Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

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hofcag
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Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by hofcag » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:45 pm

The dash lights on my '48 Custom do work, but they are very, very dim. I can barely see the gauges when driving at night. Does anyone know of something I can do to make them brighter? I tested the strength of the luminescence in the paint on the gauges by shining a bright flash light on them in total darkness (parked in the garage with the door closed) and they glowed VERY bright when I turned the flash light off. Unfortunately when the dash is illuminated the normal way I can hardly read any of the gauges. The clock is the brightest and most legible, but also the least important. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

kens53clip
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by kens53clip » Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:29 pm

Don't know for sure about 48-50 but on my 53 if you turn the headlight switch knob to the right instrument lights got dimmer and to the left they got brighter. So you might want to play with your headlight switch knob and see if that does anything. Maybe someone with 48 Custom experience can address your car more directly.
Ken
Ken
kens53clip
1953 Packard Clipper Deluxe 4 dr. sedan

Dave Czirr
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by Dave Czirr » Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:16 pm

These dash lights were never intended to be really bright - but you can replace the bulbs with ones of slightly higher candlepower, I forget the # but can look it up tomorrow.

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JD in KC
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by JD in KC » Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:29 pm

As you are probably aware, the 22nd/23rd series Packards used black light (ultraviolet) filters around the light bulbs to activate the fluorescent properties of the dash instruments. I don't know if these filters get dusty/dirty, or the paint loses its fluorescent ability with time but I have the same problem with my 23rd series Custom, particularly the pointer on the speedometer. I can see the numbers (barely) but not the pointer (which makes my rare night time driving a real adventure). I did purchase some green fluorescent paint to try to touch up the pointer. I also want to try cleaning the filters (if they are cleanable). All this requires dropping the instrument cluster which I don't really want to do. Let me know if a brighter bulb helps any.

hofcag
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by hofcag » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:26 am

This is a very basic question, but where in the world is the light bulb(s) that illuminates the instrument cluster? I've practically crawled up under the dash with a flash light and for the life of me I can't locate the bulb. Is there one bulb or two and how do you reach them? Surely it isn't necessary to drop the instrument cluster simply to change bulbs. JD, if I can figure it out I'll try slightly brighter bulbs and let you know if that helps. Dave, if you locate the bulb # I would sure like to have it.

Dave Czirr
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by Dave Czirr » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:53 am

The paint on the numerals and dial pointers was, if I recall correctly, a very mildly radioactive radium paint such as was used on dials of wrist watches that glowed with illumination. Like all radioactive materials the radium compound has a half-life meaning that it degrades with time and thus looses its ability to glow.

One of our posters here actually bought some radium paint and repainted his numerals and pointers and I believe mostly restored the ability of them to glow. I'll send him an email and ask he post more information if he has it. The other solution is to change the bulbs to a slightly higher candlepower, I seem to remember than the replacement bulb was a #81 which has 6 cp rather than the original (#55?) which was 3 cp, and the same base. I"ll also email that gentleman and ask him to respond, so stay tuned. There are probably at least 5 bulbs in the cluster, one each for the high-beam indicator and direction signal indicator, and 3 or perhaps more for the instruments themselves. As I recall they are all replaceable from the back of the panel by pulling the socket out, but sorry, I don't remember the details but seem to recall that it was pretty obvious.

PS - just spoke with the man I suggested a higher candlepower bulb to; sorry, no soap - the glass bulb was too large for the available space.

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JD in KC
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by JD in KC » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:06 am

The owner's manual says 2 candlepower Mazda #55. The light housing/socket pulls out from the back of the cluster. Look for a wire going straight into the back of a cylindrical housing. The housing is held in by a circle of internal tabs. Just pull firmly on the housing (careful of those wires they are very brittle!). I can't remember how many there are but I think it's 4. I thought I had a photo of the back of a cluster that was on eBay but I guess I didn't keep it.

Edit: The wiring diagram may help (looks like 8 bulbs).
Attachments
Cluster.JPG

hofcag
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by hofcag » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:52 pm

I was finally able to closely examine the lights behind the instrument cluster today, and as the wiring diagram JD provided indicates, I think there are in fact 8 bulbs. Not easy to get to, but I think I can do it......or I may need to enlist the assistance of someone with a hand smaller than mine. In any case, I did check the 4 bulbs I could easily get to, and found that 3 of them were burned out. I'm pretty sure at least 2 of the other 4 are also not burning. I just bought new #55 bulbs at the local NAPA store and hope to install them within the next few days. If I can get all 8 to burn I think my dash gauges will be plenty bright. Fingers crossed!

mrpushbutton
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by mrpushbutton » Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:51 am

You know, these days there are many interesting things being done with the (relatively) new high-intensity LEDs that have burst on the scene. I know of some applications where maufacturers have worked the new LEDs into the bases of the older style bulbs for an easy retrofit.

hofcag
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Re: Dash lights too dim, '48 Custom

Post by hofcag » Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:35 am

I checked all of the eight bulbs behind the instrument cluster and found that five of them were burned out. One was burning at the top corner of the speedo and two near the clock; one top, one on the bottom. I have now replaced all eight bulbs with the correct #55 as specified in the owner's manual, and 7 of them burn brightly. The wire is broken near the socket of the 8th bulb and I hope to take care of that soon. I was able to replace all of the bulbs without removing the instrument cluster. Took some time, but not too difficult. I am delighted to say that when driving at night the instruments are now bathed in a soft, even purple-pink glow and all of the gauges are easily visible. Looks great! Thanks for your suggestions.......JD in KC, I don't think I would have figured this out without the wiring diagram. Much appreciated.

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