When I first bought my ’66 Chevy truck, the heater control levers were all broken off and were unable to be used. So my dad showed me how to bypass the heater blower motor switch so I would have a heater and defrosters in my truck for the time being. It worked very well until my wife and I moved to our current location and one day I went to use them and the toggle switch was no longer working. So I thought I’d pull out the heater control panel where the levers and switches reside to see what I could do about fixing them. One of the levers was broken off at both ends so I took it out, brought it into my house, went shopping online, with hopes of finding new ones, and surprisingly there were no new ones available that were made on American soil. But I did find some N.O.S. (New Old Stock) but they weren’t complete sets. I wasn’t lucky enough to find them complete. And the prices were exorbitant and they also had ones they called none-pop style but they were made out of a different type of metal but they were also made in China and if you have read any past posts from us, you should know that I dislike none American on our vehicles. It’s just my thing. So after doing an extensive search, I gave up looking for new ones so I thought I would try local wrecking yards and recycling yards. The search at those places turned up with nothing they were broken too. But I did find 2 knobs that go to the heater levers to my truck that had pieces of the levers broken off in them. But that doesn’t help my problem. I still can’t find replacement levers for mine. So I ponder at my levers looking and looking to come up with a solution. So I took my heater control box apart and thought for a moment, what can I use to fit through these thin slots of the panel to work for me because I cannot afford the new levers or the ones I want. Then it dawned on me – I have a bunch of car keys from past cars I’ve owned and loved. One which I lost just before I bought my truck that saved my life in an accident that wasn’t my fault. So I came up with the idea to merge the keys with these heater levers because they were small enough to fit in the slots.
Now I have to think of how to connect them to the levers. So I measured how much I would need from each key, then I looked at each lever to see how much was broken off by reinstalling the levers back into the box. Then I thought, now I have to think of a way of fastening them. I found some aluminum rivets that were just small enough to fit in with what little material I had to work with. Then I made holes in my levers and my keys, then I inserted my rivets. Then I test-fitted the levers and keys in the box to see how they fit. Once they are all installed I did have to do some filing and re-adjustments with the middle lever for the blower speed because the lever happened to be longer than the outer two
Once everything was good I had put in a second key on one of my outside levers because there was no way to connect one of the cables. After all, it had nowhere to connect it. So once I had a key connected to that I used it as an eyelet, I put a screw small enough for the cable to fit onto with a couple of washers and a nut and it worked out perfectly!
I didn’t have to paint this one, because no one is going to see it. Now with this heater control panel, it has a plastic sleeve that controls the drag of the levers going up and down so it will hold it in the position where you want it to stay. I did have to shave a little bit off for the difference the keys made because it was not in a perfectly straight line as the levers would have been if I had used the correct levers. But after that I painted my keys to look like black knobs, I let the paint dry for an hour. I should have used a clear coat on them to give them that beautiful shine. But once installed I put the holding pin in place, installed the shim for the blower motor switch, and installed the lock washer for the pin. Then I have the joy of re-installing this whole unit back into my little pickup. I am thrilled about my accomplishment of solving this problem by re-purposing items that have a special meaning to me and solving my dilemma of having no lever controls for the last 24 years, and no more toggle switches!!!!!