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  Dim dash-lights on 71-73's

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Author Topic:   Dim dash-lights on 71-73's

Posts: 779
From: Kissimee, Fl USA
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 08-14-2002 09:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cobravenom71   Click Here to Email cobravenom71     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For years I have been annoyed with the dim dash lighting on my 71 thru 73 'Stangs. I currently have three of them, but I have had about 10 of them over the years. They ALL had the same poor lighting.
At first I thought it was a poor instrument voltage regulator, located on the back of the dash cluster. After replacing the I.R. regulator and all the #194 bulbs, they were still very dim.
Well, I think I may have solved the problem. I recently acquired my mothers 73' convertible. She was the original owner, and it only has 28,000 miles on it. When I drove it at night, I was surprised to see that the dash lights were perfectly bright and visible during night-time driving!
When I mentioned that to my mom, she said she would'nt know, because she never drove it at night.
Thats when the 'bells' started going off in my head. I took the dash cluster out of 'her' car to compare to the cluster out of one of mine.
The answer was immediately obvious. The little blue plastic 'cups' that are attached to the back of 'her' cluster were perfectly clear! The 'cups' from the other cluster were dull, faded and so opaque that very little light can pass thru.
I guess the heat from the bulbs over the years fades and dries out the 'cups'. Since my mothers car was never driven at night, hers are in pristine shape.
I tried to polish/buff the 'cups' to clear them up, but it only worked a little, and it did'nt appear that it would have made much of a difference.
So.....I tried something new. I removed ALL the cups from the cluster ( the dim one), and reinstalled the cluster with one slight modification.
I took all the new #194 bulbs and painted them lightly with blue hi-temp engine paint. Basically, I just wanted to tint the light, but not block too much of it.
Without the cups installed and with the new 'blue' bulbs in place, the dash lighting is better than I have ever seen!( I don't understand how blue light looks green on the dash).
The only thing I had to change was putting back three of the cups; the turn signals and the hi-beams. They were just too bright.
With those three reinstalled, it is a joy to drive at night again!
For all you 71-73 owners( and maybe some other years also!),I hope this helps you to have a safer night-driver!
See ya, Kit Sullivan.

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Posts: 1288
From: Oregon, USA
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 08-14-2002 10:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 71RESTO   Click Here to Email 71RESTO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hear you Kit!!! I have the same problem on my '71 & '73, but recently read an article in M&M on the problem. They restored the dash like you mentioned, but also repainted the white plastic housing (yellowed with age)with Krylon white and it sure brightened the gauges. Thanks for the tip though & welcome to M&M!!

71 Fastback (his) under resto (351C-4V C6 auto)
73 Mach 1 (hers) (351CJ 4 speed)
66 289/2V coupe (daughter Ashley's)
89 LX 2.3 convertible (daughter Amanda's)
M & M Member #730

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Posts: 779
From: Kissimee, Fl USA
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 08-14-2002 10:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cobravenom71   Click Here to Email cobravenom71     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Duane, I also read that article and I repainted my dash cluster pieces also, but I was unhappy with the results. I'm not sure if it's the same article, but there was one where they actually cut away some of the interior plastic to make the light easier to get to the visible area. I never wanted to do that 'cause I don't really want to do anything that I can't easily undo!
Hey, if you have any more tips for these for these cars, I'd love to hear them.
Kit Sullivan

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Dave Witthoeft

Posts: 1994
From: IL.
Registered: Dec 2000

posted 08-15-2002 12:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Witthoeft   Click Here to Email Dave Witthoeft     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I also did my lights like the article. On the bench they look good.

(Still waiting to put them into the car.)

MCA# 48755
71 Mach 1
69 Fastback
92 F-150

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Posts: 875
From: New Orleans, La. M&M member # 1752
Registered: Dec 2001

posted 08-15-2002 01:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 73trials   Click Here to Email 73trials     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I did the white Krylon thing on mine, worked pretty good. Still, that's not a bad idea. They do sell blue 194's, saw 'em at auto zone. Just might give that a shot.


'73 convertible slowly taking shape

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Posts: 10
From: slidell, LA, USA
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 08-15-2002 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dlewis   Click Here to Email dlewis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
had the same problem with my 71 convertible, I had to clean and re-connect all the wires at the solenoid ( some of these got to the dash). I cleaned these with steel wool and got all the connectors shiney and like new. My dash lights are at least 75% brighter.


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Posts: 33988
From: Saco, Maine
Registered: May 99

posted 08-15-2002 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SteveLaRiviere   Click Here to Email SteveLaRiviere     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's a good tip. I guess I'm lucky because my '72 dash is nice and bright. But I heard of the problem many times.

All Fords since 1977!

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