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Customs '56 Fairlane gauge cluster removal

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by crapgame, Jan 21, 2022.

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  1. crapgame
    Joined: Apr 3, 2014
    Posts: 19

    crapgame
    Member

    I recently bought a '56 Fairlane Club Sedan that was beautifully restored several owners ago. Almost everything about the car is pristine, but one of the few disappointments is the gauges. Speedo and fuel work, but the amp/oil pressure, temp and (of course) clock don't, and the guy who did the restoration addressed this by adding a three-gauge cluster below the dash. I'd like to get rid of the add-on gauges and replace the stock gauges with aftermarket gauges in the stock positions. I bought a replacement gauge insert drilled for aftermarket gauges, but I need some advice on how to remove the stock gauge insert.
    My Ford '56 shop manual makes it seem like a snap. Remove the cover where the steering column meets the dash, then remove eight mounting nuts, presumably behind the insert. Except the manual doesn't detail exactly where the mounting nuts are nor how you get to them, especially with a tangle of wiring in the way. I understand that disconnecting the wiring and the speedo cable may be necessary, but still you'd have to be an octopus with your eyes on stalks to see the nuts and remove them.
    There has to be a trick to this, and if anyone knows what it is, I could sure use your help.
    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. #105.jpg
     
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  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 50,919

    squirrel
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    I looked on ebay for a used one, and swiped a couple pictures, I think you can see the 8 studs or figure out where they'd be from the pics. Have fun, it's usually a real bitch to remove any gauge cluster.

    56 1.jpg 56-2.jpg
     
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  3. Guy Patterson
    Joined: Nov 27, 2020
    Posts: 369

    Guy Patterson

    Even more fun to remove the whole dash
     
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  4. miker98038
    Joined: Jan 24, 2011
    Posts: 742

    miker98038
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    While they’re different from the front, the mounting is very similar to my 55 bird. Even though the car’s bigger, I’d remove the front seat first. That will take less time than the visits to your chiropractor if you don’t. Unless the wiring was replaced, watch close for brittle insulation that cracks when moved around.

    The 56 was the only year the gauges were a full 12 volts. Probably not a problem with new ones. And they were a King Seeley, so the senders (particularly fuel) will all have to be replaced with the matching senders for your modern gauges.

    The temp sender in the back of the drivers side head is in a bushing. They made 2 sizes, if it’s wrong for the new replacement check the tbird suppliers for the bushing. They can be changed without removing the head usually.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2022
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  5. evintho
    Joined: May 28, 2007
    Posts: 2,016

    evintho
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Squirrel comes through with the pics! A 1/4" drive 5/16" or 3/8" socket should fit. As stated, remove the front seat (well worth the effort). Use an inspection mirror and a good light and you should be able to see them. Let us know how it worked out.
     
  6. crapgame
    Joined: Apr 3, 2014
    Posts: 19

    crapgame
    Member

    You guys are terrific. I'm no old hand at this, but I've been doing it long enough to know that very rarely is there an easy solution. I'm willing to do the work, just need to have an idea of how to do it. I think I now understand where the eight mounting studs/nuts are and removing the seat is a two-fer because the adjustment slide isn't working either. Eventually, I will win this battle and will brag about it here!
     
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  7. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 10,992

    jimmy six
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Unless you are young I’d remove the seat or unbolt it and push it back against the rear seat. I use 2 cartons or flip top boxes upside down and a large packing blanket from Harbor Freight. I like some type of light drop or mag base. Now the fun part, lay out every tool I can possibly think of but mostly 3/8 nutdrivers both long and short and start removing nuts along with popping out all the lights.
    The worst thing is working your arms around the pedals and the column.
    Good luck
     
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  8. crapgame
    Joined: Apr 3, 2014
    Posts: 19

    crapgame
    Member

    Gentlemen, I've attached a photo of the insert I bought, which is drilled for aftermarket gauges. Although it may not be entirely clear in the photo, it's made from a single sheet of aluminum. Obviously, it's quite different from the cluster assembly that squirrel posted. It seems obvious that it's a facia piece made to sit in front of the gauge housing. I'm assuming there is a similar piece used in the stock assembly, but in fact I don't know whether that's the case.
    Questions:
    ** Can anyone confirm that the stock assembly includes a facia piece similar to the aftermarket piece in the photo?
    ** If so, does it appear necessary to completely remove the gauge cluster housing to remove the facia, or might it be sufficient to simply loosen it enough the remove the stock part and replace it with the one in the photo?
    ** Is it possible that the replacement insert might be installed over the stock facia without either removing or even loosening the cluster assembly? (The shop manual says all gauges can be removed from the front without removing the cluster housing. Theoretically, a facia piece like this could be held in place by the stock trim, as well as the gauges themselves, which would be secured in the standard way, with mounting hardware installed in the back.)
    I hope this is understandable. There is absolutely no instruction with the gauge insert, nor any diagram I can find that shows the existence of a facia piece, so I'm really shooting in the dark. Obviously, I don't want to tear apart the dash if I can accomplish what I want with much less effort.
    Again, thanks in advance for your help.


    #106.jpg
     
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  9. crapgame...
    Unfortunately there is no "facia plate" with the stock set up.
    As mentioned, it will be much easier to access the gauges with the seat out.
    When I replaced my gauges, I had thought about using one of those inserts but since I was wanting to retain the original speedometer I decided against it.
    My original cluster...
    31.JPG 33.JPG
    If you leave the chrome bezels in place, the aftermarket gauges will fit. I did have to modify the back of the gauge cluster for the amp gauge to fit. 63.JPG 64.JPG
    Check out the build thread by Dos Cincos' on his '55, he installed a '56 dash in his and replaced the stock gauges with aftermarket.
     
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  10. crapgame
    Joined: Apr 3, 2014
    Posts: 19

    crapgame
    Member

    Thanks so much, 1st Grumpy. The photos are hugely helpful. But now I'm really confused about how the insert is intended to be installed. Does the red part of the cluster in your photos detach from the rest of the assembly, allowing the insert to be substituted?
     
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  11. No, it's one piece. It will separate from the from the the back part where the stock gauges mount. There is either 6 or 8 slotted hex head screws that will allow the two piece's to separate. You can see two of the screws in my last picture up near the top. 16.jpg
    This photo shows better how it is made. I assume the insert is held in place by the aftermarket gauges once they are installed.
    For a little more detail, check out my build thread "'56 Ford" at the bottom of this post.
     
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  12. Probably want to make sure too that you disconnect the battery before you start, somewhat blindly, fishing ratchets, extensions and other tools into the back side of the instrument panel.
     
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  13. crapgame
    Joined: Apr 3, 2014
    Posts: 19

    crapgame
    Member

    I think I'm finally starting to get the picture, 1st Grumpy. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
    So, if I understand it correctly, the idea is to remove the entire stock gauge cluster from the dash, then separate the rear part of the assembly from the front. The rear section is then discarded, and the aftermarket insert is installed on the front of the front section, with everything being held together by the new gauges and their mounts, which are installed in the rear.
    Is that close to the right procedure?
     
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  14. crapgame
    Joined: Apr 3, 2014
    Posts: 19

    crapgame
    Member

    Thanks ClayMart. I'd intended to do that, but geriatric memory being what it is, a reminder is always appreciated.
     
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  15. Glad to be of help, crabgame.
    Yes, you've got it now!
    Post some pictures when you get it back together....
     
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