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Sherlock Ohms

The Fuse Holders Wouldn’t Hold

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tekochip
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Platinum
Poor Connection
tekochip   9/9/2013 8:16:01 AM
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Poor fuse holder connections can also blow the fuse, as the high contact resistance heats the body of the fuse.  This is sometimes a pretty tough failure ti track down.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Poor Connection
Rob Spiegel   9/9/2013 9:30:17 AM
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Yes, Tekochip, this must have been hard to track down. And I'll bet this was a problem for many of those who owned this car. A simple change in the fuse holder selection would have saved a lot of trouble.

Charles Murray
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Re: Poor Connection
Charles Murray   9/9/2013 6:51:17 PM
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Yes, I agree this must have been difficult to track down. Problems like these confound the best mechanics and are responsible for inordinate amounts of labor time. They're also responsible for people giving up on their cars before their time is really up.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Poor Connection
Rob Spiegel   9/11/2013 11:28:21 AM
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I agree, Chuck. The maddening part of this problem is that it will certainly happen again and again because of the fuse-holder design. This isn't incidental. This will happen every time the fuses are taken out and replaced.

PMB
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Iron
Re: Poor Connection
PMB   9/10/2013 9:13:29 AM
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Colin Chapman had one overriding design philosophy which, in this case and perhaps a few others, worked to his detriment:  No component was allowed to do only one job.    Thus he was probably thrilled with the concept of integrating the fuse holder with the relay.  Had the concept been soundly executed, a great idea; but in the implemented design, not so much...

At least with the modification, that 'integration' is to a certain extent maintained, and the in-line fuse holders are  actually much more 'sealed' than their predecessors which featured totally unprotected contacts.

Peter (who doesn't drink beer, warm or otherwise...but has the T-shirt)

 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Poor Connection
Rob Spiegel   9/12/2013 11:53:44 AM
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PMB, when your philosophy is to make every component do two jobs, you will necessarily cut coners sometimes on getting each task fully covered with a well-designed component.

William K.
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Platinum
Those Lucas fuseholders
William K.   9/9/2013 10:56:02 AM
This story reminds me of a joke that I got from a British electrical engineer a few years back. The question had arisen as to why the British drank their beer rather warmer than we do here in the states. The engineer explained that "It is because so many people have Lucas refrigerators." I have not been able to verify the validity of that assertion, but it was quite an interesting testament about the perceived quality of the product line.

I would also offer an opinion about installing any kind of unprotected fuseholder under the hood, which is that it is always an example of very poor engineering. In my part of the world, southeastern Michigan, the entire underhood area is subject to salt spray far more brutal than the military salt spray test. This is not something new, it has been that way for at least 50 years that I have been aware of it.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
Rob Spiegel   9/9/2013 11:20:34 AM
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Hey William K, there are a couple theories about warm beer. One is simply that there is more flavor at warmer temps. In the past Americans favored bland beers, so the ice cold temp didn't kill the flavor. That's changed of course, and now Americans actually like tasty beer, maybe warmer beer will come to America.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
William K.   9/9/2013 7:50:13 PM
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Rob, OK, it seems that you don't buy the story about Lucas refrigerators. BUT I got it straight from an Englishman, and we all know that they never exagerate, Right?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
Rob Spiegel   9/12/2013 11:31:55 AM
Of course Englishmen don't exaggerate, William K. I forgot to take that fact into account. On reconsideration, it must be the Lucas refrigerators.

Battar
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Platinum
Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
Battar   9/10/2013 8:50:45 AM
Not for nothing has a leading UK motoring journalist (aka Jeremy Clarkson, aka "that insufferable prat" ) named Lucas "the prince of darkness". Reliability of British built cars in the 70's and 80's has always been a bit of a joke.  Eventually the UK stopped making cars on their own initiative, letting the Japanese teach them how to build Nissans, and selling Jaguar to the Indians (Tata), Rolls Royce and Bently to the Germans (VW and BMW) and Rover to the Chinese (MG, or Rowei).

PMB
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Iron
Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
PMB   9/10/2013 9:06:37 AM
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William, please bear in mind that the subject Lotus is mid-engined, thus "under the edge f the inner front fender", while technically "under the hood" (bonnet, in the UK), is far removed from the heat and other aspects typical of proximity to the engine.

Peter

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
William K.   9/10/2013 9:50:36 AM
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"under the edge f the inner front fender" is still in the area that gets a lot of saltwater spray for at least 4 months of the year, at least in a good part of the northeastern US. So are most of the areas that are forward of the passenger compartment. That is why many cars now have some well sealed enclosures for all of the more delicate electrical components. That salt spray will cover everything that is not intentionally adequately protected. Just being in the shadow of a fender is not nearly enough protection for a relay.

PMB
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Iron
Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
PMB   9/10/2013 9:57:05 AM
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Not as bad as all that -- and perhaps poorly described.  The 'edge' is a lip within the front compartment, not in the wheel well, thus it is indeed a protected and always-dry area.   Any rain which flows nearby is directed away via a typical channel (think - same as around the trunk of your car), and any items kept in the front compartment remain dry.    Yes, somewhat atypical of a Brit car, but that's how it is.

Peter

BUCKH
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Iron
Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
BUCKH   9/10/2013 3:46:09 PM
I once had a tee shirt that said "Lucas Prince of Darkness".  Igot it from an MGA driver.  Go figure ;-)

MartyHoyodeman
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Iron
Re: Those Lucas fuseholders
MartyHoyodeman   9/10/2013 6:16:14 PM
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I'm impressed... Fuses for each fan (3). There were a total of 2 fuses in the whole of a Lotus Europa.

kf2qd
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Platinum
Lucas - ahead of their time...
kf2qd   9/10/2013 9:44:46 AM
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Everyone thinks that Lucas had a quality problem... They were just ahead of their time. It is called "Planned Obsolescence" an Idea that the various US manufacturers have plyed with to varying degrees of success or failure. Though for the British motor industry, the standardization to Lucas parts made the problems  universal rather than manufacturer specific. It is interesting that this "single vendor" mentality had a large part in the ending of "The British Auto Industry". When Leyland bought the sole company doing sheet metal bodywork it just finished it off...

Probably the only thing that has kept the US auto industry going is that the market is large enough that the individual car companies can support the multiple supply chains so every car doens't have exactly the same problem. And because of this there is some competition because there is something to compare your car against, as the different vendors don't all have the same design weaknesses.

John E
User Rank
Silver
Another Bad Fuse Holder
John E   9/10/2013 10:00:29 AM
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I had a similar problem on my Saab 99 Turbo that had the same style of fuse holder.  I had it overheat in downtown Seattle, in December with the outside temperature below freezing.  This was my first trip to Washington to meet my new wife's extended family, and she was not impressed.  I discovered that neither of the twin cooling fans were running.  I checked the fuse and discovered it was ok, but when I touched it the fans started up.  The ends of the fuse were a little corroded so I replaced it. 

Over the next year I had the same thing happen again multiple times.  It turned out that the fuse holder had gotten corroded as well and there were only a few points of contact left that quickly corroded the end of a new fuse.  The contacts on the holder were tined and the corrosion had exposed the copper underneath, accelerating the corrosion.  I finally replaced the entire fuse block and the problem went away.

alschott
User Rank
Iron
Wasn't limited to British Leyland cars
alschott   9/10/2013 11:01:01 AM
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I bought an Opel Kadette that used the same fuse holders, received a warning to have the car inspected because the lights were blinking as the car went over bumps.

Over rode the euro fuse with the SAE fuses - no blinking. 

My 65 MG Midget used the SAE fuses - just two 30 amp fuses guarding all the circuits.  None of the wires were suitable for 30 amps, but it got by.  The car had little body rot on it, turned out the positive ground (earthing) slowed corrosion to the point of non-visible.  I would have kept that car if the transmission didn't have a problem in first and reverse thanks to my brother who was learning how to drive a stick shift.  Great car, only 35 mpg, and light!

Al

Larry M
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Platinum
Rubber bands?
Larry M   9/11/2013 1:23:39 PM
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VW used this same style of fuse holder but didn't seem to have this problem. Perhaps they used a better grade of phosphor bronze for the contact clips which maintained better spring force. The only thing that happened to VWs is that occasionally the contact surface would tarnish and go to high imepedance. The fuse block was easily reached under the front hood, out of the weather. One could reach in and spin each fuse a couple of turns without even getting dirty. I don't understand why the author went to the trouble of replacing these fuseholders when he could have simply stretched a strong rubber band across each one.

RFI-EMI-GUY
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Silver
Re: Rubber bands?
RFI-EMI-GUY   3/11/2014 11:37:12 PM
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Rubber bands have a lot of sulphur. They will cause a ton of corrosion. We use duct tape here in the Florida swamps. Lesson learned, a live .22 cartridge does NOT a good headlamp fuse make.

 

 

a.saji
User Rank
Silver
Re: Rubber bands?
a.saji   3/12/2014 5:31:04 AM
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@RFI-EMI-GUY: Isn't there a protection for this?   

patb2009
User Rank
Gold
Lucas Electrics
patb2009   9/12/2013 11:04:15 PM
I lived in the UK, the joke was "Why doesn't the UK have an IC industry?  Because they

haven't figured out how to make them leak oil."

 

It could have been worse, the French in the 70's had a lot of cars catching on fire.

 

 

Stephen
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Gold
Re: Lucas Electrics
Stephen   9/19/2013 4:11:59 PM
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No British IC's...

That's even better that the old practice of putting newspapers under your british car in your garage: itf you see a dry spot you know something is out of oil (including the piston damper in the aptly named "constant depression"carburettors).

And yes, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt the "Prince of Darkness" is why the Brits drink there beer warm!

RFI-EMI-GUY
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Silver
Re: Lucas Electrics
RFI-EMI-GUY   3/10/2014 10:51:04 PM
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Yeah those SU carburettors were weird. I had a 66 MG 1100 Sports Sedan that ran like a top when they both were synched, but the damping pistons I never really understood. I would fill them with oil then it was gone. Fill it again and it was gone. Whats with that?

Jim_E
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Platinum
Lotus Esprit S2
Jim_E   9/17/2013 4:22:08 PM
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I won't make any Lucas jokes, but I have to say that I really like the design and lines of the Lotus Esprit S2.  It's a sweet looking car! 

Of course being an American, I'd want to throw an LS1 V8 in the back of the thing, but they are sweet cars.  The Pantera is another one of those really neat cars that I'd also like to have, or at least drive someday.

no_hazmats
User Rank
Iron
Those fuses!
no_hazmats   11/15/2013 12:54:01 PM
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My first 2 cars were used VW's in the 12-year-old range when I owned them.  After several years of driving them, my autonomic nervous system was well trained: Whenever (choose any one) the lights would dim, the wipers stopped, the radio cut out . . .    My left hand would automatically reach out up under the dashboard and gove all the fuses a little spin.  Usually, whatever corroded contact would get whiped clean, and the offending electrical component would run properly again.  

Vintage British cars have long been famous for electrical problems.  Who, in a cold, damp country, would put these kinds of fuses in a fender well????  (A) A British autombile engineer.

RFI-EMI-GUY
User Rank
Silver
Re: Those fuses!
RFI-EMI-GUY   3/10/2014 10:46:03 PM
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Holy cow. I don't think you can blame Sir Lucas for this problem. I had a 1978 VW Scirroco with exactly the same relay configuration by BOSCH. I drove the car mostly on weekends for fun. One day I got barely a block from home and the engine died and would not fire. I was panicking that my recent cam belt change had failed. But wiggling that relay under the dashboard gor the fuel pump whirring again. Back when VW's were well sealed up and could float, those cheap brass electrical contacts and fuses were OK. But when the water cooled VW's came out the electrical wiring was not up to task.

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