96roadmaster

How to get to the hvac control panel bulbs?

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If I've tabulated all of this correctly, there are three different bulb styles used in the interior of the 1st gen Riviera; BA9S (single contact miniature bayonet), BA15D (double contact bayonet), and wedge. Furthermore, not all of the BA9S or wedge lamps are the same; different applications use different lamps (some are brighter than others).  However, it's not clear that LED replacements can duplicate that specificity; it seems that the LEDs are one size fits all.  In a way, that makes it easier: match the base, choose the color, and you're done.

 

With that in mind, for a complete replacement of the interior bulbs you would need:

- dash: (6) wedge
- clock: BA9S
- hot/alt/oil: (3) red wedge [1]
- cold: green wedge [1]
- parking brake: red BA9S [2]
- signals: (2) green wedge [1]
- high beams: red wedge [1]
- IGN switch: BA9S
- cruise: BA9S
- radio: BA9S
- HVAC: (4) BA9S
- front courtesy: BA15D
- front ashtray: BA9S
- front console: (2) BA15D
- shift indicator: BA9S
- glove box: BA9S
- rear courtesy: BA15D
- rear ashtray: BA9S [3]
- sail panel: (2) BA15D

 

If I haven't missed anything (have I?), that means you need 6 white wedge, 4 red wedge[1], 3 green wedge[1], 12 white BA9S, 1 red BA9S[1,2], and 6 white BA15D.

 

[1] The original bulbs are white behind colored lenses.  I opted to use colored LEDs instead.

[2] Is this right?  The manual specs an 1881 bulb (BA9S base) but all the other warning lights have a wedge base.

[3] Is there a light on the rear ashtray?

Edited by KongaMan
change to 4 HVAC bulbs (see edit history)

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KongaMan, you're exactly correct. I found all 3 bulb types when pulling them out, and replaced with the wedge and BA9S. I like the HVAC and gear indicator as bright as possible to match the speedometer bucket, and it's pretty near now. Didn't get a chance to shoot a pic last night because I got home late, but will put one up tonight.

I didn't do the idiot lights since I like the soft dim of the originals, and I didn't care to deal with resistors for the turn signals. So the only bulbs I'm replacing are the constant-on ones.

 

Would you happen to know how to get to the radio bulb? I can't find the darn thing and am reluctant to pull the radio out to get to it.

 

After doing the dash now I'm wondering why I didn't do the courtesy lights. So I'll be ordering that set tonight too!

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1 hour ago, 96roadmaster said:

Would you happen to know how to get to the radio bulb? I can't find the darn thing and am reluctant to pull the radio out to get to it.

 

I hate to tell you this, but I think that the radio bulb is inside the radio: you have to pull it out and take the top cover off.  I also seem to remember that it's fixed brightness; it comes on when the radio is turned on, and it's not connected to the dash light dimmer.

 

I'm trying to remember how to pull the radio.  I can't remember if you have to remove the bezel around the HVAC controls to get to the screws that hold radio face plate in place, or if the faceplate is held in only by the screws on the center vent.  Remove those screws (if you must), remove the vent, take the knobs off the radio, and remove the nuts from the shafts.  The face plate should then come off.  There are two screws through the dash bracket into the bottom of the radio.  Remove those and the whole radio comes right out. 

 

1 hour ago, 96roadmaster said:

After doing the dash now I'm wondering why I didn't do the courtesy lights. So I'll be ordering that set tonight too!

 

You might want to check the amount of room inside the courtesy lights before you order.  Some of the LEDs are longer than the bulbs they replace, and if you need an adapter they might be longer still.  At some point, they won't fit.

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Took a picture for you guys to help you see what it looks like:

 

IMG_8793_zpsz5vulm6c.jpg

 

The set I got is 6000k in color so it has a tinge of blue, but that's how I wanted it. They also make LEDs in the stock 2700k yellowish hue, and a 5000k pure white. It's all just preference, they brightness is the same.

 

Thank you KongaMan for your help. Toyed with the car some more last night and decided not to do the courtesy lights. I don't feel comfortable taking apart 50 year old dome lights/lenses in fear that they'll crack. So I'm going to just leave the lights alone. Will get to the radio this weekend though.

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You won't have any trouble seeing those at night. ;)

 

Questions:

- How well does the dimmer work -- if it works at all?

- Did you try different temperatures for the white LEDs?  I'm curious as to how much difference there would be.  I suppose they're cheap enough you could just try it and see; you only need 6 for the two main clusters.  Back when I swapped out my original bulbs for brighter 194s, I tried amber and blue bulbs as well (thinking one of them might look nice; neither did :P).

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I had a Pontiac 6000 a number of years ago.  It had orange dash lights but used clear bulbs.  Bulbs don't make the color, it's the paint color that the cluster is painted that changes the color you see.  If you wanted orange dash lights in your Riviera  (not suggesting it) change the background color from the OE light blue to a fluorescent orange. 

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4 hours ago, RivNut said:

I had a Pontiac 6000 a number of years ago.  It had orange dash lights but used clear bulbs.  Bulbs don't make the color, it's the paint color that the cluster is painted that changes the color you see.  If you wanted orange dash lights in your Riviera  (not suggesting it) change the background color from the OE light blue to a fluorescent orange. 

 

Hmm...  If the bulb isn't responsible for the color, wouldn't the stock lights be blue because of the plastic?  And what about the other lamps (ignition switch, shift indicator, radio, ashtray, etc) that aren't in the blue plastic dash?

 

All I can say is I put in different colored bulbs and the illumination changed color to match.  The issue wasn't that it didn't work (it did; quite well); it was that the resulting appearance wasn't appealing.

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I just know that when the dash lights were on in my Pontiac,  the ambient light,  guage markings, and needles were orange against black.  During the day, the needles and markings on the guage were white on black.  All of the bulbs were the clear bulbs that you get at your local jobber.  The light blue on the housings for the Rivieras is so light, there's probably not a noticeable color in the light you see, just enough so that it's not bright white.  If you look through the edge of the piece of plastic that shows which gear you're in, you can see that it has a blue tint built into it.  Back in  the day, all bulbs were clear, except for amber marker lights, so any color had to be from background or a colored lens.  

 

Now that you can get LEDs in color, anything is possible.  Don't ask me how I can chose the color of the dials in the Kenwood in my wagon, all I do is keep turning the knob until I get to the color I want.  

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10 hours ago, KongaMan said:

You won't have any trouble seeing those at night. ;)

 

Questions:

- How well does the dimmer work -- if it works at all?

- Did you try different temperatures for the white LEDs?  I'm curious as to how much difference there would be.  I suppose they're cheap enough you could just try it and see; you only need 6 for the two main clusters.  Back when I swapped out my original bulbs for brighter 194s, I tried amber and blue bulbs as well (thinking one of them might look nice; neither did :P).

 

The dimmer doesn't dim gradually, it dims in uneven "stages." That doesn't bother me though since I swapped to LEDs to be brighter, not dim them down. But in the future when dimmable LEDs are available I'll switch them again. I'm happy now regardless though. I tried a deeper blue first since I had those laying around from my other car but it was too much for the Riviera. So I bought a superwhite set and I'm happy with them.

In fact I had a few leftovers from the Riviera and got started on the 58 last night too lol. And I loved them, so I also just bought a set for that car.

 

5 hours ago, RivNut said:

I had a Pontiac 6000 a number of years ago.  It had orange dash lights but used clear bulbs.  Bulbs don't make the color, it's the paint color that the cluster is painted that changes the color you see.  If you wanted orange dash lights in your Riviera  (not suggesting it) change the background color from the OE light blue to a fluorescent orange. 

 

Ed, my 96 Roadmaster had white lights but would light up green. I took the cluster apart and the bulbs had a very tiny plastic rubber coating on them which gave it the color. I took apart the whole thing and my cluster turned white. I suspect your Pontiac was the same way.

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11 minutes ago, 96roadmaster said:

Ed, my 96 Roadmaster had white lights but would light up green. I took the cluster apart and the bulbs had a very tiny plastic rubber coating on them which gave it the color. I took apart the whole thing and my cluster turned white. I suspect your Pontiac was the same way.

Two different  scenarios.   I had to replace a couple of bulbs as well.  Clear bulbs, no rubber coatings,  just orange painted housings.

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2 hours ago, RivNut said:

I just know that when the dash lights were on in my Pontiac,  the ambient light,  guage markings, and needles were orange against black.  During the day, the needles and markings on the guage were white on black.  All of the bulbs were the clear bulbs that you get at your local jobber.  The light blue on the housings for the Rivieras is so light, there's probably not a noticeable color in the light you see, just enough so that it's not bright white.  If you look through the edge of the piece of plastic that shows which gear you're in, you can see that it has a blue tint built into it.  Back in  the day, all bulbs were clear, except for amber marker lights, so any color had to be from background or a colored lens.

 

I believe the Pontiac has backlit gauges with a film on the back that imparts the color.  The numbers, lettering, etc. are painted with a translucent white coating on the front so they look white from the front in ambient light, but when the light shines through from the back, they're orange.  Which means that changing the color is a bit more complicated that installing colored bulbs.  It would be like trying to change the Riviera's high-beam indicator to blue just by installing a blue bulb.

 

On the Riviera, the light doesn't come through the gauge; it shines on the gauge.  As such, the color of the bulb will change the apparent color of the gauge.

 

2 hours ago, RivNut said:

Now that you can get LEDs in color, anything is possible.  Don't ask me how I can chose the color of the dials in the Kenwood in my wagon, all I do is keep turning the knob until I get to the color I want.  

 

I'd guess they use multi-color LEDs.

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Kongaman,

 

I don't know what else to say.  I was there. I took it apart. I saw what I saw.  I guess was hallucinating.  Thanks for being there with me and letting me know that I didn't see what I saw.  Maybe your 1981 Pontiac 6000 was built at a different assembly plant than mine or better yet it came from a different planet.  Damned parallel universes. 

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Digression aside, the point remains that if you want to change the color of the dash illumination in the 1st gen Riv all you have to do is change the bulb color.  That's it.  It's simple, and it works.

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7 hours ago, 96roadmaster said:

The dimmer doesn't dim gradually, it dims in uneven "stages."

 

That's good to know.  I like the option of having brighter lights, but I also do a fair amount of rural driving (that is, with little ambient light).  In that situation I prefer to have the dash lights dimmed a bit so I can better see the road with having two spotlights staring at me.

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The lights aren't bright enough to be obtrusive at all. I live in a dimly lit area and the dash lights do not bother me, but your preference may be otherwise.

 

For $10 it was the cheapest update I've ever done on any car.

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Long time ago I wanted to post some pics about the change to LED. Only thing I will change is the HVAC lights, who are the wrong LEDs...

Cheerz,

Schmiddy

 

 

IMG_1108.thumb.JPG.8f29fe4a6019aa6d0eb790a91786796e.JPGIMG_1014.thumb.JPG.51f7d7be01c805796a66fdfb2c998469.JPGIMG_1017.thumb.JPG.bc288af6e94ea908ea2a205aca0c0a3e.JPGIMG_0991.thumb.jpg.ec8ff97eb7cc6f7014f097f43a44ab2e.jpgIMG_0994.thumb.jpg.1f31b6ec34d8f797db003e3e37c9860f.jpgIMG_1009.thumb.jpg.6c418c39381fdcc09ec41a668277e0a8.jpgIMG_1109.thumb.JPG.87d6a1476d320c85bc400ed44cf1704c.JPG

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Eric, they came out well, looks great. I'm doing same process on 63, including the strip LED in the shift quadrant.

 

You must have tiny tiny hands on really really long arms with grips of steel in those fingers?

 

Some of those dash lights are almost impossible to get to unless you are a contortionist. My dash is still in place and find the HI BEAM, TURN SIGNAL ones almost impossible to get to.

 

Must admit, I'm happy with the results so will persevere, but my mutilated hands are telling me something else!

 

Again, thanks for the LED strip idea, this is what I come up with. You buy them in sections and they are sticky backed. I used some JB Weld that dries clear just to make sure. To make it removable, using a twin plug and socket for power and earth.

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

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11 hours ago, rodneybeauchamp said:

Eric, they came out well, looks great. I'm doing same process on 63, including the strip LED in the shift quadrant.

 

You must have tiny tiny hands on really really long arms with grips of steel in those fingers?

 

Some of those dash lights are almost impossible to get to unless you are a contortionist. My dash is still in place and find the HI BEAM, TURN SIGNAL ones almost impossible to get to.

 

Must admit, I'm happy with the results so will persevere, but my mutilated hands are telling me something else!

 

Again, thanks for the LED strip idea, this is what I come up with. You buy them in sections and they are sticky backed. I used some JB Weld that dries clear just to make sure. To make it removable, using a twin plug and socket for power and earth.

 

Hey Rodney,

True that with the tiny hands and long arms... :lol:  After I almost broke my back (as a contortionist I am relatively bad), I decided to remove the Dashpad to get better to the lights ... It makes the access immensely easier!

You're welcome Rodney, the idea with the strip was actually obvious as I thought, how da hell can I illuminate all letters evenly??? (with one small light bulb is impossible). I'm glad to see that I could help you!

Uhh, now you welded in with epoxy, I hope you will never have a problem with a single LED :wacko:! I glued mine with hot glue, wich can be removed with a hair dryer (or even put the whole unit in the deep freeze for a hour or so, to take off the glue from the metal with a single hit) and change the whole strip. But anyway, good work looks great and well done with the plugs! (Best solution to be able to remove the whole unit).

Cheerz,
Schmiddy

 

Edited by Schmiddy (see edit history)

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I did all my lights except the uppermost bulb on the speedometer. I just can't get to it, and am hesitant to pull off a 50+ year old dashpad for one bulb.

 

The LED's have such a strong light spread that you can't really tell the difference actually.

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