good luck!
     
  7. As Is '66

    As Is '66 2 Wheeled Mod Staff Member

    Messages:
    5,670
    Location:
    Southwest Georgia
    I`m learnin`...

    As y`all are postoing, I`m learning... Being as, I`ll hafta do this in the future too...
    A WISE man learns from the mistakes of others...And the things that ain`t a mistake also...(I heard this somewhere...)
     
  8. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    Hey 72GTVA,
    I got the cluster apart and am cleaning it up. I got all the blue filters off without breaking any clips but they sure are delicate. I had to do some serious digging to find a typewriter eraser(maybe 25 years old) but boy does it work well. You don't realize how much crud is on the copper until you start cleaning.

    I found the white Fusion paint and am starting to mask but have a question since you've been through it. I was thinking of slipping the tape between the printed circuit and case over the bulb holes because masking inside around the lense locks is a real pain but am concerned the bulbs may not go back in with paint in the lock area on the inside. How did you do it?
     
  9. 72GTVA

    72GTVA Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,277
    Location:
    Chesapeake, VA
    I removed the printed circuit and shot the paint on the back with no masking, I just laid off trying to cover the lense tabs and concentrated on making the case reflective areas white. You should not get too much paint on those to be an issue. I would not suggest leaving the printed circuit on due to overspray, that just makes ensuring your contacts are clean a little harder. I used a fine flat bladed screw driver to very gently pry to printed circuit off the locating tabs and then wrapped it in a plastic bag and set it aside to prevent damage.

    I paid more attention in masking up the black face of the cluster to keep the overspray from making me paint the black again.
     
  10. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    Thanks,
    I'll do it that way then. I haven't even looked at the front half of the case yet, but I'm sure it will be fun.
     
  11. HuevosRanchero

    HuevosRanchero In Maximum Overdrive

    Messages:
    5,570
    Location:
    Macon Georgia
    http://www.ranchero.us/forums/showthread.php?t=8190

    check out this thread if you havent already.. towards the end shows my dash lighting with LED's...as BB states if you get the single point LED's the light projection is very narrow....i got the 5 point ...1 center and 4 radially mounted...and the glow from my lights will blind you... not also that i left off the blue filters... i prefer the cool blue/white of the LED's ..much more readable..

    Cheers
     
  12. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    72GTVA,
    I went to start the reassembly of the cluster a little while ago and went to wipe off the back of the printed circuit film before reinstalling and. I noticed a spot on the edge of it where the bulb goes in at one corner (I believe behind the clock) the green coating is broken down and powdery about an inch long but only over thestrip of foil for the backlight circuit <1/8" by that bulb socket. From the other side it looks normal and the copper foil it should cover looks whole and healthy. I feel I need to seal that area but am not sure what to use. Have you run into this before on other circuit boards, if so what did you find worked?
    thanks,

    Huevos,
    I checked out your pics and you definitely have lights now. I'm going to put it together without the blue lenses and try the led's I bought and also try some blue 194's. Now that it's apart and the circuitry is cleaned up I'll play with it til I get what I want. You did a nice job on those guage faces.
     
  13. 72GTVA

    72GTVA Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,277
    Location:
    Chesapeake, VA
    I use a clear silicone RTV. What type gauge cluster do you have, standard or GT?
     
  14. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    It's a GT. I was thinking of silicone but it never hurts to ask because some of these old plastics react strangely to chemicals sometimes. The Krylon Paint worked out great. I wiped it down thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol twice and it went on nicely. Once I removed the circuit board it was a lot easier to clean up. I found a product called deoxit that is a contact cleaner and also comes with a sealer and continuity enhancer that got some high remarks. Hopefully that will help with future oxidation on the copper foil.
     
  15. 72GTVA

    72GTVA Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,277
    Location:
    Chesapeake, VA
    Yes, the silicone works fine and as long as the copper conductors are intact you won't have any trouble. I've actually got one where I had to solder the conductor with the addition of a small jumper. It is really ugly but works fine. RancheroUS was talking about Deoxit in the Audio Thread. I'll have to locate some and give it a try. Good luck with your repair and let us know how it turns out!

    OBTW, are you going to go with standard 194 bulbs at this point or some kind of LED's?
     
  16. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    I found the Deoxit at radio Shack locally. It's a little pricey ($14.99) but it's also highly recommended for Audio so it will get used.

    I'm going to put it together w/out the blue lenses initially, even after polishing they are really dark. I'm going to try the blue 120 degree LED's I bought first, then substitute a couple of blue 194's that I picked up and see how much and what type of light I get with them and the cleaned up circuitry. If none of that works out I'll put the put the blue lenses back in and try it all with them in place.
     
  17. 72GTVA

    72GTVA Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,277
    Location:
    Chesapeake, VA
    I'll be interested in your results. I haven't had any trouble just thoroughly cleaning but you never know what you may have to do down stream.
     
  18. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    I'll update you when I finish it later this week.

    Have a good one!
     
  19. OldFordGuy

    OldFordGuy In Second Gear

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Escondido, CA
    It is absolutely amazing what a little elbow grease and a typewriter eraser can accomplish. I had already polished up the copper contacts when I found the Deoxit contact cleaner but I went ahead and used it and then went over the contacts again and got a lot more black residue off especially around the edges where it was heavier.

    After repainting the inside of the cluster with gloss white I reassembled it without the blue lenses and put in the blue LED's. I put the green ones in the turn signals and the red ones in the brake and high beam windows.

    The blue LED's are a rich blue and bright enough but they make my other radio and heater lights look green. I also found that all of the white markings on the instruments were hard to distinguish they just looked a little different shade of blue so gauges still somewhat hard to read.

    The green Led's don't flash when the signals are on so they had to go right away. The Red ones appear much brighter than the 194's that came out so I'll use them.

    I pulled the cluster and put in some blue 194's I had and they don't let enough light through.

    I then polished the blue lenses with my Dremel and put them back in the cluster with the 194 clear bulbs and that is the way it is going to stay. I have nice bright lighting and all the white shows up with good contrast, By far easier to read than either of the other ways.

    If anyone is interested in the LED route I have some blue and green ones I'll give you a heck of a deal on but I suspect they will probably spend the rest of their life in my bulb drawer.
     
  20. ribald1

    ribald1 Banned PLATINUM MEMBER

    Messages:
    19,734
    Location:
    California
    I just tossed the guages, carved up the backside, imserted cobalt guages and used spray in foam to hold them in.
    Looks like stock except with modern guages that you can see.
    Also the speedo goes to 160 and the tach to 10K
     

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