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is my circuit breaker shot?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Chris, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. I took my 41 Ford convertible on a maiden voyage last night. It didn't go as smooth as I would have liked A wire on the dimmer switch was bare and ended up touching the frame. Smoke started rolling from under the dash. I killed the lights and undid the battery. It smoked the headlight switch and two wires going up to the circuit panel. They are burnt all the way to the lights.

    So two questions:

    1. Is the circuit panel bad? Would this have killed the power when it shorted instead of letting it burn?

    2. If it is OK, would the short have damaged the panel?

    I bought a wiring harnes to re-wire the car this winter...looks like I'll get to do it now
  2. cederholm
    Joined: May 6, 2006
    Posts: 1,621


    You're lucky you caught it. You're next step was a car fire!

    What I would do? Fix the short then place my volt meter between the (+) batt post and the disconnected batt cable. If there is current flowing you have another short - find it and fix it. If no current is flowing reconnect the batt at try each circuit one by one to insure everything is okay.

    The part that started smoking is most likely you're weakest link - hence it's melting - I would think the rest of your system would be okay.

    Good luck,
  3. Not sure how the car is wired or what circuit panel (stock or aftermarket) is installed but I would normally expect a fuse to blow before everything fries. From the description, I think you may have inadvertently bypassed your fuse panel.

  4. There is no fuse panel. Early Fords had a circuit breaker, no fuses.

  5. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 28,335


    Old wiring usually equals bonfires under the dash. I think you still have about 18 days to get it done before Vantage.
  6. Oh I'll get it done, just wondering about that circuit breaker. I really dont know much about them or how they work
  7. Sounds to me like it is bad. I had a bad breaker in my house that I replaced last week. The fucking socket started smoking, but the breaker didn't throw. Scary shit.
  8. Rodder29
    Joined: Jan 26, 2009
    Posts: 184


    It sounds like your breaker may be faulty. It should have tripped well before your wire let all the smoke out. You could put an inline fuse in of a higher value to test, if that blow's and the breaker still doesn't trip then you know the breaker is faulty. If neither one opens the circuit and you still have smoke, then you have a short form another source.
  9. OK, so dumb questions...were would I install an inline fuse?
  10. if it has circut breaker that would be your only form of protection. get that new wiring out and don't take any chances and if you decide to keep driving it go buy a couple fire extinguishers, something everyone should have in their vehicles regaurdless. close call dude and you sure don't wan't the next thread you start " pictures for the insurance company of ford burned up"!
  11. Not sure on a '41 but the circuit breaker for the lights on most Ford is inside the light switch. If it shorted hard it may have welded the contacts together before the bimetal strip tripped it and hence the burnt wires. My suggestion would be when you rewire to get a modern circuit breaker one that uses a blade, most modern cars have a few on their fuse panel. Buy an inline fuse pigtail that takes mini fuse and wire it in close to the power source then plug the circuit breaker in. I would also suggest running relays then the light switch won't carry the full load. It would allow you to runn higher wattage lighting too.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  12. Circuit breakers that do not get exercised have been known to get a light corrosion on the contacts that can keep them tripping. Also some times the CB is set to trip too slow.
  13. hotrod-40
    Joined: Mar 25, 2008
    Posts: 840


    You need to switch your headlights to 1157's ;)
    You need to load test it to see if it gets hot and opens, but sounds like it is stuck closed. You could just put an inline fuse in.
  14. Bypass your inoperative circuit breaker and add inline fuses for the brake
    lights and dome lights and an aftermarket breaker in the headlight circuit.
    I could also isolate the tail and dash lights after the light switch and install
    an inline fuse there.

    Or just replace the Ford breaker when you rewire, Henry's design should
    still be OK with good wiring.

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