Sunday, April 6, 2008

Removing the Instrument Pod

I couldn’t wait. I read some articles about removing the instrument panel and it did not sound that hard, so this morning, right after I made a cup of coffee I went into the garage, set up my shop light and went to work. Actually, I could not wait until the coffee was done. I ground the beans, set the shop light up, went back in the house and poured boiling water into the French press, back to the garage to find and remove the two screws holding the instrument pod in place, back in the house to press the coffee.

To remove the instrument pod, a leather covered module that holds the instrument panel, you remove two screws, lift the end facing you up, pivoting the back down to free it from a bracket. I had to use two different screwdrivers because the one I started with was too long to fit between the windshield wiper control and the dash.

Both articles I read recommending turning off the power to the car prior to starting this project. Notice, I did not say disconnect the battery. No, in the 355 you turn a knob, the same one I found when looking for the fuse box to “off”. This knob is hidden under a panel in the trunk. I turned the power off before starting.

I also took the precaution of covering the steering column with a cloth to protect it from scratches. The steering column is covered with two trim pieces made from the silly putty rubber product that Ferrari used on the interior of the 355. I am sure this product had some redeeming features at one time if it still does they are lost one me. In spite of my precautions I did scratch the top of the steering column. You wouldn’t notice it if you were not looking. Unfortunately, I will notice it every time I drive the car. I had planned on replacing the lower of the two panels, now I get to replace both. The material they are made of is so soft you could scratch it by covering it with terry cloth and yelling at it.

In the manual version of the 355 there are six different wiring connectors you have to remove. Luckily they are all different so you don’t have to mark them as you disconnect them. After a minute of two of fiddling they come apart pretty easily. At this point you have a Ferrari with a big hole in the dash with wires hanging out. Looks like you stole it and are parting it out to pay for drugs. Not the most flattering look for the car.

Anyway, I looked at the ground. It was not really “behind” the vent. It was behind and to the side of the vent. Enough so that my big fingers would never be able to get to it. The ground was fine. I assumed it was since the gauges still worked and I figured they would be connected to the same ground. I messed with all the wires looking for corrosion, burns, or any other weird stuff but found nothing. I loosened the screws that connect the lighting rheostat to gauges and made sure they were making a good connection.

Before connecting the wiring and putting the instrument in place I cleaned and conditioned the leather. Easy disassembly is a blessing of a mostly handmade car. I doubt I fixed the problem. Unfortunately, I don’t have a 7.5 AMP fuse to test my work with. Later I will go the hardware store and pick one up.

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