There are actually 4 bolts securing the steering column: Two 13mm (?) and two 10mm. If one of the larger ones fell out, the dash panel under the column or the hush panel would have to be removed. Otherwise, it would just stay up in that area. Check right above the brake pedal for a missing bolt.
I dropped the column all the way to the seat in my 93 to take my cluster out. Prior to doing this, I scratched the top of the column pretty well with one of the screws ont the back of the cluster. If you choose to or find that you have to lower the column keep this in mind: Completely removing the upper column bolts causes the column to only be supported by the two smaller lower bolts. The collar that these bolts fasten to isn't very strong and can be broken easily with downward pressure on the steering wheel. So if you remove the upper bolts, remove the lower ones too. If you can get the cluster out simply by loostening the upper bolts, you won't have to bother with the lower ones.
I really hope that your problem can be cured by following the Techinfo procedures or a simple battery cable/connection but for some reason, I'm not too confident it will. You describe a very similar situation that I had in my original cluster. I'm now on my 4th. There is a dude on Ebay that repairs these clusters and he talks about replacing the power supply(*) in the cluster. I'm no electronic tech but this sounds like one plausible reason for certain failures.