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Birdman Fuse Blocks -- Great, easy upgrade

Discussion in '308/328' started by uberlink, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Bullfighter

    Bullfighter Two Time F1 World Champ
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    My 308.
     
  2. Brian Harper

    Brian Harper F1 Rookie
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    I think this is mostly the case. But the design of the original fusebox leads to failures with the rivets corroding leading to resistance, leading to heat, leading to melted plastic. And it's not Ferrari specific as my Ducati's fusebox from the same era had exactly the same construction and the same demise. Also the low pressure spring terminals on the ceramic fuses just don't seal well and are another area for corrosion and resistance. Newer designs very often have a single piece of metal from fuse to terminal so there are no junctions to get resistive. They grip the fuse ends tightly to keep the junction efficient. They are likely to last much longer and not degrade over time.
     
  3. Fave

    Fave F1 Rookie
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    Honestly I have no idea why people use Birdman fuse boxes. My first impression when I bought a pair was, you're joking right? They are fragile and poorly made with parts off the shelf from what I assume is radio shack.
    I sold my set to an engineer and his first response was asking me if they were a prototype to a final product. He gave me the money and told me to keep the fuse boxes for wasting my time.
    Use the oem or at least the repo oem versions and the proper fuses, not the cheap Chinese knock offs. An oem system works without issue, if, and ONLY if the other electrical components are in good shape. No the birdman boxes won't help if your electrical systems are in poor order.

    There is someone who made a proper blade type fuse box for the 400's I think it was, and no I'm not thinking about the gold TR Helms boxes, now that was a proper replacement. Unfortunately it takes money to make them and money to buy them, something that is rare in the 308 section.
     
  4. MS250

    MS250 Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Thanks for the explaination - help me out here, I only went to grade 9 science, but this corrosion you talk about. If the box is inside the car, covered, how does it corrode ? In science I learned that water and air is what cause corrosion , not just dry air with no dampness. Is it a case that the cars that have this corrosion issue are not cared for correctly ? Left outside in the rain under a car tarp creating a musty potential interior ?
    I'm just trying to understand, are the new oem parts not better than to a certain degree than the first version of the boxes they put in the car ?
    Just curious if you or someone knows.
     
  5. GT4 Joe

    GT4 Joe Formula Junior

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    If it aint broken, don't fix it. Mine is original. Everything works.
     
  6. AaronMeisner

    AaronMeisner Formula Junior

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    Those old torpedo fuses have all kinds of problems. Vibration causes the contacts to wear through the aluminum on the fuses. They corrode between the aluminum and the holder. The clear plastic covers crack and disappear. This last thing is a big deal. With no covers, molten aluminum can fall from the fusebox and start a fire.

    You can complain about the Birdman box, but it sure beats watching your car being engulfed in flames.
     
  7. Brian Harper

    Brian Harper F1 Rookie
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    Corrosion is a metal reacting with oxygen and there's plenty of that floating about. And water is also in the air. More so in Florida than Arizona, but it is always there. A dry, air conditioned space will slow this process down considerably.

    I don't know if the Ferrari-supplied new parts are at all different than original. I'd expect you'd want them to be exactly the same to keep the car original. And I'd expect that you'd be replacing them periodically.
     
  8. MS250

    MS250 Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Ok , thanks.

    I find this interesting, and will monitor mine as the years progress. To date since 2007 since I purchased my car they are fine.
     
  9. scowman

    scowman Formula 3
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    You can soldier the rivets to fix the friction problem. Just feel you fuses after a drive. If they are hot soldier both sides of both upper and lower rivets.
     
  10. Fave

    Fave F1 Rookie
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    I've never heard of a car going up in flames due to this issue. Do you have any examples?
    Couldn't one change / replace the covers and watch your fuses for potential molten problems?
     
  11. samsaprunoff

    samsaprunoff F1 Rookie
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    #36 samsaprunoff, Dec 2, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Good day Fave,

    I cannot comment on what cars have gone up in flames, but I can show you the result when they do fail (see pic) ... Could have it caught fire? It is entirely possible. That being said, if you are interested in some detailed analysis you can check out my thread on the blocks I made for my BB (see pics...the blocks can also be used on 308's, late 365 BB's, and with a slight change on BBi's too). (I also made a block upgrade for the BBi's Fuel pump block which you can search for as well)

    http://www.ferrarichat.com/forum/boxers-tr-m/140216-boxer-fuse-block-upgrade.html

    If anyone has any questions about this issue I will do my best to answer them.

    BTW... the block picture is how the blocks were when I bought my car... Apparently the Ferrari dealer looking after the car for the PO bypassed the knackered fuses with inline fuses.

    Cheers,

    Sam
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  12. Ferraridoc

    Ferraridoc F1 Rookie
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    Stop teasing, Sam, and get on with another batch! I've made my own with two 10 slot blade fuse boxes (with appropriate bridging soldered in) - gives me two spare slots into the bargain. A neat fit, but Sam's are the gold standard - go on Sam, you know you want to!
     
  13. waymar

    waymar Formula Junior

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    I have thought about making my own too. The F blocks have twin exit poles and the new market blocks have single. So one would need duel blade Y crimps for the proper exit to stock F wires. I replaced my fuses and bent the tabs to tighten the grip on the fuses.

    FWIW my F blocks look much different then the ones others post. Mine are white and thick. Great condition and they run cool. But my car has been a garage queen since new.
     
  14. PollosHermanos

    PollosHermanos Karting

    Sep 25, 2014
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    Chicago, IL
    I think I'd prefer not to have to check my fusebox for fire issues after a drive.

    Got Birdman's upgrade. Cheap, simple, a better mousetrap and peace of mind.


     
  15. AaronMeisner

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    I do recall a tale of a car burning over fusebox issues. But it doesn't really matter. The upgrade is so cheap, easy, and obviously superior to the original that there really is no persuasive argument for not doing it. When I have some wonky electrical problem, I know that I have good fusebox connections and I can look elsewhere. But it's your car--you make the call.
     
  16. MS250

    MS250 Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Here is where I would like to challenge.

    You use the words "upgrade" , and "superior" to the original oem

    According to who ? Who has made that determination and with what facts and proof?

    Are you suggesting that someone making these in there garage are better and know more than the engineers of Ferrari ? I'm not saying it's not possible, but what testing and real live facts have been conducted over the oem part in a live environment?

    You are all assuming it's the box, but really the weakness can be somewhere else, plus condition of the car is important, how does one determine if the car was not a complete basket case before the box melted.

    I'm not saying that someone cannot build a superior product today , I really don't know if someone has , or should I say, I'm not convinced just yet to switch away from oem when I need one.
     
  17. AaronMeisner

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    Yes, I am using both of those words, and they are both true. Let's be serious, here. Are we really going to argue that some Italian sub-supplier from the 80's stamped out a fusebox that is better and more reliable than a hand-made part using 21st-century glass fuses? How many new cars do you see with exposed-element torpedo fuses? None. Why? Because people want reliable cars. I have had problems with them on VW's, Vespas, Ducatis, countless Guzzis, and yes, my Ferrari. You can barely even buy those old fuses anymore.

    Of course, if we wanted reliable cars, we'd be over at ToyotaChat.com, right? I just prefer the affordable, reliable, proven solution. Plenty of room for disagreement. And I'll even pull over and let you borrow my multi-meter. Yes, I carry one on-board!
     
  18. vvassallo

    vvassallo F1 Veteran

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    I suffered a fuse box melt down in a Maserati that used a similar part as you guys have. The problem wasn't so much the part as it was the application. Seems the part was not designed for the amp load US cars saw due to the mods we add. AC, sound system and alarm to be specific. Plus in the Maser, there was a turbo with intercooler and electronics that accompanied. I've see a similar issue with the fuseboxes in the 308 and Mondials of the same era (early 80's). Not saying the OEM part was badly designed or made. However, it was not "specced" for the US market and its application. It seemed to work so that was it. Maybe it should have been "over-specced."
     
  19. MS250

    MS250 Two Time F1 World Champ
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    With all your good points you convinced me to sell my 308 now ;) :p
     
  20. samsaprunoff

    samsaprunoff F1 Rookie
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    Good day BR,

    In response to your questions:

    Indeed, the term upgrade, etc is relative to whom made the comment. As for your second comment... about proof... Please look to my thread, as I analyze and detail the difference between the OEM blocks and the replacements that I made.

    In some cases yes and in some cases no... Keep in mind that some people have or have access to some advanced technologies that far exceed what Ferrari had at the time... I cannot speak for all manufacturers, but in my case I have some pretty sophisticated gear that one would only find in companies 30-50x larger than me. Thus my "garage" as you put it is not what your comment is implying.

    As for Ferrari (electrical/electronic) Engineers... are you saying that they never make mistakes? Remember, we now have the benefit of hindsight, access to empirical field evidence, and also access to technologies that were not present at the time when the OEM blocks were made. If the original design was perfect, why have they not continued to use it... Do you know of any manufacture currently using the original design... How about any manufacture in the last 10 years? How about 20 years?

    As for the block's design... How do you know that Ferrari Engineer's designed the block? Could it have been a supplier to them? After all they did and do use other firm's for their electronics (i.e. Magneti Marelli, Bosch, etc) and so it is quite possible that they outsourced it? If so, what oversight did Ferrari do to ensure that the design was to their satisfaction? Or made to their standard? We simply do not know.

    You are correct in that one cannot assume that all issues are related to the block design. Device failure, age, previous electrical mods, etc can all attribute to the block's demise. However, when I analyzed my blocks I found a number of issues which can and did contribute to issues. Are all OEM blocks a problem? Obviously not, as not all cars have had block failures. However, not all cars have blocks that were made all at the same time... nor were all cars exposed to the same geographical areas, mechanics, mods, etc.

    As for your comment about perhaps only cars that were basket cases had block issues... well ... Was my car a basket case? Again this is a relative term... To some if the car is not in showroom condition the car it is a parts car and to others it is what it is ... a vintage car.

    What I am saying is that there are no absolutes in these issues. However, I have found enough evidence to convince me that there is a fundamental design issue with the original blocks. If your interpretation of the data is different, so be it. But I have to ask what do you base your belief on? Do you have a background in Electricity or Electronics and can review and/or refute my test data? For that matter have you reviewed and/or analyzed the blocks, their design, and their electrical characteristics, or are you simply basing your view on what others have told you or perhaps your confidence that Ferrari does not make mistakes?

    Cheers,

    Sam
     
  21. samsaprunoff

    samsaprunoff F1 Rookie
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    Good day Patrick,

    My apologies for the tease :) ...I was just making a point.

    As for making more... it is on my radar, but, currently, time is not on my side. That bbeing said, I did get some base block material and so I just need to get it to the machinist... and then get some PCBs manufactured, obtain parts, then assembly/test etc... so... sometime in the (early) New year I should have some blocks made.

    Anyway, thanks for the kudos!

    Cheers,

    Sam
     
  22. gjv

    gjv Karting

    Feb 20, 2012
    143
    Michigan
    All I can say is that my original OEM box had several signs of overheating/melting and several fuses got hot during my drives. I put in the birdman fuse box three years ago and:
    1. All electrical functions improved significantly
    2. I have not had a single electrical issue in three years, over 8,000 miles of driving. Not one...

    From my perspective: case closed
    Go birdman.

    A "fun fact" is that I work for Fiat/Chrysler since over a decade and have become good friends with one of the engineers who was part of the 308 development team in the 1970's. Even he was impressed with the bird man boxes and thought they were a clever solution, especially due to the improved contact surface of the fuses versus the original solution.
     
  23. MS250

    MS250 Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Hi Sam, all very good points, and this really deserves a conversation over lunch with a few glasses of wine :)

    To much to tackle - but in Short order, I just prefer and place my confidence in the engineers of the manufacture on all things, not just cars/Ferrari. Is there room for improvement , for sure. And it seems some ( yourself included ) have found something that may exceed the oem setup which is great. I'm trying to understand further where / how the improvements, or lack of from original.

    I haven't crossed this bridge with mine, nor the other owners I know with these cars, and I know a few of them ;)
    But I will explore further , as I'm sure one day I may come across this myself.
     
  24. Fave

    Fave F1 Rookie
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    It was your blocks I was referring to in my first post.
     
  25. samsaprunoff

    samsaprunoff F1 Rookie
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    Good day BR,

    Indeed, it is easier to chat one on one and over food is even better. However, it may be best to go over the technical details before the wine... as after ... and depending on how many glasses ... may "blur" the details :)

    To your point about "just prefer and place my confidence in the engineers of the manufacture on all things" ... Overall this is a sound approach... but remember:

    a. we have the benefit of hindsight and newer technologies
    b. Engineers, scientists, etc do make mistakes... or make the best choices with the technologies at the time... and so the term "mistake" is also relative
    c... and for something cheeky...I am also an Engineer and Professionally Registered as well :)

    Lastly, please do not interpret my comments as meaning that the OEM blocks are catastrophic failure... they aren't... They worked fine when new and in some cases continue to do so without any issue. However, over time issues can develop that can lead to problems (some minor... and some not so minor)... that is really the point. If your blocks are fine and you are happy with them, then you are welcome to continue to keep using them. I only suggest that one inspects and/or tests (measure the voltage drop) them periodically and if issues do arise that you deal with it... either by repairing them or replacing them.

    Cheers,

    Sam
     

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