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FPE - It's True What They Say #124022
07/05/06 07:16 PM
07/05/06 07:16 PM
electure  Offline
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,279
Fullerton, CA USA
Like a Model T Ford, they come in basic black.

[Linked Image]

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.

[Linked Image]

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

[Linked Image]

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??

Tools for Electricians:
Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124023
07/05/06 07:56 PM
07/05/06 07:56 PM
Lostazhell  Offline
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,431
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! [Linked Image]

Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124024
07/05/06 08:59 PM
07/05/06 08:59 PM
Celtic  Offline
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 361
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 =-...
Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124025
07/05/06 11:00 PM
07/05/06 11:00 PM
NORCAL  Offline
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 882
Federal Pacific, "Welding duty circuit breakers".

Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124026
07/05/06 11:47 PM
07/05/06 11:47 PM
Rewired  Offline
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 558
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).]

Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124027
07/06/06 02:15 AM
07/06/06 02:15 AM
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,260
SI,New Zealand
That's just rediculous!.

Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124028
07/06/06 02:53 AM
07/06/06 02:53 AM
e57  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
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
Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124029
07/06/06 05:41 AM
07/06/06 05:41 AM
electure  Offline
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,279
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?

Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124030
07/06/06 07:11 PM
07/06/06 07:11 PM
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
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...

Re: FPE - It's True What They Say #124031
07/07/06 01:14 AM
07/07/06 01:14 AM
mxslick  Offline
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 803
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... [Linked Image]

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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