Improve those dash lights

Electrical and Ignition

  1. fishy68

    fishy68 Tyr Fryr's Inc. FABO Gold Member

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    When I restored the dash in my 68 Cuda about 10 yrs. ago I upgraded the light bulbs to the best I could find at that time. Unfortunately even they were a pitiful excuse for dash lighting. The factory bulbs were part # 168 and the only upgrade I could find at that time was bulb #194. These barely put out enough light for me to see the speedometer at night if I squinted and looked close. Last year a buddy of mine bought a Jaguar and I noticed it had bulbs that looked just like the 168/194 bulb but seemed brighter. I did some research and found the part # was 2825. When I went to buy some I also found the new LED bulbs by the same part number so I grabbed some 2825 incandescent bulbs as well as some LED bulbs and set up my dash on a bench hooked up to a regulated 13.8v power supply and tried each bulb taking pics to show the difference.

    The first picture is with the 194 bulbs. The second picture is with the 2825 incandescent bulbs and the last picture is with the 2825 LED bulbs.

    I also did a current draw test to see how each faired. The 194's pulled 240 milliamps each. The 2825's pulled 340 milliamps each. The LED's require very little power to light them only pulling 45 milliamps per bulb. Since there's 4 bulbs that light the dash cluster that means the required amps just dropped from about an amp with the 194 bulbs to less than 1/4 amp with the LED's. You will see in the pics I left my oil pressure gauge lit to help comparing the dash bulb brightness to

    Let's look at the pro's and cons of each bulb

    Stock bulbs-
    Pro's-Cheap
    Con's-Did a terrible job lighting up the speedo and gauges for night driving.

    2825 bulbs
    Pro's
    - They are brighter, but it's not a huge difference. I think with these I'd be able to see the speedo and gauges at night but with no brightness to spare.
    Con's-Not real cheap at $5 a bulb and they drew nearly 1/2 amp more current to light them.

    LED bulbs
    Pro's
    -They put out significantly more light while using less than 1/4 of the energy and LED"s are known to last a real long time. The ones I bought had a lifetime warrantee.
    Con's-At $10 each (from O'Reilly's) their pretty pricey. But they do have a lifetime warranty.

    In the end I think it was well worth the $40 for LED's. Last night we went to a cruise out of town and it was the first time driving it at night with the LED's. All I can say is WOW!. Tremendous difference. I have absolutely no problem seeing the speedo and gauges good now and the cool blue look is easy on the eyes.

    If your lighting isn't real dim an upgrade to the 2825's might suit you but if their like mine the LED's are the way to go

    BTW: my car has all new wiring and switches so there was no voltage drop causing the dim dash lights. They were receiving a full supply of voltage. The bulbs were just inadequate IMO.

    You'll also notice the LED's seem to throw off blue light. They don't really throw off blue light but I guess what is happening is the incandescent lights throw off a yellowish light and where they snap into is a blue lens so just like mixing yellow paint with blue paint you get green. The LED"s throw off a pure white light so it doesn't change color when going through the blue lens

    One last thing. LED's are polarized so they have to be installed correctly to work. If you install them backward you won't hurt them, they just won't light up

    DSC00857.JPG DSC00859.JPG DSC00860.JPG
     
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    • SSVDP

      SSVDP FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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      Cool.
      Does the dimmer switch still work with the LEDs?
       
    • TrailBeast

      TrailBeast Slightly Twisted Member

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      Absolutely agree on LED being the best overall.
      I don't like to have to hunt for a needle on a dim gauge, cause I got better things to be doing. :D

      clusterunlit.jpg

      clusterlit.jpg
       
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      • toolmanmike

        toolmanmike FABO Staff Staff Member FABO Gold Member

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        X2
         
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        • TrailBeast

          TrailBeast Slightly Twisted Member

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          To a point, yes.
          With mine I would say I can dim them to a bit brighter than the stock lights on high, and then they go off below that.
          Tracy may have the ones that are more variable.
           
        • g413

          g413 Well-Known Member

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          On reading some reviews of these (on eBay), many people say they are larger than the originals and don't fit very well. How did your bulbs fit?
           
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          • Abodybomber

            Abodybomber Breaking street machines , since 1983.....:) Legendary Member

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            Thanks, Tracy.... ( as usual...:)....
             
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            • 4spdragtop

              4spdragtop FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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              Thanks Tracy. I replaced the ones in the 67. Big difference but some are intermittent. I have to try and figger out the issue.
              Thanks for the post and the detail Tracy!
               
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              • 67Dart273

                67Dart273 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                I have not used these but here's some thoughts:

                1...Dimmer. Might be as easy as putting more resistance in series with the dimmer control. Since the "feed" is the tan wire between the dimmer and the inst fuse, you could put more there if the radio / heater lamp are also LED. If not you would have to split up the orange wiring in the fuse panel and find the cluster feed

                3...Intermittent. Might be you need to rework the sockets, or consider just figuring a way to solder the LED right to the circuit board traces. this might mean a different type LED, something made for solder in place

                I must admit, I never conceived that' I'd live long enough to see such things as LED headlights.

                I'm old enough to remember when there WERE NO LEDs of any kind
                 
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                • 375inStroke

                  375inStroke Well-Known Member

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                  Doesn't having such bright lights kill your night vision?
                   
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                  • 383Scampman

                    383Scampman Well-Known Member

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                    Thanks , I'm gonna' try them
                     
                  • TrailBeast

                    TrailBeast Slightly Twisted Member

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                    It can, but I don't have any issue's with it.
                    A person can also shade part of the bulbs and try different brightnesses.
                    Mine are all soldered in and a strip for back lighting so no bulbs at all, even for the turn indicators and high beam indicator.

                    The cluster I did for my neighbor's car has all black background with white LED strip for backlighting like mine and orange needles.
                    All you see bright on his is the white lettering on the gauges and the orange needles.
                    He's tickled to death with his and it's not near as bright for night as the white gauges are.
                     
                    Last edited: May 8, 2017
                  • fishy68

                    fishy68 Tyr Fryr's Inc. FABO Gold Member

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                    Unfortunately I can't answer that because at the same time I reworked the dash lights I cut out the old fusebox and installed a new one but the new one wasn't like the original that had 1 fuse that wasn't powered by the key or constant b+. The original was independent of them and only used for the dash light circuit. I could have put a separate fuseholder in line and used it but I wanted the clean look of only the single fusebox.
                     
                  • fishy68

                    fishy68 Tyr Fryr's Inc. FABO Gold Member

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                    The ones I bought fit with space to spare
                     
                  • fishy68

                    fishy68 Tyr Fryr's Inc. FABO Gold Member

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                    I had that problem with mine on just the right side where the factory gauges are and found it was a loose pin on the round multi pin connector that pushes onto the back of the circuit board. I resoldered all of them just to be sure no others came loose in the future. Everything works great now
                     
                  • fishy68

                    fishy68 Tyr Fryr's Inc. FABO Gold Member

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                    There not anywhere close to bright enough to be a problem and I have sensitive eyes
                     
                  • cannucky

                    cannucky The Guy With No Birthday

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                    Which bulb are you guys using? I see 1led , 3 led, 5led, 15 led etc...units available so which are you guys using ? Will a 90 to 120 degree spread be enough ?

                    I also see 1156 and 1157 units are available as well , is anybody using them now ?
                     
                  • fishy68

                    fishy68 Tyr Fryr's Inc. FABO Gold Member

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                    The small dash bulbs I used were only 1 led I think. I got them at O'Reilly's. They didn't say anything about multiple led's and being their so small I doubt they were more than one. I tried some of the 1157 LED's in my tail lights and they didn't produce any more light than the regular 1157's but I just picked them up at Walmart and there's a bunch of different ones so maybe some others might work better.
                     
                  • cannucky

                    cannucky The Guy With No Birthday

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                    losing my mind on this one , there are so many options from so many companies and they vary so much , 1 company lists 6 different 194 replacements ranging from 5 lm to 95 lm , a single to a 5 chip unit is the difference with a couple of 30-35 lm options in the middle , another outfit offers a 250 lm 5 chip unit for less money than the others outfits whole product line , walmart has a couple of options but don't list the LM for their offerings arrrrgh ! walmart has a Sylvania bulb with a single chip for $15 or a different unit thats 2 for $14 , the other guys are all anywhere from 99 cents for a single chipper to six bucks a pair for the 5 chip units .
                     
                  • cannucky

                    cannucky The Guy With No Birthday

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                    it's not so much the cost of buying several different ones to compare it's more the trying to get my big fat hands up in there to change the little buggers .
                     
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                    • fishy68

                      fishy68 Tyr Fryr's Inc. FABO Gold Member

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                      Don't you have an O'Reilly's near you? That's where I got mine and they only have 1 led replacement that's stock size
                       
                    • R4Sedan

                      R4Sedan It's hopped up to over 160 FABO Gold Member

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                      Thanks for posting. I will have to do this to my Cuda.
                       
                    • famous bob

                      famous bob mopar misfit FABO Gold Member

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                      can u actuly get to them and replace them w/o pulling the dash ?
                       
                    • Yote

                      Yote Well-Known Member

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                      I replaced them in my 72 Demon with the dash in place , but expect a battle, scratched hands and possibly reaffirming some of your vocabulary. Some LEDS are available in colors ( white ,red green blue for a few) that might reduce some glare issues. I used green , though brighter than original bulbs I would like them brighter yet.
                      Yote
                       
                      Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
                    • cannucky

                      cannucky The Guy With No Birthday

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                      No Oreilly's around here , Bumper to Bumper bought the outfit DusterGlen works for but they don't stock anything like that at all just over the counter and shop delivery of newer repair parts .Cambodian Tire stocks 2 types 1 is 14 bucks a single the other is 12 bucks for 2 and over the net I can get a dozen different ones hence the questions .
                       
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