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Bright Tip: Gauge Cluster Repair by Chris Vick

Instrument Cluster lighting repair

Note: We all need to thank Chris for this helpful article on a problem we all deal with. Although Chris’ article deals with the Cale Cyclone the Torino/Talladega gauge cluster is similar but not identical. This process should work equally well on them.

I am sure we have all had issues with bulbs not lighting up in the cluster, and it is sometimes a pain to fix. I went through every bulb on my cluster seeing as it was out. I learned the hard way working on my friend’s Cale car, I had the cluster in and out 3 times before I had them all working. So mine was done the smart way. The tools I needed were a small flat blade screwdriver, some 300 grit sandpaper and a 12 volt power source. There are a number of places that will need cleaning and or adjusting to get them to light.

This first photo is the circuit board, bulb and tools I used.

First, look to see if the bulb is still good; DUH. Now look at the black socket next to the bulb, they have 2 ears that touch the circuit board and the brass tabs inside that the bulb goes in. The ear on the right side is cleaned, I used the sandpaper to remove  oxidation on the contact points. The ears and the tabs inside need cleaning, on some I also had to bend the the metal points to get a better contact, that is what the flat bladed screwdriver is for. I bent the ears up and inside I bent the tabs so they had more tension on the bulb

Here is a close up of the cleaning, right side clean, left side not so. I check ed the bulb lighting at each stage to see that it works. You might find some green corrosion inside where the bulb and brass touch, clean well.


This next photo is the circuit board.

You see 3 open holes where the bulbs go, the one in the center is the one I started to clean. If you look closely on the cleaned one you can just make out indentations in the copper where the the points on the bulb socket press in. I also sanded the grove the socket left, that needs to be cleaned as well. The left side is clean compared to the right side. Because they only work with clean metal contacts and proper tension you know why I bent the ears on the sockets. Once I thought they were done, I then light the bulb in the cluster with 12 volts to make sure they were all working. Cleaning the copper on the circuit board could also be done with contact cleaner and steel wool.

I hope this helps, and if you got a brighter idea please share.

Chris Vick



Some of my first and strongest memories from my childhood relate to cars. I still remember when things happened based on what car I was driving at the time. I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I was a Corvette fanatic for years but then re-discovered vintage American Muscle. My wife, Katrina, and I decided we wanted to focus on unique and rare muscle cars. After a lot of research we fell in love with the Ford Blue Oval Aero Cars. These were only built in 1969 and and aerodynamics became an important part of winning races. The only purpose of these limited production cars was to win NASCAR races using the Boss 429 and 427 power plants complimented with a special, wind cheating, aerodynamic body. The Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II are terrific and historic cars. This site is devoted to these car and their owners past and present. We provide an Online Registry for recording the long term history and ownership of every remaining Talladega, Spoiler and Spoiler II.

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One Comment

  1. Hey Chris,let me know when my cluster shows up OK? Thanks ole buddy.Signed, The Doctor. LOL

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