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Improving gauge lighting

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  • Speedo / Tach / Gauges: Improving gauge lighting

    The gauges in the '51 Commander are very hard to see at night, I've changed the back light globes, but they are still barely readable. From my investigations so far I've read that they initially used the glow of the 'glow in the dark' painted numbers , but this has faded, particularly in the oil/temp/fuel/amps cluster.

    Apart from pulling the gauges, (and as anyone who has done this on the '51 and is still sane will tell you, it is a **** of a job!), and fitting extra lighting, has anyone had any experience on how to make the gauges easier to see at night? I was thinking of fitting LED's to the front bottom to illuminate from the front, but it would look a bit weird ???

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  • #2
    I ran into the same thing on my 50 Champion. The dark bulb housing is actually like a black light that illuminates the letters and numbers. And they are fluorescent paint. I bought two part mix together paint from the hobby shop and tried to paint the gauge face. That idea did not work out to well for me. I'm no painter. My gauges are all taken apart. I think I want to research people on the net that can make computer print outs of the faces, then use regular bulbs with no black light covering and no fluorescent. I could use some help on this one also.......


    • #3
      On my 52, I ran an extra ground wire to all the gauges, extra ground from the block to the firewall, double 00 welding wire for battery cables, they are better but not great.

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      • #4
        Same problem on my 48 Champion. except the instrument cluster not as bad as speedo. Took out purple filters, wiped, or dusted speedo, and used white artist
        pencil to go over the characters. Lights too bright, put adjustable resistor in series and can dim down light to a nice readable brightness. That worked for me.


        • #5
          Pat Skelly's favorite quip about instrument light's (not working) was...

          "Who wants to see bad news!"

          My kind of guy!
          HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)


          Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

          Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)


          • #6
            Originally posted by oldibmce View Post
            Lights too bright, put adjustable resistor in series and can dim down light to a nice readable brightness. That worked for me.
            Rheostats used on later model Larks should serve the purpose.
            "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

            Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
            Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
            '33 Rockne 10,
            '51 Commander Starlight,
            '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
            '56 Sky Hawk


            • #7
              I couldn't see the speedometer needle so I went to a hobby store and bought some flourescent paint and painted the needle. I should have allowed it to dry and added a second coat to even it out but I can read the speedometer now.


              • #8
                There are new ultra violet LED's available, and you could ditch the glass filters. I would try that.
                Bez Auto Alchemy

                "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln