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Bright LED Dash Lights

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Classic_Crime_Inc, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Classic_Crime_Inc
    Joined: Oct 19, 2008
    Posts: 78

    Classic_Crime_Inc
    Member

    my lights in my '68 Cadillac Coupe Deville dont work, I planned on replacing them anyways I'd like to go with a bright white LED..I know theres diffrent types of bulbs and dont want to buy the wrong one...anyone have any idea what type of bulb I'll need and how many I'll need...I know for my '76 C10 I needed 7 bulbs they were 194's
     
  2. Midnight 50
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 568

    Midnight 50
    Member

    It'll be hard to use led's because of the dispersion pattern. Even the best radial led's are only 160 degrees under best case and that's not enough to light a cluster without spotting. It'll work, but it won't be remotely close to evenly lit.

    (I design engineer led clusters for newer luxury vehicles for a living)
     
  3. Classic_Crime_Inc
    Joined: Oct 19, 2008
    Posts: 78

    Classic_Crime_Inc
    Member

    hmm..got any suggestions? I want it to be bright, I know on my old car the dash was so dim that I couldnt even drive at night with the stock bulbs..I havent pulled the dash apart or anything yet but drove it the other night for the first time at night and noticed that none of the dash lights worked..which is a big problem not knowing your speed or anything
     
  4. Midnight 50
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 568

    Midnight 50
    Member

    It's just going to be really hard in that cluster. Your best bet is trying to find those plastic strips of led's that light up. You'll have to run them through the cluster. I can't foresee anything else giving you results as well at that would.

    With a little luck it will look like it is lit as evenly as this unit I did for a Lexus.

    [​IMG]


    For me personally I dig the amber glow of a low power bulb. :) I went with a higher voltage bulb in my '50 which makes them burn dimmer and gives them a ghostly glow.


    [​IMG]
     

  5. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    pasadenahotrod
    Member
    from Texas

    You do know that the light switch knob controls a rheostat that dims and brightens the dashlights, don't you?

    One reason dash lights can be dim is that the bulbs are either burned out or dusty/dirty.

    Get in there, remove all the sockets, remove all the bulbs, replace all the bulbs with new ones. Wait until dark, turn them on and use the lightswitch rheostat to dim and brighten them. Are you satisfied?

    If not, go to the parts store and get the lighting catalog. Look in the back under the style of bulb your dash lights use and find the same style bulb which has more candlepower. Check that bulb against yours to be sure the globe will not interfere with anything in the dash panel. Buy them and repeat the above to test them.
    We did this on my boy's 57 Chevy and what a difference it made!
     
  6. BISHOP
    Joined: Jul 16, 2006
    Posts: 2,571

    BISHOP
    Member

    Listen to Midnight50, the led's wont work like you think. The problem lies in the headlight switch. As pasadena said, just do a clean up and twist the rheostat (light switch) just like on your old truck. It could be a dirty connection on the switch, so twist it right and left several times. Maybe it will start working. It could be something as simple as a fuse. Im sure its something simple.
     
  7. Midnight 50
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 568

    Midnight 50
    Member

    It's entirely likely that a 68 model car has burnt bulbs so just replace them and go from there..... might as well have new bulbs either way. If it turns out you need to do work on your dimmer you can get to it with new bulbs you are sure of.

    You can either replace it with the correct voltage bulbs for your car, or go with higher voltage bulbs as I did which will cause them to glow dimmer and give a shadowed glow, but also save them from voltage spikes. Most won't do that, it's more of something I do to eliminate the dimmer which is always problematic in the older cars.
     
  8. 33mopower
    Joined: May 18, 2008
    Posts: 243

    33mopower
    Member

    I would use warm white 5-chip superfluxes and an acrylic diffuser. I would also run a pwm to adjust there brightness. You could also use warm white rebels lighting the edge of a piece of acrylic and use the light pipe effect to illuminate the gauges.(I have done dozens of gauge clusters and hundreds of tail lights and plate lights.)
     
  9. marks914
    Joined: Feb 20, 2009
    Posts: 330

    marks914
    Alliance Vendor

    If you are daring enough to pull the gauges apart, what we usually do is install LED strips. Nice and even lighting and various colors are available. The first pic is a warm white, very close to an incandescent. You can even add a separate dimmer if you want.
    I have found that the LED bulbs, with the narrow beam just don't give the brightness you need. I have even tried piping them and sandblasting them to disperse the light.

    Mark
    [​IMG]

    Then you can get crazy:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. oilslinger53
    Joined: Apr 17, 2007
    Posts: 2,500

    oilslinger53
    Member
    from covina CA

    Twist your headlight switch clockwise, the dash lights will get brighter...
     
  11. Harry Bergeron
    Joined: Feb 10, 2009
    Posts: 345

    Harry Bergeron
    Member
    from SoCal

    Remove the switch and twist it fully back and forth 20 times, then spray it with contact cleaner from Radio Shack, and twist 10 more times. Wait a couple of hours, try it out.

    The part inside is called a rheostat, and they get corroded, the same as the volume control on old stereo gear. If you do this once a year on your lights and any twisty switches on your stereo, you won't have to use the contact cleaner.
     
  12. Retro Jim
    Joined: May 27, 2007
    Posts: 3,859

    Retro Jim
    Member


    I use that stuff on everything . It's called Tube Cleaner and will remove any and all the dirt & oil residue , period . If you have a volume know that is scratchy and doesn't work right just use that stuff and will fix it right away ! :eek:

    As for the dash lights , there is nothing better than driving down the road at night listening to oldies on the radio and that seeing that warn golden glow that comes from the dash lights ! :D

    Use higher voltage bulbs !
     
  13. Classic_Crime_Inc
    Joined: Oct 19, 2008
    Posts: 78

    Classic_Crime_Inc
    Member

    yeah I tried turning the switch to make it bright or dim but no luck..so I'll give what you guys said a try

    Midnight 50 I really like that amber..the cars orange and I think that'd look really cool..where do I get that bulb (sorry if it's a dumb question..I've never messed with the bulbs on anything before)
     
  14. Radio Joe
    Joined: Jan 9, 2007
    Posts: 306

    Radio Joe
    Member

    This is what I did to my 65 Corvair dash. Not for everybody.

    I went to Walmart and bought the $15.00 LED strips and glued them to the guages. The outer mask covers them and the reflect onto the guage. The are pretty bright but not too bright. The stock dimmer wont dim them.

    I like them alot and they make the pointer light up like it would under a black light.
     

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  15. Midnight 50
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 568

    Midnight 50
    Member

    A lot of bulbs don't come in amber so see what you are supposed to have first then look for an amber in that part number
     
  16. Classic_Crime_Inc
    Joined: Oct 19, 2008
    Posts: 78

    Classic_Crime_Inc
    Member

    ok thanks a lot for the help I appreciate it!
     

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