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Guest Mc_Reatta

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Guest Mc_Reatta

I just stumbled upon the fact that the Rat Shack (Radio Shack) now sells Electroluminescent panels and tape.

EL Tape & Wire - RadioShack Collections - RadioShack.com

Along with these, they sell a requisite power inverter for them:

RadioShack Power Inverter for EL Wire/Tape/Panel : LED holders & assemblies | RadioShack.com

Looks like with a little modification it could be used to power the EL panels in our 80s Reattas when the last of the inverter supplies dry up.

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FWIW, I have disassemble one of the pink inverters. Only thing wrong with it is that several solder joints cracked on the small circuit board, likely due to heat. That is easy enough to fix, however opening the inverter to do the repair is very difficult without damaging the enclosure and the terminals on the bottom. So, I need to find a better (less destructive) way to get into one, or need to find a new enclosure to put it in after repairs. Moral of the story: do not throw away failed inverters just yet. They may be salvageable.

At this point, I am more concerned about the EL strip itself, as it does lose brightness with age. They are now 24-25 years old (on original parts anyway) though all the EL in my 88 looks fine to my eye. The hardest one to replace would be the shift indicator as it contains several discrete circuits within one strip (custom made of course).

KDirk

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Guest Mc_Reatta

I've never found a good way to remove old broken down potting compound from a circuit. It takes lots of patience and picks and sharp knives to cut it away, and even then you usually end up damaging things.

Could try soaking in alcohol, acetone, vinegar or mineral spirits to see if one of them might break it down and soften it, but they might not help.

As to whether it could replace either or both of our inverters is an interesting question. Best I can figure, the inverter is sized current wise to match the total area of EL surface it has to excite. I think the upper one has less area in the two switches than the console one with two switches and the gear shift panel. The one internal to the CRT would have the least.

Maybe if these panels are gaining in popularity again we can get some design information so we can figure out how match the inverter to the EL panels we have.

Also, none of the colors of the ones at Radio Shack seems like a good match to I assume the natural color of the ones used in the Reatta. But if Radio Shack is selling them, that bodes well to finding a source for those so we may be able to replace the old burned out panels if your good with an x-acto knife.

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Mc,

The potting compound in the OEM inverters is actually RTV silicone, not epoxy so is not too difficult to remove. The bigger problem is that the plastic upper enclosure has to be pretty well shredded to get into it.

I found a place online that sells strip and full sheet size EL in the right color. The sheet is about letter size and has alternating contact points around all 4 outer edges. You need 2 dissimilar contact points to complete the circuit to the inverter to make it glow.

The tricky part when custom cutting this is that you need the + and - contacts (1 of each) on the finished piece no matter what shape or size.

Doing a piece for the shift indicator like this would be near impossible. The window and mirror switches are easy enough, the headlamp and wiper pod would be tougher.

KDirk

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