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I have a 97 thunderbird that I bought new in 97and my instrument cluster bezel broke when I was changing my wiper/directional control. Anybody have one or knows where I can get one black is the color I need thanks
 

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The Parts Guy
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You're looking for what has become an incredibly rare part, at least in good condition. I think we're all looking for one.
 

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Super Moderator
1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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10,709 Posts
I would try to fix your current one as well. I did basically that a few weekends ago with a giant crack that appeared on mine.

I have a virtually flawless spare in my possession but I do not intend to install or sell it. My hope is to 3-D scan it and be able to print reproductions on a large format 3D printer at some point in the next few years. The source file would be available to anyone who has access to a large enough printer to run them off, if/when I can get it scanned.

Oh boy, look at what I found 25 minutes away? :)

 

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SuperNewbie
1995 Thunderbird LX 4.6 red
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As the others have mentioned correctly, this part has turned into the Holy Grail of sorts, and pretty close to unobtainium. Watch your local wrecking yards.
 

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Well well well. Welcome to the pain of restoration. I ve tried my best to document my whole journey with restoration. I can answer questions about fixing it with minimum flaws of you.chlose to go that route... I have two cracked in my possession that I perfected working on. My third one is done is very nice but I won't install it as well until I'm sure I won't have to pull it off for years... I might go the route of mass producing it as well lol.
 

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Administrator
1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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20,060 Posts
The singular most important thing to do is to drop the steering column down. It’s a minor inconvenience but trying to twist and pull and shove around it is a good way to break or scratch it.

Remove all the screws, 3 on the bottom, 2 above the cluster(somehow people miss these a lot)

The rest is clipped on, use only your hands and fingers, don’t use any tools to pry between seams. I like to start from the right bottom corner and gently pull it away from the radio bezel, guiding my index finger up between the seam pushing against the bezel so it doesn’t bow until I get to the top, from there work your way towards the left, the clips along the way don’t have as much of a tendency to break so don’t be too worried here. The air vent above the headlight switch sometimes hangs up on the ducting/dash mold. Worse case scenario the vent assembly pops off the bezel but it’s a separate piece anyway and can be glued back on if necessary, if you have long fingers you can remove the vent put your hand down the opening and grip the very back of the vent assembly to help keep it together as well as pull from there to get past the hang up area.
 

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The singular most important thing to do is to drop the steering column down. It’s a minor inconvenience but trying to twist and pull and shove around it is a good way to break or scratch it.

Remove all the screws, 3 on the bottom, 2 above the cluster(somehow people miss these a lot)

The rest is clipped on, use only your hands and fingers, don’t use any tools to pry between seams. I like to start from the right bottom corner and gently pull it away from the radio bezel, guiding my index finger up between the seam pushing against the bezel so it doesn’t bow until I get to the top, from there work your way towards the left, the clips along the way don’t have as much of a tendency to break so don’t be too worried here. The air vent above the headlight switch sometimes hangs up on the ducting/dash mold. Worse case scenario the vent assembly pops off the bezel but it’s a separate piece anyway and can be glued back on if necessary, if you have long fingers you can remove the vent put your hand down the opening and grip the very back of the vent assembly to help keep it together as well as pull from there to get past the hang up area.
Thank you for the info.
 

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SuperNewbie
1995 Thunderbird LX 4.6 red
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3,426 Posts
On that note, are there write-ups anywhere about how to properly & safely remove a 1997 Bird's instrument cluster bezel without damaging it, so that one can get in there to change bulbs or do other maintenance & repairs?
One other thing I would add to the cluster bezel removal is to make sure you do it on a day when it is at least warm, if not hot. IF you do it in the winter, regardless of east coast or west coast, the possibility of breakage is probably 80% or better. Those old plastics get brittle. Consider that in advance.
 
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These definitely need to be reproduced. I need to find myself a 97 cluster. I have one from a Cougar, but it's not perfect. It has a couple broken tabs, and it's tan on top of that, so I'd have to paint it. And knowing me, I'd have to paint the rest of black trim pieces so it would match the console because I'm OCD like that, lol.

I had one that was perfect, but it was for a 94 - 96 which I sold, lol.
 

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1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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These definitely need to be reproduced. I need to find myself a 97 cluster. I have one from a Cougar, but it's not perfect. It has a couple broken tabs, and it's tan on top of that, so I'd have to paint it. And knowing me, I'd have to paint the rest of black trim pieces so it would match the console because I'm OCD like that, lol.

I had one that was perfect, but it was for a 94 - 96 which I sold, lol.
yeah, there’s no black paint that will match the original color unless you can find someone to mix and shoot it from a real setup. Next to SEM Landau black(or any rattlecan satin black) the factory finish looks more grayish charcoal with a hint of blue. I didn’t intend to do the door cup, cluster bezel or radio surround when I converted my interior to black, the mismatch forced me to.
 

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Super Moderator
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In 7 years of car stereo repair,sales,and installs, I found the "only do it on a hot day" thing is the best advice you can get.
My boss broke a brand new Caddilac surround one january. it was so new there were no replacements available period. :)
I used a soldering iron to repair this surround from the back, and it looked perfect. I'm sure I would have heard about it had they noticed.
 
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One other thing I would add to the cluster bezel removal is to make sure you do it on a day when it is at least warm, if not hot. IF you do it in the winter, regardless of east coast or west coast, the possibility of breakage is probably 80% or better. Those old plastics get brittle. Consider that in advance.
Thanks, Gordon. I'm always wary & careful with the plastics, especially in the cold, since interior parts are damn-near unobtanium these days. Surprisingly, all the plastics & rubbers on mine, even under the hood, are in remarkably great condition, probably because she's been garaged her whole life. Even the dash is still soft & supple...but I lotion the interior every month or two to keep things from drying out. But I know one of these years, I'll have to replace bulbs in the cluster, so I'm collecting all these notes & info now to be better prepared.

A couple weeks ago, I replaced the driver's door striker bolt's cylindrical bushing after discovering it had split and was missing a chunk.
 

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Super Moderator
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That's a sign you need to replace the door hinge bushings. lift the door while looking at the hinges, you can see the play pretty easy.
 

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That's a sign you need to replace the door hinge bushings. lift the door while looking at the hinges, you can see the play pretty easy.
I checked...my doors have no sag or play at all and are pretty tight. A light flick of the wrist and the doors shut completely. She only sees about a thousand miles a year, so much of this car has almost no wear & tear.
 
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