1970 Olds Gauge Restoration

Old January 11th, 2011, 07:48 PM
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Olds Gauge Restoration

So I'm taking cues from Rob's write up about how to restore my gauges......and I'm going a few steps further. It literally is just a confidence booster because you can tear a gauge down in 5 minutes. Literally......it's that simple.

I wanted to post the internal pics of MY gauges because they were absolutely wretched with illumination even after buying all new 168, 161, and 194 incandescent bulbs. (not cheap either. )

So I was unhappy with the pathetic improvements, and bought 5 SMT LED's ($2 each) to put in all the sockets. (FYI , now that I've seen how much room there is INSIDE the gauge, I highly recommend 194 socket 13 SMT LED's instead) This dramatically increased the gauge illumination. However, I still am not satisfied, so I thought of Rob's efforts next.

Here's my speedo dissected. Tools required, just a 1/4" socket, and flat head screwdriver. Top right is the back side of the gauge casing ring. You can see it's sky blue color is still perfect. The light illuminates the inside area of the casing, and reflects off that blue front ring to illuminate the gauge face. That's probably going pure gloss white as well.
2011442GaugeRestoration1.jpg

Gauge faces, were immaculate with next to no dust or build up on them.
2011442GaugeRestoration4.jpg

HOWEVER......the gauge casing which reflects the lighting.....absolutely horrible.
This is primarily why I started my own thread, so people can see how bad this is. So check yours.
2011442GaugeRestoration2.jpg

Home Depot carries a professional grade Rustoleum paint.
I got some Gloss white because the blue paint is to soften the yellow of the incandescents. Left gauge case is my quad gauge which is unpainted for a comparison view. It wasn't NEARLY as bad as my speedo was. With pure white LED"s , the blue isn't necessary.
2011442GaugeRestoration7.jpg


This was my BEFORE pics before adding the 194 socket 5 SMT LED's. The pic does it more justice then it deserved.
OldsGaugeLEDChanges3.jpg
Stay tuned.

Last edited by Aceshigh; January 11th, 2011 at 09:51 PM.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 05:37 AM
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Glad I can give some motivation here and there...

Good pictures. Yours show how the factory gauges can get with age - the paint ages, turns flat, rust comes through, etc....... Many times the inside cases are dirty, from the heat convections from the bulbs, or sometimes the bulbs' heat discolors the paint.

Yes, gloss white is the thing to use in the cases, as it reflects the light. I used model paint, but it took a longer time. On the plus side I was able to paint in the house and get high over the smell on a cold winter day.....

Your front ring looks okay. Looks like there is a little gloss on it. This is the color that will soften the yellow tint.
However, test it out with a battery or power supply in a dark room before crimping it back together. If it is not blue enough, you can repaint the ring with a slightly darker glossy blue model paint.

This is also a good time to lightly clean and lube the speedo and pull the speedo cable out, clean it with wd40 and put it back in.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 05:37 AM
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Interesting thread and looking forward to the after photo......
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Old January 12th, 2011, 12:09 PM
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1st End result. I'm open for critique and suggestions if anyone has any.

Might be pulling em apart again to go even whiter.
Sorry, no pics from the drivers seat yet. My battery is in the garage.
2011OldsGaugeRestorationII3.jpg2011OldsGaugeRestorationII4.jpg

Originally Posted by Lady72nRob71 View Post
However, test it out with a battery or power supply in a dark room before crimping it back together. If it is not blue enough,
That's funny, because that's what I did upon coming home 1st thing this morning after the white paint was cured.

I put them back together, but I'm now thinking I might want to paint the reflector sky blue ring gloss white as well. You can see the "Pure White LED's" are not pure white. They're fairly blue.

2011OldsGaugeRestorationII.jpg2011OldsGaugeRestorationII2.jpg

Last edited by Aceshigh; January 12th, 2011 at 12:26 PM.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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Looks very blue but very bright!!!
How does it look with regular light bulbs?

Those LEDs are far from 'pure white'. There are Ultra Whites now that more resemble incandescent. Osram makes some that I use in designs at work.

White LEDs are just blue ones with a layer of phosphorus over them to filter out much (but not all) of the blue wavelength. The earlier 'white' LEDs are much bluer because the technology has improved over the years.

You can also trace the ring on a piece of thin cardboard and cut it out and paint it white to try it. If you don't like it, your original ring is still light blue.

If you are looking for the stock look, you will need incandescents or maybe new UW LEDs and a lighter blue ring. All experimentation at this point, and half the fun.........
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Old January 12th, 2011, 12:56 PM
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I like the blue effect. I think the speedo in post 4 looks amazing.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 01:10 PM
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Thanks. I'm a picky bastard, so I'm not quite satisfied just yet. LOL
Originally Posted by Lady72nRob71 View Post
Looks very blue but very bright!!!
How does it look with regular light bulbs?
I guess I can try that too. These are the 168's I believe.....IIRC they are the highest wattages
They don't seem as bright as the LED's to me at all. Mind you this is UP CLOSE......not in the drivers seat.

442GaugeRestoredIncandescent.jpg

Yeah the LED's are not pure white at all like advertised.
They look like the 6000 Kelvin color. Incandescents are closer to the 3000K mark.
PURE white is closer to the 5000K mark, but this scale doesn't show it well enough.


You can also trace the ring on a piece of thin cardboard and cut it out and paint it white to try it. If you don't like it, your original ring is still light blue.
Ewww good call.......going to try that instead of painting it first.

Last edited by Aceshigh; January 12th, 2011 at 01:24 PM.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 02:54 PM
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hey nice job i was just thinking to put led's in mine as well because i was converting from column shifter to floor shift and adding the floor shift speedo wow this will help thanks
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Old January 12th, 2011, 03:39 PM
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ok i just took mine apart and it appears that the inside is not gloss white but sky blue ?
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Old January 12th, 2011, 04:41 PM
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my little plastic thing around the miles thing broke does that need to be there
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Old January 12th, 2011, 04:43 PM
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also my plastic cover for the tach is fogged up after cleaning please help lot of problems
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Old January 12th, 2011, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
ok i just took mine apart and it appears that the inside is not gloss white but sky blue ?
Mine wasn't gloss white either. I painted it that way.

Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
my little plastic thing around the miles thing broke does that need to be there
Don't have the 1st clue what you're referring to here.
Pics help to point problems out. Take a photo and upload it to www.imageshack.us
If you want to go a step further, open it in MS Paint and circle the area you're referring to.
Save it again. Then host it.

Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
also my plastic cover for the tach is fogged up after cleaning please help lot of problems
There's plastic polishing services available, and there's also replacement lenses IIRC from the parts vendors.
I could be wrong on the latter.....but I thought someone said Parts Place sells new lenses.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 05:49 PM
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ok i will try to get a pic of that and is this the right lenses http://www.opgi.com/product.asp?catm...odCode=C230101
but i also have lenses from my column shift speedo but why did this one fog up
and i am going to paint it gloss white what are the best leds to use thanks
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Old January 12th, 2011, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
and is this the right lenses [url]http://www.opgi.com/product.asp?
I ran out of mind reading pimp juice this week.

You'll have to elaborate on what car you're inquiring about.

Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
what are the best leds to use thanks
Best is a subjective term.

My opinion of what "Best" is , is best buy for the $$$$.
Here's 10x 5 SMT LED 194 socket LED's for $19 shipped. Less then $2 a pop.
You only need 2 for the Speedometer illumination, 3 for the left quad gauge illumination.
The rest in both gauges (idiot lights, turn signals, brights indicator, etc)
you can use the incandescents if you want since they rarely light up.

But the 13 SMT LED's I'm eyeballing now.
Everything I buy is off Ebay for the lights.

Last edited by Aceshigh; January 12th, 2011 at 05:58 PM.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 05:53 PM
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1972 cutlass lol
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Old January 12th, 2011, 05:55 PM
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but why would the lense fog up after cleaning thats weird
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Old January 12th, 2011, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
but why would the lense fog up after cleaning thats weird
Maybe the cleaner you used ruined the lens somehow??

Clean it again using a different glass cleaner.
If all else fails, have someone buff and polish it out for you.

Things made 40 years ago tend to be better quality materials then the crap Made in China today.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 06:02 PM
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the plastic thing that broke is around the mileage tracker and it holds the 2 front numbers together
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Old January 12th, 2011, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Aceshigh View Post
I ran out of mind reading pimp juice this week.

You'll have to elaborate on what car you're inquiring about.



Best is a subjective term.

My opinion of what "Best" is , is best buy for the $$$$.
Here's 10x 5 SMT LED 194 socket LED's for $19 shipped. Less then $2 a pop.
You only need 2 for the Speedometer illumination, 3 for the left quad gauge illumination.
The rest in both gauges (idiot lights, turn signals, brights indicator, etc)
you can use the incandescents if you want since they rarely light up.

But the 13 SMT LED's I'm eyeballing now.
Everything I buy is off Ebay for the lights.
well im in canada so $18.99 can't i get these from any stores?
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Old January 12th, 2011, 06:08 PM
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You can get them from wherever you find them just like anything.

The problem is, getting them locally you'll pay 2-3x the cost
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Old January 12th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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great info, for what it worth I replaced the lenses, lights and painted the insides light blue again and I was as happy as can be - made a hige difference. I may try the LEDs next time. Silver paint may work well also.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Aceshigh View Post

Gauge faces, were immaculate with next to no dust or build up on them.

Is it just the picture, or is your speedo needle bent?
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Old January 12th, 2011, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by starfire View Post
Is it just the picture, or is your speedo needle bent?
Good call......didn't even notice that.
I don't have the right gears in my trans anyways for my new tire sizes anyways.

I'll have to fix that.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
but why would the lense fog up after cleaning thats weird
Residual moisture in the gauge. Wait a while and see if it goes away - mine did that too. The paint must not have been cured and it was cold outside and the moisture condensed on the inside of the lens. If you put the thing back together in a humid house and put it in a cold car you would see the same problem.

Ace - after you try the white cardboard ring, paint it light gloss blue, then try the 168s again. For some reason, yours is not as bright as mine, and i never painted my speedo - just cleaned it up... See pics at: https://classicoldsmobile.com/forums...tml#post130178
I assume you have 12-13V to the bulbs.
Also, if you installed "long life" 168's, you really installed standard 194's. The long life ones are always dimmer as they are designed for a higher voltage. Make sure they are regular 168's.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 10:45 PM
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Finalization.
I painted the reflector rings pure gloss white to reflect the most white I could onto the gauges.
I can totally see the difference myself in person. It's far whiter then the 1st pic in post 4 with the sky blue reflector.
Not sure if pics can capture it well enough.

Rob, I was wrong, the incandescents I put in there were 194's......doh....
I have 168's I'll take a snapshot and compare side by side.

DSC02844.jpg

Last edited by Aceshigh; January 24th, 2011 at 09:25 PM.
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Old January 14th, 2011, 12:00 AM
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That rocks.

I would like to see a step by step teardown of the gauges. I've wanted top do this for a while now, but just never got around to it.
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Old January 14th, 2011, 05:19 AM
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That white ring looks much better with the LEDs. Bluer than stock, but if you like it, keep it that way.
The 168's should look brighter than those 194's.
Try it and post a picture for inquiring minds.
Then keep the one you like better.

Originally Posted by svnt442 View Post
I would like to see a step by step teardown of the gauges. I've wanted top do this for a while now, but just never got around to it.
Here is a short version:
https://classicoldsmobile.com/forums...tml#post130178

Longer one starts here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/robsalb...7602930020786/

Pretty easy...
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Old January 14th, 2011, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Aceshigh View Post
Finalization.
I painted the reflector rings pure gloss white to reflect the most white I could onto the gauges.
I can totally see the difference myself in person. It's far whiter then the 1st pic in post 4 with the sky blue reflector.
Not sure if pics can capture it well enough.

Rob, I was wrong, the incandescents I put in there were 194's......doh....
I have 168's I'll take a snapshot and compare side by side.

I like the ones in post 4. I like blue,
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Old January 14th, 2011, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by svnt442 View Post
I would like to see a step by step teardown of the gauges. I've wanted top do this for a while now, but just never got around to it.
When I tell you it will take you just 5 minutes to rip one down, I'm not kidding.

After removed from dash:

Speedo =
1. Front metal trim ring is pinched on, just unpinch with a flat head and remove retainer ring, lens, and reflector ring. (See Below)
2. Remove 2 bolts from the rear of printed circuit board. Speedo assembly will come out of housing.
3. Inner brights tube, and turn signal housings are just pushed on.

Left gauge =
1. Same as above step #1.
2. Remove 3 bolts from the rear printed circuit board. Gauge itself will come out of housing.
3. Inner idiot light reflector assembly is just pushed on.

Simplest way to explain step #1 is, they are pinched on just like these dinner takeout pans are pinched together.
It's not very high tech at all.....LOL

Last edited by Aceshigh; January 14th, 2011 at 10:26 AM.
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Old January 14th, 2011, 10:47 PM
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Ok cool. I have been a bit nervous to tackle this, but I think it looks like it will be good to go. Keep in mind I have the gauges and tic-toc-tach so it may be a bit more involved, but I am confident it won't be all that bad now.
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Old January 15th, 2011, 10:37 AM
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http://cgi.ebay.com/10-Bulbs-White-1...590082177#shId

are these in post 4 and are these good?
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Old January 15th, 2011, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
the plastic thing that broke is around the mileage tracker and it holds the 2 front numbers together
I know the part you are talking about, mine broke also... I am looking for a replacement or a fix.
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Old January 15th, 2011, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bgoble View Post
I know the part you are talking about, mine broke also... I am looking for a replacement or a fix.
yeah lol does it need to be replaced though and i think i might have one in my column shift speedo
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Old January 16th, 2011, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by theoldsrocket View Post
http://cgi.ebay.com/10-Bulbs-White-1...590082177#shId

are these in post 4 and are these good?
Looks to be the same one's I have.

Those are the cheapest, but I'd even go with the 9 or 13 SMT LED's.
Little more $$$ but you really only need 5 of them between the left gauge,
and speedo for gauge ilumination.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 08:36 PM
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Very Nice!

Really looking good! I like the brightness and the color of your LED lights. I don't know why I went with incandescents...for some reason it just did not occur to me to upgrade to LED...
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Old January 24th, 2011, 09:27 PM
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I'm going a step further and ordered these LED rings.
Someone I know did this mod to their gauges and it's SUPER bright !!!!

LOL Winter is mod junky time while I sit indoors and shop around.


Last edited by Aceshigh; January 24th, 2011 at 09:29 PM.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Aceshigh View Post
I'm going a step further and ordered these LED rings.
Someone I know did this mod to their gauges and it's SUPER bright !!!!

LOL Winter is mod junky time while I sit indoors and shop around.

Do they dim down using the headlight switch reostat?
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Old January 25th, 2011, 07:35 PM
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Nothing is back in my car yet.
Battery is in my garage on a tender for the winter.

If dimming is a necessity where the stock dimmer doesn't do the deed.
You can always do one of these options.
http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-b...s%2Fdimmer.htm
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Old February 17th, 2012, 10:32 AM
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Hello Awesome Job Ace
Just wondering when it comes to the LED lights will these work

http://www.ebay.com/itm/10x-T10-194-...19077542792478

I am only asking because your link is completely gone.

Last edited by Axeni; February 17th, 2012 at 10:56 AM.
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Old February 17th, 2012, 10:57 AM
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The hardest part about this job,
is not breaking the pins off of the back of the gauges. Be very careful.
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