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Old 10-25-2004, 10:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Date registered: Feb 2003
Vehicle: 1988 420SEL
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Dash lights

Thought I'd share a little research I did this weekend on dash lights:

The two larger light bulbs that illuminate the instrument panel are 3W, while the smaller bulbs for the row of idiot lights across the bottom are 1.2W. One part number that could be used for these are Sylvania (or Osram) #2721 for the 1.2W, and Sylvania #2821 for the 3W.

However I found a cross reference for the #2821 to Sylvania #194, a lamp that is listed as .27A at 14V, or 3.8W, a little brighter than the standard bulb. The Sylvania #168 is too much, at .35A at 14V, or 4.9W, since some of you have said that 5W will melt the reflectors above the bulbs.

Further review found cross references for the #2721 to parts #74 and #286.

Here's a cross reference web site:

http://www.donsbulbs.com


Here's a web site with some LED replacements:

http://www.acscontrol.com/Index_ACS....laces_List.htm

Regards,
Steve
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Old 10-30-2004, 12:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

Steve,
I've been trying to improve the illumination of my instrument panel.
Have you or anyone tried the #194 - 3.8 W bulbs?
I'm told the #168 - 5 W bulbs burn the reflectors & plastics. How does the 3.8 W bulbs perform?
I've tried the LED bulbs. They don't work as they have too narrow a beam
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Old 10-30-2004, 01:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

Hey sss11,

How have you been?

I switched both sides to the #194 at the time I wrote this original post, because one of the dash lamps had failed. I just happened to have some 194's in my shop. They used to be spec'd for the front side markers/blinkers for the Accord. The Accord now uses the 5W #168, so these 194's were extras. They seem nice and bright in the W126 dash. I'll pull the cluster sometime and check the plastic on the reflectors for overheating.

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Steve
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Old 10-30-2004, 02:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

Thanks for the info..Steve..[:D] Just the other day I was driving my car (at night) and i was wondering what bulbs are in the dash?? I was thinking using some of those hyper white bulbs, if they are the right wattage. Anybody use them yet ??
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Old 10-30-2004, 06:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

Hi Steve,
Thanks for the useful information.
Is there any markings to differentiate between the #194 & #168 bulbs & what model Honda Accord used the #194 bulb. I don't want to accedently pick up a 5W #168 bulb by mistake.
Let's know the results when you pull out the Instrument Panel off for inspection.
It's good to hear from you.
The car's running sweet.
Regards to the family & Happy motoring!
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Old 10-30-2004, 09:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

I don't recall if the bulbs had any markings on the glass, but I think they should. They were in two separate bubble packs from the auto parts store with the cardboard backing marked with the part number. I'll have a look tomorrow when I go out to the shop.

My Accord is a 94, and it uses the 5W #168 for the license plate light as well as the front side markers. I don't remember why I have the 194's on-hand, so I'm thinking I bought them for the Honda, but now the on-line info calls for the 168. Not sure what cars would use the 194 now.

I'm using Advance Auto Parts on-line store to look up some of this info. It doesn't have everything, but some stuff is covered. Here's the link:

http://www.partsamerica.com/

sss11, please give my family's best regards to your sweet wife. Glad to hear your car is running well. Careful in that Singapore traffic. I'll take the train. [:p]
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

new owner here....how do you pull the instrument panel to replace the bulbs?? My 126 has the right turn signal indicator out....annoying!! Thanks! Tom
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Old 06-21-2005, 01:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

Here is a good write-up on fixing the instrument cluster:

http://instrument.articles.mb_.org/renew/

Replace the undescore with Z and you should be able to use the link.
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Old 06-22-2005, 11:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

Hello Axel....having trouble with opening the link....even after replacing the underscore with "z", wondering if you might be able to email the article?? Sorry to be a pain....page will not load!!!
Thank you,
Tom
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Old 06-23-2005, 06:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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RE: Dash lights

Quote:
tom_d - 6/22/2005 2:40 PM

Hello Axel....having trouble with opening the link....even after replacing the underscore with "z", wondering if you might be able to email the article?? Sorry to be a pain....page will not load!!!
Thank you,
Tom
Tom,

Yup, link is dead. Don't know why.

Fortunately, I had the entire artcle and pictures downloaded.

Here is Richard Sexton's write-up:

Instrument Cluster Repair

Introduction There are many issues with the instrument cluster in my 1983 W126 300SD that I wanted to address: the dashboard dimmer had become less and less reliable and finally failed - I had no dash lights. All power to the various switch lights (ie, windoes, heat etc) is controlled by that dimmer so when it fails, you aint got no lights. The clock wasn't working. On the rare occasion when the dimmer switch would work the lights wern't very bright at all, and one of the turn indicator displays was not a green arrow, it was a hole that you could see a green bit of plastic in there someplace. Oh, and the fluorescent orange on the gauge needles had faded to light yellow. These are all easily fixed with about an hours work or so. While this article pertains specifically to a 1983 300SD it should apply roughly to any W126 and to some extent with any similar Mercedes such as 123 or 124 chassis cars. I rounded up all the bits and pieces I'd need. Phillips screwdriver, set of jewelers flathead screwdrivers. New (or rebuilt) dash dimmer rheostat. Three W3W bulbs. I'm loooking at the Narva box I have and it indeed says 17097. These bulbs fit into the plastic bases and are removeable, not like the small bulbs which are moulded into their bases. A paint brush and some fluorescent orange paint and two 100uF 35V DC (Radio Shack part number 272-1028) electrolytic capacitors. Instrument Cluster Removal First, disconnect the battery. The instrument cluster is friction fit into the dashboard. Nothing but stiction holds it in place - compared to say, earlier models such as W108 that while they were also friction fit they were retained with a knurled nut. Mercedes makes and sells tools to pull the cluster but you can make one easily out of a coat hanger. Take an 8 inch piece and bend 1/2" of one end over about 150 degrees, like a "J" shape. You want about 4 inches of shank, then bend the rest over to make a handle. You'll need to make two of these which you can easily do from one coat hanger. Here's what they should look like:

Now, you gave to insert this tool in between the cluster and the dash, with the hook facing down, then rotate it inwards so the hook catches in the cluster. There is 3 inch area that the hook can grab on to in the middle of each side. It's about 1/2 - 3/4" deep, as pictured here:

You don't need a lot of force, but you do need some. If you pull the hooks each side one at a time you will be able to wiggle the cluster forward a few inches to the point where you can pull it out further by hand. It's still attached to all sorts of wires so just pull it out enough so you can mark and unplug the connections. At this point it's worth mentioning that if your dimmer switch, clock and gauge needles are ok and you just want brighter dash lights, simply replace the two 3 watt bulbs and put the dash back in. That's good enough in some cases.

You DO want to mark all the connections or you'll simply hate life when you're putting it back together. Once you've taken a picture or made notes, disconnect all the connections and take the cluster to your bench or desk. Here's the back of the cluster:

Replace The Bulbs This is a good time to renew the bulbs. Here is a map of the back of the cluster. There are three 3 watt bulbs: 2 for dash illumination and one for the brake light. Twist the socket then pull it out - the bulb pulls out of the socket. They'll probably be fairly black if they're original and are probably the reason your dash lighting was dim. The bulb designation is "W3W". The other bulbs are much smaller, and are 1.2 Watts and don't seem to turn black with age (they simpy aren't on long enough to darken). Replacement bulbs are sold by Narva as part #17035. You don't need to replace them as long as they're clear. If you do need to replace them note that the bulb does not come out of the socket, they have plastic molded bases and you need to get them that way, not as replacement bulbs only. Here's a picture of two original 1983 bulbs and one new one:

Fix The Clock Chances are high your clock doesn't work. There are two capacitors (100 pF 35V Radio Shack part number 272-1028) that routinely fail. Unscrew all the screws that hold the instrument pods in place (they are circled in blue on the map) and take the instrument pods off. Carefully pry off the clock hands with your fingernails and place the tach/clock pod face down on a towel on your bench or desk. Unscrew the two screws that hold the clock in, then turn it over and unscrew the 3 small screws that hold the tach/clock dial in place. NOTE: Never touch the face of the dial - minute amounts of oils on your fingers will make a right mess of it. It goes without saying you should wash your hands with soap and water once you're inside the instrument cluster. Now you need to desolder the ground pin from the round brass disk on the back of the pod (illustrated below) - the ground pin for the clock is in the center of that blob of solder, when you melt that you can remove the clock from the tach/clock assembly.

Now that you have the clock out, find the two capacitors. They will look like the ones you bought to replace them and look like small soda pop cans with two leads that go into the circuit board. Note that they have a positive side and a negative side. They will most probably me marked with a + on the positive side although some capacitors (especially the ones Radio Shack sells) are marked with a - on the negative side. If you screw up and lose track of which side is + or - on the circuit board there's a picture here. Now simply desolder the caps and remove enough solder so you no have two holes where the leads to the cap go into the circuit board. Poke the leads of the new caps though the board, then trim the leads so very little is sticking through. Solder the leads in. You've now fixed your clock. You probably don't want to trim the leads beforehand as the hold centers probably won't match the lead spacing and it's a bit of a pig to do it that way; ask me how I know. The old (gold) and new (blue) caps are shown below:


I was lazy on this step and couldn't find my solder so I reused the solder that held the original caps. The clock proced to be intermittant, so I ended up pulling the cluster again and resoldered them. It's worked fine ever since. Clean the Bezel Since you've taken the instrument pods out you are now left with an empty shell of a housing with a clear plastic bezel which if you look carefully will almost certainly appear foggy. You can not get the bezel out, but you must clean it. I used glass cleaner and a lint free cloth. Note that you'll want to avoid lint at all costs (it'll bug you when yo ustare at bits of line when you're driving) or any scratches. Cloth works better that paper towels for this. Clean the bezel throughly inside and out. Paint the Gauge Needles Most of these cars have had their gauge needles fade from signal ("fluorescent") orange to a medium to light yellow. You can fix that; you'll need some orange paint and a brush - patience and a steady hand. Skip this part if you think you're gonna slop paint all over the instrument dials like some sort of Jackson Pollock painting. The brush should be as soft and small as possible, paint is what you can find. I used spray paint sprayed into the cap, but it is possible to get paint for model cars in the right color if you look around. Use single strokes to apply the paint and understand it may take many coats. I found that if I did anything other than make one pass with the brush then it would dreg up the old paint and the yellow would poke throgh. The spray I used was so very thin I had to apply about 8 coats before the gauge needles looked solid orange. Let the hands dry, put the clock hands hack on. Now you can put the instrument pods back in the housing. With any luck it'll look like this:

John Greene adds, in case you want to remove the speedo needle: IF YOU CAREFULLY LIFT THE NEEDLE OVER THE STOP THAT IT RESTS AGAINST (oops) you will notice that it points to a small mark on the outer edge of the dial about 10-15mm from the stop. This is the zero point where there is no tension on the clock spring. If you remove the needle with the fork technique after checking the rest position and marking it if required then you will have no problems. The Dimmer Rheostat The dimmer is held in place by one screw which you would have had to undo to remove the instrument pod. Once the screw is out it simply pulls off the two metal pins. Replace it with a new one. Failing dimmers, cloudy bezels and blackened old light bulbs are what contribute to poor dash illumination. Once these things have been addressed your dash lights will be as bright as when they were new, which is to say, fairly bright. Put It Back In The Car Place the instrument cluster almost in the opening and plug all the electrical connections back in according to the diagram or photo you made. I had the big square connector fall off which gave all sorts of bizarre symptoms; when I pulled the cluster again to check it out it was obvious the connector had come off, so make sure they're on tight. Now just reconnect the battery and fire it up. Now you should be able to see your instruments at night.

Richard Sexton
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