Note: The following
is a June-July, December 1999 and September 2004 of email
messages on the IML on electroluminescent dash lighting problems
Anyone know who replaces the luminescent coating on the
instruments? What shop rebuilds them?
If you mean the coating on the once-red pointers, that can be
done by the DIY'er. The tricky part is getting the gauges out of
the dash (which you have to do to send them off to be rebuilt
All you need is a can of electroluminescent spray paint (also
called "safety paint"), available at most
home-improvement, hardware or hobby shops. Use the red (or
"red-orange" as some are labeled) for Imperials. Be
sure to shake the can up REALLY well before spraying.
Slip a small piece of newspaper, doubled over, under the needle,
and shoot it with a few, quick shots. DON'T spray too much on
all at once! Just a quick whisk every ten minutes or so, slowly
building up the paint layer until the needle is back to it's
former, glorious red color.
I did this to a '63 Crown that I sold just this past summer, and
after 13-years in the harsh Colorado sun (car was never garaged
or covered), those needles still looked as good as new.
Actually, I've used this same paint to restore faded needles on
many late-50s to early-70s dashes, E/L and non-E/L, though the
orange (or orange-yellow) shade is more correct.
'52 Chrysler Imperial 2-door hardtop
How can I fix my Imperial's electroluminescent lighting power
Subject: IML: Blew out my '63's dash. DUH!
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999
From: Mark Brauer,
Well, folks, it wasn't easy, but I managed to smoke my '63's E/L
system. Stupid, STOOPID!
But we shall not dwell on the past....
At present, what I have is a power pack with a blown 2 ohm, 5-
or 10-watt resistor, and a 3-way wire that used to be a
transistor. The resistor's no problem, they're easy to find, and
if I pay a dollar for it I've paid too much. But that transistor
- does anyone know what to replace it with now? It's a Bendix
number PS 26, and it's not in any of the semiconductor manuals I
have (I'm sure it's germanium), so I don't know what the
specifications for this little baby are. I don't even know if
it's PNP or NPN!
Perhaps if someone out there knows the operating parameters in a
properly working system I can see if I can come up with a
silicon replacement. After all, it seems to be a simple
How about the power packs used in the '66-'67 Dodge Chargers?
I've heard of people using these in '60 - '63 Chryslers and
Imperials. (Heard it makes 'em brighter...!) I would think
they'd have a silicon transistor by then, but maybe not....
I've read through the Tips and Resources page on this subject,
and while it mentions replacing the capacitor (always a good
idea to replace those waxy capacitors, where ever they're
found....), it doesn't get into the real nuts 'n bolts 'n
transistors 'n such.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. (Brain's thinkin' -
"Maybe I could get a vibrator from an old car radio to work
'52 Chrysler Imperial 2-door hardtop
'63 Imperial Crown 4-door hardtop
Subject: Re: Transistor substitution for a '63's dash.
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 10:20:00 -0700
From: Dick Benjamin, email@example.com
It looks to me that the best choice for a transistor would be an
MJ2955, available at Radio Shack as their number 276-2043, $1.99
You'll have to change the bias resistor to 120 ohms (your
"R2") in the circuit diagram, this should make it
hammer pretty hard. I'd just fire it up and let it run for a few
hours to make sure it is not dissipating too much heat, but it
should be fine. If you think it is running a little hot, you
could try reducing the forward bias resistor, maybe to 100 ohms
or so, but if you go much lower, the chopper will have trouble
starting in cold weather.
Subject: Re: [IML: Blew out my 63s dash. DUH!]
Date: 18 Jun 99 23:09:35 EDT
To Mark Brauer,
I am an experienced electronics technician of 9 years. I have
played with these power supplies for Chrysler dashboard lighting
for over 7 years now. It started off MANY years ago with a
friend who has a few 300 Letter cars (59, 50, 61) and the
dashboard lights would fade to nothing after about 10 to 20
With help from co-workers we learned how to correctly repair
these devices. A paper capacitor MUST be used, not an
electrolytic type. As far as we know, paper caps. are no
longer made in this country. Must be imported, and are hard to
find. The transistors are available, as well as most of
the original electronic components from electronic component
catalogs and manufacturing companies.
I no longer work directly
in bench repair, I work in RF engineering; BUT we have
successfully restored about a dozen of these units for $35.00 a
piece. Have been put into Coronets, Imperials, Chargers, and
300's. Some repairs only lasted a few weeks and had to be
repaired again at no additional cost. Eventually everyone's dash
lights worked again and all were satisfied customers.
The device is a basic power inverter - converts 12VDC into
225-270 VAC with very low current. We never had one blow up or
short out after being repaired OR do any damage to anyone's
electrical system...Hope this helps
Dave Brown (TWO 66 LeBarons)
Subject: Re: [Re: IML: RE: Blew out my 63s
Date: 20 Jun 99 22:28:15 EDT
The capacitor is usually the culprit in these power supplies for
dash lighting...it does break down and wear out with age...the
analogy I use is...How many 1960 to 1963 TV sets do you still
see in use in peoples homes today? Hopefully none....
Moisture problems that were mentioned are definitely not a good
thing for ANY electronics and the parts will change their
tolerances with age and heat conditions. It has been my
experience with the 12 units I have helped in repairing that all
parts in it are obtainable NEW today...
As far as taking a power unit from a modern car...the voltage
and current rating would have to be known and the connector
would have to mate up OR it would have to be hard wired. One
final note from my experience...ALL (and I do mean ALL) Chrysler
cars that used electroluminescent dash lighting used the same
interchangeable power supply (including Chargers, Coronets,
Imperials, 300's and I have not seen them but heard some
Chryslers did too).
At Carlisle and Hershey NOS units are being sold for $100 to
$200!!! Restoration shops in Hemmings will charge from
$50.00 & up to rebuild these things...all parts inside total
less than $20.00 to $25.00...and all parts would never need to
be changed...the most frequent problem I have encountered is
that dash lights work and then fade away after a very short time
of being turned on, due to failure of parts in power supply...
Good Luck to all from
Subject: IML: E/L Power Pack EPILOGUE
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999
From: Mark Brauer,
I know you've all been holding your collective breaths, waiting
for the exciting conclusion to the tale of woe I begat when I
blew out my '63 Imperial's electroluminescent lighting. If
you'll recall from our last episode, Dick Benjamin had just
suggested to me a modern replacement for the germanium
transistor I had popped. He had also provided me with secret
instructions on re-biasing the circuit to accommodate the new,
silicon wonder. Now, start breathin' again 'cause here are the
Derned good. In fact, that dash never looked so good, at least
not as long as I've owned that car, which was just over 11
years. Output was 190 volts A.C. And the transistor and assembly
stayed cool, baby, cool....
I went ahead and took some voltage measurements around the
transistor while it was operating in the car, and have included
them with the JPEG schematic I drew up, along with the new
transistor's part number and re-biasing instructions. I'm going
to send it along:
And on behalf of everyone
who has or ever will have one of these beasts with E/L dash
problems, and finds their solution at the IML website, I want to
thank you, Dick Benjamin, for all your help in solving yet
another MoPar restoration/repair mystery.
'52 Chrysler Imperial 2-door hardtop
Subject: IML: Re: '63 E/L dash capacitors -
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 09:38:38 -0700
From: Dick Benjamin, firstname.lastname@example.org
It appears from a schematic I received from Mark Brauer that the
original capacitor was a .068 mfd rated at 330 VAC. I would
suggest a replacement be the same value (sets the frequency of
oscillation) but of mylar or polystyrene construction, and rated
at least 600V. The original transistor was a germanium PNP in a
TO-3 case, which will be a bear to find. I have suggested to
Mark that he try a MJ2955 as a replacement (Radio Shack part
number 276-2043 at $1.99), but it will be necessary to adjust
the bias resistor from 50 ohms to 120 ohms to accommodate the
I think it would be wise to let Mark try this substitution
first, and let him see if everything still works properly with
it before others flock to a less than optimum
Mark's schematic is reproduced above.
Subject: Re: Repairing E/L panels
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999
Here are the details of the E/L panel fix. Please excuse the
amateurish drawings. I am no draughtsman, but I hope it helps to
illustrate my description of the process.
1. In order to replace a broken or corroded
contact it is first necessary to expose the edges of the foil
conductive layer. This can be done by grinding away a small
patch of the outer white protective shell about 1/4" to
1/2" from the edge of the panel (I used a Dremel
multi-tool). Stop grinding as soon as the blue E/L layer is
exposed. In some cases, where the contact has broken off, this
lower layer is already exposed.
2. Using conductive paint, paint the exposed
patch and a small surrounding area of the outer layer.
(Conductive paint should be available from Radio Shack or a
similar electronics outlet).
3. Using a thin plastic strip or insulating
tape, cover the steel backing plate on the opposite side of the
painted patch. It is best to fold the plastic just over the edge
of the panel to avoid any possibility of a short.
4a. Solder the white wire from the power pack
to a small speed nut. and slide the nut over the painted patch.
Ensure that the part of the speed nut under the panel is fully
isolated from the steel panel. This method is suitable for large
E/L panels such as the '61-'63 transmission and heating control
4b. For smaller panels, Go through steps 1
& 2 and then, using either the original tag or any suitable
metal contact, hold the tag firmly in place within the painted
patch ( a pair of needle nose pliers are handy), and use rapid
setting epoxy resin to fasten it firmly to the panel.
I have used both methods on my own E/L dash and the results have
been very satisfactory.
Subject: IML: 62 Dash Board Lights ?
Date: Sun, 04 Jul 1999 23:14:14 -0400
From: Paul, email@example.com
Paul Phillips in Camp Hill, Pa....62 Crown Convertible here.....
I have a question regarding the lights on my dashboard.
Under the speedometer, were the individual gauges each are
displayed, at night, when the headlights are on and therefore so
are the dash lights, each block of the dash is lit in a funky
green glow.....but a couple of the orange needles are lit....and
two of them are not. I don't understand this as the blocks are
well light...but the needles are not. And I can't tell where the
needle is....I guess I think if the block is lit, then the
needle should be. Can anyone explain this and any
recommendations on a repair person? Thanks.
Subject: Re: IML: 62 Dash Board Lights ?
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 1999 09:44:03 -0400 (EDT)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brett C. Snyder)
There should be plenty of discussions about the
electroluminescent lighting system on the web site:
(Editor's note: I couldn't find it)
Essentially, there are no light bulbs in the dash of your car.
There is a power converter that converts the 12v. DC power to
high-voltage AC current. This current (the white wires under the
dash) causes the phosphorous coated parts of the panel to glow.
There are long, thin rods inside your instrument cluster that
glow and very, very thin wires that attach to the gauge needles.
Typically, the wires become brittle and break. (Except for the
ammeter, which gets its power through the gauge stem) This is a
specialized lighting system that was developed by Chrysler and
Sylvania. It has it's quirks. So, I would not recommend taking
your dash cluster to the local electronics shop, they are likely
to not want anything to do with it or charge you $60+ an hour to
fiddle with something they've never seen before.
I'd recommend sending your cluster to one of the shops listed on
the web site. They're all familiar with the "EL"
system and can properly connect power to your needles... they'll
usually give the needles a fresh coat of orange paint as
well.... All for probably much less than a local repair shop
would charge. I sent my '61 unit to Don Steger in Sacramento, CA
(916) 929-8274. I chose Don because he ran a regular repair shop
that was open regular business hours. (Editor's Note: Don
is a member of the Imperial Owners Association of Sacramento
Valley and has twice given repair seminars at statewide Imperial
meets.) The others listed as "EL" repair
technicians didn't answer their phones at reasonable times when
I was in the market.
Subject: Re: IML: 62 Dash Board Lights ?
Date: Mon, 05 Jul 1999 11:16:10 PDT
From: Paul Niemi, email@example.com
You have electroluminescent dash lights. They glow. They work by
applying a voltage to a phosphorescent substrate, usually in
layers. All the gauges, radio, pushbuttons, speedometer, etc.,
are intended to glow when the lights are on. The device that
causes this is a power pack located up under the left kick
panel. The wires for the system will be white, 22 gauge or
perhaps a little bigger.
The needles on your gauges are supposed to glow too. If some
don't, then look for a really tiny little wire in each gauge
that has broken off from the needle. You may reattach it with
electrical solder, and a precision solder iron. This is one of
the really cool things about these cars. By the way, is your
convertible a light grey with black dash? PEN
Subject: Re: IML: 62 Dash Board Lights? There
*are* some bulbs
Date: Tue, 06 Jul 1999 07:51:24 -0700
From: Jay McKee, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have had success with getting everything working in our '62's
dash lighting system. I got lucky as there were no shorted EL
panels to troubleshoot. The hardest part was resoldering that
little microscopic (and insulated no less) litz-wire that powers
the illumination of the four gauge needles. If you don't have
good eyes, a steady hand, a low wattage soldering iron and a lot
of patience, send the gauge to the professionals. I believe that
the pros charge about $25-35 a gauge to completely disassemble
and restore them to their original glory.
Online Imperial Club - Tips and Resources - Component Parts -
Interior - Dashboard - Electroluminescent
Brett, you are right for the most part. The '61-'62 Imperials
have no light bulbs in their dash "cluster" with the
exception of the "high-beam indicator" and the
"parking brake warning". The bulbs "outside"
of the dash cluster are turn-signal indicators, map light, glove
box light and sometimes an ash-tray light.
Transmission and climate control push-buttons should illuminate
using the EL system, but don't expect to see the radio's
pushbuttons. They are not designed to illuminate.
Imperial Regards to all,
Jay Mc Kee
1962 Crown Southampton 4-door HT
Subject: IML: Electroluminescent Power Pack
and Gauge Repair
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 08:05:37 -0600
From: Bill Johnson, email@example.com
Thanks to Bob Merritt, I am posting some outlets for power pack
and gauge repair for those interested. We may want to post this
on the web page.
Sources for electroluminescent power pack rebuild:
Electroluminescent Power Pack: Rebuild & repair for
`60-`63 Imperials & Chryslers. Dave Brown, 116 Linden Ave.
Bloomfield, NJ., 07003. (201) 748-4617 eves. Email:
J C Auto Restoration, 11303 20th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA.,
98125-6553. 206-363-5270 Fax 206-440-7461. Gauge repair and
power pack rebuilt. $70 exchange for power pack.
Keisler Electronics, 3657 Wildwood Road, Maryville, TN, 37804,
Shafi Keisler, firstname.lastname@example.org. Rebuilds power packs and
From: "mike sutton"
Subject: IML: alternative sources for EL power pack parts
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004
As many of you probably know, the 66-67 Charger uses an electroluminescent
power pack lighting system that is electrically and functionally identical
to the ones in the Imperials that uses EL lighting, as far as the power
pack goes. Today on the Charger list a member posted some
regarding parts suitable to repair faulty components in an EL power pack.
I know Dick Benjamin did an excellent job with a schematic of these units
and from experience I know they are not difficult to work with as long as
the transformer is good. Many people have used Radio Shack for a parts
source , but I have found that often the local store just gives me a blank
look when I want a particular component other than a RC car of cell
The following excerpt from the Charger list post gives a very good supplier
of electronic parts, I have used this company for work related items for
several years now doing avionics projects. I hope it will be useful to
someone. The rest of this post is copied from the posting on the Charger
62 Crown Coupe
My source is Newark Electronics (http://newarkinone.com
I found a capacitor that very closely resembles the original in physical
and electrical characteristics. The original was rated for
0.05microfarad [mfd] @ 330VAC and the replacement I found is 0.047mfd @
630VAC (2000Vdc) but that's close enough. Higher voltage tolerance is
always better in a capacitor. It's Newark stock #48F3940.
It's round with axial leads and almost the exact physical dimensions.
Very pricey for a capacitor @ $2.29 each.
Our caps measure L=1.438 & d=0.532. The replacement I found is
It's also a film cap like the originals but in a more modern casing
without the wax.
I also found two types of replacements for the transistor. One is
virtually an exact replacement in physical and electrical
characteristics but rather expensive at about $15 each. It's a true
Germanium PNP transistor like the original.
(NTE121 - Newark Stock #29C4423)
The other also has the correct physical characteristics but the
electrical characteristics are slightly different. It's still a PNP but
is a cheaper silicone transistor. It will function perfectly well and
is about $5 each. (NTE219 -Newark stock #29C8652)
I prefer the NTE121. The 219 has a lower current gain than the 121 and
some of the voltage parameters on the 121 are more robust.
The following are replacement resistors that most closely resembled the
originals in style, color, physical dimensions, and electrical
characteristics. A resistor is a resistor, so Radio Shack and other
electronics outlets (even Newark) will most likely have perfectly
acceptable replacements for less money. Just give them the resistance
and wattage and take your pick. As I said, this info is primarily for
Even though resistors seldom go bad, at 35 year old it's very likely
they shifted values somewhat. If I have to repair a power pack, I also
replace the resistors just so I don't have to worry about it later.
For the 1.5ohm @ 5 watt resistor I found an exact replacement in
physical as well as electrical characteristics. It is a true wire-wound
resistor in a white ceramic fire proof rectangular case, just like the
originals. There are many other perfectly functional styles of fire
proof resistors but they do not have the same "look".
It is Newark stock #33C8895 and sells for $.040 each (expensive for a
For the 1.5K ohm ½ watt resistor I found Newark stock #84N2195 @ $0.07
each. It is slightly smaller than the original but is a carbon resistor
like the original. It also has the resistance code bands like the
original. Many of the newer resistor styles do not have the bands and
are not carbon.
Finally, for the 50 ohm one watt wire-wound resistor I found Newark
stock #02F1195 @ $1.31 each. Definitely expensive for a power resistor,
but this one closely resembles the original in physical dimensions. It
does not have the exposed wires like the original but it is a true
wire-wound (with a brown ceramic coating) and it's the closest I could