Friday, June 6, 2008

Fuse Block.

Even after cleaning it with a wire brush and sandpaper, my fuseblock was looking a little crusty, and I knew there was even more crust deep down in between the terminals.

I decided it was time for a rebuild, and while I was at it, I decided I was going to modernize the block to accept 1/4" glass cartridge fuses. (I have visions of blowing a fuse in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of night, and not being able to find euro-style fuses at a gas station...)

As usual, the process started with disassembly:

I wasn't careful when drilling out the rivets holding the terminals to the block, and as you can see in the picture, I ended up damaging a corner of the relatively brittle Bakelite block. I started reading up on Bakelite repair, only to discover it's supposedly impossible. Just as all hope seemed lost, I decided to try gluing the piece back in place with Zap-A-Gap.

Bingo. It turns out that Zap-A-Gap (which I swear is superior to other CA adhesives) mends Bakelite just fine. I glued the piece back in place, sanded the area with 800 grit sandpaper, and the repair is completely invisible. While I was at it, I patched a previously broken corner with some black plastic (I used some ABS I had lying around) as well.

Next, I set to the dull- albeit rewarding- task of cleaning each terminal lug with a wire brush attached to my Dremel. Seeing the amount of oxidation that had developed in between the lugs, and the difference before and after cleaning, made me feel that my efforts would be well worth it for the long term health of my Amazon's charging system.



I had a hard time finding cartridge fuse clips, so I ended up buying a fuse block from Radio Shack, and using just the clips. Because the Amazon's original fuse block is sized for euro fuses, I ended up having to do a good amount of modifying the clips by fitting, drilling, filing, refitting, redrilling, and refiling to get the spacing right for 1/4" cartridge fuses. At first, I was obsessed with centering the fuses in the block, but in the end, I ended up offsetting them.

Before reassembling the block, I followed Ron Kwas's excellent advice, and tinned and soldered all of the terminals to prevent future oxidation between the lugs. Then, I reassembled everything using screws so that future disassembly would be easier, should it ever be necessary (i.e., in another 580,000 miles). I searched to find super-flat pan head screws (necessary to fit between the fuse clip and the fuse itself). After scouring all the local hardware stores, I gave up, bought flat head screws, and countersunk the terminals slightly.

back together - terminals were tinned, assembled, then heated to fuse the solder.

Back in the car, with the cover on, the fuseblock looks stock. Hopefully, this bit of preventative maintenance will save me from having to deal with a charging system calamity or, worse yet, engine compartment fire.

De-Ox was applied to all of the fuse clips and spade connectors

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