One of the most visible pieces of equipment from the driver seat of a classic Mustang is the instrument gauge cluster; you’re constantly looking at it and if its old and worn, it’s time to do some restoration on this piece. This article and video demonstrates how this resto job can completed in an afternoon.
Before you can restore the instrument gauge cluster in your Mustang you will most likely have to remove it from the car, if so then you may want to view the article “How to Replace a Mustang instrument Bezel” which demonstrates how to remove the gauge cluster.
Once you have the instrument cluster removed from you Mustang and on the bench your ready to get started.
Remove the wiring and bulbs
If you’re restoring a 1965-66 Mustang gauge cluster then you wont have to worry about the wiring during the restoration, but for the 1967-68 Mustang you will most likely have to remove and clean the wiring, and before you do that you should take a picture of the back of the cluster with the wiring in place so you can reference it during reassembly.
Remove the wiring and bulbs from the back of the instrument housing. The wiring can be cleaned with wax and grease remover which will preserve the color codes and stripes that would typically be removed if you use lacquer thinner.
Clean up the housing
Before you disassemble the gauge assembly you should clean up the metal housing to remove any surface rust and dirt; I use a fine scotch brite pad to clean things up.
Now its time to begin the disassembly process. I start by removing the wiper switch control so I can clean up the chrome switch arm with super fine steel wool.
Disassemble the gauge assembly
Next remove the instrument bezel from the housing. From the back side of the assembly remove the small screws that hold the bezel and gauge housing together, you should then be able to separate the assembly exposing the gauge faces.
The instrument bezel for 1967-68 Mustangs has lens retainers and also a few other components attached that you will need to remove, clean up and reuse. The lens retainers are held in place by a few screws, the other items such as the turn signal tubs and light separators should be saved; and in some cases you may need to use the old light filters so hang on to the old bezel until your restoration is complete.
The old center lens has a black option delete button on it; save this old lens so you can remove the button and place it in the new center lens.
Painting the gauge needles
Clean up the gauge faces with wax and grease remover, this will clean the surface without removing any of the printing or paint from the gauge face. Be very careful with the gauge needles while cleaning, move them out of the way in their natural direction when cleaning around them.
Choosing the correct bright orange paint to paint the gauge needles can be a mystery; some people use Testor Red model paint, I use Fluorescent Red Paint; its the correct color and looks correct when driving at night.
Before you paint the gauge needles you should protect the gauge surface with some paper and then clean the needles with wax and grease remover.
|Fluorescent Red Speedo/Gauge PaintIf you are restoring a vintage gauge cluster, this is a must have item. This fluorescent red paint has a red/orange color just like the color found on vintage Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and other brands of instrument clusters.This special paint has a high fluorescent solids content and will meet or exceed the original fluorescent red coating. This is a true fluorescent paint that is specially designed to “glow” under the lights of your dash. Using a non-fluorescent paint will result in your gauge needles appearing dark or black at night and make your gauges difficult to read. Using a proper fluorescent paint is the only way to properly restore your gauge indicator needles.
Reassemble the instrument Cluster
While the paint on the gauge needles is drying its time to begin installing the new lenses into the new instrument bezel, as well as installing any of the other components from the old bezel and lenses that I need to carry over to the new unit.
As soon as the gauge needles are done drying and the lenses have been installed into the new instrument bezel all that remains is to attach the cluster to the bezel, install the wiper switch and then move on to cleaning up the wiring and install all new bulbs.
Your restored bezel is complete, ready to install and will improve your experience while driving your classic.