Jeff Ford
March 1, 2001
Contributers: Jeff Ford

Step By Step

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Though it looks good now, our dashpanel had “Dash Jaundice,” that sickly, yellowing look that shows up after the chrome has bid adieu.
First, the dashpanel must be removed from the car. This is fairly easy and straightforward with the Ford assembly manuals that are available from most Mustang parts vendors.
Once the panels are out, we will begin disassembling them; nut drivers work well at this task. We also took this time to assess any damage and/or parts that need replacing.
Upon inspection, we found that the printed circuit board on this car was damaged. Though we fixed ours with contact cement, we strongly recommend that you replace a circuit board that shows signs of damage.
If it is starting here, the rest is not far behind. These circuit boards are available from National Parts Depot. Call (352) 861-8700 for a location nearest you.
We also recommend replacing the voltage regulator while you are removing the panel. This part is nearly impossible to access when the panel is in the car.
You’ll need to remove all the bulbs and the nuts that hold the gauges and the printed circuit board in place, after you have released the gauge housing from the faceplate.
This panel and the two for the amp and the oil (or fuel and temp with tach) are painted flat, dark aqua that we thought looked nice enough to leave alone. The color actually looks like a flat version of the power steering pump paint for the ’69, but we are uncomfortable with trying it out. Discretion was the better part of valor here.
We found another part that desperately needs to be reproduced. These lenses would not come clean, even with the use of 1200-grit paper and Meguiar’s plastic polish. We used our best efforts on the two center lenses, with minimal results. We found some used, and they looked a little better. For now, we’ll have to settle for what we have.
Burnt bulb covers turned into a problem as well on this panel. Many of the covers were in as poor condition as this one, so we headed to the salvage yard and scavenged several from a mid-’80s F-150 pickup truck.
In order to make the panel accept the covers, we had to drill out the hole for the screw that held the originals. We finally settled on a 1/8-inch bit.
We can now be assured of a good fit. After the drilling, we painted the inside of the metal gloss white. As we’ve said in the past, gloss paint reflects light better than the flat stuff, and with our gauge panel lenses, we need all the light we can get.
Ford used these high-tech noise/ vibration dampers on the ’69-’70 dashpanel. They’re actually a vacuum hose cut down to size.
We took an old, leftover Marti Autoworks hose that we used in a previous article and whacked it to length.
On the Deluxe panel, the woodgrain piece will have to be removed by twisting these tabs flat. Set these metal panels aside for now, because we have other problems to deal with.
We tried several approaches for applying argent silver on the inner bezel, followed by the semigloss black everywhere else. Our original plan was to use our aluminum duct tape to finish off the areas that needed to be chrome. This didn’t work or look good, so we moved to Plan B, which was to use our superbright silver paint. That didn’t work either. We finally became frustrated and used Testors bright silver model paint on the chrome areas and a darker silver on the areas that were to be argent over a basecoat of black.
Once again, Testors came to the rescue when we discovered how dissimilar in color the two panels were. The passenger side of the car had turned an ashen-brownish-gray color—due to sun bleaching—while the driver side was close to the original reddish brown.
Oddly, the Testors gloss brown was a nice match to the original. We dry-brushed the paint onto the panel, then sprayed it with flat clear, so that it would match the driver side.
The touch up of the silver on the panel was easier with the woodgrain panel installed, so we used the wood panel as a rest. If we got paint on the woodgrain of the driver side, we just wiped it off with lacquer thinner. However, if you have to repair both sides as in captions 13 and 14, you might consider applying masking tape over the panel to keep the paint off the woodgrain.
The gauge faces were left basically untouched, with the exception of the speedo. This was taped off, and an X-Acto knife was used to open up the speed line on the dial face. The entire face was then masked off, and one light coat of Rust-Oleum florescent orange (available at Home Depot, PN 1955) was sprayed onto the needle and the speed line. Make sure you apply the tape on your leg prior to applying it to the gauge face (to soften the adhesive); otherwise, you might get numbers on your tape instead of the gauge face.
The auxiliary gauges use covers over the needle tops. Remove these to paint the needles. Once again, especially on these gauges, be very careful with the tape. You could alter the calibration on the gauge when you remove the tape. This could also happen if the paint is applied too heavily.
The auxiliary gauges are set using a hot iron. We chose not to mess around here too much and replaced only the destroyed foam on the turn signal. We used black paper gasket material rather than foam, because it was easier to cut to shape.
The clock in the Deluxe panel is held in place by three bolts, and a pressure-fit holds the clock to the white plastic bezel. Carefully pry the metal housing away from the clock and the bezel.
We puzzled over this for several minutes, then discovered that the time set rod was press-fitted onto the spring-loaded sprocket. Whatever you do, don’t lose the spring. The lens on the clock was a little cleaner than the driver-side stuff. Even so, we tried to clean it as best we could.
Many times, the clock’s lack of function has as much to do with gummed-up internals as anything else. We used some compressed air and fine–machine parts oil to lube the old ticker. After copious lubing (always keeping the oil off the face), we were able to get the clock to tick again. We even put it on a 12-volt power source for the day to make sure it kept time; it didn’t—but at least it worked.
We placed the lens in position and used a small socket to tap the sprocket back in place on the clock. The metal backing pod was then placed in position, and the clock was ready to go back home.
Ford used these pushpins to clip the lens onto the clock. Unlike the other side, we didn’t use gloss white paint in the backing pod, since Ford heated the bulb covers on. We figured that since the clock isn’t accurate anyway, we aren’t worried about the correct time enough to justify the hassle.
The last touch was a new old stock Mach 1 nameplate to replace the trashed original. Once again, we have a part that should be replicated.
The panels, while not concours, look 100 percent better. Obviously, had we been aiming for a Mustang Club of America Concours-Driven or Trailered car, the chrome work would have been performed by a vendor such as Mr. Gs—but for our weekend cruise car and occasional driver, this looks great.

Our Project ’70 Mach 1 has now been dubbed “Silver Bullet” by Allan Shepley and staff at Mustang Central in Byron, Georgia, because of our choice of Pewter Silver for a body color—or because we are such pains, and he’d like to lay us flat with a slug of said material. In any case, we decided to be somewhat heroic and tackle the dashpanel ourselves, just to help out. This was one task that we thought would be an easy, greasy deal: a bit of paint, some duct tape, and poof, it would be finished and in the mailbag to Allan. Wrong.

The ’69-’70 Deluxe or Mach 1 dashpanel is a slick-looking piece. The teakwood-looking dashpanel and the nice interplay between black and minimalist chrome give the car a classy look. What it does to your wallet in a restoration is another matter. Point one: The lenses are not available as of yet; read on to see what fun that was. Point two: The sun can (and does) bleach out the teakwood panels. Point three: It goes without saying that the chroming of a piece this big will make you cry—especially when you have to cover up 98 percent of it. In this article, we’ll show you how we circumnavigated some of these pitfalls and fell head over heels into others.