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Ok here we go - time to change the orange dash lights in my 2001, and convert to LEDs. I have done lots of reading on the matter and thought I had it pretty much figured out - not. I ran into some snags along the way that I was able to work thru, and I thought I’d share what I learned with those who may have run into similar issues.

The main instrument cluster is a straightforward install. Remove the instrument cluster; replace the 4 bulbs with #194 LEDs. I used single LED wedge replacements with an inverted cone lens, which disperses light out from the sides as well as the end. I got mine here: http://www.superbrightleds.com/mini-wedge.html
I bought the WLED 1-LED bulb in blue for $1.49 each. Of course the LEDs can only be installed 1 way, and I got 3 of them wrong. Turned the 3 non-working bulbs 180 degrees - good to go. The light fill in the dash is very even, with virtually undetectable hot spots. Very happy.

When I got to the heater control panel, I was told that the bulbs were #74 wedge base, and were direct replacements. I ordered 3 of them to replace the 3 behind the panel. Upon disassembly, I found that the bulbs on the 2001 do not pull out from the front. The heater control must be removed and the black cover taken off.

Once inside I found the lights were in holders much like the indicator lights behind the instrument cluster. The #74 bulb can also be ordered with the holder, so I ordered those. Almost done… :)


The bulbs came in a couple days later. I pulled the heater control out, and removed the bulbs, only to find that the #74 bulb holder is substantially larger than the lights and holders I pulled out of the heater control. What to do?

Since I could find no LEDs to match, and I didn’t want incandescent bulbs, I had to improvise. I discovered that I could take the original bulbs from the heater control, carefully pull the leads off of the holder, straighten them out and remove the original bulb, leaving only the holder. My hope was to use the original holder with my new LEDs.





With the holders all prepped, it was time to install the LEDs. I bent the leads on one of the bare #74 LEDs straight, and tried to install it into the holder.



I found it was just a bit too wide, and too long. First I used a pair of side cutters to cut about 1/8” off the end off of the plastic holder.



continued...


NOTE: Pics were modified for attachment for archival purposes. The order of the attachments matches the order in which the pics were originally posted. - Enola, 12/28/06
 

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Then I used a razor blade knife to shave a bit off of the narrow sides.


With the leads straight, I guide them into the holes in the holder bottom, and seat the LED in place. The LED fits into the holder nicely.



I carefully bend the leads back up into the slot where the leads from the original bulb were.


I then bend them around the holder, following the groove. I finished it off by tucking the remaining lead in the groove. Ready to install.


After installing I found I had 2 of the 3 installed incorrectly. So again, disassemble, turn the lights 180, reinstall. Now they all work. (note, these are not turned on as they are on my desk)


These #74 LEDs do not have the inverted cone like the 194s so I had some serious hot spots. My solution was to cut 1/4" squares of aluminum foil and glue them to the end of the LEDs to disperse the light out from the sides of the LED instead of the end. Works very well!


NOTE: Pics were modified for attachment for archival purposes. The order of the attachments matches the order in which the pics were originally posted. - Enola, 12/28/06
 

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NOW, the stupid AC / heater control panel itself. Don’t like the orange behind the white. It really messes the color up. I know you can’t use acetone, nor can you scrape it off. What to do?

I took the actual panel off of the plastic holder - it is nothing more than a sticker. Using some care to get it started, it comes off pretty easily. I then took the sticker to a place in town called Signs by Tomorrow. They make all kinds of graphic art stuff for businesses. After asking, I found out they could basically scan what I have and make a nearly exact replica, only on clear media. It even retains the textured look. Lets give it a try.



I had the first one made in just black and clear (bottom). Wherever there was red, white or blue on the original (top), I had them remove the color. It turned out great, and fit perfectly! Couple problems: 1) the clear symbols don’t show up during the day, and 2) the black was allowing some light from the LEDs to bleed thru. Round 2. I asked for double black, white where the symbols are, and 3 shades of blue for the 3 temperature segments.

I got this one back (middle) and tried it. The double black was very good. The 3 shades of blue I loved. However the white didn’t print sharply, and there was a small gap between the black background and the white letters and symbols. It looked during the daylight hours, but when the lights hit it from behind everything got fuzzy from the light leaking all around the letters and symbols.

I liked the colors of the middle one, with the sharpness of the bottom. My solution? Install both. I put the colored one down first using 3M Super 77 spray glue. After it was dry, I overlaid the black and clear one (bottom) using the same glue. Since they made them EXACTLY the same, all the letters and symbols lined up perfectly. Finished it looks almost exactly like the factory unit, except mine has no red or white on the temp control - just blues. At night the temp control segments all look the same color, but in daylight you see the medium blue for cold, and almost white for hot. I have about $25 in this mess, but I am very satisfied. They did save my project in case I want to change colors, or make changes.

All in all it was a lot of work, but it really turned out nice. The LEDs aren’t blinding bright, nor did I want them to be. I am actually quite surprised at the output of these single LEDs. They are almost too bright at full intensity. However the LEDs are also dimmable - something I didn’t expect.

The pictures don’t really reflect the true look of the finished project. Whatever you think, so be it. I like it. I hope this info can help someone who may have been discouraged from trying due to a lack of solutions. Here are a couple of things to try.

Good luck!

dog
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I will post pics of the finished project when I can figure out how to take a good pic in the dark with my camera. Soon...
 

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humanoid said:
Dood! Thanks for a thorough write-up on the install!
Absolutely. There are so many more details I could write up - I'm just tired. I got over a week in this project. With that kind of investment in time, I just had to share.
 

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i did pretty much the same thing but i put jack and zero from the nightmare before christmas on my gauge face
 

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i did a similiar thing with my 04 taco. Instead i used a wired led lights and just mounted them in the holes that contained the stock bulbs in the ac panel. The wired led bulbs had a positive and negaitive wire and that was it. I just grounded the neg to a bolt behind the radio and spliced the positive to the lights. They are wide angle led so the light dispersed very well. I think they were like 10.00 total from a light store on the web. i never thoght about bending the actually led wires to fit in, but looks good.
 

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Out-STAND-ing writeup!.... Thanx for taking the time to document and illustrate everything... :waytogo: :applause:
 

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dlydrgr said:
i did pretty much the same thing but i put jack and zero from the nightmare before christmas on my gauge face
I saw your thread on this - looks good! Did you have someone make this for you, or did you make it all yourself?

blktaco58 said:
i did a similiar thing with my 04 taco. Instead i used a wired led lights and just mounted them in the holes that contained the stock bulbs in the ac panel.
Knowing what I now know, and if I had to do it over, I would use different LEDs for sure. Most likely bare 12v units like you have. But as it was, I had a good sized pile of these 74s to use up. They also work nicely in the glove box and the ash tray.
 

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i made them myself
 

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Well, I did what I could with the pix. Not the best, but you get the idea.





I left the orange inserts in the control knobs. As you can see, it doesn't affect the color too much. I tried taking the orange plastic inserts out of the AC and Recirculation controls (the part that lights up the lettering). Cant do it. Without the plastic inserts, the buttons do not function. Try it yourself - it's easy to see why. The inserts reduce the light enough that the letters dont light. Oh well. I'll make something later to replace them.
 

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i scanned the gauge face, imported it to photoshoppe changed the lettering added the pictures printed it out like a normal picture laminated both sides cut it out with an exacto knife and then super 77ed it to the cluster backing
it took all in all from start to finish about 12 hours and i made 4 test runs till i got the one i wanted PHOTOSHOPPE 7 KICKS A?S
later dlydrgr
 

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:waytogo: yes if you feel the need to make it easy for yourself just get a 4Runner face plate and you should be set, Since they are clear/white on the back anyway no need 4 photoshop unless you want a custon deisgn.....

But the thread was a huge help ill send pics of what the end result was
 

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:waytogo: yes if you feel the need to make it easy for yourself just get a 4Runner face plate and you should be set, Since they are clear/white on the back anyway


Holy crap, I finally caught this after reading through this entire thread for the 3rd or 4th time. Thought I'd bump it for that tid bit of info right there ^ Definately gonna look into this and as far as I can tell from pics on AutoTrader it seems to be true. And with the a/c and re-circulate buttons too ! Still have to verify though. I'm gonna be down in Sun Valley for the next week or so... definately have to check out the junkyards now.
 
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