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Technical What to use to clean yellowed gauge numbers?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Paul, Jun 5, 2020.

  1. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,589

    Paul
    Editor

    I am putting together a set on Stewart Warner gauges, black face, white needles and numbers.
    A few of the gauges whites are nice and bright,
    some are yellowed.
    I looked around the interweb and see various bits of advice, Windex, 409, etc

    Any first hand experience with successful results here?
    What worked for you?
     
  2. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,408

    olscrounger
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    be very careful. I have cleaned the numbers with windex and a soft cloth lightly-came out fine
     
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  3. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 17,459

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Light water or maybe Windex on a Q tip to clean the dust. But you'll never change the yellow to white again.

    Test a corner, maybe the little part number on the bottom edge of the face, first. If it wipes the paint off down there you can prevent ruining the whole face.
     
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  4. Can you get new face decals for them?
     
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  5. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,589

    Paul
    Editor

    I could have them rescreaned but this is a budget build.

    Primary gauge in question

    IMG_20200605_192300.jpg
     
  6. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,589

    Paul
    Editor

    Matching tach is bright and clean,
    Oil pressure gauge is about as yellow as speedometer, rest are various shades between them.
     
  7. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 5,718

    41rodderz
    Member
    from Oregon

    Hey , it’s traditional.:D
     
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  8. big duece
    Joined: Jul 28, 2008
    Posts: 6,315

    big duece
    Member
    from kansas

    I would leave it... find some other gauges to match:D
     
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  9. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 39,700

    loudbang
    Member

    Have you tried some full strength bleach on a Q tip? Try it first on a less visible area.
     
  10. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 3,627

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    My gauge restorer said they soak them in a mild acid bath. I have no clue exactly what that is but Google could probably help you find out more.
     
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  11. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 4,541

    indyjps
    Member

    How about yellowing/browning out the other gauge faces.

    You could use thinned out water colors. Rinse them off if you dont like the look.
     
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  12. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,162

    ClarkH
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    If you want to test some of these methods on something less precious, I have a few crappy yellowed gauges in my swap meet pile that you can use. PM sent.

    I wonder if a "mild acid bath" is vinegar?
     
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  13. fleetside66
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,726

    fleetside66
    Member

    I've experimented with this over the years & it's pretty well a lost cause. Anything harsher than Windex will tend to do irreparable damage. Besides, there's a big learning curve to the proper removal & replacement of the bezel & glass. I personally don't mind the yellowing, but I do hear you when you have a number of bright white ones & one yellow one. If it's not a valuable S/W gauge, just buy another one.

    That being said, I did have success with an old Moon gauge...one of the early ones that was made by U.S. Gauge. U.S. Gauge was first rate across the board & whatever process & materials they used to create the gauge faces for Dean Moon were very strong. Check out his vacuum gauge that I cleaned with Windex & a Q-tip. You can see in the first picture where I started to clean it. I did it very slowly, like you see the art conservators when they clean an oil painting.

    IMG_5244.jpg IMG_5245.jpg IMG_5435.jpg
     
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  14. john worden
    Joined: Nov 14, 2007
    Posts: 1,729

    john worden
    Member
    from iowa

    Try careful rubbing with a clean pencil eraser.
     
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  15. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,589

    Paul
    Editor

    I used the Windex on a Q tip method.
    It did lighten a shade or two,
    Sprayed the Q tip, gently wiped, changed Q tips often and stopped when they stopped picking up color.
    I don't want to get any more aggressive than that.
    Put back together.
    I may try adding just a touch of color to the tach.

    Pictures are before, during and after.
    Some change but not much.

    IMG_20200606_110219.jpg IMG_20200606_110506.jpg IMG_20200606_112639.jpg IMG_20200606_113042.jpg
     
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  16. Jmountainjr
    Joined: Dec 29, 2006
    Posts: 1,379

    Jmountainjr
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I would try a spray window cleaner that has vinegar in it. Use it on a Q-tip. Should you have a stubborn spot you could try white vinegar on the Q-tip.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2020
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  17. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 4,541

    indyjps
    Member

    Looking good, Looking good.

    If those gauges are backlit, bulb selection could blend the colors as well.
     
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  18. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,589

    Paul
    Editor

    Excellent point, hadn't thought of that
     
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  19. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,162

    ClarkH
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    That's what the previous owner of my car tried... :confused:

    ACpanel.jpg
     
  20. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,589

    Paul
    Editor

    Now that's some funny shit right there :)
     
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  21. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,589

    Paul
    Editor

    I tried adjusting the color on the tach with what I had around the shop,
    Nothing I tried was working
    so I closed it back up.
    This is not a high priority issue now if ever.

    IMG_20200606_122109.jpg IMG_20200606_125158.jpg IMG_20200606_130650.jpg
     
  22. Kind of like a heavy smoker and non smoker...ha
    I looked at my 160 speedo but it's different from what you got, not sure on the others.

    20190814_193052.jpg 20190814_192936.jpg
     
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