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Home Mechanic: More reliable fuses

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Richard W
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2529
Member
Topic starter
 

Back when I quit college in the late 1960's to make my first million repairing VW Beetles, one of the lessons I quickly learned was that the German fuses weren't worth a toot. They were adequate electrical protection, but the pointy-ended fuses were forever failing to make good electrical contact. A standard procedure on a tune up was to spray the fuse box with WD-40 and then run your finger down the row of fuses, spinning them all in their holders as you passed over them. Lamps and radios that hadn't worked in years suddenly came back to life. Owners were ecstatic !!

Later on, after I started on my second million (I had given up on the first), I bought a 1969 Saab 96. Wonderful car, with an excellent Ford V4 engine. The only problem was again the Bosch fuses. Owning to the placement of the fuse box on this car, corrosion was more rampant. I'd need to get out at red lights on a regular basis and spin the fuses to get the head lamps to stay ON. I had a lot of "first dates" in that car. Somehow after seeing the "roll the fuses" routine at successive stop lights, I didn't get many second dates. I always wondered why. :huh:

Anyway, I had put the memory of German fuses far behind me with a long succession of American and Japanese cars during the last 30 years. That is, until my 1979 BMW appeared. And there nestled inside the headlamp shell, were 2 of those beloved German pointy-ended fuses. All the memories came flooding back. And yes, I've already had to stop in the middle of a ride, remove the headlamp lens, and roll the fuses to be able to continue. So here's an easy fix. Buy two of the Bussman HHC flat pack in-line fuse holders, two 10A ATC flat pack fuses, and four spade terminal crimps. Place a female crimp terminal on each of the 4 wire ends, and plug the fuses into the fuse socket.

When you open your headlamp you'll see your connection board. Power travels horizontally from one set of terminals on the left of the fuse to another set on the right of the fuse. Green on one side of the fuse connects to Green/Black on the other. On the second fuse Gray is fused over to Gray/Black. Simply remove the German fuse and in its place add the ATC type fuse holder by using vacant spade terminals available on the connection board on either side of the fuse.

By doing this all your intermittent fuse issues will disappear. And finding spare fuses during an emergency road side stop will become much, much easier. And, you can also take this upgrade with you, should you get a newer Airhead. Hope this helps.

This topic was modified 5 months ago by Richard W

Owning an old Airhead is easy.
Keeping an old Airhead running great is the true test.

 
Posted : 03/05/2017 22:47
Lawrence Erkie
(@632)
Posts: 37
Trusted Member
 

Clever modification. Easy and, as you explain, the blade fuses are commonly available. The next time I'm in the headlight bucket, I'll have a close look and consider this mod. I must add, however, that my experience with the OEM fuses has been much better than yours. In all honesty, I cannot recall having the issues you described in the many decades I've owned airheads. That could be down to the fact that I've lived in an arid environment. Or, maybe I just live right? lol

 
Posted : 11/18/2017 03:45
Richard W
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2529
Member
Topic starter
 

What you say about weather may be a factor I hadn't considered. I've always lived in the Atlanta area where it's generally hot and humid. But I do know for a fact you're not going to find those Bosch fuses at any service station you encounter on your way to a rally. At a very minimum you'll want to have a 5 pack of replacement German fuses in your tool tray before hitting the road.

Part is the problem is also that as the fuse terminal is pulled back to replace the fuse, the spring tension is reduced. It's that built-in spring tension that allows the terminals of the fuse to overcome the resistance of the connection. So if you insist on using the older style fuses, be sure and bend the fuse holding prongs the other direction to restore that spring force to insure good electrical contact.

Owning an old Airhead is easy.
Keeping an old Airhead running great is the true test.

 
Posted : 11/18/2017 19:18

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