Classic Thunderbird Club International
Gil's Garage
Gil Baumgartner
CTCI Authenticity Chairman
Removing Dash Switches and Controls

Removal of dash switches, etc is a fairly simple task that can be accomplished without special tools or you can purchase a bezel removal tool from most Thunderbird parts dealers. Two types of bezel removal tools are pictured in photo #1. Either type works very well.

The bezel removal tool has two different size ends. The larger end is for removing the ignition switch bezel; the small end removes the headlamp switch, wiper controls and heater switch.

Removing the Switches and Controls
The following procedures require going under the dash.

Before starting disconnect the battery.

Be sure to record the wire color codes and locations.

We’ll start the removal procedures with the headlight control switch.

The first step is to remove the Headlight knob and shaft from the headlight switch unit. Removing the knob and shaft will provide access to the headlight retaining bezel.

Photo #2 shows the release button for the headlamp switch knob and shaft, Press and hold the release button while pulling and twisting the knob and shaft, this allows the shaft and knob to be pulled out of the switch.

Photo #3 shows the Headlight knob and shaft after its been removed.

With the shaft removed, the retaining bezel can be removed with the special tool by inserting the small end of the tool in the bezel slot and turning counter-clockwise. The headlight switch can now be dropped down from behind the dash and the wires removed.

To remove the wiper control, we must first remove the wiper control cable by going under the dash and disconnecting the cable at the wiper motor. Then remove the control knob by loosening the knob set screw; the knob can then be pulled off the shaft.

With these items removed insert the small end of the bezel tool  (photo #4) over the shaft and engage the bezel nut, turn counter-clockwise to remove.

The cable assembly can then be removed by pushing the shaft housing forward and out from under the dash.

The heater on/off switch is removed in the same manner.

The left air vent cable is removed by first removing the retainer clip and cable end from the flapper valve lever in the engine compartment. Next go under the dash and remove the retainer nut from the cable. Pull the cable straight back into the drivers compartment.

Photo #5 - The ignition switch assembly is removed by inserting the large end of the tool, into the bezel nut and turning counter-clockwise. The switch can be moved forward then dropped down from the dash enough to disconnect the wiring and remove the switch.

The lighter assembly can be removed by going under the dash to disconnect the power wire, then turn the sleeve housing (under the dash) counter-clockwise to remove it. Once the sleeve is removed the lighter assembly can be pushed out of the dash.

The radio can be taken out by first removing the control knob set screws and pulling knobs off. Then go under the dash and remove the antenna wire and speaker wire by pulling them out.

NOTE: use caution not to break the three-prong pin retainer on the speaker wire.

Remove the electrical connections to the radio. One wire provides power to the radio. Disconnect this wire at the fuse. The other wire is for the radio light.

The next step is to remove the mounting bracket retainer nuts - one on each side of the radio. Then remove the shaft nuts that were exposed when the knobs were removed. Push the radio forward; drop the end down, and rotate the radio assembly to remove it from under the dash.

The heater control is held in place from the back side of the dash by two retainers, one on each side, as shown in photo #6.

First remove the three wire control cables from the control levers, note the color code wire band on the end of each cable tubing shield so that you can replace them in the same positions. Band codes are also found on page 219 and 262 of the restoration manual.

For complete dash restoration refer to the CTCI Restoration Manual.

If you failed to note the wire color code and positions before removing them from the switches, complete wiring codes with pictures can be found in the Electrical manual available from CTCI.

Gil Baumgartner

Last modified: February 24 2014