The Carson Pirie Scott store on State Street in Chicago closed its doors earlier this year. Before it did, I bought the sound system from most of the store. During the process of stripping out loudspeakers and amplifier cabinets, I got to wander all over the place and look at all the neat electrical oddities. Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures. This one is of a fuse panel that I thought was particularly interesting. The building had 120/208 panels, 277/480 panels, and, some sort of old DC system in the basement. The whole place seems to have been pretty well maintained, but it was still very hard to find where the amplifier racks were wired to sometimes. The blue fuse on the left side was running one of the sound systems that I removed. It was a really neat building to work in.
What a great find!! Do you know what other circuits are fed from this panel? It's interesting to notice that some of the tumbler switch/fuse circuits are missing the switch component. I'm assuming that this is not the MDP for the store. I hope you will post more photos for us.
PS. I spy at least a couple more 15's in there. They are yellow, but have that characteristic hexagonal-shaped window.
If memory serves me right, this store occupied an entire block of downtown Chicago. You had 5 retail floors, 4 floors of offices, and two basement levels. The basic design was of three separate buildings, later connected.
In other words, there is no way this was the main panel for the entire place!
Indeed, considering the location, it is very possible that the place was once wired for DC, rather then AC. There may even be a building or two down there that are STILL DC!
This was one of the most interesting places I have ever worked in. I have got to find some of the other pictures. The place had hundreds of panels, this was just one of many. Average sized, I guess. This panel had been mostly re-wired to feed most of a basement stockroom. It was my understanding that the fuses without switches fed outlets and the switched fuses fed lighting circuits, or other hard wired items (PA system cabinet) that would need to be switched off and on daily. The switches are tied to the buss, with the fuse after it. This way, you can change the fuse without a load on it.
Considering the age of the building, and the size of the operation, the wiring was actually pretty impressive. All fuses were sized right, and the wiring was done right. the only thing that made me cringe a little was some really long runs of flexible conduit. all of the systems that I stripped out were wired with 10 awg. wire, and fuses/breakers 20 amps or smaller. IMO, the store must have employed a really good electrician. I ended up also buying the contents of his office, but thats another thing entirely. This was a great project to work on.
That panel is awesome. I still like fuses. I've never heard of a fuse welding shut or failing to trip or blah blah blah.
As the story goes...my local Bussman representative retired about 5 years ago. He was firm believer in fuses to the point that when he bought a new house he removed the breakers and installed a fuse panel. Years later he went to sell the same house. He tried to explain to the potential buyers the benefits of fuses. End of story is he ended up putting breakers back. Fuses are better folks. They never fail to fail and are inexpensive. I'd rather have fuses in my house but I can't find anything like this at Homer Deepoe.....
Now thats cool! I really like the idea of having a switch in the panel so you are able to control the branch circuits AND be able to change fuses without any load, well the circuits that have switches anyway.
RSmike: I agree that fuses are better electrically, but in this day and age people THINK its too much of a hassle to keep spare fuses on hand as well they are scared to change them. Besides, who ever thinks to do like what you, I or anyone else on this board should at least do every month or two if you have a fuse panel, and that is to simply check all your fuses to ensure they are all in snug and not excessively warm.. just simple preventative maintenance anyone can do, but probably no one ever does!
My family place is half fuses half breakers (sub panel) and we never had any trouble with the fuses. One room is even on 6A Diazed and never had one blow. (6A@230V, usually 10, 13 or 16A). From flea markets I have roughly 6 boxes of spares (5 fuses each) and so far I only needed 2 (2 tries of running a 1.5kW floor sander off a 10A circuit, that was until I discovered the 1.5kW were mechanic load, 11.5A running, high startup inrush... that was impressing... push start button, hear motor start to spin up, lights dim heavily and then go to darkness). I hope to salvage a nice fuse panel soon (5 single phase circuits, 1 3ph, almost new RCDretrofitted).
back in college in the 1970's, I remember a frat house (about a 100 years old) that had an ancient fuse panel. Located in the middle of the house, don't know if they also had service equipment elsewhere. Memory is a bit dim, but I think it was just a well varnished wooden box with stud terminals used to connect branch circuits to the fuses, and the other end of the fuses to the main bus. One issue was that the frat house had run out of proper fuses, so some of the frat brothers created homemade(!) fuses from sheet lead. Probably the electrical engineering majors! They created a zig-zag pattern, figuring that a longer circuit path might help fuse action. Who knows what amount of overcurrent would be needed to blow these homemade fuses... Any inspector would likely die of fright and/or be rolling on the floor laughing, and then immediately order the POCO to disconnect power and make the frat house get real electricians in for a complete re-wire.