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Trying to locate a Bussman Fuse-250 volt, 3 amp-one end is bigger than the other. It is for a vintage Zenith console stereo. Got it recently, it worked for about a week and blew the fuse and got a shock. Can't locate fuse to try to replace. The fuse also has a little lip on one end. Any suggestions on getting this running again. No power at all. A. Anderson

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Unless you are treating this as a collectible and want to keep everything as it was built, I'd suggest not worrying about finding the exact original fuse. Instead, find a convenient place to mount a chassis-type fuse holder that takes a standard 3AG cartridge fuse with the rating you need. Then clip the wires going to the existing fuse holder and solder them to the new one. (This is a common way around part availability problems when fixing old equipment. If you want to preserve the unit's original appearance, find a spot where the replacement part won't be easily seen. Leave the old part - disconnected, of course - in place, but the new one will take its place.)

The next step is to figure out what's gone wrong. With old electronic equipment, capacitors are a common problem. They break down with age, and can short. Also, rectifier diodes in the power supply can short out. It may also be a simple case of insulation on a wire that has become brittle and flaked away, allowing contact with the chassis. Unfortunately, this is also something that can happen in the unit's power transformer, which may be very difficult to find a replacement for.

What I do with old gear before ever plugging it in is to look it over. A visual inspection can reveal parts that are obviously bad or close to it (burned or discolored spots, worn insulation, swollen or burst capacitors, etc.). A few checks of common parts, like the capacitors and diodes I mentioned before, with an ohmmeter follow. If all looks good, I plug the unit into a device called a variac, which allows the line voltage to be controlled with the knob on top. Gradually raising the voltage avoids the sudden shock to parts that haven't been used in a while, which often causes them to fail.

In a case like yours, where something is already bad, it's just a matter of checking parts until the bad ones have been identified, then replacing them with something suitable. This is where experience helps. Having a schematic diagram of the device is good too, if one is available. There are many sites devoted to repairing electronic equipment, especially vintage or antique pieces, where you can find help. Search for the make and model of the stereo along with "repair and restoration" and you should be able to get started.

Good luck, and thanks for using Fixya!

Posted on Mar 20, 2011

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