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Instruments

Speedometer

I was watching the odometer as it was moving round to 60,000 miles, waiting to see all the zeroes line up, but wasn't prepared for what actually happened. Instead there was a dreadful clicking from the instrument binnacle and the numbers stuck at a drunken angle.

There was no doubt in my mind as to the cause – the friction in the odometer had overcome the worn gears in the right-angle drive at the back of the speedo, so everything had stopped – except the car. It had been grumbling for a while, but I had been waiting for it to declare its intentions, which it just had!

The speedometer drive cable is in two parts, the lower one coming out of the left hand side of the LT230 transfer box, crossing over the top of the bell housing and entering the car to the left of the clutch pedal. There it is joined to the upper section of the cable which is attached inside the instrument binnacle Presumably this facilitated assembly of the car, allowing the whole preassembled dashboard to be dropped straight in and then connected up.

The upper cable terminates at the back of the speedometer, where there is a right-angle drive, as space is too tight for a direct connection to the instrument. It was this which had failed.

Repair process

Getting access to the instrument binnacle is very much easier with the steering wheel out of the way, although it is not essential. Undo the retaining screw at the bottom of the central cover and undo the 27mm nut (same size as the road wheels) and locking washer.

DO NOT try to remove the steering wheel by force, as that will damage the telescopic steering column irretrievably. It's very easy to make a simple puller, as the steering wheel boss has two M6 threaded holes.

It's then a simple job to pop-off the cover at the rear of the binnacle and release the electrical connections.

The next step is to remove the lower dash panel under the steering column and separate the upper and lower speedometer drive cables at the connector.

The binnacle is secured to the dashboard by four M6 studs, with 10mm nuts and lock washers underneath. When these have been undone, the whole binnacle can be removed.

The upper speedo cable is disconnected from the right-angle drive, which is itself fixed to the back of the speedometer by two screws.

If you are just replacing the right-angle drive, that's all you need to do.

However, if you need to do more, then you will have to undo the six screws holding the metal frame, as well as the spring wires which hold the various plastic mouldings in place.

Before you can remove the speedo you have to unclip the needle cover. Do this carefully, because there is a light duct which has to be released – if you damage it, the speedo needle won’t be illuminated in future. The speedo is held in place by the two remaining screws.

Assembly is the reverse of the process, but note the following pitfalls:-

  • ensure the light duct is correctly refitted
  • make sure there are no dirty fingerprints on the inside of the glass front panel
  • before refitting the lower dash, do make sure that the heater/demister pipes are still connected
  • don’t forget to reconnect the electrics in the lower dash – I always get caught out by the radio aerial lead!

Overall this is not a difficult job and can be accomplished in half a morning, but the instruments are delicate and need to be handled with care.

Postscript

Needless to say, when I’d put it all back together, the speedo didn't register at all! After further exploration, it turned out that the little nylon fitting at the top end of the lower cable had become detached. As judged by the discolouration of the cracked end, this had been developing for a long time. Just as well that I had a spare cable!

I have had the lower cable fail previously. Where the cable passes over the exhaust pipe, the heat destroys the waterproof covering. Water ingress corrodes the inner cable, which frays and hangs up on the outer, causing the speedometer to judder. I now wrap this part of the cable in aluminium cooking foil and underseal, which seems to be working so far.

Parts list

PRC4352

Speedo cable 90deg drive

be warned, it's surprisingly expensive!
make sure it's the correct rotation!

PRC5568

upper speedo cable

PRC5564

lower speedo cable

PRC4348

Speedometer