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Electrical Nightmare (HELLLLP!)

A little story:

Today, thanks to the helpful suggestions from Paul, I was out at the
various boneyards in LA.  The most recent cars I could find were 86 or 87
5K's.  I was looking for extra bulbs for the instrument cluster and a new
cig lighter assembly.  I found an assembly that had never been used ($1.50)
and about 20 instrument cluster bulbs (total $2.00).  Most of the cars were
gutted, and I wondered why I needed 20 bulbs.  I thought it was because I
didn't like paying $5.00 per bulb at the dealer or because I wanted to come
away with something.  I soon found out why I needed the 20 bulbs.

Anyway, on the way home I noticed the "light" around the cig lighter was
not working, but I did not get a spare.  While replacing the cig lighter
assembly, I noticed the wire on the bulb was off, so I tried to put it back
on.  I did this, and turned the lights on.  POOF!  All the instument
cluster, rear diff backlights, fog/defrost backlights, AC/Heat/Blower
backlights and the radio backlights were out.  The reason (I think) was
because a piece of metal in the ashtray assembly touched both the leads on
the cig lighter bulb (so I figure).

The fuse is fine, and the other electrical components on this fuse are
working.  What the hell happened?  I noticed the cig bulb appears to be
blown, and it appears there was a short circuit that torched all the bulbs.

What a pain in the ass.  I can replace the rear diff backlights and the
instrument cluster lights (done it before), but the bulbs in the center
console (AC/Heat/Radio/Fogs/Defrost) look tough.  How do you pull that
assembly out?  Are those bulbs tough to replace?

These are the "backlight" bulbs, not the "switch" bulbs.  What happened?



The Judge                                       ^
'90 80Q                            /\           |           /\
'86 VW Scirocco 16V Wolfsburg
'85 5K (real son of a bitch)      /  \          |          /  \
                                 /    \         |         /    \
                                /      \        |        /      \
                                |______|        |        |______|
                                          /           \
                                    The Ol' Scales of Justice