Gauge Cluster Touch-Up and Voltmeter Swap Write-Up
Spent a good portion of last night and about 5 minutes this morning working on my gauge cluster. Figured I would do a little walk through, since I couldn't find one and went into it blind (let me know if I did something wrong, missed something, etc.) Also, just a note: I disassembled two clusters and used the best parts from each. Just in case I mention that in the walkthrough, so it won't be confusing later on.
What you'll need:
Needle nose pliers
Flat head screwdriver
Philips head screwdriver
Very fine steel wool
Model paint (in the colors that you need to touch up)
-I used Model Master flourescent red and gloss white and Testors red and dark blue
Set of very small brushes (I used only a 10/0 and a 5/0)
-They don't need to be expensive brushes, but make sure they are quality enough to hold up for detail work
Invisible Glass (or other glass cleaner)
Deep well 3/8" socket - a regular one works fine, but I suggest deep well so you can turn it by hand. However, you can use a regular 3/8" socket with no issue.
Drill (bit) set
Small torx bit (depending on year)
Emblem adhesive (or any other strong, long-lasting adhesive)
-I used 3M emblem and badge adhesive
-Sunpro CP7985 works well
Gauge cluster in need of some love
So, lets get started shall we?
First things first, we need to remove the gauge cluster from the vehicle (if it is not already out). Simply reach under your dash and disconnect all the connectors and bulbs, then disconnnect your speedometer. It should slide out relatively easily (you may want to lay something over the steering column to protect the paint just in case). Be gentle with it--it really does not require much force to get out, you just have to find the right spot.
Now what we will need to do, is begin disassembly. Make sure you keep track of you screws, nuts, bolts, etc, etc. However you have found best to keep up with them will work just fine. But, if you absolutely must follow this to a tee, I cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of the cluster, then poke holes with scissors in the spots where there are screws. Next, I just poke them into their respective holes. This way I know exactly which screw goes where.
Moving on, you will find three screws on the bottom of the circuit board and three on top. You will also find five screws around the perimeter of the AC controls. These all need to be removed. Next, pull the AC controls out (the knob on the temperature switch pulls off, make sure you remove it before removing the rest of the assembly). Next, remove the remaining gauge cluster assembly. Set the case and AC controls aside for now.
Now we will disassemble the gauge cluster assembly. Looking at the back you will notice four studs coming through on the left, and five on the right--these are your gauges (except for your speedometer/odometer, that is the giant silver thing in the middle). If you flip the gauge cluster over, you will notice that your oil/amp and fuel/temp cover plates are held on by either a small hex head or torx head bolt. I did not have the proper size to remove the hex head with a socket, so I just grabbed onto it with needle nose pliers and twisted--they aren't torqued very tight, so this was not an issue. If yours is the torx style, then simply use the proper torx bit, or follow the previous advice if you don't have it.
After the cover plates are off, turn the unit back over and remove the nuts (use the 3/8" deep well socket if they are to tight to hand remove) that hold the four outside gauges on (as noted above). The gauges should slide out without a hitch; set them aside. At this point, the oil/amp side of the metal plate between the circuit board and shell of cluster should come off--set it aside as well. Next, we will remove the speedometer assembly.
Simply unscrew the two screws on the metal casing that is sticking up out of the center of the circuit board--this will release the speedometer. Set it aside as well.
The unit should be fully disassembled at this point.
Chances are, your unit has not been cleaned or maintained in 20-30 years. So lets take care of the dirt and grime that has built up over the years. Wash the cluster housing (plastic shell) with some warm soapy water, rinse it and dry it. I used some Invisible Glass to clean the lenses and cover plates. You can also wipe off the actual gauges themselves if they need it.
Use the steel wool to remove any rust/grime from the metal backing plate. Wipe it off with a damp paper towel or cloth.
Very lightly use the very fine steel wool to remove any oxidization or grime from the copper traces on the circuit board. Then, follow up with several cotton swabs dipped (not soaked) in rubbing/isopropyl alcohol. Make sure, especially, that the traces are clean near connectors.
Much of the detail work from the factory has worn down or deteriorated. Dull letters and chipping chrome can be quite an eyesore, so I decided to fix that problem. Pull out the model paint, brushes, steel wool, and screwdriver. Using your screwdriver or any other small tipped object, pop out the labels for the AC controls and the windshield wiper and lights labels. There are two sets of labels (one sheet of plastic for "OFF FAN HI, OFF HEAT DEF" and one for ""COOL-------WARM, WIPER WASHER, LIGHTS." Use the steel wool to remove any trim/paint that you want to refinish. Wipe the areas clean that you wish to touch up. Make sure any fibers from the steel wool (or any other debris) are removed. Use the finest brush you have and the white paint to paint the letters. I also used the white paint and the 5/0 brush to detail around the lenses (where chrome used to be), and the two strips towards the bottom of the assembly (another previously chromed spot). However, detail what you want, where you want, and in whatever colors you want. Set aside the labels and cluster shell to dry.
If your gauges have faded areas, then get out the red paint and the 10/0 brush. Very, very carefully go over the previously red (now dull pinkish orange) areas with the brush. If you mess up or go outside the lines, you can use a toothpick for small areas, or some polish (Turtle Wax works) for larger messups. Now, using the flourescent red (or orange) paint, touch up the needles of your gauges (even if it looks like they don't need it, do it anyway--makes a big difference). Try not to apply too many coats because the added weight on the needle from the paint can throw your gauges out of calibration.
Perform any other paint touchup/detailing that you wish.
Set the gauges aside to dry.
Now for the fun part. Get out your SunPro voltmeter and open the packaging.
Remove the u-bracket on the back and set it aside (or throw it away if you don't plan on using it for anything--you won't need it for the swap).
Use a flat head screwdriver to pry open and remove the metal bezel. It may be necessary to go all the way around the bezel to allow for smooth removal. If you break the glass, no problem because we won't be using it. Set aside the glass, bezel, and metal casing (Throw them away if you don't have any other use for them). The voltmeter should be down to its bare bones now. I used some of the flourescent red (or orange) paint on the needle to make it fit in better with the other gauges.
This voltmeter is not a direct swap and requires some modification to the circuit board and metal plate. Get your drill ready and find what size drill bits fit the circuit board and metal plate (they are different sizes and I forget to record them while I was doing it). Measure 3mm down from the old holes on the circuit board. Drill pilot holes (I used about 4 bits, incrementally getting closer to the actual size to ensure the safety of the circuit board) and then drill the new holes. Transcribe those holes to the metal plate, and drill those holes. test fit the two gauges and make sure there is plenty of space. If there is not, use a round file to slowly enlarge the hole. If you are good to go, then move on.
USE THIS SECTION ONLY IF YOU NEED TO SET A NEW ODOMETER TO THE PROPER MILEAGE--DO NOT USE THIS INFORMATION TO SET YOUR ODOMETER TO MISREAD ACTUAL MILEAGE.
With your speedometer removed, you can see your odometer as well. There is a small retaining spring holding it in. Use your needle nose pliers to remove it. You should now be able to lift and slide out your odometer (do not force it out, it takes a second to find the right spot for it to slip out). You will notice separators between each number. In order to change the numbers, you will need to hold the separators to the left of the number with your left thumb and index finger and those to the right with your right thumb and index finger. Twist the ones to the right until the proper digit is achieved. Then hold one more separator in your left hand, and one less in your right (if that makes sense) and twist the right side again until the digit is in the proper setting. Continue this through all the digits until it reads the correct mileage. Make sure all of the separators are aligned and then replace the odometer (check the front to make sure the proper numbers are showing, if not lift the odometer partially out and move the separators slightly in the direction needed for the proper numbers to be read and place it back in). Reattach the retaining spring (it can be a PITA, just to warn you--I found it easiest to hook it onto the odometer first, then push it down to where it goes, and finish pulling it through with the needle nose pliers).
Now is a good time to replace your speedometer gear if it is reading inaccurately. Make sure you get the proper gear to match your tire size. I did not do this, so I do not have a walkthrough.
Reassembling the unit is more or less the opposite of disassembly. However, make sure you use the emblem adhesive to reattach the labels that you touched up and your lenses (if they had fallen out). Let those dry for about an hour or so (according to directions of the adhesive that you use). before reinstalling the gauge cluster assembly into the housing.
Here is the order in which you should reassemble:
Blue/green bulb covers and indicator covers (brake/fasten belts, 4x4, etc)
Then, just put the AC assembly and cluster assembly back into the housing.
Easy as pie.
Thanks for reading! I hope this will be of help to at least one poor Jeeping soul. It's not perfect and I'm sure many of y'all can do this better than me, but figured I would put somethign out there. If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know.
Well done Cordy55
good golly you cloned mine!
Ok I have the custom indicator lights
Good choice to start with, I love the burled walnut
Great minds think alike ;).
Looks good. Make sure you check the two tab from the backing plate are touching the temperature gauge housing. I had to solder copper wire to connect it because the backing on the gauge warps and prevents it from grounding. If it looses ground connection, it can self destruct and cook the fuel and oil gauge.
That looks great!
Acrylic Scratch remover for lenses
Great Job!!:thumbsup: I don't know if you mentioned it or not...but...if you have superficial lense scratches I used the two step scratch remover and polished the lenses with very good results. They are soft plastic so no doubt I'll be doing it again:banghead: , just be gingerly when cleaning them in the future.
And fools seldom differ :D
(Too easy an opening, too give it a pass)
as this is a very detailled posting, I am adding my .02 if you want to swap the sunpro voltmeter plate to try to keep the design of the gauge faceplate.
I filled up the previous holes for the ammeter with a dab of epoxy using tape to close one side, and used the cardboard backing of the sunpro on the backside to prevent grinding the electrical circuit on the circuit board.
Pop the ammeter plate, cut it a bit and use it to replace the sunpro faceplate
a little black paint, I used black acrylic from the arts store to cover the 60
then added a white line at the 12 volt
Next would be to find a way to replace AMP with VOLT
On mine the ‘volts’ is cut out of the sunpro surround, pictured above. It looks pretty good and blends well. I emailed you a picture of it. Knowing you did the conversion a while ago, you may not have that anymore.
Wow, 2012. Good thread, and worthwhile to bring it to the top again.
My '82 has the battery symbol for this gauge, which applies to either an ammeter or voltmeter. No need for any additional lettering.
I would also suggest, if you do this conversion, you may as well complete the gauges' voltage regulator replacement too. Maybe $1 in parts (plus shipping), and keeps your new voltmeter from bouncing in time with the factory mechanical voltage regulator (the CVR). Plus it's safer for your gauges.
Here's a parts list - https://www.mouser.com/ProjectManager/ProjectDetail.aspx?State=EDIT&ProjectGUID=53f93c34 -4415-4d9b-8d43-16b4e08b2685 You'll need these plus some wire, coupling compound, connectors of your choice, and assembly.
here we go, always a work in progress, may be a tad too tall!
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