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#152168 - 04/05/04 04:44 PM Problem with the old Fuse Box
electure Offline

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 4259
Loc: Fullerton, CA USA
I received a call to a turn of the century home which was experiancing partial power loss... I arrived and asked the home owner the normal questions.. She told me her kitched power was sporadic... when I was getting ready to head to the panel, she states that "The pennies in the fuse box may need replaced!" =O I find the fuse box & low & behold.... old pennies behind 30A fuses (I don't think I've ever come across a lower rated Edison base fuse in a panel that I didn't install myself!) Anyways.... a crispy burned K&T splice was located in the attic above the only receptacle in the kitchen (which was behind the stove).... Which had a 6-way "Gem" tap plugged in, with a power strip also... connected appliances were.. washing machine, gas dryer, microwave, toaster, Mr. Coffee, stove igniter, refridgerator & a portable dishwasher!... Enclosed are pics of the 30A 120V fuse box which was finally laid to rest in my garage, along with the 6 way which was pretty close to going from dangerous to catastrophic! (Nope, the 3 prong wasn't grounded btw).

-Randy (Lostazhell)

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#152169 - 04/05/04 08:31 PM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
Admin Online   content

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 3417
Loc: NY, USA
Randy: That is a great picture & story! Here is a similar situation, but not quite as old as the fuse box you encountered. I was rewiring a small hobby farm last summer and came across this lovely surprise. You can see the right socket bank was missing from the panel, exposing a live bus bar to anyone who opened the panel. Notice the mouse nest in the lower-right corner. But best yet, what you can’t see in my picture, is that all the unused K/O’s that were removed had corn cobs stuff in their place!!

Ian Forkash, a.k.a., Electric-Ian
#152170 - 04/05/04 08:56 PM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
Bjarney Offline
Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2527
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
“ALL-N-3”—what a jewel. That box was certainly ‘cutting-edge power central’ a century ago. The externally-operable knife switch was likely a high-grade feature at that time.

Utilities were far more trusting then, for the a-base meter could have been bypassed easily... although the box may have been intended to be sealed in normal operation.
#152171 - 04/05/04 09:41 PM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
SvenNYC Offline
Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 1691
Loc: New York City
Lostazhell said:
"The pennies in the fuse box may need replaced!"

You're KIDDING! She actually said that to you???

P.S. She should have bought the brown 6-way tap instead of the white one. That way the scorching wouldn't have been so noticeable...

Randy did you also knock four cents off her bill. What was the year stamped on the coins?
#152172 - 04/06/04 12:55 AM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
Lostazhell Offline
Registered: 02/21/04
Posts: 1428
Loc: Bakersfield, CA (Originally Or...
LoL Ian... The Corn-Cob KO Seals are one I definitely haven't come across.. (yet) About a week ago I found a mouses' nest in a subpanel that was missing a 1" KO... The little $*^#!@$ chewed insulation off 3 wires in there too! but escaped alive...

Sven.. She DID in fact tell me that! the short story behind that she told me was that growing up, anytime the lights would flicker or something would go out, her father would change the pennies in the fuse box & all would work again! LoL about the 4¢ in the panel.. If I remember right, I think one was from the 20's. the rest were from the 60's.. (probably the last time they were "replaced!") The LAST thing that house needed was that 6 way! That house went from 3 circuits to 14 circuits after we rewired it & changed the service to 200A 240V.. The homeowner didn't know what to do with herself actually having outlets above her kitchen counter & not plugging her hairdryer into an extension cord running from a ceiling keyless fixture in her bathroom.. (a whole new story! ) I actually have a couple other cool things from this house... Some old push button switches dated to 1903 on the back, funky receptacles... This place was a treasure trove!

#152173 - 04/06/04 02:12 AM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
pauluk Offline
Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7520
Loc: Norfolk, England
People don't seem to realize that just because a power strip has 6 outlets that doesn't mean you can plug anything with a matching plug into all six and not have problems.

The penny-trick was never used here in England as we didn't have Edison base fuses, but an old favorite for the rewireable fuse carriers was a straightened-out paper clip. A standard size clip was just the right overall length to go through the ceramic carrier and wrap around the terminals each end.
#152174 - 04/11/04 03:55 AM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
Ever Ready Offline
Registered: 03/27/04
Posts: 39
Loc: Scotland
I have seen many of the Edison type fuses in the UK, it has to be said that they were all in panels/machinery imported from Germany, I never liked that type of fuse at all and later machinery from the same manufacturer moved over to circit breakers.

I have also seen the old paper clip trick a few times and also the practice of removing a blown fuse in a UK 13A plug and covering it in silver foil before replacing it !!!!

I have removed copper wire from rewireable fuse carriers too, I can only assume that they ran out of paper clips!

Back in the late '70s I worked in shipyards for a couple of years and the electricians that worked on the temporary lighting (which was simply two 10mm singles taped together and had 500watt GES fittings twisted and taped on to the supply)used SOLID neutral links as fuses when they were looking for faults, it used to be like a firework display when the faults announced their location with a rather loud pop
#152175 - 04/13/04 06:04 PM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
mvpmaintman Offline
Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 123
Loc: Manhattan, Kansas, USA
We had a roof top ac unit fry the home run one day, we found that the contractor that installed it several years ago had used 3/4" copper pipe for fuses. I geuss that the dead short made the other ones blow everytime.
#152176 - 04/14/04 04:10 AM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
pauluk Offline
Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7520
Loc: Norfolk, England
also the practice of removing a blown fuse in a UK 13A plug and covering it in silver foil before replacing it !!!!

Or a few strands stripped from some flex wrapped around it.
#152177 - 04/14/04 11:02 AM Re: Problem with the old Fuse Box
Texas_Ranger Offline
Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2391
Loc: Vienna, Austria
Yep! My uncle told me on Monday that a single strand is supposed to have an ampacity of exactly 10A!
Not going to try that though.
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