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          Not all of us live in sunny Southern California where the weather is perfect (other than wild fires...) all the time. A lot of us live in climates where it's not just nice to have a little climate control, but it's absolutely necessary to have some Global Warming in the ole cab! Especially if you live in South "Cold Enough for ya?" Dakota. In keeping with the increasing interest in the '60's trucks, here's Mike to walk you through how to ...


Repair your broken '60-'63 heater controls

By Mike "Bears63" Shea
1963 Chevy C20 Stepside
1963 Chevy C10 Fleetside
Bolter #19159
Watertown, South Dakota

  April 2009

Sure makes using the heater easier!

Anyone that has seen very many 1960-1963 Chevy trucks knows how common it is to see broken heater controls. Those bars are notorious for breaking and if it is your first time dealing with this issue, then you may be wondering how to fix those broken heater controls.

Well, here’s the lowdown on fixing the controls.

This is covering just the heater controls ... but before pulling the controls out of the truck, you will probably want to remove the glove box. This opens up the dash nicely, allowing plenty of room to pull out the heater controls. While not absolutely necessary to remove the glove box, it makes the job a lot easier [ image ].

To remove the heater controls, follow these steps.

First, remove the two mounting screws from the face of the controls [ image ].

Second, get under the dash and remove the heater control bracket. There is one bolt that goes through the bottom of the dash with a nut on the backside [ image ]. The nut will probably turn, so expect that.

Next, remove the two bolts that attach the bracket to the bottom of the heater control frame [ image ].

Once the bracket is off, the heater controls will come out of the dash. Push the control assembly so that it is underneath the dash and wrestle it around so that the ends of the cable can be removed from the control levers. It will take some force to do this and this part is where having the glove box removed really helps [ image ].

Remove the control cables by first loosening the clamps holding them to the back of the heater control frame. Now comes the fun part of actually getting the ends off of the control levers. The easiest way I have found is to use a flat screwdriver to pry the wires off. This will push those little lock clips off, but be careful! Once the clips get to the end of the lever they will fly off and they are very easy to lose. If one gets lost, it isn’t a major deal for the most part. The control cables usually stay on the levers just fine without the clips. But replacing the clips isn't difficult, either -- if you can't find them at your local hardware store, try a specialty fastener supplier like McMaster-Carr.

Once the cables are removed the heater controls can be pulled out from under the dash.

As can be seen, my heater controls were in need of repair [ image ].

The next step is to remove the knobs from the levers. The knobs are held on the levers by ribs on the levers. Those ribs dig into the plastic of the knobs to hold them on. I have seen some earlier knobs that use springs inside the knobs to hold them on, but in any case the principle is the same.

Pry the knobs off. Use a screwdriver and pry on one side of the knob, then on the other side [ image ]. Keep alternating until the knob pops off [ image ]. This will also show if other control levers are weak. In my case, one other lever broke at this point.

After the knobs are off, remove the two bolts holding the heater fan switch to the heater control frame [ image ]. Remove the switch. Flip over the heater controls and loosen the clip that retains the rod for the control levers. Use a small screwdriver to carefully bend the tabs slightly [ image ] ... just bend them enough to be able to move the rod. After that, grab onto the rod from the other side and pull it straight out [ image ]. The control levers can now be removed [ image ].

At this point, throw out the broken levers, clean up the controls, and get a new heater fan switch. The switch isn’t mandatory by any means, but it is a good idea to replace it at this point if there are any doubts as to its quality. As for replacement levers, in the case of my heater controls I had to replace two of the levers. I got those from a set of heater controls I purchased from another Stovebolter. Usually I get those from Classic Parts since they sell them individually instead of having to purchase a whole set. Many vendors do have replacement lever sets available, though.

When things are ready, start by laying the control levers in the frame [ image ] and then feed the rod through the levers [ image ]).

Next, bend down the tabs on the clip so that it once again keeps the rod from backing out [ image ]. Bolt the heater fan switch back onto the frame [ image ]. Finally, push the knobs onto the levers [ image ] ensuring that they are in the correct order.

Voila! You now have a freshly rebuilt set of heater controls! [ image ].

Installation back into the truck is the reverse of the removal procedures. Some things will need to be checked, though.

Before putting the heater controls back in, check the control cables. Make sure there are no kinks in the cables and that they operate smoothly. Problems with the cables binding are a major cause of heater control lever breakage. If there are no kinks in the cables and they are still stiff, spray some lubricant into the cable housing to help smooth it out. Also, once the cables are attached back onto the heater control levers, double check the operations to ensure the cables are adjusted correctly so that everything works as it should. Do that prior to actually bolting the heater controls back into the dash.

After bolting in the heater control bracket, putting the front screws back in, and replacing the glove box (if it was removed), enjoy being able to properly use the heater in your old truck.

 

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