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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I'm a newbie here.Maybe you can help me.My 76 has dim(almost dark) dash lights.I can hardly see the speedo.
Can you tell me what bulbs belong in there?The previous owner said he had them replaced at a shop and thats the way they are supposed to work.Before I take out the dash pod I want to get the correct bulbs.
Thanks,Shane :D
 

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Saw a note once where the owner had repainted the back side of the front panel for guage pod a reflective silver. Said that made a real difference. The lights are set in the back panel of the instrument cluster, where thery connect to the printed circuit, and reflect off the back side of the front panel onto the faces of the guages. Gloss white paint would also work for better reflected light that the original green plastic.

Apparently in his car that front panel was removable without taking out the whole instrument cluster, though removing the whole instrument cluster is not that big an issue--I've had the opportunity to practice a few times chasing electrical gremlins. Haven't tried the reflective paint trick (yet) cuz the guages are working fine now and other stuff needed more work.

HTH
 

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greywolf said:
Saw a note once where the owner had repainted the back side of the front panel for guage pod a reflective silver. Said that made a real difference. HTH
I removed the face cover, then at the top of each instrument or position for instruments there is a flat black metal cover with two screws holding it down. Remove the two screws and remove that flat black director. That directs lights onto the face of the instruments. I used a paint called "Bumper Chrome" By DupliColor and painted the backs of those directors. It really gave up the light then. Most of the replacement Bulbs are "Hotter" than the original bulbs GM put in and give off more light. However the green / blue backing is old and dull and doesn't reflect well any longer.

Anyway I did the paint and it worked well. Non of the actual instruments have to be removed. Just those deflectors / Directors or what ever they were called. I think in total there are four. One large one over the Speedometer, One over the clock and one over the fuel/Oil/Water.
 

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Most 4th gen dashes tend to be on the dim side, but yours sounds a little too dim.

The dash bulbs are T-3 1/4 wedge-base bulbs. They go in little black sockets that (if you are of small wrist and large determination) you can remove from the rear of the cluster by reaching up from beneath the dash and feeling for. 1/4 turn to release. Or, go in from the front (I, of large wrist and small determination :-D , took this path the last time I went in.) (NOTE - I can't remember, but it seems like you might cannot pull the plate with the fuel gage from the front because it is connected to the printed circuit with nuts on the back of the cluster. I just can't remember...)

The factory bulbs were 168's. If your dash is dimmer-than-should-be (kind of sounds like it is), then whoever relamped it may have put in the wrong bulbs. There are several that will fit. Ref. the handy table I found below, sorted in order of increasing wattage...

Trade No.....Design Volts.....Watts.....Amps.....Avg. CP.....Life (hours)
161.............14.0.................2.66.......0.19.......1................4000
158.............14.0.................3.36.......0.24.......2................3000
194.............14.0.................3.78.......0.27.......2................2500
192.............14.0.................4.62.......0.33.......3................2000
168.............14.0.................4.90.......0.35.......3................1500
(Sorry for all the periods, it was the only way I could make the system keep the column spacing)

Someone may have put in 161's or 194's either because that's what they had at hand, because they wanted to never do it again (going for the long life), or because they wanted the dash to be cooler. You may want to see if you can get one of the lower ones out to see what type it is. If you don't have 168's, you can relamp the dash with 168's and get back to factory spec.

If you go in from the front you can experiment with more reflective paint than what the factory used (ref ElkyPete's post).

You could also experiment with white LED replacements (an experiment I plan on one day), but it's probably more than you want to mess with. (they make T-3 1/4 white LED bulb replacement assemblies that have 4 white LEDs on a wedge base with the correct resistors, but for the dash you need to file the tops of the LEDs to get more light scattering out the side).

Another thing it could be - I have seen cars with dash light problems caused by the rheostat in the front of the headlight switch. Sometimes oxidation and dirt builds up on the wiper. Ususally, though, this shows up as dead spots (instead of going smoothly from bright to dim as you rotate the headlight knob you get jumps in brightness and places the dash is blacked out). Just for kicks you could try rotating the headlight knob back and forth a few times to see if it improves anything before starting in on taking things apart.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
:D WOW Thanks to all who answered my dim question.I can be a little dim myself sometimes.......But I digress.I am going to pull the cluster assembly soon.I'm going to try the paint and brighter bulbs,after I test the switch rheostat.Thanks again,Gozer,ElkyPete and Graywolf.
Shane :)
 
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