Anybody recognize these???

fusesBack in the day before ‘breakers’ these were what you had in your house…

They weren’t called FUSE boxes for nothing…LOL

And an ’emergency’ fuse was a real copper penny! As a high school kid, I helped a friend’s grandpa restore a couple of old houses, including rewiring them. We were pulling out CLOTH wrapped wire that dated from the early 20th century, and fuse boxes where you could literally see the burn marks inside the box from fuses arcing as they’d blown over the years…

I’m still amazed those houses hadn’t burned to the ground over the years…



TBT… — 28 Comments

  1. My grandfather’s house had fuses and “knob and tube” wiring. In the attic, the wiring was exposed between the joists. The old house was built right after the Great Depression, and is still occupied.

    I asked an electrician about the old wiring. He had no problem with it, if the wiring was not exposed to tampering and still in good condition.

  2. The place I care for still has five fuze boxes — and the fuzes. I like them. If I,m working on a circuit, I just unscrew the fuze and take it with me. Safer. All rewired in 1955, and going strong.

  3. Recognize them….I Have them. All three (yes three!) fuse boxes for this place that I maintain still have those fuses. Lots of them. Personally, I prefer them. Unlike a breaker you cannot simply reset them and have whatever it is arc Again. (unless you are a fool with a penny). You have to unscrew it, get a new one, screw it back in. By that time you should have come to your senses and gone and found the problem.
    Now getting the proper insurance for a house with fuse boxes…that IS a headache. As is getting replacement fuses.
    No knob and tube here though, the owner in the 1930’s believed in modern tech and ran the entire house in metal sheathed wiring. Thank God!

  4. I lived in a house with exposed cloth wraped wiring. It run through the basement as single wires and at each floor joist there was ceramic insulators through the joist. Six fuses for the hole house.

  5. About 20 years ago, I bought a then 70-year-old house that had obviously been built without wiring for electricity. What was added later was a box like that and lots of exposed wires running down walls and along baseboards. The first thing I did was to have it rewired to code. The first time the electrician came down from the attic, he was shaking his head at what he had found. The entry box didn’t meet present-day code either, and had to be replaced when a hurricane-felled tree pulled it lose from the house. Adventures in semi-modern living.
    Although the house had been remodeled at some point before I acquired it, it still had fireplaces on each side, and in the back a tall, slender chimney that must have been for a wood-fired cook stove. Kinda cool. Too bad that another (and much worse) hurricane destroyed the comfortable old house.

    (Sorry; screwed up my log-on the first time.)

  6. Yep. We had those on the ranch back in the day. I was always afraid I was going to shock myself. Ninnie, I was.

  7. Yup, I recognize ’em. You can’t be “of a certain age” and NOT recognize the things. Like a few others here, I bought a house in the wayback that was built in 1925. It was a wonderful old place that just oozed character… leaded glass windows, lath and plaster walls, and hardwood floors. It also had period wiring (some kinds of character are NOT good). I did a lot of upgrades to that house but the very FIRST order of bid’niz was replacing the major parts of the electric service. No more fuses after that!

  8. They used rotary switches or the push button fixtures to control the lights as well I’m guessing.

  9. Yep; we lived in an old house 35 years ago that still used such fuses. In fact, there was a glass fuse on the shut-off to our furnace in our current place, until about four years ago.

    It does make me wonder if the new zinc pennies still conduct the juice as well as the old coppers did. Heh.

  10. An electrician told me the same thing Jess heard… but nobody would insulate the attic until the wiring was modernized.

  11. Had a very close lightning strike once in a house that used those. The only thing left in the fusebox was the brass case. Everything else vaporized.

  12. Helped friend restore an old house in Fredrick Co., MD.
    Tube and bare wire; tubular fuses (older than those new fangled screw in types); push-button switches; ungrounded outlets set in floors …
    His mother LOVED the push-button. “Please reuse those, dear.”
    Paul found excellent reproductions that enabled him to keep both mother and county inspector happy.

  13. When my big sister got her first house; Pop (the exalted former USAF crew chief who could fix anything) and I spent the better part of a weekend getting everything up to code, including new breaker boxes and such.

    He did appreciate the constant reminders on my behalf of how he surely had installed old fuzes with Tesla.

  14. Jess- Yep, we have one that is the same way…

    WSF- I can believe it. I helped ‘renovate’ one that had pennies in place of three or four fuses… Scared the crap out of us.

    FGB- They don’t ‘bite’ unless you get your fingers too far into the box… LOL

    Acair- WOW! That must be a nightmare dealing with the insurance people. And that IS proof they do work!

    Ed- Yeah, ceramic insulators are a PITA.

    GR6/Buck- Yep, those old houses have a ‘character’ all their own… AND a lot of wiring issues…

    Tim/Rev- No- REAL pennies… all copper… not the cheapo iteration they have today! 🙂

    Gerry- Yep, we have the old two button make/break switches in the old house in Louisiana…

    Peter- You’re right. The insulators and ‘open’ cloth wiring makes them go nuts.

    SPE- LOL…

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  16. My House is 102 years old this past September. Built by my grandfather, and wired for the first time in 1917. It had the cable covered wires and the glass fuses. My Dad absolutely would NOT put a penny in there, nor let anyone else do so. I completely rewired the whole place during the first stripping and rebuilding of the inside in 1975.

  17. My grandmother’s home built in the 1920’s had cloth insulated knob & tube w /fuzes. It was also dual wired for both AC & DC. If you don’t think that was a headache……..

  18. I grew up in a house that was built in the 1920’s. It had those glass fuses. The wiring was not cloth or knob-&-tube, but whatever it was was run inside a flexible metal conduit. The house was also wired for both AC and DC. There were two types of outlets around the house, the then common 2-prong AC plugs and some weird angled slots – so the plug could go in only one way – for DC. (Of course, by the time we lived there, there was no longer DC power.) I also remember the main cutoff switch was one of those old-fashioned knife switches that would arc whenever you opened or closed it.

  19. Roy- Good point, I forgot the knife switches… First one of those I ever threw scared the s**t out of me!!! 🙂

  20. Perhaps I’m being persnickety, but I thought I’d point out that a fuse is what is used to protect a circuit, and a fuze is used to set off a bomb.