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Thread: DIY: Interior Lighting Part 1 (Gauge Cluster)

  1. #1
    t3h ch33se Wiscon_Mark's Avatar
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    DIY: Interior Lighting Part 1 (Gauge Cluster)

    Since I don't have enough time to do everything at once, you guys will get this in pieces. The writeup has already taken longer than the actual process, In my estimate. Here goes:

    What you will need:
    • Phillips Head Screwdriver
      Standard Screwdriver
      Small Phillips Head
      Colored Sharpie / Colored Paint of your choice / Bulb Condoms of your choice
      (if replacing bulbs) 4 bulb #194s
      Sandpaper / Dremel Kit (recommended)

    Note: This will not require you to remove your needles.

    Step 1 (Removing the guage cluster)

    Unscrew the following screws on the guage bezel:




    Now you will need to remove the wiring harnesses from the Cruise/defrost/foglight buttons
    Press the tab on the wiring harnesses to pop it free:


    Now you need to take out the screws holding the guage pod in the dash
    (the two screws on the top, the photo only shows one as the clip for the second screw is missing and it can't be used)
    (identical on the left side)

    Now tip the guage cluster forward so you can get at the 3 big harnesses on it.
    Pull the clips up with a screwdriver and push the harness back and it'll pop out.


    now that you can pull the cluster out farther, you can get at the remaining two small harnesses and pop them out of the back. Now you can remove the cluster.

    Note for automatic tranny drivers (poor souls ) : you may have another wiring harness on the back for the indicators, I'm not sure.

    You want to move the steering wheel all the way down, and pull the guage cluster out the right side, with it fairly upright. It's a bit of a squeeze, but you can pull it off. Just be careful, because if you crank on it, you'll rip your dash material:
    :? :?

    Now, we get to the real work...

    Step 2:

    Undo the braces that hold the top of the guage cluster together (screw at the bottom of the 2 metal pieces)


    Then take the back part of the cluster off so it looks like this:


    Here is the back of the cluster:

    You want to remove all the brown bulb holders (6 of them, 4 big, and 2 small [ones in the center])and replace the bulbs with the color of your choice and/or color them with a sharpie/paint. If you're not replacing the bulbs, you need to take the condoms off of them and then color them. Replace all the bulbs.

    Note: you can't really see that the two small bulbs in the center are brown in the picture, but those are the ones you want to replace/color. edit: They are #74s. I do know that they ARE NOT #37s.


    Now, remove all the silver screws in the back of the cluster. They are what is holding the clusters in place. DO NOT REMOVE THE NEEDLES OR THE BLACK SCREWS ON THE FRONT! It isn't necessary and removing needles is bad.


    Take the guage out, and sand off the back two layers on the guages. There should be a silvery layer, followed by the green junk that colors your guages. Dust the junk off after sanding it all down, and then color the back with the color of your choice (in this case, red).


    Photo of the guages lit by natural white light:

    You can see that the bulbs aren't even the real factor in lighting, but every advantage counts.

    Before you reinstall the guages:

    There are walls that restrict the light to certain areas, and you may break them down. You can do so by hand fairly easily, and some might require a little work from the dremel tool, but try to get rid of some of them for more even, brighter lighting. I also used metallic tape to reflect the light towards the guages


    Repeat the sanding process with all of the guages. To test the guages, plug just the necessary part back into the car, and see that everything works.

    Now reinstall everything in reverse order, and enjoy!

    Notes:
    The parking light switch tends to be triggered, so you have to remember to shut it off when you have everything reinstalled.


    Also, your trip odometer will probably be incidentally reset when you remove the guages.

    Good Luck!


    Here is a link to another writeup that uses a different take on the lighting that will help with unevenness: viewtopic.php?f=39&t=22903
    ~Mark [SLi Admin]
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  2. #2
    t3h ub3r m3mber Perdue's Avatar
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    I think Mark deserves a big round of applause for doing this, then going back for the writeup. The ease of this is unbelieveable and I'll also be doing it this weekend. Free mods that look this good can't be beat.
    John Perdue
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    SLi nOOb 95legacyl's Avatar
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    thanks for the write up i prolly wait till the weekend to try this

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    SLi nOOb CTGTDRIVER17's Avatar
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    i installed white gauge face overlays on my gauges, but i went throught the same thing mark did.....i should have changed my lights while i was in there.

    also, mark, my gauge bezel didnt want to come fully out due to the alarm wires....they werent a pop out thing. i had to work around that....i dont know if any other 98's have that, but just giving a heads up.


    oh, by the way, awesome friggen writeup mark!!
    Steve

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    SLi Supporter badbasser98's Avatar
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    nice, am thinking about doing the same thing this w/e, long as nothing else comes up...


    excellent write-up Mark!

    -BB98
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    SLi O.G. Plays_with_Toys's Avatar
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    Question: When you remove the cluster, and you have the black piece and clear piece that go over the gauges, is the clear easily seperatable from the black shroud? I think giving the shrowd some color would be pretty sweet.

    Also, good writeup!
    1996 Legacy L wagon
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  7. #7
    t3h ch33se Wiscon_Mark's Avatar
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    Yes, the clear part comes out. I actually colored it black with a sharpie to dim it because it was too bright with the front lighting.




    Here's the final product (pic taken 10 minutes ago)



    Yep, the "x1000 rpms" part is green....it just lit up when I replaced the bulb :? Gotta go back in and fix that one of these days.


    Hey, thanks for the comments, you guys! It made my day!
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    t3h ub3r m3mber shazapple's Avatar
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    Great write up! even though I already coloured the bulbs im taking mine apart again to sand them down.

    What grit sandpaper did you use?

  9. #9
    t3h ch33se Wiscon_Mark's Avatar
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    dremel, heavy grit

    I think if you rough up the back of the guages a little, they absorb the red sharpie a little better. it really doesn't need to be smoothed out, since you're not looking at it.
    ~Mark [SLi Admin]
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  10. #10
    t3h ch33se Wiscon_Mark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plays_with_Toys
    I think giving the shrowd some color would be pretty sweet.
    I think I missed the point of your question the first time around.

    The shroud that covers up the edges around the guage faces is indeed removable (its quite easy, it may even fall out when you take the stuff apart) and I painted it a while ago to a glossy black.
    ~Mark [SLi Admin]
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    Drama Queen 2.0
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    Good show ole chap.

    My local autoparts store sells the condoms in all colors for pretty much all size bulbs.

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    Administrator Huffer's Avatar
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    This is friggin' great Mark!

    I totally wish I had known this when I had my Impreza... I bet the principles are the same...

    I'm booking this mod to do in the next couple of weeks... Sweetness! 8)
    - Roger - Site Admin
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    SLi nOOb 95legacyl's Avatar
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    im just wondering if anyone out there could photoshop differnt colors im thinking about doing this but not set on a color yet and ive never sat down and learn how to use photoshop im sure its pretty easy once you no what your doing

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    OMFGAWD phi11's Avatar
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    the hardest part about photoshop, is buying it!!!!!!!!!!lol
    give me some time, like i'm at work, but i'll do it.
    what colors? e

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    SLi nOOb 95legacyl's Avatar
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    im thinking about blue it might not be the best for your eyes but it looks good and if its not hard just play around with differnt colors and post the ones you thnk look the best

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    Administrator Huffer's Avatar
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    Blue?


    MY99 Impreza dash...used blue LEDs. Not mine.
    - Roger - Site Admin
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    SLi O.G. Plays_with_Toys's Avatar
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    Mark, you answered the question, thanks! Strange though, I have a green car, so I want to keep the green gauges.
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    t3h ch33se Wiscon_Mark's Avatar
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    I'd advise against using the blue...I tried blue bulbs, and even with green stuff sanded off, it still looked green :?

    However, if you go with blue LEDs like Huffer did, it may work nicer and look a true blue.

    Blue=bad night vision, though

    But sometimes you have to make sacrfices
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    OMFGAWD phi11's Avatar
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    ummm..........ya, So I said I would do it.
    tryed. It's not going to happen today.
    ( need a better photo ) sorry.
    I lose.


    EDIT
    photo chopp'n colors, man.
    ya, I don't type well. I'm all skater brained .

  20. #20
    t3h ch33se Wiscon_Mark's Avatar
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    ???
    ~Mark [SLi Admin]
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  21. #21
    Needs to update their Email!
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    Mark...WELL DONE SIR!! Well done.

    This will have to be done on mine...at some point in time...

    GGT
    2007 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT spec.B DGM 6MT w/ 4 exhaust tips, 3 LSDs, 225's, stage2!

    Wanna see it?

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  22. #22
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    incandescent blue bulbs will never look right. The more yellow the light the more green it will come out... kind of white if you're lucky. Blue LED's are the way to go but while I was reading this whole thing I was trying to figure out how to retrofit LED's in there... shouldn't be too hard, but I think I'd have to pull my own cluster out to figure it out... and I'd have to look up what kind of resistors you'd have to put on.

  23. #23
    OMFGAWD phi11's Avatar
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    I found this on the MN forum ( www.mnsubaru.com )

    this is it!!!!!

    www.superbrightleds.com
    :wav: :wav:

  24. #24
    SLi nOOb CTGTDRIVER17's Avatar
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    wow. now i want the LUXART® LED Light Modules for my car......see what u did phi11
    Steve

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    t3h ub3r m3mber Perdue's Avatar
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    I've figured out the x1000r/min thing. The problem is that you can't get to that part of the gauge face to sand it. This leaves a couple of options, you could use whiteout or tape to cover it as Mark did with the KPH notations on the spedometer (see pictures), or you can undo the two screws that hold the gauge face to the electronic module. These are very small and will probably require a jeweler's screwdriver. I was fortunate enough to have a screwdriver small enough at the fire station when I did this. Take the screws out with the gauge facing you. Once they are out, rotate the gauge face gently and carefully as to not bend the needle or it's post. Once the gauge face is inverted on it's module, put the screws back in. Now flip the assembly over and you can access the x1000r/min with sand paper. Just paint/color it before reversing the process and you're good to go. Hope this helps.

    Edit: Would anyone care to try a blue sharpie or clear blue paint on their gauges, rather than bulbs to see if it would work? I hadn't thought to do it while I was working on mine. If it doesn't work, it can just be sanded back off.
    John Perdue
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  26. #26
    t3h ch33se Wiscon_Mark's Avatar
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    blue would probably just come out dark.

    Incidentally, I didn't black out the km/hr section...It just never lit up.

    P-body, post some pictures
    ~Mark [SLi Admin]
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  27. #27
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    This looks really awesome, and it sparked a cool idea within me. Would it be possible to perhaps cut out an area somewhere on the face of the rpm or speedometer with a nice little SLi design and get it lighted?


    It'd look something like this
    05 Blue Legacy 2.5i

  28. #28
    t3h ch33se Wiscon_Mark's Avatar
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    you know what would be even cooler? getting those into a 2nd gen cluster

    but I digress...

    It would be a cool project to work that logo in there, but to do it well, you'd have to remove the guage face, and that would mean removing the needles.

    Needle removal=baaaad

    I'd advise against it going directly on the guage face, but feel free to do it elsewhere, like the guage bezel or something
    ~Mark [SLi Admin]
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    OMFGAWD phi11's Avatar
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    t3h ub3r m3mber shazapple's Avatar
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    Heres mine






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