Okay, I'm thinking this is a short in wiring because when the cluster freezes and the LCDs go blank the transmission goes into LIMP MODE.
I know the cluster is working because when I park it, pull the negative battery cable, wait 30 seconds and reattach it, the cluster will dance like my native brothers and I at a smashing powwow. Sometimes, when I'm lucky the cluster goes back to normal. But when I drive 20+ miles at 70+mph, the thing goes dead and I have no idea how hot, how fast, what rpm or how my gas my car has. After pulling two other clusters from my junkyard, same results.
Here's the vid: 96 Jetta GLX gauges fail - YouTube
Thanks for any help.