I have been getting a lot of e-mails on this subject so I thought I would answer it here for all out there in cyperland to peruse.
Usually the question is something like " My fuse is loose in the panel and the "accessory" (what ever it is) keeps going dim (or won't work right)."
This is usually a blade type fuse ( ATO/ATC ) but sometimes it's a glass SFE type.
What I sometimes see is this: The fuses are on a circuit that is "Amped out", that is, it's at its limit as far as wire size and fuse amperage. If you install a larger fuse you run the risk of a melt down (wire is too small and overheats to destruction). The fuse you have doesn't "blow" very often but does so occasionally. When you go to remove the fuse it seems to be, or is, loose in the panel. Sometimes the fuse comes out OK but won't go back in and make contact with the connector. One or more things have happened. Over time the circuit has heated up and the connectors at the fuse have gotten hot. The plastic housing has melted and the clips on the connector that are supposed to hold it in are no longer doing their job. Some times the connector is pushed out of the back of the panel.
First off check the circuit and make sure that things have not been ADDED to it that are causing an over load. Take inventory of the accessories on the circuit and see what you can put on another circuit or a separate fuse to lighten the load and stop the overheating.
Sometimes the connector has lost its spring tension on the fuse from the heat. Sometimes you can just crimp it back together and it will restore it to life. This requires figuring out where the tab is on the connector, getting the correct tool into the cavity to release the tab (a stiff piece of stainless wire or a very small screwdriver) and pulling the connector out of the panel. Sometimes bending the tab back out on the connector will keep in place where it should be. Sometimes you need to replace the connector. A GOOD auto parts store should be able to get the correct connector for you . Crimp and SOLDER the connection. Email me if you can find any locally.
If you put the connector back into the panel and it is still loose you will have to secure it. I have found that a little epoxy resin is the best fix yet. Mix up a tiny bit of epoxy repair material from the hardware store and using a syringe or tiny stick inject the connector cavity with epoxy resin. Be careful, don't over do it. Try to keep the epoxy on the outside of the connector so you don't glue the fuse in permanently. A little bit of epoxy goes a long way. Lube the fuse with dielectric grease and reinstall it. After an hour or so (when the epoxy has gelled but not rock hard) pull the fuse and let the epoxy harden over night. Reinstall the fuse.
This is a problem that I see a lot on 60's and 70's cars and trucks with glass SFE type fuses. The wiring is still in pretty good shape but the fuse panel can use some help. While it is simple enough to replace the old panel with a new one on some cars, others, especially GM cars are not so accommodating. Most of the time you can carefully clean and recondition the original panel. Take a little bit of fine emery cloth and clean the contacts with it. Next, take some Phosphoric acid , such as "Metal Prep", and wash the contacts with it to remove the corrosion. Neutralize with water and dry. Finally coat the contacts with dielectric grease to prevent further corrosion. Reinstall the fuses.
Any and all comments on this
are welcome. Please contact me at Al@AutoReWire.com