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  1. #1
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    Default Zinsco with copper bus bars

    I was under the impression that the biggest problem with Zinsco was the attachment at the aluminum bus bars so whenever I see on I always look at any attachment points I can see. Today's panel had copper bars that I don't ever remember seeing before.

    I'm still recommending replacement but am wondering if anyone has seen this and has any thought or input?

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  2. #2
    Mbrooke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I was under the impression that the biggest problem with Zinsco was the attachment at the aluminum bus bars so whenever I see on I always look at any attachment points I can see. Today's panel had copper bars that I don't ever remember seeing before.

    I'm still recommending replacement but am wondering if anyone has seen this and has any thought or input?

    Im leaning toward replace. Buss bar contact isnt the only issue, there have been many reports of breakers failing to trip. Recommending replacement is the best idea for those panels as well as FPE panels. In addition to that replacement breakers are extremely expensive almost as much as a new replacement panel.

    Here is a video of a zinsco breaker just to make a point:


    Zinsco Breaker Test (Fire) - YouTube


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    There's been many problems associated with Zinsco panels and breakers. The breakers not tripping during overload conditions in one of the primary concerns.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Zinsco getting fixed with copper bus bars is obviously beneficial for the users as it is surely going to add quality to the whole electrical system. Copper is surely better conductor and heat resistant than that of counterpart aluminum. Problems related to aluminum wiring are known to everyone and due to many reasons itís being removed from home wiring and equipment systems. I wonder whether there is any cost variation while they shift to copper from aluminum.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    I have not seen any Zinsco panels with copper bus bars - may have been a late-fix for the problem ... too little ... too late ... to save those panels.

    If those copper bus bars are not original to the panel they are not approved and the panel would need to be replaced anyway.

    The aluminum bus bars were just part of the problem - the breaker contacts also failed and welded themselves in place and that could still happen with the copper.

    Any Zinsco panel is a top-notch candidate for replacement, just like any FPE panel is - they both have their own well-documented problems.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    I recently read somewhere (maybe Hansen's book on electrical inspections which btw is very good) that for awhile there were replacement bus bar kits for Zinscos. This panel may have gotten one of those. But at this point and time and considering other issues with old Zinscos, I'd still recommend replacement.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    there were replacement bus bar kits for Zinscos.
    I Googled a few key terms last night and ended up on Ebay where you can buy replacement bars for around $75. Like JP said, probably not listed.

    I didn't mention the copper bars to the agent or client.... I didn't want to open the door even a sliver that the panel might be okay.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Cutler Hammer makes Retro Kits that meet NEc 2008 Requirements.

    CH Retrofit Interior Kit for Replacement of Vintage Brands

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    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Cutler Hammer makes Retro Kits that meet NEc 2008 Requirements.

    CH Retrofit Interior Kit for Replacement of Vintage Brands
    Interesting solution to the problem - they are using the cabinet/enclosure (once the original interior has been removed) as simply a cabinet/enclosure, the new interior (which is the panelboard) gets mounted into the cabinet to make a panel or service equipment panel.

    They have different interiors for different sizes and depths of cabinets, this is to accommodate the minimum required wire bending space - which most likely means that the replacement interior will have fewer circuits than the original panel had ... which means that it might not end up less expensive as an additional panel may be required to accommodate the original number of circuits.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Replacing parts inside of a panel is an interesting topic. I've replaced all the breakers in a couple panels in two different houses. They were both 70s/80s era Sylvania/GE panels. This was pre-AFCI breakers so the cost of all the breakers was less than $100 - actually around $50 if I remember right. I just figured after 35 years it couldn't hurt to install new breakers.

    Replacing the bus bars and all the other guts is interesting. One of the things that has always bugged me about full out panel replacements is having to bend and twist all wires out and then back in place. If all the inside parts could be replaced and just leave the case it would seem to be a better way to go.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    One of the things that has always bugged me about full out panel replacements is having to bend and twist all wires out and then back in place. If all the inside parts could be replaced and just leave the case it would seem to be a better way to go.
    Matt,

    One of the problems with replacing the interior is that older panels had smaller enclosures with less wiring bending space, which means that the new interior in the same enclosure is going to be smaller to meet the larger wiring bending space required today, which means (typically anyway) that there will be fewer breakers/circuits in the replaced interior than was likely in the original panel.

    Ultimately, it may be better in the long run, possibly even the short run, to replace the entire panel, enclosure and all, to allow for the larger enclosure with the larger interior.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
    Mbrooke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    I recently read somewhere (maybe Hansen's book on electrical inspections which btw is very good) that for awhile there were replacement bus bar kits for Zinscos. This panel may have gotten one of those. But at this point and time and considering other issues with old Zinscos, I'd still recommend replacement.
    Home Depot still offers replacements

    Connecticut Electric 125 Amp Type RBK UBI Replacement Buss Bar Kit for Zinsco Load Centers-UBIZRBK12 at The Home Depot

    In any case these are more for emergency repairs. But still, more often then not they become a permanent solution to something that should be replaced.


    The CH retrofit interiors are the next best option and a really good one, however those are more as a last resort. Such as a panel encased in concrete or simply can not be economically replaced as a whole. I agree with the above, panel spce is much less in older enclosures. In fact most panels made before 1984 are not compliant to install today simply because the gutter space is limited.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Note that those are not copper bus bars, they are copper plated ... I suspect that means essentially copper-clad aluminum (like the wire), in which case I'm not sure they will be any better than the original aluminum ones as the copper plating is probably quite thin.

    But they sure do look nice ... looking like copper and all ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Older Zinsco were plated copper, by older I mean 1950's, to early 1960's never have seen them w/ a unplated bus, which may have been a retrofit, as have seen replacement AL bus bar kits for them, but never noticed a NTRL listing.

    Some things need to die, Zinsco/Sylvania gear is one, surprisingly Zinsco bolt-on is decent, just no breakers are avail. except used which are real expensive.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Zinsco with copper bus bars

    Until the photo in this thread, I had not seen a Zinsco with other than the anodized aluminum angle - even going back to the real old ones I've seen.

    Guess I've lived a sheltered life?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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