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1990 SEC
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Discussion Starter #1
I thought I'd share with people on this forum my experiences in trying to put some life back into my instrument cluster. No one will mistake me for a gifted mechanic, so here is the unvarnished truth.

Like many other w126 owners I had one issue with my instrument cluster; a dead clock. Sure, at close to 200K the needles on all the guages are more light yellow than orange, the lights are rather dim and the economy guage is as annoying as ever. But the only thing that really did not work was the clock.

I researched the subject and found lots of great stuff on how to fix this nagging problem. The most complete one was from Richard Sexton on the * website. (http://instrument.articles.*/renew/).
From which I have shamelessly copied for this write-up.

However, because I was going to take the instrument cluster out, I thought I might as well "improve" on it with a couple of fixes; white face stencils for the guages for $25 from ebay and chrome rings around the dials from Mercedes Performance (http://www.mercedesperformance.co.uk/).
The result I was hoping for would look something like this:


Armed with a couple of wire hangers, white face stencils, lights bulbs and chrome rings, I was all set.

The first thing I discovered was that the wire hangers were not strong enought to remove the instrument binnacle. Scratch it and the dash top; yes, but not strong enought for the job. Once I had gotten a tool as per Richard's write up, I managed to get the instrument cluster out.

There are lots of lights and wires attached to the rear of the the instrument panel, but it is not all that difficult to figure out what goes where. Most connections are unique and the rest are numbered.


Having separated the three instruments from the binnacle. I first replaced the clock capacitor.
Richard's write-up says there are two, but in my 1990 model I only found one. Anyway, quick work with a soldering iron.


The next thing I did was to remove the needles from the instruments to screw the white stencils to the faceplates of the guages.

This is where I got into a world of trouble.

First off, the needles have no fixed attachement point and if you don't put them back on at correct "0" they will not display the right speed, temperature, oil pressure, etc. Plus the paper stencils can also interfere with the needles.

Second, the needles are very fragile. Trust me, I broke the sleeve on the back of the fuel guage needle and had to solder it back on.[:I] Very small part, very finicky.
Nevertheless, I had the instrument cluster in and out three times before I was somewhat comfortable the guages displayed correctly.[xx(]

The chrome rings were a PITA to put in and the wood surround I had bought


could not be installed without breaking the instrument binnacle apart. I decided to put that off for some other time (probably my best decision this weekend).

However, just to add insult to injury, the chrome ring adds just enough to the thikness of the binnacle that the minute needle on the clock touches it and stops at the 6 o'clock position.[xx(]

So, hours of work and rework, I now have nice white guages with chrome surrounds, I am not sure the guages are correct and my clock still does not work (neither does the economy guage, but I am not going to miss it...).

...not to forget; somehting happened to the dimmer during all this work and now I have no dash lights at all.
 

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Interesting, I've never seen white gauges with chrome surround. Looks nice, I prefer having a black gauge. My clock doesn't work either on my 86' 420 SEL. I just put the time at 12:00 cause it looks kinda nice that way. But I do have a CD player that displays time so I don't feel too bad.
 

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1984 280SEL AMG
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Well, I thank you for showing me where my burnt out dash lights are... Tho for some reason the web site you posted for the removal isn't good. was woundering if you could repost it... Tho my toy has 144K on the odometer, I'm happy to report my clock works fine... Just can't see it at night... Also for some strange reason the pictures that you posted in your post didn't come out on my system ( not odd for my puter it's a home built lump )
 

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86 560SEL
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Some of the pixs are just a icon in my HP built computer. My car is on the third clocks right now.
 

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1985 300sd
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445 Posts
AxelWulff - 4/26/2005 7:07 PM

I thought I'd share with people on this forum my experiences in trying to put some life back into my instrument cluster. No one will mistake me for a gifted mechanic, so here is the unvarnished truth.

Like many other w126 owners I had one issue with my instrument cluster; a dead clock. Sure, at close to 200K the needles on all the guages are more light yellow than orange, the lights are rather dim and the economy guage is as annoying as ever. But the only thing that really did not work was the clock.

I researched the subject and found lots of great stuff on how to fix this nagging problem. The most complete one was from Richard Sexton on the * website. (http://instrument.articles.*/renew/).
From which I have shamelessly copied for this write-up.

However, because I was going to take the instrument cluster out, I thought I might as well "improve" on it with a couple of fixes; white face stencils for the guages for $25 from ebay and chrome rings around the dials from Mercedes Performance (http://www.mercedesperformance.co.uk/).
The result I was hoping for would look something like this:


Armed with a couple of wire hangers, white face stencils, lights bulbs and chrome rings, I was all set.

The first thing I discovered was that the wire hangers were not strong enought to remove the instrument binnacle. Scratch it and the dash top; yes, but not strong enought for the job. Once I had gotten a tool as per Richard's write up, I managed to get the instrument cluster out.

There are lots of lights and wires attached to the rear of the the instrument panel, but it is not all that difficult to figure out what goes where. Most connections are unique and the rest are numbered.


Having separated the three instruments from the binnacle. I first replaced the clock capacitor.
Richard's write-up says there are two, but in my 1990 model I only found one. Anyway, quick work with a soldering iron.


The next thing I did was to remove the needles from the instruments to screw the white stencils to the faceplates of the guages.

This is where I got into a world of trouble.

First off, the needles have no fixed attachement point and if you don't put them back on at correct "0" they will not display the right speed, temperature, oil pressure, etc. Plus the paper stencils can also interfere with the needles.

Second, the needles are very fragile. Trust me, I broke the sleeve on the back of the fuel guage needle and had to solder it back on.[:I] Very small part, very finicky.
Nevertheless, I had the instrument cluster in and out three times before I was somewhat comfortable the guages displayed correctly.[xx(]

The chrome rings were a PITA to put in and the wood surround I had bought


could not be installed without breaking the instrument binnacle apart. I decided to put that off for some other time (probably my best decision this weekend).

However, just to add insult to injury, the chrome ring adds just enough to the thikness of the binnacle that the minute needle on the clock touches it and stops at the 6 o'clock position.[xx(]

So, hours of work and rework, I now have nice white guages with chrome surrounds, I am not sure the guages are correct and my clock still does not work (neither does the economy guage, but I am not going to miss it...).

...not to forget; somehting happened to the dimmer during all this work and now I have no dash lights at all.

That picture you used in your post is of one of MY clusters. You probably got the picture from the ebay auction I won a while ago. I really like the chrome surrounds, and never had a problem when I installed mine. Strangely enough, I misplaced them though, after going through several clusters and not wanting to open and reopen them. Hopefully I can find them this summer though. Those needles are a PITA though!!
 

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1990 SEC
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Discussion Starter #6
Interesting,

The picture of the white faced guages with the chrome rings is actually off of the Mercedes Performance website.
The some of the other pictures are from Richard Saxton's write up on the m_b_z.org website (without the spaces). Go to their home page and click on the Instrument Cluster Articles link

The dimmer switch appears to have fixed itself, I now have full instrument and dash lights.

I still need to fix the clock and the economy guage this weekend. I'll tempt fate and paint the instrument needles as well. Probably red.
 

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1984 280SEL AMG
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701 Posts
Thanx for giving me the website, one problem tho... It doesn't show the exat location of the rheostat.. I've looked everywhere ( outside ) for the rheostat knob, just to see if it's turned to low... Any Ideas?
 

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1990 SEC
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4,102 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Razz,

There are only two knobs on the instrument cluster; one in lower right corner which controls the clock, and one in the lower left corner which zeros out the trip counter when you push it in and increases/decrease the dash lights when you turn in.

Hope this helps. If not, Richard Sexton on the m_b_z.org website has a write up on how to fix the rheostat as well.[:)]

Good luck.
 

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1984 280SEL AMG
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701 Posts
I saw the right up, that's why I came up with the question.. I didn't know the trip reset doubled as the dash light adjuster. THANX A BUNCH!!![:D][:D][:D]
 

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1990 SEC
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Discussion Starter #10
The pictures did not come out quite as planned.

The first picture shows the dimmer/rheostat in the lower right corner of the photo.

The second picture shows what the dimmer switch looks like when you open it up.

Hope this helps.
 

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1991 300 SE
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18,534 Posts
Axel, it looks like the pics have been deleted from the hosting site. Perhaps you could post the pics via BW – this is a very common problem and a good thread for fixing it.
 

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1985 300sd
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445 Posts
AxelWulff - 4/27/2005 10:09 AM

Interesting,

The picture of the white faced guages with the chrome rings is actually off of the Mercedes Performance website.
The some of the other pictures are from Richard Saxton's write up on the m_b_z.org website (without the spaces). Go to their home page and click on the Instrument Cluster Articles link

The dimmer switch appears to have fixed itself, I now have full instrument and dash lights.

I still need to fix the clock and the economy guage this weekend. I'll tempt fate and paint the instrument needles as well. Probably red.
Well then they must have borrowed it from that auction then, because I specifically remember that to be my cluster because I have an 85 300sd, which I put that cluster into and noticed when installing it that it did not have the antilock symbol. If I can ever find the thing (my dad probably threw it away, after all he says put it away or he will) I will post some pictures of it.
 

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1985 300sd
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445 Posts
Oh yeah, wire hangers worked great for me, did you bend a little hook at the end of them?? If you grab the correct part of the cluster they seem to slide out really easy. If you use two hangers, one on each side, and pull both sides, the clusters seem to come out much easier. But then again, I have TONS of practice with this. I have probably taken my cluster out 50 times.
 
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