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Posted By: Ritchie 54 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 12:51 PM
I am now digging into my electrical system and need advice. I replaced the 6v lamps in the speedometer and other cluster gauge. The lamps do not turn on and I need to learn how to test and track the lines to get these gauge lamps working again. Unfortunately the PO spray painted all the wires under the hood black so can't easily track them by color. (The wires from the lamps are green.)

I don't yet own a tester so I would appreciate advise on what kind of electrical tester would be best for novice like me (Sears sells lot of different types and I don't know which one to get).

Once I get the tester, I would appreciate knowing how to track these gauge lamps to their proper source and get them working again.

Thanks, in advance - Bob
Posted By: truckernix Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 07:41 PM
I would get an inexpensive Volt/Ohm meter. They sell them at Radio Shack. Disconnect the battery and undo the headlight switch. Then with the power back on measure the voltage at the source terminal and then the dash light terminal. The layout of the switch is in your shop manual.
Posted By: tclederman Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 07:50 PM

I carry a $4.99 model multimeter in each of my vehicles (they used to give them away for free for visiting a store).
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 08:05 PM
Thanks

Just so I understand the logic, why am I undoing the headlight switch?
Posted By: DADS50 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 08:51 PM
The instruments light get the power from the headlight switch.


Just curious. How have you tested them? Are they installed or just hanging?
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 08:57 PM
I tested them with a new bulb - figured it should be that simple - guess not.

I plan to get a multi-meter and teach myself about electrical systems. This is simple enough and should work. Must be a disconnected wire somewhere.
Posted By: DADS50 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 09:08 PM
Are the sockets installed in the cluster. Or are the sockets with the new bulbs just hanging?

The instrument post is near the front
...pic...

Make sure you have power to that post.

On my switch There is an off position to the instrument lights. All the way left and all the way right. Not sure if yours is the same way
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 09:31 PM
I pulled the sockets from the gauge clusters and left them hanging until I could get the lamps to turn on.

Your diagram is great. I'll start testing this week, especially on the front post.

I did not realize the switch rotates. Maybe that is all that is is. I'll try that tomorrow.

Many thanks and congratulations on your recent excursion!

Posted By: Cletis Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 09:37 PM
If the sockets are dangling they have no ground. Touch the socket to ground.
Posted By: DADS50 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 09:38 PM
Thanks


The light will not work unless they are grounded.
They ground by being snapped into the back of the cluster.


If you want to test them hanging. Get a wire with two alagator clips
Clip the socket housing then clip a good ground. They should light.
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 09:48 PM
It's always something simple with these trucks. I never would have thought that the sockets needed to be grounded by inserting them back in or grounded otherwise. Another example of my naivety and inexperience.

Many thanks - I hope I can return the favor somehow.
Posted By: DADS50 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun May 05 2013 09:56 PM
no problem

the first 10 seconds of this video show how to dim the instrument lights.

...click...

good luck
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Mon May 06 2013 06:28 AM
Fantastic - I had no idea there were turn signal indicators in the gauges.

Plenty to do this week!
Posted By: LonnieC Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Mon May 06 2013 08:26 AM
Richie54 -

DADS50 added the green turn signal indicators to his '50. 1954 was the first year that a socket for an indicator bulb for turn signals was installed on an AD truck at the factory. The indicator is a single bulb that blinks for both left turns and for right turns. It is located at the bottom of the speedo dial between the "0" and "90" mph numbers. You can see it on this page of the Operator's Manual.
> Fig. 4 - Speedometer

Pics in your album show that you have an aftermarket turn signal attached to your steering column. Looks like it has a single indicator light that comes on and is moved under the appropriate green lens when you move the lever. The indicator bulb is probably connected to the center terminal of the flasher. The terminal is sometimes marked with the letter "P" for "pilot light".

If your speedo gauge has a socket at the bottom, then you can insert a #51 6v bulb into the socket and wire the socket to the center terminal of the turn signal flasher to make the indicator in the speedo flash when you activate your turn signals. If the speedo does not have a socket, you can buy one like the your high beam socket at a parts store or electronics house. It takes a BA9s miniature bayonet base bulb.

There should be a cardboard tube with a green lens inside the speedo housing that baffles the light from the turn signal lamp and creates a green light when activated. If the lens is missing, you can paint the bulb green. A light coat of green spray paint works. That's what I did on my '54.
> Painted indicator bulbs

FYI - these are the correct 6v bulbs for your '54 dash:

One bulb in the ignition switch housing:
6v = #51: 1 candle power, 1.7w @ 7.5v

Two bulbs in gauge cluster:
6v = #55: 2 candle power, 2.9w @ 7v

Two bulbs on each side of speedo:
6v = #55: 2 candle power, 2.9w @ 7v

Two indicator bulbs in speedo. Both bulbs are surrounded by 1/2" ID cardboard tubes with colored plastic lenses. Red for high beam, green for turn signal.
Top lamp is for high beam indicator
6v = #51: 1 candle power, 1.7w @ 7.5v

Bottom lamp is indicator for factory installed turn signals. '54 was the first year with an indicator lamp for turn signals.
6v = #51: 1 candle power, 1.7w @ 7.5v

If you have an orginal Chevrolet optional 6v cigarette lighter -
6v = #51: 1 candle power, 1.7w @ 7.5v

> This type of circuit tester is handy, cheap, and easy to use

DADS50 and cletis -
Good call on the dangling sockets.

- Lonnie
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sat May 11 2013 02:56 PM
Dads50, Lonnie et al

Many thanks for your advise. I purchased a multi-meter and confirmed that all the gauge light circuits had continuity to the light switch. It seems the light switch itself is a little finicky, but if I turn it slightly I can get all the gauge lights to illuminate.

I got every one of them working, including the high-beam indicator !

I found a lot of frayed wires in the dash - I can't believe how worn and deteriorated wire insulation gets over the years. Found some sections with bare wire and triple wrapped everything in electrical wire until I can muster enough patience and confidence to put in a new wiring harness.

Many thanks, as always!
Posted By: tclederman Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sat May 11 2013 03:50 PM

"It seems the light switch itself is a little finicky, but if I turn it slightly I can get all the gauge lights to illuminate."

Maybe someone will post information on a dash light-switch rheostat cleaner? Years ago I got a rheostat spray cleaner/lubricant from RadioShack and it allows my old dash-light switch to dim/bright throughout its entire range.
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sat May 11 2013 07:20 PM
Was the product you purchased at Radio Shack similar to one of these?

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3511774&clickid=prod_cs


http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3511774&locale=en_US
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sat May 11 2013 07:23 PM
I keep messing up the links. This is the other one:

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102649&clickid=prod_cs
Posted By: tclederman Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sat May 11 2013 08:10 PM
64-4315 Contact/Control Cleaner & Lubricant (no longer available?)

It has tetrafluoroethane, cyclomethicone, and mineral oil in it (probably banned now).

Maybe this is the new version?
Posted By: Ritchie 54 Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Sun Jun 09 2013 08:29 AM
I pulled the light switch and cleaned it with an electronics cleaner I found at Car Quest. Seems to work a bit better but only seems to work 1/2 way through the dimming span. It could be that the contact is lost as it spans across the spring that appears to control the dimming wattage. I'm fine the way it is and will default to a replacement switch if I ever want it to fully dim. I included some photos for others who might go down this path and a video of the dimming mechanism.

Dimming mechanism

Carquest Electronics Cleaner

Dimming mechanism video
Posted By: DougR Re: 54 dash gauge lights - Thu Mar 30 2017 08:32 PM
Hi Lonnie,
I have those cardboard tubes in my 62. I discovered them when removing my gas gauge for repair. Is there a trick for keeping that tube and lens in place when re-installing? The cardboard isn't as rigid as it should be. I wonder if I could glue the lens to the tube and glue the tube to the back mounting plate?
Thanks!
Doug Robertson
Purcellville VA
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