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-   1958 To 1960 Squarebirds - General Technical Discussion (http://squarebirds.org/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=14)
-   -   gauge issues (http://squarebirds.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=12712)

benfisher 03-20-2012 11:17 PM

gauge issues
Hello all, just like to introduce myself. My name is Ben, I have just purchased a 1959 T-Bird 430 j code. I will post some pictures in the future, for now I am after some help with my fuel and temp gauges, for some reason they both quit working at the same time. I assume it is the "constant voltage regulator", however, being new to the t-Bird world I would appreciate any thoughts and suggestions I should try. Also, any help with finding replacement gauges would be greatly appreciated.
I thought of having the gauges sent out and updated to 12 volt units and bypassing the constant voltage regulator but keep the original face plate. I also need to replace the light switch (the rheostat does not work).
Thank you.

simplyconnected 03-20-2012 11:36 PM

Your gauge problems, across the board, are common to many classic cars. Ford began using the 6-volt system, then changed to 12-volts in 1956.

In 1957, Ford quickly went back to 6-volt and kept all their cars and trucks that way through the decades to follow. So... you may have a constant voltage regulator failure. No big deal and they don't break the bank. Be sure you disconnect your battery lead before changing.

Another bigger issue is rust and corrosion, which ruins a good electrical bond. I'm sure you've seen older cars at the light... two running lights are on until the brakes are applied, then one running light shuts off and another brake light comes on, then it goes back. These are caused by bad grounds.

After sitting under two straps for fifty years, your fuel tank needs a copper ground wire to accurately complete its electrical path and display a good gauge reading. One of our members just installed a new fuel tank last weekend, and he included a ground wire. I suggest you do the same:

Read NYsquarebird58's posts HERE

benfisher 03-20-2012 11:57 PM

I have tested the gauges with the flashlight batteries in series test, they do not work at all. Perhaps I am doing something wrong.
Is there an upgrade to the constant voltage regulator?
Regards: Ben

benfisher 03-21-2012 12:12 AM

I have read about the "electronic route" to go when I replace the constant Voltage Regulator (CVR) unit.
Could someone please let me know a part number or what to ask for, and a good place to order one.
Regards: Ben.

YellowRose 03-21-2012 01:04 AM

gauge issues
Hi Ben,

You can get new CVR units from any of our Tbirds parts houses listed in the Advertisements Forum below. Ask if their CVR units are made in China though.... They have been known to fail. There is also a solid state version that you can check out on the Technical Resource Library. The TRL link is always part of my signature element. They are about $50, but as far as I am concerned, they are worth it. I have one on my '59 Tbird, after going through two regular CVR's. The Bird Nest can rebuild your gauges (and quartz your clock) if they are shot.

lawyercalif 03-21-2012 01:28 AM

Or you can put modern gauges in the Old bezels like I just did with mine. I put in a Quad gauge where the fuel and temp were, and a tach where the clock was. No more constant voltage regulator to worry about, plus now you have oil pressure and voltage. Dash still looks pretty much stock.

jopizz 03-21-2012 10:29 AM

If you look in the TRL also you will see instructions on taking your headlight switch apart and cleaning it. It's a lot cheaper than buying a replacement.

Astrowing 03-21-2012 02:47 PM

The electronic versions of the CVR provide circuit protection to the downstream gauges. The old mechanical CVR's have some failure modes that take out everything downstream.

JohnG 03-23-2012 08:00 PM

If you are going to get both gauges to work, you need to systematically start at the beginning of the system (circuits) and follow it along , either identifying problems or eliminating them.

Having the wiring diagram is a good idea (see Technical Resource Library).

1) do you have voltage at the Constant Voltage Regulator?

2) does the CVR work correctly? (fluctuate from 12V to 0 V, averaging 6 V)

3) do your gauges work? (ground out, very briefly provide power, see if the needle jumps)

4) do the sending units work?
a) does the Temp sending unit vary in resistance as
the surrounding temp changes?
b) does the Fuel sending unit vary in resistance as you move the float arm?

5) do you have good grounds at the each sending unit? Have you done cleaning and grounding?

This only takes a multimeter and some lamp cord sized jumper cables.

You can thus comprehensively check out the entire system and know what you have, as opposed to changing things and hoping to get lucky.

Depending on the problem(s) you identify, you can

* get new CVR or make your own
* get your instruments overhauled, calibrated
* buy new sending unit(s)
* install your own grounds

and in the process, develop methodical approaches that pay off repeatedly on the ol' car.


c4clewis 03-26-2012 08:19 AM


Originally Posted by lawyercalif (Post 63678)
Or you can put modern gauges in the Old bezels like I just did with mine. I put in a Quad gauge where the fuel and temp were, and a tach where the clock was. No more constant voltage regulator to worry about, plus now you have oil pressure and voltage. Dash still looks pretty much stock.

Do you have any pictures of the dash? That sounds like a great idea.

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