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Thread: Gauge cluster illumination

  1. #1
    Member 91merc's Avatar
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    Default Gauge cluster illumination

    I got an 85 GM and a PO wired the radio directly to the battery, and I'm in the process of properly wiring it back in. I also have no gauge illumination, and I was wondering if the gauge illumination ran through the radio wiring like on some cars?

  2. #2
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    No, but there is a connection from the dash lights to the radio. If someone shorted it you may have just blown the fuse. Should be the only 3 amp fuse in the box.

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    Member 91merc's Avatar
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    All fuses were good on the under dash block, got the cluster somewhat pulled out and the bulbs didn't appear burnt out, haven't tested for power because it started raining before I could get the speedo cable off to pull the cluster out completely

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    I just checked and none of the bulbs are burned out, I have the check engine and Amp lights but no gauge illumination, could the circuitry in the cluster be bad?

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    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    The power for illumination comes from the headlamp switch. This is a known failure point with the massive wire harness liking to melt in various ways. That could be the issue.

    Should be the brown wire.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
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    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sly View Post
    The power for illumination comes from the headlamp switch. This is a known failure point with the massive wire harness liking to melt in various ways. That could be the issue.

    Should be the brown wire.
    +1. I would not only check the switch but also the connector as they tend to get "crusty". Examine the connector and the back of the wires going into it. A common theory is that Ford used thinner wires than they should have and this is a "burn out point".
    What I Own: 1993 Mercury Grand Marquis GS
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    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    The quick connects used get crusty and create resistive connections and then get hot and just get worse as the plastic harness degrades due to the heat. This is the reason for the relay mods that dump all the current through a relay instead of the switch.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
    rides: 93 Crown Vic LX (The Red Velvet Cake), 2000 Crown Vic base model (Sandy), 2003 Expedition (the vacation beast)
    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

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    Well I have headlight switched power at the pigtail that goes into the cluster.... Now what?

  9. #9
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    check traces on the cluster. Check for cracks and oxidation on the connector. May just need a good cleaning. May have a bad ground for the lights. Check both ends of the circuit. I think there's a couple of grounds coming out, but just follow the traces. They're pretty easy to follow. If you run across any cracks, defroster trace repair kit works (or conductive epoxy) pretty well if you're not real confident in soldering skills since the film will melt pretty easy.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
    rides: 93 Crown Vic LX (The Red Velvet Cake), 2000 Crown Vic base model (Sandy), 2003 Expedition (the vacation beast)
    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

  10. #10
    2 decades of DDing Box Panthers, now in a Whale VicCrownVic's Avatar
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    +1, traces are easy to follow. Look for traces that have lifted away at the connector. If the cluster has been out previously, it's a possibility.

    If you have a multimeter, check for continuity from the correct cluster connector pins to each light socket unless you find an obvious break like Sly described. If you need the pinout I can get it later if I remember, or someone else might have it already.
    Vic

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    ~ 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis GS - Rotting Retired DD
    Gone but not forgotten:
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    What's the best way to fix lifted traces?

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    2 decades of DDing Box Panthers, now in a Whale VicCrownVic's Avatar
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    A question I would be interested in hearing suggestions on as well.
    I used some glue but don't remember what I used. Super glue might react weird with the materials involved. If its a trace where the connector connects you will have to scratch any glue off that gets on the contact surface.
    Vic

    ~ 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis LS - new DD
    ~ 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis LS "The Scab" - plenty of rot, backup/summer cruiser
    ~ 1997 GMC Yukon SLT - wannabe winter DD - many issues, returning sometime in the 2020s
    ~ 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis GS "The Ice Car" - Rotting Retired Winter DD
    ~ 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis GS - Rotting Retired DD
    Gone but not forgotten:
    ~ 1988 Country Squire ~ 1987 Ford Crown Vic

  13. #13
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    Found 4 traces lifted off the membrane and one is kinda torn up, are new membranes obsolete or is repair pretty easy?

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    Will a Cv cluster swap into a Merc or no?

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    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    cv/merc clusters are very different.

    A little dab of rubber cement, contact cement (non aerosol... good luck with that), shoe glue, some other flexible adhesive should probably work just fine. As long as the trace is all there and not torn, you should be able to fix it pretty easily just by laying it flat and putting some stick-it-down goo between the trace and film backing. Just be sure the contact area stays clean on top.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
    rides: 93 Crown Vic LX (The Red Velvet Cake), 2000 Crown Vic base model (Sandy), 2003 Expedition (the vacation beast)
    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

  16. #16
    Donating Member massacre's Avatar
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    I remember going through this. I was so worried about the traces. Luckily for me it ended up being bulbs.
    I was wondering if copper tape or copper foil or even thin copper could be used to repair the traces?
    ..

  17. #17
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    double sided tape would also work to put the traces down, but not to keep them down. But if you don't plan on disconnecting that harness any time soon, it's a quick fix.
    Copper tape could be used, but the conductive epoxy will make a better bond. And you really don't need much at all. Little dab will do ya. The problem with copper tape or foil or thin copper is you still have to attach it somehow and the adhesive on the tape doesn't work well enough for current handling like that without using some kind of conductive adhesive or solder. Tape adhesive tends to give up with heat... rather quickly.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
    rides: 93 Crown Vic LX (The Red Velvet Cake), 2000 Crown Vic base model (Sandy), 2003 Expedition (the vacation beast)
    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

  18. #18
    Donating Member massacre's Avatar
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    Conductive epoxy would be sweet. Had no idea it even existed lol
    Just gotta apply it judiciously
    Last edited by massacre; 07-06-2022 at 10:51 PM.
    ..

  19. #19
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    One of the traces has the end torn off where the plug goes in

  20. #20
    GMN Regular WagonMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 91merc View Post
    Will a Cv cluster swap into a Merc or no?

    No it won't. I have gauge clusters if needed. WagonMan
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