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Author Topic: Cluster Restoration.  (Read 78664 times)
lilwendal
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« on: December 28, 2007, 07:29:00 PM »

I've been doing 68 to 70 cluster restos for several years now and was thinking I'd start a thread showing the processess I go through on a typical cluster for those wishing to take on thier cluster.  There will be many tips and sources to make the job easier.  This will occur over several posts and I'll try to get as many pics involved as possible. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or know feel free to ask.
I have koi 'fish' as well and was once told you become an expert at rasing koi once you've killed a couple hundred.  Well that applies here as well and have words of wisdom for things I have done that did not work and parts I have ruined.
Disclaimer..........  I do not claim to be an expert at anything. There are lots of others that do these clusters that utilize  different methods and products than seen in this thread. This is mearly my way.

Below is pictured your basic 40 year old cluster that will be restored.
1. First step will be to completely disassemble the cluster.  Remove the bezel, switches, lens, gauges and cicuit board.
Now you should be staring at a cluster housing that still has the 5 small blue lenses for backlighting and the red brake lens.
Note!!!  Now is the time to decide how you are going to proceed with your bezels and switches. If you are going with repop bezels and just polishing your switches then your OK. If you desire to rechrome your original bezels and or switch rockers then they must be sent out immediately. It will take a month or two till you see them back. Also the repop bezels do not match originals so you cannot mix and match. The 68s are close enough to pass for most but the grain on the 69/70 is way off and will be noticable between the radio bezel and cluster. So all of one or the other.
2.Next step is optional  depending on how  important the appearance of the cluster housing is but if you want to repaint the housing then we must remove those lenses. I suppose one could mask them off if desired.
3. I use a  propane style solder iron with a blow tourch attachment but have also used a regular solder tip for the lens removal. Once the tip is hot place it against the tabs that hold the lens to the frame and at the same time applly light pressure with a pencil erasure tip or similiar to push the lens out. You want to do this slowly to allow the hole to reform the stud as its pulled through.
Note. If the tab breaks off keep it. It can be used to fuse the lens back on latter.
4. Now I clean the housing with soap and water then spray an etch brightner on the housing. The housing is pot metal but the aluminium etch will dramatically improve the finish on the housing.
The product I use is Alumiprep but any aluminium etch will work.  Its phosphoric acid based but is very different than Oshpo type produst for rust.  At paint stores it will be etch for prepping aluminium for paint. Its also sold in hardware stores as cleaner for air conditioning unit coils.
It only goes on for about 45 seconds then rinsed with water.  You can watch it work.
5. Housing is now ready for paint!  I use flat white for the housing.
6. Once dry you can begin the housing reassembly.

TO Be Continued>>>>>>>>>>>


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Ghoste
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2007, 07:33:08 PM »

Seeing all those clusters together like that kind of brought a little tear to my eye lilwendal.  Wink
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lilwendal
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2007, 07:57:47 PM »

Time to reinstall the lenses. Basically a reverse order of removal.  Place the lens in position and heat the tab till it begins to melt. At the same time push the lens into its correct position. If your tab broke off before... now you can place it into the hole were the tab should have been and melt it back together with its original lens.  I have a damaged lens I use just for breaking off small pieces to weld others tabs.

I should take the time now to talk about ordering your decals.  I only use Performance Car Graphics. Dave and Beth have been in the Mopar decal business for over twenty years and you well not find more knowledgeable, friendly or professional folks for all your decal needs.  They are the providers for my lenses and decals.  You will need the BRAKE SYSTEM decal for your red lens and the green turn lenses with gaskets.

Before installing the red lens it must be cleaned of all old glue and lettering. Mineral spirits and 600 sand paper will do the trick.
I'm not going to go into the details of decal installation because you will receive very detailed instructions from Performance with the lens decal order.
Almost forgot.... There is a difference between 68 and 69/70 cluster housings so if you picked up a used unit make sure its correct for your ride.
I will add pics but the difference is where the medalion goes for 68 There is not a stand off there on the 68 housing so the medalion will clear. You will  not be able to install the medalion with a 68 bezel on a 69/70 housing.  You can modify one for the other very easily. Just grind down the stand off if you have a 69/70 for your 68. If you have a 68 for your 69/70 it will work fine but the screw head will not be even with the others and be recessed a 1/2 inch into the cluster. The fix is to add washers till you get an even height on your screws.  Hopefully you can see it in the pics.  The one on the left is 68 style and the right 69/70

One last paint item thats often left out but needs to be done.  You must paint black the area around each screw post that attaches the cluster to the dash otherwise you get a nice white ring visable when installed and its very annoying to see.  One of the clusters below shows the black around the holes.

To Be Continued.........


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lilwendal
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2007, 09:42:21 PM »

On to the gauges......
The speedo and clock or clock/tach really must be repainted in order to look right with decals.  The speedo decals do not go all the way into the odometer area and the clock decal  does not go to the edge on the second dial. So what that gives you if you do not repaint is a noticable difference that can be seen were the decals end.  Also the decals are not as flat black as original and have a slight sheen to them.
If the face is just faded you can mask off the odometer slot and high beam hole, Place a straw over the needle shaft and give the face a scuffing with 600 grit.  The surface must be perfectly smooth. If you can feel it with your fingers it will show through the decal.  If the face has any surface rust then it nust come off and be bead blasted. Two small brass rivits hold it in place. They are tubular rivits that are availabel fom Hanson Rivit at http://www.hansonrivet.com/index.php4 but honestly I use brass solid AN aircraft rivits there.  The area is not seen when the bezel is install so really any rivit will do. Once off blast,prime and paint.
What I use is Krylon Semi Flat Black. Its not quite satin but not flat either.  It seems to match the decals perfectly. Heres a close up of the face painted and decal installed.  Even up close it is very difficult to see where the decal ends. Even less with the lens installed. Look at a cluster that did not have the face painted and you will see a noticable change in colors.
STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Almost forgot again. Should not drink and post... VERIFY alll gauges,clocks,speedo work prior to anything.  Ask me why I would spend all that time on a speedo with a sheared needle bushing thats not fixable?Huh?  Thats what makes me an expert. Its stilll sitting on the shelf.
And that speedo needle bushing... You must hold the magnetic wheel behind the face when you twist and pull the needle off or there is a very good chance of snapping the needle bushing that holds the return spring.  Break that and your looking for a new speedo.
The odometer is also a very touchy beast. The little tabs that hold the wheel align break very easily so take care. Next post will be odometer then clock.
The needle is just masked and shot with flat white.


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lilwendal
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2007, 10:34:25 PM »

OK. Odometer and clock. Depending on how many more drinks the little misses brings me will determine how far I get tonight but want to take it start to finish on a cluster. cheers
The odometer can be tricky and there are two styles.  70 is different than 68/69 actually the speedo is too but they are interchangable to all years but a 70 odometer must stay with a 70 speedo. Did  that make sense??? I do not have a 70 speedo out of a cluster right now but you can see the difference in the odometer wheels the one on the left is 68/69 and the right 70.  Also is a close up of the wheel alignment tabs that are very delicate and extreme care must be used during removal and installation.  So heres my choice on odometer decals.
www.performancecargraphics.com  I cant get Dave to sell me the decals but send him your odometer and he will reface it for 20.00.  His turn around on them is very quick as well.
To reset to zero or any other # combo... Just hold the far left tab and rotate all other wheels down till you get to zero.  Then move to the next tab now holding the previous one as well. Rotate down till that # gets to zero. Continue down the pike holding all the previously set wheels whle spinnning the next.  Once your there just do a final allignent of the tabs and reinstall. Engage the gear end first then slide into the slot. Snap on clip. Don't forget to apply a light grease to the odometer gear.
Clock.  Opening up the clock is not too difficult. There are bent tabs to remove the face so that they can be repainted. To get the clock internals out.. Three mild bends are made to the housing to hold it in.  Personally I convert all clocks to quartz.  Most originals I can get working with contact cleaner and light lube but they seem to always run fast or slow ove ra coupe days so for 50.00 bucks just swap it out.
More of my top secret source info Grin........There is only one place that makes the clock movements. If you buy one from anyone else for 75.00 your paying a mark up.  Get the clock from Instrument Services Inc.  1-800-558-2674  for 52.00 They have a web site but cant find the link right now.  They are also the only source for the set stem shafts thta are often broken at the adjuster knob end.  I willl not go into the details of the clock switch.  There are instructions included with the quartz unit.  For regular clock PN N-3085 and Tic Toc Tach  PN S-3015
the standard clock is easy. The tach clock has some soldering invoved but still doable for those with some soldering experience.
If you need to replace your set stem dont bother with the tool they sell for that. Just PM me and I'll walk you through it. No special tools required.
When reinstalling the speedo needle again be sure to hold the wheel on the oposite side to protect the needle bushing.
The Tach.  This goes 50/50. If I test the tach and its reading acuarately then I will not automatically convert it.  I'll leave that to the customer.
The source here is Real Time Engineering. 479-756-2757. They have a web site as well.  Also include is very detailed installation instructions but be sure you are confident with soldering,wiring and schematics before you dive  in.
Conitued to ..........Be


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lilwendal
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2007, 11:25:27 PM »

Time for the small gauges...
Again first check them to be sure they are functional. If you like you can use the old 9 volt check to see if they move but they are a 5 volt gauge  so be carefull to only see if the gauge begins to move then pull power.
Do Not waste time calibrating the gauge now.  It needs to be accomplished after the reface.
The reface is pretty straight forward with the decal instructions. If the face has any rust at all it will have to come off to be media blated.  The decals will not work over sanded down rust.  Removing the face is the same as the speedo with the same rivits. The face can be slid off the body without disturbing the needle but if you have the hands of a surgeon and a small pair of jewelers needle nose you can remove the needle. The needle is not physically attached to anything just bound between the two arms. Hopefully the pics below will explain more.
Theres only one reason I've ever seen a small gauge not work and that was it recieved sustained voltage above 5 volts that cooked thermal wire around the bimetalic strip. Cannot be econmically repaired. Easier to find another Ebay gauge.
One other possible problem to look for is because of the wires nature it is not soldered but glued to the top sof the posts. I have seen the glue fail and a simple reattachment of this wire with super glue will reactivate the gauge. Hopefully the pics will show this wire.
Once refaced they can be callibrated. 
Heres the easily made test box I use with the needed 73 ohms for low, 23 for mid, and 10 for high.
Radio shack has all the needed supplies to build such a box.  PN 271-1101 for 10ohm, 271-1103 for 23 ohm, 271-1109 for 150 ohm that you will need two of to place in parallel to obtain your 75 ohms.
When testing be sure to use a power supply that produces 5 volts or run your 12 volt source through the voltage regulator but you MUST verify that your voltage regulator is producing no more than 5 volts or  risk damaging your gauges.
One note on voltage regulators. I use to do the solid  state conversion to the  regulators but the new regulator Real Time Engineering is offering for 50.00 cannot be beat. Truly state of the art piece.


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lilwendal
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2007, 11:33:42 PM »

Either my space bar is sticking or its time to stop drinking.  Alright everyone getting late but you can see above the serated teeth on the gauge arms that are used for calibration.
Thats how we get the gauges in tune but I'll cover that tomorrow as well as the circuit board, switches, lens, bezel and final testing.
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justin1987
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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2007, 11:53:55 PM »

That is some great work!
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resq302
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2007, 12:35:55 AM »

Wow.  nice thread!
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Brian
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1969 Plymough GTX convertible - original sheet metal, #'s matching drivetrain, T3 Honey Bronze, 1 of 701 produced, 1 of 362 with 440 4 bbl - auto
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2007, 12:51:52 AM »

 scope          you doing some awesome work there (lilwendle)  , intresting thread ! thanks for posting  2thumbs
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472 R/T SE
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2007, 02:21:11 PM »

 bow Mike!  Thanks for taking the time to do this and to the little misses for not letting the well go dry.  Gives me some ambition & some insight to tackle my stack.

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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2007, 02:36:39 PM »

Great thread, Mike. I think I can say with a certain amount of accuracy that I will not be "trying this at home" because, well, I just don't want to. icon_smile_cool
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Ghoste
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« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2007, 02:46:54 PM »

When you can see the labor involved, it also makes you appreciate why this work can't be done in an afternoon for $50.
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Tilar
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« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2007, 05:07:15 PM »

lilwendal, You are my hero! This is exactly where I am in my restoration and this is invaluable to me. This Bud's for you, Sir!  cheers
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« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2007, 05:50:48 PM »

do you accept work? PM Sent
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lilwendal
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« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2007, 07:15:35 PM »

Everyone thanks for the complements.  I was doing family stuff today and was called into work tonight and probably tomorrow so I'm not sure if I can finish the thread today but I will in the next day or so.  I've taken a bunch of additional photos that will help.
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Chatt69chgr
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« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2007, 08:44:25 PM »

lilwendal--------it's awfully nice of you to share this information.  I have my 69 Charger cluster to do and am looking forward to your final installments.  I just have to say that the members of this forum are some of the nicest folks I have corresponded with. 
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« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2007, 08:52:12 PM »

Thanks for posting already bookmarked it for future reference (which is hopefully soon)
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lilwendal
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« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2007, 12:14:37 AM »

Ok lets see how far we get. Back to gauges. You noticed in the last round of pictures the serated teeth on the arms.  Thats how the gauges can be adjusted as needed. For those not wishing to build a test box a simple set of jumpers with the resistors in line will suffice as well.  Different colors for each resistance value will keep things straight.
Once you have all testing gear available heres the process. But first an expanation of how the gauge works for better understanding of what you are doing.  Refer to the pic with the gauge face off.  The gauge has a bimettalic strip that distorts when heated. What heats this strip is a thermal wire wrapped around the bimetallic strip. As the voltage and or resistance changes through this wire the bimetallic strip diflects in proportion.  Only one arm has the bimetallic strip and the other is just the hinge point for the needle. both the bimettalic strip arm and the opposing arm can be adjusted to position the needle.On the back of the gauge you see two small holes and the teeth. One upper hole and one lower. The lower hole adjusts the lower range and the upper hole the high range. Keep in mind adjusting one arm effects the other so it is a back and forth process to you achieve the desired values.
This is most important...... You must verify your source is 5 volts DC.  I use a dedicated power supply for my adjustments but using the original voltage regulator is acceptable but you must verify its output! Next post I will show the problems that voltage can create.
Heres the wiring.  5 volts to one side of your gauge and the other to the resitor box or jumper.  The other end of the jumper to the 5 volt source ground.
Begin with the low value of 75 ohms.  I like to insure the needle is a little under the empty line but remember these gauges are not state of the art by any means and even factory values permitted variances of an 1/8 inch. For the 25 setting its the middle of the gauge. 1/2 tank fuel, 180-190 temp and about 35psi oil.   The 10 value is gauge max. A little above full for fuel. Just above 80 for oil. Just above 250 for temp.
If the cluster I'm doing is going on my car what I do is use mechanical gauges in the engine bay to get more percise values and then transfer those readings to the dash gauges although thats not practicle to all.
These gauges move very slowly and must be given sufficiant time to stabilize each time an adjustment is made or the resistance value changed.
One other note... Be sure the needle is not dragging the gauge face as this will effect its reading.  Be very careful with the needle though..It does not take much to change its position.
The fuel gauge below shows it will need some minor tweeking to get into correct range.  Its seen at  the 25 and 10 setting.


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lilwendal
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« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2007, 12:25:15 AM »

The next topic is voltage.  Notice in the two pics of the oil pres gauge at the 25 ohm setting.  See the volt meter right side? First pic shows the gauge with a voltage of 5.12 coming in and look at the gauge needle.  If I drop the voltage down to 4.60 look at the oil gauge. 10 PSI difference when the voltage is off by .5 volts.  This is why its important to verify your supply voltage before bothering to adjust the gauges.
Just something else to keep in mind.  If you think that 6 volt lattern style battery is close enough to 5 volts your wrong.
Fuel gauges are notoriously blammed for problems when the sender, the wiring from the sender or most likely the famous ground strap to the sender are usually to blame.  Do not assume the repop fuel sending unit you have is calibrated correctly chances are it is not.


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lilwendal
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« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2007, 02:45:58 AM »

Next the circuit board.  This one item is the cause of most all gauges not working .  If you have a gauge inop and have narrowed it down to the cluster theres a 90% propability its from this board. Poor contact between the gauge retaining nut to the board and or loose / broken terminal pins. They also suffer from damaged terminal strips.
For the board you have removed from your cluster the first order is to clean it for inspection.  Here again I use the same etch I used on the housing that will clean all corrsion from the exposed copper but not harm the board or its nonconductive coating.  Below are a before and after shot of two used boards.  Once clean you can see any obvious cracks to the circuit strip or loose/missing pins.
Assuming there is nothing obvious its time to check the board for continuity.  You will check each pin to its farthest circuit point away on the board.  Also check the voltage regulator inserts as well.  Lastly the back lighting bulb sections to their grounding points where the screws mount.
This is  where I usually find problems even with a board that appears intact and here why.  The 5 pins that your harness connects to are not soldered to the board but mearly crimped onto the board. After 40 years and with the cars and clusters not kept in ideal conditions corrsion begins to form between the pin and the board. Unfortunately the only way to completely remove that corrosion is to remove the pin and clean it then solder the pin back in.  The etch will help with removing the corrosion but not between the pin and board.  Next problem with this is if you do not remove the pin you cannot solder a dirty joint so if you do try to improve the connection with solder it will only be to the outside of the pin to the board. This will work but does not get rid of the initial cause of the poor conection between the board and pin.
The pin tabs can be carefull bent back up then the pin wiggled out.  Clean the pin and board where the pin attaches and apply a light application of flux to the board at the pin site.  Reinstall pin. Bend down tabs. Heres my tool for recrimping the pins.  Its actually a 5/32 roll pin punch but the diameter of the ball tip fit perfectly into the back of the pin.  This keeps the tabs spread will they are crimped down. Back up the front of the pin on a table and  a couple LITE taps will reseat the crimp. This will also tighten most loose pins as well that have good connectin but are just a little loose. Now apply solder to the joint.  It will be sucked into the area between the pin and board making for a stronger sealed connection.  Don't be too worried if you find or you break the tabs on the pin.  Once cleaned and soldered you will be OK but you must add solder to the back side as well to help keep the pin with the board.
I know that seems like a lot of trouble so lets hope you have a good board with tight pins that ohm out good.
I have not been able to find a vendor for the board pins so if anyone does and would like to share info that would be great.
If you are missing a pin there are other options for replacing them.  One is to install small -4 screws from the back of the board.  I've not had to utilize this method but do a search for circuit board repair and I believe another member has posted the process.

Last note on the board. You can buy the backlighting bulb housings at any of the auto parts store electrical area.  Several different vendors sell them. 2 bucks for a package of two.


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lilwendal
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« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2007, 02:57:22 AM »

That wraps tonight.  I'll move into switches tomorrow.  Including the how to for removing the charger style headlight switch rocker for replating.
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« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2007, 04:56:17 AM »


 I am busy with a complete restoration of my R/T -68 and when I came to the instrumentcluster in my projectplanning
 and found out about Mikes work I was really sold. The cluster is giving the total impression of the quality of your
restoration looking in to the car and I didn't felt to risk having a "not perfect" one so I purchased one from Mike.
One of the best damn purchases I have done for my project! Thanks again Mike  2thumbs
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« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2007, 07:58:11 PM »

I have one of Mikes clusters also, Very impressed with the quality of work. 2thumbs
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« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2007, 12:35:39 AM »

Thanks Per and Eldon.  Glad your happy with your clusters.   I did not intent this to be an advertisement.  I've learned many  things the last couple years from this board and wanted to return the favor by providing some insite to the sources and processes on the clusters.
My intent is to provide those who do wish to tackle their clusters the info I have.  Again not that my methods are better than anothers but I'm showing the procedure to produce a good looking functional cluster.  I hope the thread is usefull Twocents
Now back to the fun icon_smile_big
I'm going into switches.  Generally all the rocker style dash switches are the simplist of design internally.  The rocker pivots an arm which in turn slides a plastic block with spring loaded contacts.  Depending on switch position these contacts mate with the contacts on the bakolite insulator that your harness conector attaches to.  See pic below of desassembled headlight switch.  I'm not going to go into testing all the switches.  Its a switch.... continuity in one position and none in another.  You will need a schematic to show what terminals you should see continuity in various positions and they are avalable on most of the Mopar sites.  http://www.mymopar.com/tools.htm
These rocker style switches are very reliable and its unusual to find them bad.  If they are a cleaning of the contacts inside will almost always fix the problem. If you do find the need to open one for cleaning the contact be carefull not to pry sideways with a screw driver on the back bakolite.  Its very brittle and easily breaks.  My tool of choice is cheap.  Free from any hardware store its a paint can opener thats been slightly filed down on the sides to just fit the slot for the switch back tab.  See pic.
 Occasionally the headlight switch can give troubles.  If you have a car were the headlights come on for 30 seconds or so then go off for about 30 seconds then back on...Its the thermal switch in the headlight switch. You can see it in the pic of the open headlight switch left side. Its there to shut of the current to the headlight switch if the draw becomes to great. Gets hot..Opens...Lights go off....Cools...Closes... Lights go on. Over and over again.
At that point time to verify if the cars wiring is causing the thermal trip or if the switch is tripping early.  I've only seen this a few times.
Once they have been overheated from a previous short they are prone to trip early.


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