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Help! Problems ensue after gauge cluster work on my 95 corolla

Here’s the problem, I recently replaced the lights in my gauge cluster from my '95 Corolla with some fancy colored ones. While I had the gauge cluster out I took the gauges out for a slight inspection. For some reason when I put it back in the car I noticed that the needles no longer moved (though the lights look fancy) as well as my air conditioning being nullified (no spinning fan, no heat, nothing), along with a few other things. I must assume the culprit is a fuse, but I find it somewhat odd that this happened at the same time. Can anyone shed any light on my dilemma?

It’s not odd that it happened. Remember the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Put the old lights back in and report back, or not. Those gauges should not have been mugged like that. You might get stuck buying the whole cluster but I hope not.

Did you disconnect the battery before removing the gauge cluster? Are you sure you firmly attached the gauge cluster wiring connector when you put it back together?

I’d start checking fuses.

Ah, I did forget the battery in my state of exitement… but I’ve done that a few times before with no ill effects. I checked the fuses and found a blown one. I replaced it, tried to start the car… the needles start to move… then something horrible, the cluster starts to smoke. I’ve got it right next to me, something happened right behind the fuel gauge. I’m not sure what happened, but there are two copper strips now poking out of a hole in the plastic. I can’t say why there… but it looks like it’s time to get a new cluster off eBay.

Here’s a picture of the damage: