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TJ White Gauge Overlays

There are five light bulbs that must be removed from the back of the instrument cluster.  DO NOT LAY THE CLUSTER FACE DOWN ON THE WORK SURFACE.  (no, I am not saying that from experience, just passing along friendly advice)  You don't want your pointers, etc. to get messed up.  The bulb assemblies can be identified by the brown base that you can see in the hole.  They are removed with a quarter twist.  We found the needle nose pliers to be most helpful in doing this step. are probably wondering why the need to removed the bulbs?  Well, the little blue rubber covers need to be removed so the bulb's light output is better used.  We need a bit more light light up the overlays, and this is how you get it without spending any money.  Jim told me the ones on his instrument panel had to be sliced off with a razor blade, as they were pretty well stuck on.  I had no problem peeling the little bulb condoms off.  After the blue covers are removed, install the bulbs back into the instrument panel.

Since the overlays are white with black lettering, Jim thought I might want to accent the gauge needles a bit.  He offered me the choice of either a black or red marking pen.  I opted for the red as it would provide nice contrast against the white white background and went with the red markings on the overlays too.  We joked around a bit around doing them in blue which would then yield a red, white, and blue color theme.

At this point, GO WASH YOUR HANDS!  You do NOT want dirt or grease on your hands when you start handling the overlays.  While I had not thought about doing this, Jim motioned me to come in side and get washed up (I believe he has some experience with this part of the process.)

I though you might like to see what it looks like, kind of up close and personal.  Also, I wanted to show Jim how my Sony digital camera did on the close up shots.  Jim doesn't have one yet but after this morning's install session, I am thinking he is one step closer to getting one.  He took me up on the offer when I told him he could copy my camera's floppy disk with these pictures on it.

Jim and I had a good discussion about what method I might want to use to attach the overlays to the black panel.  There is always the chance that one may wish to reverse this process and restore the instrument cluster to its original configuration.  The black coating that is on the instrument panel, when removed, allows the light from beneath to shine through.  Hence, I didn't want something that might eat into the coating, or pull it off, should the overlay be removed at a later time.  Jim had experimented with a number of methods and he passed along the details as we spoke.  I quickly realized I did NOT want to use rubber cement.  He had experimented with some Scotch double-sided adhesive tape and it met the "non-destructive removal" criteria that I wanted.  I decided to give it a try.

Jim flipped an overlay over and applied a couple of strips of tape.  If you get the tape over the edge, don't try to peel it off.....take a small, sharp pair of scissors and carefully trim the excess tape.  We did this a couple of times and it worked just fine.

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