some of your Tripminder buttons only work after pushing them
repeatedly? Do some of them not work at all? Are some of
your lights not working? Is a bad connection making the Tripminder
beep at you every time you get in the car?
Well, it’s tune-up time.
The Lincoln Tripminder computer was a forefather to the modern
digital interface systems of today’s automobiles. Not only that, after more than 20 years,
it is still one of the more informative units on the market! Though computers
weren’t exactly affordable in the early 1980s, Ford decided that Lincolns
should have a computer to showcase its new EFI technology. Now that the Tripminder
is ancient history, a few things can be done to restore its operation.
What you will need
- Fine grit (around 800) sandpaper
- 6mm deep socket and extension for a ¼” drive ratchet
- Various sizes of blade screwdrivers
- Phillips screwdriver
- Slightly abrasive pink pencil eraser
- Small can of compressed air (optional)
1984-92 Mark VII: remove the metal trim around the Tripminder using a thin blade
screwdriver Be gentle! Next, unbolt the four screws holding
it to the dashboard. Slide out the assembly and disconnect the two (2)
1982-87 Continental: remove the wood trim that is above the steering column and
glove box with a thin blade screwdriver. Be gentle! Now remove all the
screws that hold the black plexiglass cover to the dash. Since this part is over
5 ½” feet long, you might need someone’s help to remove it safely.
Remove the Tripminder in the same manner as the Mark VII.
1980-81 Lincoln Continental, 1980s Town Car, and 1980-82 Mark VI Remove
the wood trim around the Tripminder keyboard and unbolt assembly. The following
instructions are not applicable to these models, but can be used in a very similar
Okay, now I got it out. What’s the tune up part?
- We will take apart the computer (in a static electricity free area) and
clean the metal contacts of the buttons with sandpaper.
- There are also various metal connections that need to be polished using
a pink eraser on the back of the Tripminder. One set of connections is visible
from the back of the unit: all copper wiring for the light bulbs. The other
connection is hidden inside.
- Replace any burnt out bulbs at this time too. Pretty straightforward.
Fixing the Buttons
Cleaning the contacts
There are ten (10) 6mm bolts on the
front of the Tripminder that you must remove to separate the case into
a front and back side. Remove the black trim from the assembly that holds
in the light bulbs. Slide the keyboard out of the black plastic frame
and disconnect it from the rest of the system. Underneath each plastic
button of the keyboard you will see a metal contact that is attached
to the circuit board. The metal contact “clicks” to touch
another metal part of the circuit board. This is the problem; you must
sand this area to get the buttons working again.
Fold a small piece of the sandpaper
(sand on both the top and bottom) and GENTLY slide it between each of
the seven buttons.
You should be sliding the paper between the metal you see and the circuit
board. Push down on the button and move the sandpaper up and down a few
times. This will clean both sides and remove all corrosion/oxidation from
the contacts. When this is done blow off any sand or residue with compressed
air or your mouth.
You have already seen and cleaned the contacts on the back of the assembly with
Now you will have to fully disassemble the Tripminder to get to the second set
of connections. Inside the black box is two circuit boards held in place like
Carefully slide the “bookshelves” out, and notice that one of them
has exposed silver connections on it. Separate the two circuit boards by hand
and clean the contacts with that pink eraser.
Reverse the disassembly process. I know, I know…easier said than done!
Congratulations: you now have a fresh Tripminder computer! When you put the Tripminder
back together you will have buttons that operate with the slightest touch, no
burnt out lights, and strong connections everywhere!