1960-1962 Dash Panel Work

John Grady writes about the 1960-1962 dash assembly.

I don't normally test whole thing when it is out of the car since the wiring harness is not connected but if you choose to go that route there are a few known problem areas to look into.

1) EL lighting. Hook up your EL power pack (-) to case, + 12 to orange wire, and ground the case to dash. Watch out for polarity. Check AC volts on the white wire coming out of ps to ground. It should be 200 - 220 V. The capacitor inside the power pack commonly fails and when it does, the volts fade out and you get dim EL. If you see a white tubular Bendix ceramic tube capacitor, it is original and it is junk . Change it. 630 DC rating ok same uF .

2) Then connect the white wire or plug to the dash white. All the gauges should light and also check the gauge pointers. Don't paint pointers. In my opinion the paint blocks the light trying to get through the pointer. Various paints claim to pass light, and maybe they do but this is your choice.

3) You can test the gauges too. One quick way is get 6 V lantern battery, disconnect the single harness wire going to each sensor (F, T, O), put + 6 from battery on the common power that jumps to 3 gauges, put - on gauge terminal the sensor wire was on. Gauge should slowly move to full scale. Remove battery connection and the pointer should come back down OK.

4) If all EL lights are out, you have a short on white somewhere. Unplug one at a time until the rest light. Do it for the clock, tach and radio too.

5) Be sure nuts UNDER ammeter connections are tight before putting on wires and top nuts. The phenolic shrinks and can cause a loose connection where heating - burning trouble can start. Flat washers under inner nuts and lock washers on top are good.

6) Solder a jumper to sheet metal that the gauges screw to and run to solid ground screw into the dash metal. The factory ground jumper there and the screws that tap only into plastic is a bad design; if you lose the ground to metal frame there, gauge regulator stops working and puts out a 12 v steady on gauges which can burn them all up.

7) Check the backup light switch that it is very free and snaps over cleanly. A single drop of oil dribbled in where snap tang comes out fixes it.

8) On the directional switch, put a drop of oil on top. The flat spring there is often rusty. Make sure it is mechanically OK. Hold the little index roller down, lever to one side, release. The knob should return freely to center .

9) Be sure the snap clip that holds outer sheath of heater valve Bowden wire is set solid. I put a big gob of weather strip adhesive there, under the clip as it can slip in the clip.

10) Be sure the speedometer input drive spins freely, as if connected to nothing. Add a drop of oil into the lube fitting. You can try the speedometer with a drill motor but look for hard grease on the odometer. It usually gets hard and jams the odometer gear train then strips the drive nylon gear. The speedometer and the odometer are difficult to work on, oil helps if you ever get in there . White grease is useless as the stuff turns to a rock. I use wheel bearing or chassis grease everywhere now. I have used a toothpick or Q tip shaft in a drill chuck to drive the speedometer. 1000 rpm is about 60 mph, but don't try to adjust anything -- things are too delicate to be messed with.

11) If you want to test the radio , place + 12 to its input wire, speaker plug in, U shaped jumper in place at speaker plug if no rear speaker, and stick 6' piece of skinned 1" wire in antenna hole.

12) You might check carefully the dash dimmer switch ( white ceramic disc thing in front of headlight switch ) is not corroded etc. Vigorous back and forth twisting generally fixes it but a short on orange wire (dash bulb sockets and EL power pack) can burn out resistor wire which means no dimmer. You can check that resistor by turning on headlight switch, then read ohms from orange flags on headlight terminal to the main power terminal stud. If no orange wire is connected, usually like 0-20 ohms as you turn dimmer. If orange wires are on you can read through bulbs.

13) I like silicone grease (Dow Corning) on the heater push rods of vacuum cans, It really helps them, helps improve vacuum seal and gets rid of friction at can. No petroleum grease ever near rubber.