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3/5/18 6:01pm - Original Message: 'center gauge cluster removal'
Drose Lifetime Member
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Solon, OH - USA

Vette(s):
1981

Joined: 10/14/2015
Posts: 13
I am looking for the proceedure to remove my center gauge cluster and replace the volt meter.  Anybody have any suggestions? Thanks

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3/6/18 2:34pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
Vman73
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Gig Harbor, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1973 L82 4 Speed Coupe - Very original, well documented driver/survivor. 2016 Bend Regional NCRS Top Flight.

Joined: 10/2/2014
Posts: 384
The good news is you have an ‘81, they are a bit easier than earlier C3’s. Start with the two carpeted side panels on the console. Three screws on each side, one in the back, middle and front. You’ll have to move the seats forward to get at the rear ones. Next remove your radio knobs and the nuts below that hold it to the gauge cluster, the radio itself should stay in place. Next there are two screws on each side of gauge cluster and two more going up into the dash panel. The last two screws are a bit tricky and located at the bottom corners of the cluster. They are a 7 or 8mm hex head that go up through the console plate into the cluster face plate. You may need the use of a mirror and flashlight to find them, they are a bit bit up and under. Depending on whether your car has been apart before, the screws may be missing. Many people left them out during a custom stereo installation or the plastic bosses in bottom of the cluster have broken away. With the screws removed, the cluster plate including the gauges should tip out from the top. A bit of wiggling may be required to get it started. Be careful as you remove it, 35 yr old plastic is brittle and breaks very easily. With the cluster about half way out you’ll notice several connections that need to be unplugged. There is a small light connection at the top and the large main connector in the middle. The main connector has a pair of plastic snaps that need to be compressed to get it out. 81’s have a flexible curcuit panel on the back side of the cluster. There are 10-12 copper tabs that hook up to the main connector. Inspect the tabs, if there in good shape, re-use, if not get a replacement from one of the vendors. Those tabs could be a contributing factor to your gauge problem. While the cluster is out replace all of the light bulbs. Installation is basically the reverse order. Good luck and let us know how it goes !!

|UPDATED|3/6/2018 11:34:25 AM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


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John Sigmund
valkman57@sbcglobal.net
NCRS Member 61302
NW NCRS Chapter Member



Duct tape is the new Black !!
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3/6/18 2:58pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
Drose Lifetime Member
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Solon, OH - USA

Vette(s):
1981

Joined: 10/14/2015
Posts: 13
Great response, exactly what I was looking for.  Thank You , much appreciated.
Drose


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3/6/18 10:39pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
Adams' Apple Lifetime Member
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Duncanville, TX - USA

Vette(s):
#1-1974 L-48 4spd Cp Med Red Metallic/Black deluxe int w/AC/tilt/tele./p/w-p/b/ Am-Fm/map light National/Regional/Chapter NCRS "Top Flight" #2-1985 Bright Red/Carmine Cp.L-98/auto Member: NCRS, NCRS Texas, Corvette Legends of Texas

Joined: 11/8/2003
Posts: 19507
Thanks John....I got no idea on the later cars for stuff like that. Thumbs Up

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Joel Adams
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3/6/18 11:33pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
F4Gary Gold Member
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Grapevine, TX - USA

Vette(s):
1972 LT-1 convertible with factory air.

Joined: 8/26/2006
Posts: 904
Hey Drose, if you don't have an AIM for your year car, you should get one.

http://www.corvettecentral.com/accessory/books-1/assembly-manuals/81-assembly-instruction-manual-loose-leaf-113043


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3/8/18 5:29pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
Drose Lifetime Member
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Solon, OH - USA

Vette(s):
1981

Joined: 10/14/2015
Posts: 13
Thanks,I agree I do need to purchase that manual

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3/8/18 5:48pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
Drose Lifetime Member
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Solon, OH - USA

Vette(s):
1981

Joined: 10/14/2015
Posts: 13
Wow how easy you made that purchase for me.
Much appreciated. Drose


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3/13/18 1:41pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
KentvetteUK
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, - France

Vette(s):
1978 L48 Auto. Red with Oyster Leather interior. Owned since 1990.

Joined: 8/21/2002
Posts: 15
Vman73 said: The good news is you have an ‘81, they are a bit easier than earlier C3’s. Start with the two carpeted side panels on the console. Three screws on each side, one in the back, middle and front. You’ll have to move the seats forward to get at the rear ones. Next remove your radio knobs and the nuts below that hold it to the gauge cluster, the radio itself should stay in place. Next there are two screws on each side of gauge cluster and two more going up into the dash panel. The last two screws are a bit tricky and located at the bottom corners of the cluster. They are a 7 or 8mm hex head that go up through the console plate into the cluster face plate. You may need the use of a mirror and flashlight to find them, they are a bit bit up and under. Depending on whether your car has been apart before, the screws may be missing. Many people left them out during a custom stereo installation or the plastic bosses in bottom of the cluster have broken away. With the screws removed, the cluster plate including the gauges should tip out from the top. A bit of wiggling may be required to get it started. Be careful as you remove it, 35 yr old plastic is brittle and breaks very easily. With the cluster about half way out you’ll notice several connections that need to be unplugged. There is a small light connection at the top and the large main connector in the middle. The main connector has a pair of plastic snaps that need to be compressed to get it out. 81’s have a flexible curcuit panel on the back side of the cluster. There are 10-12 copper tabs that hook up to the main connector. Inspect the tabs, if there in good shape, re-use, if not get a replacement from one of the vendors. Those tabs could be a contributing factor to your gauge problem. While the cluster is out replace all of the light bulbs. Installation is basically the reverse order. Good luck and let us know how it goes !!



John - This is interesting!   I have a '78, so I'm guessing the process is similar.  But, I'm interested as I'd always assumed that it was necessary to remove the lower, gear shift section of the console.  One of these days (read years!) I'd like to get our clock working.......



|UPDATED|3/13/2018 10:41:24 AM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


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Stephen J Irons
Corvette Club France
CCCUK Lifetime Member
Corvettes of Southern California
NCM Family Member
Red Corvettes Have More Fun!
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3/15/18 2:56pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
Vman73
Standard Member
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Gig Harbor, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1973 L82 4 Speed Coupe - Very original, well documented driver/survivor. 2016 Bend Regional NCRS Top Flight.

Joined: 10/2/2014
Posts: 384
Stephen, if my memory is correct, the switch over to the newer style console and dash assembly took place in ‘77 so yours should be the same. Quick reference for me is carpeted side panels, they became the norm with the change over. To answer your question, yes removing the console plate may make removal of the gauge cluster a bit simpler but it is not a necessity. IMHO it can also open up its own can of worms. As I stated in my original post, 40 yr old plastic can be a bit brittle depending on its condition and/if it has ever been taken apart before. When you remove the lower console plate you will be dealing with a very stiff cable that operates the heater/defroster controls. While not necessary to disconnect, once you begin to remove the plate the cable will want to straighten. That in itself is not the problem, getting it bent back for installation puts a lot of stress on the plastic screw bosses that hold the heater/def control to the underside of console plate. I think there is three bosses total, break one you’re okay, break two and you are likely in need of a new console plate. They are available, not too tough to switch out, but you will understand what I mean by the stiffness of the cable. If you have other work that you want to do to the console assembly, then yes remove it with the cluster. If not, I would just stick to the gauge cluster removal. This has been my experience with approx 8-10 ‘77 to ‘82 cars needing repairs. Which ever way you decide to go, take your time, be careful with the plastic and try to leave the big hammers in the tool box !! Hope this helps and let us know of your personal experience if you decide to undertake. Perhaps others will chime in with their experiences.

|UPDATED|3/15/2018 11:56:43 AM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


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John Sigmund
valkman57@sbcglobal.net
NCRS Member 61302
NW NCRS Chapter Member



Duct tape is the new Black !!
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3/15/18 3:00pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
Vman73
Standard Member
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Gig Harbor, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1973 L82 4 Speed Coupe - Very original, well documented driver/survivor. 2016 Bend Regional NCRS Top Flight.

Joined: 10/2/2014
Posts: 384
One more tidbit of advice when you are reassembling any molded plastic assemblies with thread cutting screws (sheet metal screws) that also pertains to extruded aluminum bosses. When first installed, the screw threads are designed to cut into the plastic/aluminum bosses. Once the threads are cut, it is best that the screws thread back into the same groove, not trying to cut new ones. Molded plastic bosses will often (always) split, extruded aluminum bosses will bind and strip out. The trick to getting back into the original groove is to install the tip of the screw, turn it backwards while applying a light amount of pressure and watch for it to drop back into the already cut groove. It’s really easy once you get the hang of it, saving you time, frustration and $$$ for replacement parts, if you can find them..............................................................Mr. Adams, as always, you are very welcome !!

|UPDATED|3/15/2018 12:00:38 PM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


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John Sigmund
valkman57@sbcglobal.net
NCRS Member 61302
NW NCRS Chapter Member



Duct tape is the new Black !!
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3/23/18 5:11am - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
KentvetteUK
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, - France

Vette(s):
1978 L48 Auto. Red with Oyster Leather interior. Owned since 1990.

Joined: 8/21/2002
Posts: 15
Thanks John!

I confess that I'm not desperate to rush in and remove the console, even though I'd like the clock running!   But if it comes to it I will certainly let you know how it goes.

I've had the side carpet pieces out a few times to do some work on the radio, the wash/wipe/delay module and, in fact, the heater control.  I know what you mean about that cable!   

We're off on a long weekend in the old '78 today, to Normandy with the French Corvette Club, staying in Etretat.  It'll be about 1400 miles all told by the time we're back home I think.   Alas, not a great weather forecast.....Cry


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Stephen J Irons
Corvette Club France
CCCUK Lifetime Member
Corvettes of Southern California
NCM Family Member
Red Corvettes Have More Fun!
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3/30/18 8:56pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
CeeDee
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, - New Zealand

Vette(s):
Silver '81 mostly original C3. Silver interior, bilstiens, big sway bars, headers.

Joined: 3/26/2005
Posts: 232
First time I removed the instrument cluster from my '81, I first separated it from the bottom console 
piece which has the heater controls. Much much easier, believe me. The screws holding the two 
together weren't all that hard to get to and undo.  Those heater cables are not friendly at all
even if you try and then take the bottom console out separately. I can't even begin to imagine
trying to take the two out together as a unit.  Ugh.  Just ugh.  Unnecessary nightmare stuff in my
opinion.

Also, I found that the back of the cluster would firmly catch on the edges of the dash where it was
coming out of, and one could not see why. Trial and error taught me that sliding a plastic credit card
gently around the edge of the cluster, between it and the dash, as you bring the cluster forward was a 
wonderful cure for this !

Cheers from down under

Chris
NZ


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Kiwi Chris

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4/7/18 6:22pm - Reply: 'Re: center gauge cluster removal'
lakeside49
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CANTON, MI - USA

Vette(s):
`82 Shark

Joined: 10/13/2013
Posts: 20
You forgot to specify that you use a "pre-C3" or "expired" credit card to smoothen the gauge bezel's extraction.  Many of us had our credit cards taken away by our wives after owning our addictive C3's for a few months.   Lol
 
 
 


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Lakeside 49
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