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#124022 - 07/05/06 05:16 PM FPE - It's True What They Say
electure Offline

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 4259
Loc: Fullerton, CA USA
Like a Model T Ford, they come in basic black.

This one had a 100 Amp breaker ahead of it, which actually DID trip, after both busses and the interior's mounting plate burnt through completely.

Here's the parts The blob at the bottom used to be the buss material.

I had heard of FPE problems which were described just as this (and fires starting as a result), but this is the first time I actually saw one first hand myself.

How do you like it??
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#124023 - 07/05/06 05:56 PM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
Lostazhell Offline
Registered: 02/21/04
Posts: 1428
Loc: Bakersfield, CA (Originally Or...
FPE = Faulty Protection Equiptment
Fire Prone Equiptment

This looks similar ot an FPE 150A combo panel I pulled out of a house in Fullerton. Just cut a hole in the back behind where the main was with an acetilyne torch and it will look the same.

Scott, do you know what the original fault was that lead to this? Scary stuff!
#124024 - 07/05/06 06:59 PM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
Celtic Offline
Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 361
Loc: NJ
I had 1 pole of a (40 year old) 2-pole FPE 50A main trip...what makes this odd is that the FPE feed to a (2 year old) Square D HOM 50A CB that was being used to temp. out a 200A panel.

Why didn't the Square D trip first???
~~ CELTIC ~~
...-= NJ =-...
#124025 - 07/05/06 09:00 PM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
NORCAL Offline
Registered: 09/25/02
Posts: 865
Federal Pacific, "Welding duty circuit breakers".
#124026 - 07/05/06 09:47 PM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
Rewired Offline
Registered: 01/01/06
Posts: 558
Loc: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
WOW Thats the first time I have ever seen that happen!

Roughly how old is ER WAS that panel if I may ask? 30 years?? maybe a bit older? Just curious


[This message has been edited by Rewired (edited 07-06-2006).]
#124027 - 07/06/06 12:15 AM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
Trumpy Offline

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8211
Loc: SI,New Zealand
That's just rediculous!.
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin
#124028 - 07/06/06 12:53 AM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
e57 Offline
Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 2876
Loc: S.F.,CA USA
This is a fault that blew OPEN! The ones we don't see are the ones that stay CLOSED, and use the rest of the building as a fuse. The Fire Dept gets those calls.....

Follow the GEC and see if there was any other hot stuff going on.... Or was this just phase to phase? (With a fast ground hit, as the molten metal dripped)

I would consider everything up stream of this damaged, especially the breaker that DID trip.
Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
#124029 - 07/06/06 03:41 AM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
electure Offline

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 4259
Loc: Fullerton, CA USA
I haven't any idea what caused this to happen in the first place.
This was in an apartment that was (yes, Adam) about 30 yrs old. The customer had complained to management of "flickering lights" for about a week previously. (And of course, THIS is what it took before they called an electrician.)
The aluminum feeder's terminations were still sound, the damage was restricted to what is shown.
I believe that this started as a line to line problem, although I can't guess what caused the arc to start in the first place.

Any ideas?
#124030 - 07/06/06 05:11 PM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5316
Loc: Blue Collar Country
For those of you who participate in the Fine Woodworking "Breaktime" forum... amazingly enough, someone there just ran into the same thing.

It must be time for these things to wear out...
#124031 - 07/06/06 11:14 PM Re: FPE - It's True What They Say
mxslick Offline
Registered: 10/24/04
Posts: 803
Loc: Atomic City, ID USA

I think you'll find the cause of this failure to be the way this particular panel's bus bars are assembled. This one is the style where the breaker's tabs fit into the punched plate, which is mounted to the bus with an 8-32 screw and standoff. (Look closely at the bus to the right of the breakers.)

On the world-famous FPE "horror story" website they talk in detail about this bus style. (I'll find the link and edit it in.)

Here's a link:

I'm trying to find the link for a document that shows in detail the different styles of bus construction...

edit 2: Here's the link to a detailed pic of bus types, scroll down to item 5:
I believe that the screw corroded/oxidized over the years and the high current of the feeder passing thru started an arc which grew to line-to line. (Pretty easy in these crappy panels as clearances are nil anyway.)

Was there a main breaker here? (The 100 amp one you refer to?) Or were there other breakers over this damaged part of the bus? Do you have pics of the damaged breakers, if any?

Inquiring minds want to know...

edited to add link and bold text items..

[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 07-07-2006).

[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 07-07-2006).]

[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 07-07-2006).]
Stupid should be painful.
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