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Cluster Anatomy

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Old 04-23-2012, 06:06 PM
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Cluster Anatomy

Recently a few threads have popped up concerning adding tachometers to earlier E Vans. This is an autopsy of a typical cluster as found on ’97 forward E-Series up to but not including the digital odometer display models. This is intended to be nothing more than an inside look, somewhat demystifying them perhaps, allowing someone to use this for DIY repairs.

Feel free to comment should there be any errors factual, electrically or from your own actual experience. I’ve successfully repaired my own cluster with an inoperative coolant temp gauge but as with most excursions into fixing what was intended to only be replaced the learning curve was a bit steep, at least the first time so tt’s not all that horrible.

This is presented as though disassembling the entire cluster and its sub-assemblies is the goal. Some repairs can be done without going this deeply into the cluster---your situation will determine what to remove or disassemble. Some of this may be more than you’d ever want to know; just pick out the info most helpful.

Hopefully this is interesting and/or helpful somewhere along the way. So then we begin:


Typical cluster, clear mask removed, front & rear views:

Photo 1

Photo 2


6 tabs hold the mask to the cluster shell:
Photo3


Releasing the mask tabs:
Photo 4


Remove all lamps (14 here) and the six 5.5mm screws which hold the cluster shell & face place together:
Photo 5


GENTLY lift the flexible circuit film from these 9 holding posts that double as locating pins:
Photo 6

This film is fairly tough and durable but caution is still important to not damage the solder traces which are just electrical conductors.

There is a PCB mounted to the cluster shell (3 T10 screws) and connected to the flexible circuit film:
Photo 7


The PCB connects to the flexible circuit film here:
Photo 8

Note: Red highlighted areas are locating points, shown for orientation of the different views. The PCB and flexible circuit film are VERY vehicle specific and must remain together in order to maintain the vehicles functions including speed, odometer and transmission shift commands from the ECM.

Three internal wiring connections need to be disconnected in order to continue disassembling the cluster.
First to disconnect is the PCB to the flexible circuit film shown above hightlighted by the black border.

Additional views:
Photo 9

Photo 10

Photo 11

(Arrows show locking tabs accessible as shown in Photo 8 above.
GENTLY lift each side to free the PCB from the circuit film. Two additional connections the the PCB can now be removed:
Photo 12

Flat cable is for the gauge servo assembly; round bundle goes to the speedometer/odometer assembly (shown here separated from the cluster housing cables intact.)

Additional views:
Photo 13

(Above view shows potential problems from mishandling these components; locking tab for the flat cable connector broke away from the PCB. The connection will still be tight but its advisable to be careful to prevent this on the other connections.)
Another view:
Photo 14
[img http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x268/JWAPhotos/Ford/Cluster/Photo14.jpg[/img]

Once these 3 connectors are loose the faceplate and works of the cluster can now be removed from the shell, shown from the back side here:
Photo 15

(Its not necessary to remove the PCB from the faceplate. Various views show it removed for better camera angles.)

Servo PCB assembly held to the faceplate via (8) T10 screws:
Photo 16


Once the gauge servo PCB assembly screws are removed both it and the odometer assembly can be removed from the faceplate:
Photo 17


A closer view of the odometer and the trip meter resetting action:
Photo 18

Left image shows trip meter engaged, right image showing the driving gear disengaged, allowing the counters to reset and register 000.0. The highlighted shaft supports gears that turn each counter one full revolution until its close to reading zero again. A pin located in the left side of each counter wheel will engage an inner rib of the adjacent counter wheel causing that counter to register one number higher.

During reset fingers also mounted to the highlighted shaft push against each counter so they freely revolve to a place they display 000.0. This is purely a mechanical action and counters are not spring loaded so they don’t “unwind” when the reset lever is pushed.

Its possible to complete disassemble the entire trip meter and odometer down to its individual parts. I’ve done it myself. Being honest though it was quite a task, mostly trial and error which eventually resulted in a working cluster once again. The only item that would fail is the DC stepper motor, somewhat easily replaced as shown below. Replacing just the motor would allow you to maintain the present indicated mileage.

By gently lifting the tabs holding the motor to the odometer frame and twisting it counter-clockwise will release it.
Photo 19


Individual servos are soldered to the larger PCB, seem to be the same for water temp, oil pressure, fuel level and voltage. In theory it should be possible to desolder them from the PCB and replace with a known good servo.
Photo 20


This would be possible only if the cluster is disassembled as shown. (I’ve not tried this myself---it might be less trouble to simply find a guaranteed salvaged cluster, vehicle and model year specific.)

More details:
Showing the servo shaft, a pointer and range limit stops of the faceplate opening:
Photo 21

I’m not sure the exact reason for these features but may edit this if it becomes known to me at a later date.


So this is inside a working cluster and now shouldn’t be a mystery or unknown part of our vehicles. An upcoming project will have me modifying a 97-98 F-Series/Expedition cluster with factory tach to be used in my own ‘00 E250 van. Look for it sometime soon and thanks for reading!
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:30 PM
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Really great stuff here, J W, thanks for taking the time to put this together for us!
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:16 PM
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Interesting, JWA. I purchased a cheap F-250/350 cluster years ago and plugged it up in place of my E-350's cluster. Everything except for the tach worked. The F-series (Super Duty) plugged right up, but again, the tachometer did not work.

At that point, I lost interest in the project. It's been years since I have tinkered with the mod, but if needed, I can go dig up that old SD cluster in the basement.

-Brandon
01 E-350 15-Passenger 20valve
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:12 AM
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Thanks Brandon----I'm almost in the same place as you, at least mentally.

I'm bound and determined to adapt an F-Series cluster w/tach into an E-Series. More than a few clusters collected for the project but I'm somewhat stuck (or unmotivated so far) to determine if the cluster or the chassis wiring needs modification in order for the swap to yield a properly working cluster.

One day------I swear!
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Old 02-07-2014, 08:47 AM
Rick1025 Rick1025 is offline
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Just a question. Why is everyone trying to adapt an "F" series cluster and not a newer "E" series cluster that has a tach?
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Old 02-07-2014, 09:10 AM
katoranger katoranger is offline
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This is interesting. I would like a tach too. Thinking for now that a scangauge or ultragauge will be used.

Rick, I think that the newer clusters have the digital odometer. Also I am not sure if the e-series prior to redesigned dash had a tach as an option.

Far from knowing much, but that is what I have gathered.
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:34 AM
OSHS OSHS is offline
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I *think* the tachometer in/on the cluster was put in around the same time of the minor grille change, which was 2004?? The interior was basically unchanged until 2009, when it was thoroughly updated. The 2008 had the new front end, but kept the old interior/dash for one year.

While I haven't done nearly as much work as JWA has on this (installing a factory tachometer), my quick experiments lead me to believe that it may be that the wiring in the dash doesn't have provisions for a tachometer. Or, at least it won't be plug-n-play.
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Old 02-07-2014, 02:00 PM
katoranger katoranger is offline
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If the earlier 98-04? vans never had a factory tach the wiring is probably not present. I guess I did not notice the grille change of 04. Will need to look into that. Thoughts of future updates.
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick1025 View Post
Just a question. Why is everyone trying to adapt an "F" series cluster and not a newer "E" series cluster that has a tach?
Mostly because the E-Series chassis wiring won't accommodate the newer clusters. Without delving too deeply into this clusters are a vital link in the whole power train function and control, highly dependent on model, year and engine.

The clusters with tach have digital trip & odometer display which would most likely greatly impact the wiring connections. Additionally IF the digital trip/odo could be integrated AND you'd want the saved in memory mileage to be properly displayed its a costly service performed by a very few cluster repair facilities.

Short answer might be because they're not plug 'n play---or drive in this instance?

For the same approximate year an F-Series cluster makes sense because they're similar enough re-wiring them or the chassis is "easier" however that's a highly subjective term for this project!

FWIW '08 received the new front sheet metal, 2009 received the newer dash boards.
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Old 09-29-2015, 07:53 AM
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There is some minor rewiring required for the Superduty cluster to work in the E series. It is not that bad, if you have the wiring diagrams for both. The van I am working on right now, I have converted it to the Superduty cluster, before switching to the 2010 cluster. Reason for doing this, the tach function, and to get the 4x4 and 4low lights in the dash.

Steve S.
To many to list.
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Old 10-16-2017, 12:25 AM
FrankGRUN FrankGRUN is offline
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I am contemplating the purchase of a 2001 E450. I recently purchased a full set of aftermarket gauges including a GPS driven speedometer/tach combination, A/F, Vacuum and the standard oil pressure, temp, voltage and fuel level. They were for a custom instrument cluster that I designed for my 1982 E350. If I purchase the 2001 E450, I would like to take on making a custom instrument cluster for it using these gauges. This thread has the most detailed info about the 92-08 clusters I have found, so I would pose the question: Could the cluster oil operate without the gauges adequately to satisfy the PCM requirements for security, engine operation and cruise control operation, while an independent gauge set reported the operational values with aftermarket complementary sensors? Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated!
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Old 10-16-2017, 12:28 AM
FrankGRUN FrankGRUN is offline
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That should read: Could the cluster FOIL operate without the gauges connected adequately to satisfy the PCM requirements ....
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Old 10-16-2017, 05:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankGRUN View Post
That should read: Could the cluster FOIL operate without the gauges connected adequately to satisfy the PCM requirements ....
Let me dig into this just a bit----it'll be later this day before I can reply adequately.

Is this a gasoline engine E450?

BTW if you need/want any extra parts for the cluster PM me. I have several from the pre-digital odo in various states of disrepair, disassembly and/or parts from my own "experiments", glad to pass them along for just the cost of shipping.

Editing to add: If you don't already have the appropriate EVTM for your year chassis get one ASAP--it'll be massively helpful in your project. It will show how the cluster does or does not work in conjunction with the PCM. I find mine through eBay either in printed book form or CD-ROM.
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Old 10-16-2017, 08:56 AM
FrankGRUN FrankGRUN is offline
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JWA, thanks for your reply. This is the gasoline version of the E350. The EVTM is to be delivered today (purchased on eBay). I'm definitely anxious to capture any spare parts you can share.

In making the custom dash cluster for the '82 E350, I found a laser cutting service that generated any patterns I needed in 1/8" acrylic plastic for a song! I also found that the projection of the gauges behind the mounting face on average was less than 0.75 inches. For the various gauge connections, I only have to tap the fuel sensor leads, battery and ground and instrument lighting. All other info comes from independent sensors. So I had hoped I could do an insulated package mount of the existing cluster foil to support the basic PCM, cruise and and any security functions.

I was also concerned about the automatic transmission shift indicator - not knowing if it was purely mechanical or a set of electronic indicators.....
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Old 10-16-2017, 01:54 PM
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Hey Frank: PM Sent!
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