The thermostat opens and lets the water start circulating through the radiator at about 190 deg. There is a sending unit in the block that sends the tenperature of the coolant to the temp gauge.
The first thing is you will find that you have no heat or defroster. The temp Gage will rise, but the radiator will not overhead. You will also get the radiator fan to kick in sensing the block temperature. You can carefully and slowing open the radiator and the water may either be cold or Luke warm, but your temp Gage is on the hot mark. The thermostat seems to be a real weak link and is connected by (3) hoses, if it is closed than no circulation occurs.
Most likely the thermostat spring is weak, or the thermostat is sticking, causing the thermostat to open too early and stay open too long. This will cause water to circulate to the radiator, causing the temperature of the cooling water to fall below the target temperature, and so the temp guage falls. then eventually the thermostat closes some, and the temp starts to rise again (and so on)
Make sure you have the correct thermostat in there, if it is set too high you will get that bouncing. The thermostat is set to open at a certain temperature and allow the coolant to exchange with what is in the radiator. Under normal conditions you will notice a rise and fall of the temp gage as the coolant reaches max temp then lowers after the exchange. An overly sensitive sensor or an aftermarket gage set up will exaggerate it. I would not worry too much since it is a good indication that your cooling system is working well, the coolant in the radiator certainly seems to be cooling down enough to cause a big swing in temp. Check on that thermostat though as it may be letting the coolant get too hot before releasing it.
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