Typical Studebaker Dash Switch Repair
by Ray Fichthorn

Studebaker Dash switches aren't that tough to "renew". You can't really "rebuild them" per se... but they can be "fixed. There are several different types of switches, but the basic design is much the same.

To Renew: Refer to the photo below...........
1) Remove the wiring and remove the switch from the dash
2) remove the circuit breaker from the switch (that "box" on the side)..if so equipped (Wipers and Headlight switches)
3) carefully bend 2 of the tiny metal tabs (on one side) back so they are nearly verticle
4) only SLIGHTLY loosen the other 2 tabs
***This will allow the back cover to be removed- and also makes it MUCH easier to reinstall than bending up "all" of the tabs
5) Carefully remove the back cover, and paper insulator(if used)- set them aside- Get out the (cloths)IRON and pre-heat it on a low setting. Once warm- IRON the rear cover(if possible) AND the insulator paper to make them nice and flat again.
6) remove the copper contact plate(s), and spring(s)- clean it/them with electrical cleaner and/or steel wool, or a scotch brite pad until it is clean and shiny
7) remove the interior components- NOTING EXACTLY how they come apart- and clean them all with electrical cleaner
8) Reinstall the now clean components- using an electrical grease such as the type you get with a set of distributor points.
9) Reinstall the back cover and insulating paper, and carefully bend the tabs back down.
10) Test the switch circuits with a battery charger and test light.

Typical switch components:

Below you will see 2 different switches in their disassembled state. The (TOP) one is a headlight switch from a '54 or '54. The lower one is a heater switch from a '62 GT It is pretty much the same as the heater and defroster switches from '56-'62. The only difference is the wire connections on the back- and the switch handle.



The handle can not be removed from the switch until the plastic part is removed first

The plastic part is interference fit on the end of the handle that is grooved not threaded. This is destroyed when removing.

The handle has to pass through this bushing

There are two thin tabs on this bushing the attach it to the switch box. These are not able to be saved for reuse. They attach to this box,

The handle end was made from a mold in different colors

There was a stamped insert fitted to the end of the handle.

This plastic deteriorates over time. This is one problem. The next problem is the inside plate, pictured below warps with age.

It is made from a "waxed" type of cardboard. It can be flattened with a household iron if needed.

What I think would be a solution is to adapt a modern switch that is DPDT and with the addition of resistors with instructions it would serve many applications. The old switch type configuration is pictured below

What I want is a switch that looks original on the front of the dash,like below

What the reverse side looks like is of no concern.

Dan Peterson writes,

I finally got all the lights working except for the front parking lights, I did the normal terminal cleaning, wire tracing and still could find the culpret. Finally decided to check the headlight/parking light switch and lo and behold found no power at the front parking light terminal (the front parking lights are on a separate terminal from the rear parking lights as the rear lights are on with both the parking lights and the headlights and the front parking lights are not on with the headlights). Anyway, found that a repalcement headlight switch (PN 1544272) is NLA at most of the big vendors. I decided to take mine apart to see what the problem was. The switch cover is held on with four metal tangs and by getting under them with a thin bladed screwdriver I was able to pry them back and remove the cover. Inside is a slideing contact plate with three raised contact points (bumps) and these make contact with five round terminals on the underside of the cover. I cleaned all the contacts with sandpaper, removed the debris and reassembled and, vola, the front parking light are working. It should be noted that in the switch housing there is a bakelight (plastic) switch holder that has two spring loaded balls that need to between the raised detents in the bottom of the housing for reassembly, this is what makes the switch "click" when you move it to the various positions. Also the switch sliding plate has a spring underneath it so all of this has to be compressed and held together correctly during reassembly. Not a big effort, you can hold it with your fingers, but it is one of those things you need to pay attention to. Overall it took about one hour from start to finish.