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PLEASE RELOAD YOUR AVATAR. You shouldn't have any problems doing this, now. Thanks again for the delay but now it is over. - Dave
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Gauge LED's

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  • Gauge LED's

    I know this has been discussed before and some have even changed to led's but when searching the topic I didn't
    find any specific recommendations. So I decided to spare my newly cleaned dimmer switch some pain by changing
    out the dash/gauge bulbs to led's and save some heat and power at the same time. I first went to SuperBrightLed.com
    and used the supplied guide and ordered the recommended sizes of the brightest bulbs offered. they turned out to be
    a bit taller from the top of the base to the tip so that caused interference in the temp/fuel gauge and the heater control.
    So I returned the SuperBrightLed's and began a new search. I came across these on Amazon,

    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I ordered the green, red and ice blue colors. tonight I was able to finally try them out and although I thought I would
    prefer the ice blue I was having a hard time deciding when only changing one gauge at a time. I decided to change
    each gauge to a different color to compare. I also changed the bulb for the wiper/lighter to green, the ignition/headlight
    is still a standard bulb. To my older eyes the ice blue was more white than the blue in the pictures, the green was the
    easiest on my eyes and the red, my preferred color at first was the hardest for my eyes to read. I now changed all of mine
    to the green and but need to order another set so I can change the radio and ashtray lights. These do indeed dim with the
    dimmer switch just like a normal bulb would dim so that was another bonus with these led's. First impressions are that I like
    them a lot and they are a cheap and easy upgrade. I hope they will be long lasting but obviously won't know for some time.
    The dome light was changed to a SuperBrightLed 1156 equivalent and is bright and cool near the headliner to help prevent
    heat issues and again save some power if the doors are left open. So I hope this little bit of research and info helps someone
    else out and gives you an option for something that can help make your car more you.

    DSCF2399.JPGDSCF2398.JPG
    Pat M.
    Monson, MA
    1959 HT Hickory Tan, Thunderbird registry #77617

  • #2
    I'm surprised you didn't try 'cool white' LEDs. They closely resemble the color of incandescent bulbs.
    My latest project:
    CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

    "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
    --Lee Iacocca

    From: Royal Oak, Michigan

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Dave,

      I was going to try the white but wanted something a bit different. I had remembered the dash in my old Mustang SVO as
      having red and I drove it a lot at night and liked the color. I forgot that the gauges were actually red and not the lighting.
      I also remember as a little kid that the dashes of the old cars seemed to have a greenish hue to them so I was trying to
      head down that road. Anyway, the green suits me fine for now and changing them out is easy enough that if I go crazy
      from the green I can always change them out. Heck I could even do a red, white and blue theme across the dash for the
      4th of July! The important part is that these fit well and are bright enough, dimmable and fairly inexpensive for led's.

      Thanks for the suggestion and I'll probably now order some cool whites to have on hand in case I want to go back to
      the original look or go crazy from the color. As always, I really appreciate all your help and hard work on this forum to
      keep it such a great place to visit and find info and tips on keeping these wonderful old cars cruising around.
      Last edited by Pat in Ma; June 9th, 2019, 09:50 AM. Reason: added comments
      Pat M.
      Monson, MA
      1959 HT Hickory Tan, Thunderbird registry #77617

      Comment


      • #4
        I am bothered by one thing... LEDs only require .020-amps to operate which means, each lamp has a current lowering dropping resistor. The headlight switch has a rheostat made up of ni-chrome wire which heats up as it resists current flow. That's how it dims incandescent bulbs. All of your dash LEDs running together do not add up to one amp whereas incandescent bulbs draw ten times that amperage.

        I am very surprised your rheostat is able to dim LEDs because normally they won't. At the slightest rheostat setting, LEDs tend to shine brightly. If I look at this from a voltage perspective, LEDs work on 2.5 to 3 volts but your dash supplies 12. Current is directly proportional to voltage and resistance. LEDs operate on very little current so resistance to 12 volts must be tens of thousands of ohms.

        My point: Your LED lamps must have a shunt resistor as well as a dropping resistor to make the rheostat work. I would feel the lamps after running for awhile, for heat. LEDs are much shorter than #57 lamps so fitment should never be an issue. Having said that, I doubt there is a standard for LED replacement lamps. That means, every seller probably has different replacement lamp products.
        My latest project:
        CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

        "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
        --Lee Iacocca

        From: Royal Oak, Michigan

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Dave,

          I'm not a electrical guy so I'll defer to you and others about how they work and what is required to make them
          dimmable. I will try to check them this weekend for any heat build up both on the lens area and the base and
          socket to be sure they won't cause damage. Thank you for pointing those things out and heading me in the
          right direction to check these things before I cause any damage. I'll update this when I get a chance sometime
          this coming weekend. Thanks again..
          Pat M.
          Monson, MA
          1959 HT Hickory Tan, Thunderbird registry #77617

          Comment


          • #6
            Pat, I'm not suggesting the amount of LED heat will come even close to the heat produced by an incandescent bulb. LED heat would only be produced by the resistors installed in the base of an LED lamp. It's not a danger because your dash is well able for lamp heat. I am suggesting that you 'test' for heat. If the internal resistors get hot enough they may cause your new LED bulbs to fail prematurely.

            They never do it this way but I would rather see an external resistor or voltage regulator feed all the LEDs. By themselves, LEDs should last forever if they are not over driven. When I was an apprentice, I made my house numbers in LEDs, inlaid into my front storm door and driven by the doorbell transformer. That was back in 1977. Today, the original installation is still bangin' away and none of the LEDs have burned out... BTW, they are powered all the time (42 yrs X 365 days X 24 hrs = ~368,000 hours so far). - Dave
            My latest project:
            CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

            "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
            --Lee Iacocca

            From: Royal Oak, Michigan

            Comment


            • #7
              I tried LED gauge lights several years ago, but they didn't direct the light inside the gauges the same, and were actually less bright. These new ones are interesting.
              http://www.tbirdregistry.com/viewdat...ryNumber=33517

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi Dave,

                I agree, I wish they would do things differently as well but I would guess that when your retro fitting you have to work
                up a solution using the current "package" or bulb size. Like your house numbers by the way, they sure will last along
                time when powered properly that is for sure. I'll again try to check the base temp when I install the last few. Thanks again.

                Dakota Boy,

                These do seem to be bright enough for the gauges although I'm sure the camera makes them seem a bit brighter in the
                dark photo. These units are cheap enough which does beg the question of how long they might last but it's worth a try
                right now. These do have a "bulb" end to them which seems to scatter the light like a standard bulb.
                Pat M.
                Monson, MA
                1959 HT Hickory Tan, Thunderbird registry #77617

                Comment


                • #9
                  I replaced most of my dash lights with warm white LED's. I say most because I left the incandescent bulbs on the ignition switch,
                  cigar lighter, and
                  wiper switch to allow the dimmer feature to work. The LED's work well on the gauges and radio-and even the shifter light!

                  Dean

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I replaced all my dash lights several years ago with green LED. Although not dimmable they are just bright enough to not be annoying. I can read all the gauges easily and they just look cool. The best thing about having white gauge faces is that whatever colour you use looks like it was meant to be there.
                    Scott
                    South Delta, BC, Canada
                    1960 White T-Bird, PS, PB that's it
                    Red Leather Interior!
                    www.squarebirds.org/users/sidewalkman
                    Thunderbird Registry #61266
                    http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_g...ibrary/trl.htm

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So, with a good sample of LEDs, some like them, some find them dimmable, etc. I'm willing to bet that in each instance they are different types of LED 'bulbs' which explains the diverse outcomes. There is no assembly standard beyond the actual LED itself.
                      I am all in favor of easing the load on the rheostat and replacing the bulbs with something that lasts longer and runs cooler. The only problem is that back in the day, LEDs weren't around, the use of solid state was in its infancy and our systems were designed for incandescent (as inefficient as they are). Products improve all the time so keep trying until you find a good 'bulb' solution.

                      Howard Prout used LEDs with an inverted recess on top which spreads light sideways. Marcello found that when he pulled his gauges out just a little bit, they got much brighter. I'm sure that a combination of these factors help as Squarebird gauges tend to be dim at best, right from the factory.

                      So much has changed. Just a few years before Squarebirds, the 1955 Thunderbird's electrical system was six-volt and positive ground. In '56, Ford went to 12-v, Neg Gnd (including 12-v gauges) with an added ignition ballast resistor. '57 brought Constant Voltage Regulators as Ford reverted to six-volt gauges. Detergent oil wasn't 'invented' yet so all oil was non-detergent and simply called, 'Motor Oil'. Tires (or tyres for my Canadian friends), fuels, polymers, solid state and a host of engine and safety improvements have evolved dramatically. - Dave
                      My latest project:
                      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                      --Lee Iacocca

                      From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by simplyconnected View Post
                        Tires (or tyres for my Canadian friends). - Dave
                        We spell it tires, we're not completely British! Hoods not bonnets, trunks not boots.
                        Scott
                        South Delta, BC, Canada
                        1960 White T-Bird, PS, PB that's it
                        Red Leather Interior!
                        www.squarebirds.org/users/sidewalkman
                        Thunderbird Registry #61266
                        http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_g...ibrary/trl.htm

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks Scott, I should have said, 'for my Australian and UK friends'.
                          My latest project:
                          CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                          "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                          --Lee Iacocca

                          From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            lol, I'm not worried.
                            Scott
                            South Delta, BC, Canada
                            1960 White T-Bird, PS, PB that's it
                            Red Leather Interior!
                            www.squarebirds.org/users/sidewalkman
                            Thunderbird Registry #61266
                            http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_g...ibrary/trl.htm

                            Comment

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