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Thoughts on failed IPCs and what to do with them. Please read.


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Forewarning: this is a long post, but please read it if you are serious about keeping your Reatta(s) long term and/or have had IPC issues.

If anyone here has old burned out or badly erratic IPCs from a 90/91 that are gathering dust, PM me as I would like a few non-working units to dissect, and see if I can revive them. I would pay the shipping if someone has one or two that they would like to donate to the cause. If my efforts are successful, I would certainly share my findings on here for the greater good.

If I became proficient enough at repairing this unit, many otherwise unusable clusters could be saved and returned to service. Likewise, other owners with the tools and the skill in electronics may be able to repair their own if a standard repair tutorial could be developed. This could even be posted on Ronnie's site if it came to fruition.

Obviously, there are already companies that provide this service, but I think that many owners are put off by the cost of repairs ($150+ in most cases). Since there is currently a relatively ready supply of working spares available from other Reatta enthusiasts and on ebay, I fear that a lot of IPCs are getting tossed when they die, rather than being repaired.

At some point in the future, this practice will lead to a shortage of a critical part that is needed for these cars to stay on the road. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you have a dead cluster, please don't chuck it after you've replaced it. Please make it available to other owners at low or no cost to have rebuilt, or at least part out for the repair of other clusters.

Consider that the following parts are proprietary and can not be obtained new in most cases:

- Vacuum florescent display panels which are prone to loose their effective viewable brightness with age, or burn out if the glass envelope is breached. Also, while rare, the filament wires can break, making the display unusable. Over-voltage from IPC malfunctions can contribute to this problem.

- Microprocessors, made for GM by Motorola which control the operation of the cluster and it's communication on the vehicle network.

- VF display driver IC's, made by Allegro semiconductor. The particular variant, the 58xx series, used in early/mid 90's era GM digital clusters has been obsoleted for a few years. If a chip is damaged, a donor board needs to be found to pull it from.

- even something as simple as the smoke colored plastic lens, and the function buttons are reusable to clean up a cluster that works but is cosmetically chewed up.

The bottom line is that re-use and recycle are not just for newspapers and soda cans. This mentality should extend to other electronic parts of the car, as there is a finite supply of modules to be used as spares. These are also the parts most likely to need replacement in the more distant future, when the supply of spares will be much less than it is currently.

Mechanical parts can be fabricated, and bodies and interiors can be repaired. In many cases, after 20+ years the electronic parts needed to repair a module are hard or impossible to source. Imagine what it will be like in another 10 or 20 years, with the way technology is changing.

It would be wise to consider this same treatment of other unique modules, like the 88/89 CRT and CRTC, though the latter seems not to have many reported failures. No one thinks about a future shortage when they are throwing out something that they just replaced, but when a lack of supply finally happens it is too late to do anything about it.

I don't advocate stuffing your entire garage, shed and basement with Reatta parts but a little foresight is a valuable thing for those of us who plan to keep these cars until they are certified classic, which I believe is bound to happen.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to make a point, and offer a potential solution for any IPC paperweights you may have sitting around.


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