Camaro gauge refurbishment
Making Dashboard and Console Gauges Look New
Larry Weiner - January 12, 2012 10:00 AM
This is the reproduction instrument cluster housing, one of the new parts to be installed. Others are the lenses and clips.
The original instrument cluster housing and lens show age. The lenses are scratched and there is damage to the bright trim that accents the gauge pods.
After disconnecting the battery, remove screws that retain lower steering column trim.
Remove three retaining nuts from the steering column braces. This will allow the column to be lowered several inches, providing the space necessary to remove the instrument cluster housing.
From underneath the dashboard, unscrew the knurled nut from the speedometer head and remove the speedometer cable.
Remove the seven screws that fasten the plastic instrument cluster housing to the dashboard. There are three at the top and four at the bottom.
After removing the screws, gently pull the top of the instrument cluster housing forward about three inches. Unplug the harness connector on upper left side of cluster, the high beam indicator light at the top center and, if equipped, the plug with the yellow wire for the low fuel indicator light, which is located on the lower left.
You can see the disconnected instrument harness plug, the speedometer cable, the high beam light (green wire) and the low fuel warning light plug (yellow wire).
The cluster housing is positioned face down on a clean, smooth surface. We remove the five screws that retain the metal instrument cluster to the plastic housing.
The original GM ID tag on the instrument cluster shows a build date of Oct. 26, 1966.
After the instrument cluster is removed, lift the green light reflective ring from the cluster housing. Note the dirt on the ring, especially at the top.
This is the instrument cluster housing with lens in place. Note the dirt on what should be a clear lens.
Remove the two screws that retain the metal high beam indicator bulb housing and ground wire from instrument cluster housing.
With the instrument cluster assembly removed from the housing, it’s time to clean and service the gauges. Remove the two screws that retain the tachometer and the two that hold the speedometer.
The speedometer is removed from the housing. Repeat for the tachometer or the fuel gauge.
Clean the instrument cluster assembly and replace any burned out bulbs.
After cleaning and servicing as needed, reinstall the plastic information light assemblies, speedometer and tachometer (or fuel gauge) in the cluster assembly.
The new metal retaining clips are installed after the rubber bushings that cushion the lens. The clips are serrated, so be sure to push them on the plastic tabs correctly the first time.
Install the small high beam plastic lens, followed by the metal high beam indicator bulb housing and
Install the new instrument cluster housing lens.
Reinstall the green light reflective trim ring.
Install the instrument cluster assembly and the five retaining screws.
With the instrument cluster housing reassembled, place a soft cloth on the steering column to prevent scratches. With the housing just in front of the dash on top of the steering column, reconnect the instrument harness plug, high beam light (green wire) and low fuel warning light plug (yellow wire). Push the cluster housing flush with the dash and replace the seven Phillips head screws that are used to retain the housing to the dash.
To prevent cracking the mounting tabs on the new housing, be careful not to overtighten the screws. Once the instrument cluster housing is installed, reattach the speedometer cable. Center the steering column between the tach and speedo and bolt it back up to the braces. Torque nuts to 15 to 25 lbs-ft, then reinstall the plastic column trim.
The new instrument cluster housing and lens installation is complete. Connect the battery and check to make sure all of the lights and gauges work properly.
Next, we wanted to replace the lenses in the console gauges with these reproduction ones.
The original lenses have surface scratches from years of cleaning.
Remove the clock knob from the threaded stem using a small flat blade screwdriver.
Turn the console over and remove the rear courtesy lamp assembly. The light bulb has been removed from the clips. The orange and white wires can now be removed from the console.
Remove the orange and white wires from retaining clips that run the length of the console.
Remove the four flat blade screws that hold the console gauge housing to the console.
This is the correct installation of the console gauge harness on the instrument cluster.
Remove the four Phillips screws that hold the console gauge housing cover to the base. These are the front two screws, but there are also two more at the rear.
The console gauge housing is shown with the cover removed.
Four speed nuts hold the lens retainer plate in place.
The clips that retain the lenses in the gauge lens plate are shown. Bend one clip back on each lens slightly to release the lens.
Here’s the lens plate with the lenses removed.
The new reproduction lenses (top) are compared to the original factory lenses and are identical. Reverse the process to reassemble the gauge housing and reinstall on the console. Be sure to clean any fingerprints on the inside of the new lenses during reassembly.
The auxiliary gauge package is reassembled and looking like new.
There’s easy access to the windshield wiper switch and headlight switch.
This is a reproduction two-speed windshield wiper switch
The wiper switch is the top switch on the left side.
After loosening the screw, remove the knob from the shaft.
After unscrewing the retainer, the chrome bezel can be removed from the dashboard. The windshield wiper switch can now be removed from the back side of the dashboard.
Unplug the old switch from the harness and replace it with the new switch.
The original switch is on the left. The only visual differences between the switches is the reproduction does not have the “Delco Remy Made in the USA” logo molded into the plastic on the back and the center pin is not brass as it is on the original. This does not affect the operation of the switch, and once it was replaced, the two-speed windshield wipers worked perfectly.
Chevrolet called the first-generation Camaro “The closest thing to a ’Vette yet”.
For most, a new Corvette was beyond their reach financially, to say nothing of the impracticality of a two-seater. The new Camaro was affordable, offered sports car-like handling, room for four, and many of the same powertrain options that were available in the plastic fantastic.
There were more similarities between the 1967 Camaro and the 1968 Corvette than most enthusiasts realize. Both were created at the GM Design Center’s Chevrolet Studio under the direction of Henry Haga. The new Corvette and Camaro featured similar styling cues. The Corvette-inspired styling was matched by a wide range of optional engines that included the thundering solid lifter L78 375 horsepower 396. Add it all up and the new Camaro truly was the sports car for everyone. While there was no way to know it at the time, the 1967 Camaro also offered a real sneak peek at a key interior element of the upcoming 1968 Corvette, the dashboard.
The interior of the 1967 Camaro showed significant Corvette influence, with both developed under the direction of George Angersbach. Looking at the dashboard of the Camaro, it’s easy to see the Corvette influence, with the two large primary gauge pods situated directly in front of the driver, the uninterrupted horizontal dash pad and the center stack. Standard front seating was comprised of Strato bucket seats, and when the optional console and gauges were chosen, the result was a very intimate, sports car-like cockpit.
The Camaro dash exemplified the concept of form meeting function, especially the tach and speedometer that were easily viewed through the same optional simulated walnut steering wheel with brushed aluminum spokes that was available on the ’68 Corvette.
The dashboard on this Camaro is in very good original condition. Age and use have resulted in some wear and tear. In this case, it was apparent that the instrument cluster housing had been removed from the vehicle at some time. During reinstallation, the retaining screws were overtightened, cracking the mounting tabs on the plastic housing. To remedy the situation, at several of the attachment points, steel washers had been used to retain the damaged housing to the dashboard. Thankfully, reproduction instrument cluster housings are available to replace the damaged part.
After four decades of exposure and cleaning, the lenses for the tachometer and speedometer were scratched and due for replacement. The same was true of the three lenses on the auxiliary gauges on the console. Reproduction lenses are available that will make the gauges look like new. Disassembling the gauge housings provides us with the opportunity to clean over four decades of accumulated dust and dirt.
If you are replacing the instrument cluster housing for a 1967 or 1968 Camaro, we strongly advise that you also purchase a new pair of the metal clips that are used for mounting the instrument cluster to the housing. The original clips were designed to only be installed once and are nearly impossible to remove and reuse without breaking.