The Shuttlecraft Logs
Fixing the Tach Needle and Lighting Up the Instruments
August 5, 2010
During my first trip to and from The Dalles, I noticed that the tachometer would stick around 3250 RPM. Then it got to where it would not go below about 1300 RPM. The needle was bent (another fairly common LeSharo situation, I've learned) and the tip of it was scraping the face of the tach dial, getting hung up in the process.
After researching the LeSharo forums for the "proper" fix, I disassembled the instrument cluster and used my wife's blow dryer to heat up the needle a little. While it was warming up, I slipped a small wedge of hard cardstock material I had handy under the end of the needle, then while continuing to heat it with the blow dryer I gently pressed down on the top of the needle near the center with a screwdriver to encourage the bend to unbend. I was concerned that I might snap the needle in the process, so I used very little pressure. It took about ten minutes of heating, cooling and testing before I had the tip of the needle far enough away from the dial face that it now moves freely. It still has a little bend in it, but at least it isn't dragging anymore.
As noted earlier in The Shuttlecraft logs, my instrument panel lights would only work if I had the dimmer in just the right place, usually resting on a pack of gum that was wedged between the knob and the instrument cluster bezel. Well, that worked occasionally and briefly (as in until I hit the next bump), but the potentiometer is shot and more often than not I had no dash lights.
For awhile I had bypassed the problem completely by plugging a little low-intensity LED map light into the cigarette lighter and lining it up in such a way that I could see the gauges, but that wasn't really good either.
So, while I had the instrument cluster exposed, I added a short jumper wire between the two posts of the dimmer switch. Before I actually screwed the second nut back on its post, I made sure that this was enabling the desired effect of having the dash lights on when I turned the headlights on. It did. I put everything back together and then, still feeling ambitious, I popped the cover off the gearshift indicator and found that the light down there was burned out. I replaced it.
Now I have instrument panel lights. Full strength, of course, and non-dimmable, but this has got to be better than using a map light that won't stay where you point it or a pack of gum under compression.
Oh, and one other thing I changed today: I replaced the stock coach window knobs (which fouled the blinds) with window cranks with slightly longer shafts - this way they clear the blinds and you can open and close the windows without fighting the slats. Now if I could just get that right rear window to close all the way (leaves about 1/8" gap when closed)...