Reading Instruments in 65 SS - Chevelle Tech
Troubleshooting Diagnosing problems done here.

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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 18, 2:43 PM Thread Starter
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Reading Instruments in 65 SS

My 65 SS has the factory instrumentation of; fuel quantity, oil pressure, water temp and ammeter - located in the original right hand cluster. It also has a clock on top of the dash, a tachometer in the center and speedometer in left center. I have always liked the placement of these instruments and
will not be changing them.

The indicators are red needles against a black background with white increments, numbers or hash marks. During daylight operations I have difficulty seeing some of these instruments, at night when very dark the illumination from (new) incandescent bulbs or lamps is adequate and I can see the needles. However at dusk with the lights on it is not much better than during the day.

I had a new 65 Chevelle SS 53 years ago and did not have issues reading the gauge but my current ride is bad. I don't think it is my eye sight as I'm still doing 20/20 albeit I use reading glasses but nothing seems to help seeing the red needles. What can be done to improve the visibility of these instruments. Would making the red needles brighter or brighter red paint make any difference? Has anyone done this and if so what did you use? I'm not alone here as a friend with a GTO complains of the same problem.
Thanks... Al
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 18, 3:17 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

When I put factory gauges in a Monza I went over them with a orange highlighter, then in another car with red needles I used a red highlighter, it really brightened them up without looking any different. I used white out on the second had of a clock, same thing, nice chalky pure white color.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 18, 3:38 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

The originals were a flat phosphorescent orange (like a hunter orange). Various vendors sell a good bright orange paint that can be used to repaint the needles.

And aging eyesight can have a lot to do with it. While your eyesight may still be 20/20, as we age it takes more and more light to see things than it did when we were younger.

The proper LEDs in the gauge cluster can help it show up better, the original illumination was pretty weak even at full brightness.

Here's how the gauges look in my 69 C10 after installing LEDs.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 18, 4:00 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

Rich,

Is there an LED bulb that can replace the incandescent bulb used in the instrument cluster on a 65?

Mike

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 18, 5:00 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeMalibu View Post
Rich,

Is there an LED bulb that can replace the incandescent bulb used in the instrument cluster on a 65?
All kinds of them. With incandescents the light takes on the green tinge of the light green paint on the inside of the cluster. LED light doesn't seem to take on this reflected green tinge so if you use white LEDs the cluster will light up pretty white. You can use green LEDs and everything will look very green as in my example from my truck above, that was all green LEDs.

There are numerous kinds and qualities of LEDs available.

Here are some green ones that shoot light out in all directions:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/4X-BA9-GREE...!-1:rk:13:pf:0

Here are some that just shoot light out straight. Since the gauge cluster relies on reflected light, using these will result in dimmer illumination if you don't want them really bright like in my truck example above:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/10X-BA9S-50...1-N:rk:10:pf:0

There ARE dimmable LEDs out there (those above are NOT dimmable) but they are harder to find and more expensive and their dimming range is usually limited anyway.

Additionally, you can use different colored LEDs to give your cluster a different look at night. This is what my truck gauges looked like with all red LEDs. (I changed back to green, this was just to see what it would look like).
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 18, 5:12 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

Here's what my truck gauges looked like with white LEDs.

I should point out that the red and white examples are LEDs that fire straight out and thus why they are dimmer. The green example is from LEDs that fire out in all directions and provide much more light and thus illuminate the gauges much more brightly. So, even though with regular LEDs you lose the dimming ability, you can get to a level of illumination you want by using different styles of LEDs. I personally like the brighter ones, especially in my truck since you kind of look down into the gauges instead of straight into them.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 18, 5:36 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

A lot of the LEDs on the market are dimmable. I was looking at these for my 71: https://www.ebay.com/itm/10pcs-T10-W...53.m1438.l2649

A question for Rich: Did you have to change the orientation of the bulb after installation?? In other words, did they all light up first try or did you have to rotate them 180 in the socket??

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 18, 5:47 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

Quote:
Originally Posted by WakkoWarner View Post
A lot of the LEDs on the market are dimmable. I was looking at these for my 71: https://www.ebay.com/itm/10pcs-T10-W...53.m1438.l2649

A question for Rich: Did you have to change the orientation of the bulb after installation?? In other words, did they all light up first try or did you have to rotate them 180 in the socket??
Good point about the bulb orientation. On the push in ones you do have to sometimes turn them 180 degrees as LEDs only work with electricity flowing in one direction. With the older style bulbs they can only go in one way (ground is always the same, hot is always the same) so there is no way to install them backwards. There are instances, however, like the glovebox light, where the the ground and hot are reversed (the ground is switched, hot is constant on, ground to the bulb's center contact, hot to the side) where an LED won't function, but for indicators and gauge illumination they are fine. There ARE LEDs that will work regardless of their orientation, but they are hard to find and can be expensive.

LED festoon bulbs (dome lights, 64/65 console light, ect.) are directional but the bulb can be easily installed one way or the other to determine which orientation will work.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 18, 12:53 AM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

If all else fails, Wagner 17177 bulbs are brighter, good luck!

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 18, 8:06 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

Quote:
Originally Posted by WakkoWarner View Post
A lot of the LEDs on the market are dimmable.
Yes it is true a lot a led bulbs are dimmable but you are not going to be able to dim them without either a pulse width modifier or some resistors installed which I am not sure how that is done. The factory set up will not permit dimming even in dimmable led bulbs.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 18, 9:12 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

Rich,
Couple questions for you. What made you decide on the green for your truck? I think it looks good. Trying to decide on a color of led for my 69. I have a column mounted Autometer tac that is lit in red , which is ok and an oil and temp guage under the dash that are lit in white. If I used green that would be a third color. I could chage those but don't think I would want an led in the column mounted tacometer as that brightness would be much closer to the driver and may be annoying.
Do you have led's in your wagon? If you did would you go with the green again?
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 18, 10:07 PM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

I went with green because that is kind of what GM was shooting for in the first place. The digits etched into the lens have a green tinge, the inside of the cluster housing is painted green so that the reflected light would have a green tinge. No idea why GM chose green. The green LEDs are a much more intense green than the original look, but at least gives a nod to the original look. Red looked okay, but just didn't look right in my old truck.

The tach light you have is probably a white bulb with a red cover. You could make it show white by just removing the red cover. If it is an LED, you could just replace it with a white one.

The wagon is LEDs on the tail lights and front turnsignals, but that's it. I guess the dome light and console light are LEDs, saves burning up the lenses if a door is left open too long while the battery is still connected.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 26th, 18, 12:57 AM
 
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

such a great idea guys switching original bulbs to LED..awsome. thanks for including the link
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old Oct 26th, 18, 11:13 AM
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Re: Reading Instruments in 65 SS

You might try putting your headlamps on a relay circuit, that will reduce the electrical load inside the cabin and make the instrument bulbs brighter.
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