I’m sure those of you who own 69 and up Cougars have experienced problems with the dash cluster circuit card: broken traces, poor contacts, etc. I have had customers go through 3 reproductions before they have found one that worked. Enough is enough! I asked myself: can the dash cluster be hard-wired with a multi-pin connector?
Someone provided a 71 dash cluster for a Mustang for me to work on. Here’s what the back of it looks like with the flexi-card on it:
The desire is to minimize modifications and make a new harness plug-n-play. There’s no means of using the existing connector with the rounded contact tips, so a new connector pair must be made. There are 14 lamp sockets, and these are 1/2" holes, not the standard size for 1895 or most 194 bulbs. I found a wired replacement socket and went to town. Here’s what the final product looks like:
And here’s my testing of the entire assembly using a 12V power supply:
The dash lamps are lit, believe it or not. The diffusers are what suck up the photons.
For 1971-73, I can build the dash cluster harness and a pigtail for those who want to splice their own wires for $100. For the same amount, I can add that to your existing harness.
I believe that the layout of the Cougar dashes are similar enough to the Mustangs that I can use the Mustang dash cluster as a template. If not, please let me know. Right now, I need to find a 69/70 Mustang dash cluster to use as a template, so if anyone has a beater laying around, let me know. And if the Cougar dashes are different enough, I may need a beater for 69/70 and one for 71/73.
Must say though (IMO) it’s going to be a hard sell with having to change the main harness connector. The 69/70 IVR with 9V battery terminals connections seem (to me) like a challenge as well. Guess the 67/68 push on right angle connectors for the gauges should work for 69/70 as long as the terminals remain insulated from the (metal) cluster housing once the printed circuit is removed.
Me? I had no problem with a replacement printed circuit after accidentally smoking my good original one. While I always, ALWAYS applaude innovation, I think this might be a tough sell, as I mentioned.
I have a source for individual battery contacts so that portion of the harness would be compatible with the existing CVR.
Yeah, having to change the underdash portion of dash cluster connector may be a difficult pill to swallow for some. At least there’s an option to those circuit boards. I feel for those owners of FLM vehicles where the circuit cards are not reproduced at all (e.g. Torinos, LTDs, Pintos, Mavericks, Lincolns, etc.).
Randy (midlife), there are differences between the 1969 and 1970 warning light configuration on both standard and XR7. We haven’t determined what is different on the real late 1969 dashes. Most of the 1969 14401 under dash harnesses had a black plug to the instrument cluster, very late harnesses have a white plug. If you design your wire and sockets with extra length, you should be able to plug the bulb into various locations.
Is there a way to have an adapter plug so that the 14401 plug doesn’t have to be cut and re-pinned?
I don’t think there is a way of using the existing 14401 dash cluster connector. The contact pins are no longer available and I’ve never seen the connector itself as a commercial product so I don’t believe there is a mate; I think Ford designed this POS. I’ve not seen anything that comes close to mating to it, so the only alternative is to replace it. Personally, I’ve found about 10% of the pins need to be recrimped (almost 100% of the pins with the resistor wire need re-crimping); most contacts have oxidation products that increase resistance, and some contacts need to be de-flattened so they can contact the circuit card. So…without a commercially available mate and all of the other issues…all I can offer for now is a complete replacement with a 16 pin Molex connector, similar to what was used in 67/68.
Yeah, I’m beginning to learn that there were many variations of dash clusters for the Cougar vice Mustang. I’d like to get a sample of each variant, as I found that it is best to manufacture the harness to the actual dash cluster itself rather than from wire measurements.
I see on your website that some circuit cards are available as reproductions. Have you had complaints about them at all? Are there some dash clusters that don’t have any reproductions? I’m not trying to take your business away, but simply to help the hobbyist find a solution to a known problem (either unavailability or poor performance).
Way to go man ! Looks great ! You gotta love innovation. There are folks out there who don’t want to deal with the poor quality repro parts we have to put up with on a regular basis. I would rather shoot for reliability than originality. Especially under the dash.
If you cannot see it, reliability all the way. Look at our repo voltage regulators, 1 out of three work I ended up using a new case on a 1969 part after two in a row bad ones. Any repo that has, mechanical, electrical, or any moving parts at all is a crap shoot. Chrome and dress up at least you can see the issues. Being stuck on the side of the road or stuck in your garage either one after paying good money and waiting, hoping for a replacement sucks. Although I should not say a word as of right now all on my 69 is in good working order. Knock on wood, my head.
I like the possibility of getting good wiring if I need it and good luck to you. I have plans on making a custom dash for my 69. Is that something you would consider? To give you an idea, pretty much a standard XR7 layout just with all aftermarket gauges. It will be real Walnut Burl though.
Yes, I do that sort of work upon request. It’s best to have both the underdash harness and the dash cluster sent so that the length of wires are of the right length. Electrically, this work is easy; it is figuring out the wire lengths without parts in hand that is tough.
Thanks for the kind words about reliability above all else…I’m a certified Reliability Engineer as well.
The Mustangs are from 69-73; Cougars are the same. Most FLM’s from 69 to 73 use these connectors, although there are some 68’s and some 74’s. There are two basic dash cluster connectors: 18 pins (9x2) and 12 pins (6x2). Each connector would need to fit very snugly into its mate for good continuity. These pins used to be used for transferring DC power to electrical devices, but the plastic connectors appear to be a Ford design. There’s no markings on the connectors to indicate who made them.