Jim Smart
October 1, 1998

Step By Step

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After you remove the eight self-tapped Phillips-head screws holding the cluster together, the back will come off like this.
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When the plastic bezel and steel back are parted, there’s an internal lamp shield that concentrates light on the instruments. Carefully lift it off at this time.
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Two screws retain the speedometer. If you’re doing a restoration and want to turn the odometer back to zero, it’s easy. Unclip the odometer numerals and lift out the movement. Hold the tenths movement and roll the mileage backward or forward to 00000.0, then reinstall the movement. Carefully position the movement brackets across the speedometer frame uniformly, mesh the odometer gear with the worm gear, and then reinstall the clip. Give the gear teeth a light dose of white grease. Lubricate the speedometer head (where the speedometer cable attaches) with a light mix of WD-40 and white grease.
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Before you reinstall the speedometer in the housing, don’t forget to reinstall the fiber isolator.
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Also replace the two rubber O-rings (speedometer noise isolators) in the retaining screws. Any hardware store will have these O-rings.
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This is the time to inspect and replace any defective instruments. Before you replace any instruments, first ascertain the fault. Sending units and voltage limiters are the most common items to fail. Rarely does an instrument fail. Touch up the instrument needles with Testers model paint in fluorescent orange.
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Carefully lay the the lamp shield in place, seating the turn signal light tubes squarely against the back. Check the tube seals for dry rot before installation. Any dry rot will cause light leaks.
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Transfer the rubber snubbers from the old lens to the new lens, then use black weatherstrip sealer around the beveled turn signal lenses to eliminate any light leaks.
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Lay the steel back onto the new SEMO Classic Mustang instrument bezel from Pro Products as shown, making sure everything seats smoothly.
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Carefully thread the self-tapping screws into the new bezel. Because the screw holes aren’t threaded, extra caution is required to avoid cracking the plastic.
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Finally, replace the voltage limiter with a new one from SEMO Classic Mustang. Most instrument problems are the direct result of voltage limiter malfunction or a faulty sending unit.
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Our completed five-dial cluster is ready to be installed.

It's one of those pet peeves that drive us crazy. You've seen it. It's the scratched and milky lenses that prohibit easy viewing of the instruments. It's the bouncing speedometer needle that leaves you wondering whether you're doing 50 or 70 mph. Is the temperature gauge really indicating an overheat, or is the voltage limiter finally giving out? Any way you look at it, your instrument panel is important. It's the first thing you see when you enter your vehicle. And it's supposed to keep you accurately informed about engine compartment events and vehicle speed.

Our '65 coupe project buzzed off San Jose's Milpitas, California, assembly line in February 1965 with a low-tech Falcon instrument panel, which is not what we want for our driving pleasure. We looked to Mustang Village in Fontana, California, for a well-preserved '66 five-dial cluster and to SEMO Classic Mustang in southeast Missouri for all the trimmings to make our instrument panel look like new again.

We learned that some dashboard modification is required when swapping a Falcon cluster for a five-dial unit. Aside from minor cutting to clear the speedometer, this is an easy swap you should look into if you're building a retro restomod. What we focus on here is the instrument panel itself. We disassemble the unit, examine its internals, detail the instruments as necessary, install a new lens and voltage limiter, and then button the dazzling little beauty up in preparation for installation in the '65.

We're thrilled with our five-dial cluster from Mustang Village. It shows roughly 83,000 original dry and well- preserved California miles. What happened to the '66 Mustang it came out of is anyone's guess. We're going to show you how to make an old instrument cluster look and work like new again.