Dash LEDs '65 and 66? How difficult?

Richard Reau

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Howdy gents,

I have converted my '67 Newport dash lights to LED, as well as my '63 Riviera. The Newport was a lot more difficult than the Riviera (had to drop the steering column in the Newport, etc) , but in both cases the swap was worth it.

Now I'm thinking about changing the dash bulbs out in my 65 New Yorker, but man-o-man it sure looks like it would be difficult. Has anyone done this?

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MetalManiacAZ

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I didn't swap LEDs but I did do the procedure to replace the few burnt out incandescent bulbs in my '66 300. It's not difficult, just tedious. The FSM is your friend. You have to drop the column, remove all the bezels, remove the fuel and ammeter, disconnect the speedo and trip odometer, then rotate the speedometer clockwise to clear the dash. It can be done in about an hour. I highly suggest getting flexible driver shafts and/or stubby screwdrivers. Good luck!
 

Mike66Chryslers

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I remove the front seat before working under the dash now. Much easier to work under the dash and you can drop the column further to get it out of the way. Obviously this is easier if you have bucket seats.

IIRC, you need to remove the center ashtray to access some things. (Try not removing it until you get stuck in case I'm mistaken.)

Remove the semicircle chrome trim around the gauge cluster (3 screws). That will expose some of the screws that hold the cluster in the dash. Put a towel on the floor, then unscrew and drop the knee bolster panel down. (Can't remove it entirely because of the vent cables.) Looking up from where you removed the knee bolster, you'll see 2 screws that hold in the top cover of the column, ahead of the fuel gauge, ammeter and PRNDL. Remove that. Remove the ammeter connections (if it's not bypassed already, hint, hint ;) ), speedometer and trip meter reset cables, PRNDL connector, electrical connectors.

The cluster electrical connectors pull straight off. Don't wiggle them too much because you don't want to damage the pins on the PCB. Later, while the cluster is out, inspect the electrical connectors for loose pins. The pins are just pressed into the PCB. I recommend soldering the pins to the PCB traces while it is out, if you're comfortable doing that.

With the seat removed, you can drop the steering column low enough that the cluster drops straight down, no need to rotate it around the column, at least not much. Before removing the clamp that attaches the column to the dashboard, loosen off the bolts at the base of the column, where it goes through the floor, so it can move more freely and not stress out other parts e.g. the rubber steering coupler. Remember to disconnect the PRNDL needle connector before dropping the column. Drop the column. Now I think you're ready to remove the screws holding the cluster in and take it out.

I have swapped LEDs into one of my 66 Chryslers. Still have to do the other one. As you would be aware if you've done it before, the LED bulbs can only go in one way because current can only flow through them in one direction. To test mine, I figure out which traces on the cluster PCB are power and which are ground. Then I use a 9V battery with some wires attached to power the circuit to each LED bulb to ensure that I have it installed the right way around. You could also test each bulb before installing and mark which end is which on it with a Sharpie before installing. You still need to know which way current flows on the PCB to know which way to install them though.
 

bigmoparjeff

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If you are going to go through the trouble of pulling the cluster, you should deal with the trip odometer problem that the '65-'66 cars have before it ruins your speedometer.

Way back in the 1980's when I pulled my cluster, a bunch of the pins broke off of the circuit board. I soldered on pigtails with a Molex connector. I also wired up the green turn lamps in the cluster. I didn't like that Chrysler shut them off on cars with the fender mounted indicators.

Jeff
 

Mike66Chryslers

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Are the LED's dimmable? If so, with the oem dimmer, or....? Thanks , Lindsay
The ones I bought are dimmable. I don't think they dim as linearly as incandescent bulbs as you turn the knob. I changed out almost every bulb in the dashboard with LEDs at the same time, including heater controls, radio and clock, so you don't really notice because there's nothing to compare against.
 

Richard Reau

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Thanks to all you fine Gents for your advice. BUT...sweet mother of God that sounds excruciatingly difficult! The power bench seat in my 65 NYer weighs easily 150 pounds. It's a beast. I removed and re-installed it to replace the carpet, and Jesus it was really difficult.

Given the feedback above, I am not inclined to swap out the dash bulbs for LEDs at this time. Perhaps when the ammeter goes and I'm forced to get up in there, I'll do it then.

Thanks to all for your advice, I do appreciate it.

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Mike66Chryslers

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I recommend that you don't wait for your ammeter to fail to bypass it. Could start a fire inside your dashboard. You don't necessarily need to completely remove the front seat from the car. For my car that has a bench, I unbolt it, lift the studs out of the holes in the floor, and move back into the rear passenger footwell. Put something down on the floor to protect the carpet first.
 

D Cluley

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If you have skinny hands, or can enlist a helper with skinny hands, I believe those bulbs can be swapped without pulling the instrument cluster (which is every bit as much fun as the description above makes it sound )
If I remember correctly, the whole cluster is lit with only 5 bulbs, 3 across the speedometer and one each for the ammeter & the gas gauge.

Even if you don't want to do the bulbs or the ammeter bypass, check to make sure that the 2 ammeter connections are clean & tight. Extra resistance at those 2 posts is usually where the melting & burning excitement starts.
 

fury fan

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The ones I bought are dimmable. I don't think they dim as linearly as incandescent bulbs as you turn the knob. I changed out almost every bulb in the dashboard with LEDs at the same time, including heater controls, radio and clock, so you don't really notice because there's nothing to compare against.
Yes, LEDs are not linear for dimming via voltage, which is what our OEM dimmer does.
Incandescent and halogen bulbs are dimmed via voltage. LEDs are dimmed via PWM (pulse width modulation) which means they are turned on/off very quickly, so that they are kept in some spot in their 'ramp-up'. (probably not a technically accurate explanation) Drop the voltage too low and they just turn off. (PWM is also the method for driving the spray-time of a high impedance fuel injector)

With that said, the LEDs in my 68 Fury dash will dim somewhat via the factory dimmer but then immediately extinguish.

There are inexpensive dimmers out there, some require some mounting ingenuity.
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Richard Reau

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Here's an update on this topic.....

Back in January, I was scared off by some of the complex descriptions posted. Then, last week, I dropped the dash plate that's underneath the steering wheel in order to access something else, and I discovered that all the the dash cluster sockets are VERY easily accessible from underneath. NO removal of the dash or dash cluster, NO seat removal. AND, my hands are above average size, wink wink.

I also discovered my "COLD" engine light was out, so now that is restored. Also, my dash turn signal indicators were out, and I found that the sockets were gone. I had a stash of sockets from my '63 Riviera, and guess what? The Riv sockets also fit in the NYer dash. All is bright.

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fury fan

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Here's an update on this topic.....

Back in January, I was scared off by some of the complex descriptions posted. Then, last week, I dropped the dash plate that's underneath the steering wheel in order to access something else, and I discovered that all the the dash cluster sockets are VERY easily accessible from underneath. NO removal of the dash or dash cluster, NO seat removal. AND, my hands are above average size, wink wink.

I also discovered my "COLD" engine light was out, so now that is restored. Also, my dash turn signal indicators were out, and I found that the sockets were gone. I had a stash of sockets from my '63 Riviera, and guess what? The Riv sockets also fit in the NYer dash. All is bright.
@Richard Reau
Can you post a pic of the LEDs you used and where you got them from?
I bought a bunch of 194-type LEDs about 10 years ago when they were new to the market, and the brightness/spread was all over the map. Costly and aggravating to buy and swap to get good results.

But you got good results - and I have a 65 Chrysler cluster I'd like to update.
 

Richard Reau

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Sorry fury fan, I threw the package away. I just bought the bulbs on Amazon or ebay. Some of those led bulbs have the led (s) pointing at 90 degrees relative to the long axis of the bulb. Better are the ones with the led pointing out of the tip, if that makes any sense.
 

fury fan

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You can find them via 'orders' at the top right on your Amazon account page. Ebay has something similar.
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It would be great if you could post what you used.
I've tried a variety of them over the years, with 1 LED or multiple, including ones that have an extra LED pointing out the tip.
Sorry to be pushy - but I really like the results you got.
 

Richard Reau

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Sorry man, those bulbs were in a drawer for months. Amazon's record didn't go back far enough. Just get the white ones with the egg-shaped tip on them, and you should be fine. As I mentioned, with that plate dropped, access isn't bad at all. Have fun!

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Fishfan

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The ones I bought are dimmable. I don't think they dim as linearly as incandescent bulbs as you turn the knob. I changed out almost every bulb in the dashboard with LEDs at the same time, including heater controls, radio and clock, so you don't really notice because there's nothing to compare against.
How do you change the bulb on the radio? Haven't dug into it yet but it's the only one that's emitting that old yellow incandescent light.
 

D Cluley

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How do you change the bulb on the radio? Haven't dug into it yet but it's the only one that's emitting that old yellow incandescent light.
Not sure about your Dodge, but I assume it is similar to my '65 Chrysler. The radio has to come out of the dash (remove the ashtray below the radio, and it comes out that way) There is a small access panel on the top of the radio to get to the light.
 

Omni

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Good Morning and Happy Thanksgiving

Be advised that the radio lamp is different than the dash lamps.

Omni
 
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