Bulgin Socket Thoughts

Discussion in 'Let's Talk Vintage' started by chard, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. chard

    chard Active Member

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    As a general discussion topic what’s are people’s views on vintage amps that have had the original bulgin sockets replaced with iec units?
    I’m asking due to a recent conversation with an amp tech where he was absolutely adamant that due to current health and safety laws he could not legally work on and hand back any amplifier hadn’t had the voltage selector hardwired and bulgin replaced as his business insurance wouldn’t cover him in the event of an accident if he had knowingly returned an electrical item to a customer in a state that didn’t meet current safety standards. As an owner of several vintage amps with bulgin connections if found this on one hand to be very sensible from the safety element but equally concerning given the whole topic of originality of vintage gear being relative to its value. Does the vintage market accept iec connections now as modern reality or is a bulgin paramount to collectors?
    Opinions?
     
  2. Micky

    Micky Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Do you play it? Replace it.
    Is it a museum piece? Leave it.
     
  3. mickeydg5

    mickeydg5 Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Bulging sockets should be replaced.
     
  4. stickyfinger

    stickyfinger Active Member

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    Did your tech also offer to pull your turret board and rebuild on a fiberglass one? Those are the real problem if one even exists. The thin wafer selectors would be the # 1 part that could be worry some.

    Bulgin sockets, Belling Lee fuse holders and McMurdo sockets are all very very robust and water proof (to a point) for long durations of submersion. I wanted to test these safety hazards of Bakelight material running current when exposed to moisture. It took about a week before the parts started to show the effects of water. When I smashed them open with a hammer (because they wont break easy like cheap plastic modden parts) there was some yellow discoloration in the brown McMurdo sockets.

    The only thing I don't like about the Bulgin is the cord and all the connections are held in place with screwed in bolts. It is possible that they can come undone (even the pins are screwed in place). Especially if one is pulling on the cord.
     
  5. pleximaster

    pleximaster Well-Known Member

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    I reinstall them on amps that have had them replaced.

    IF you gig a lot install a permanet cord (there are ways to do that without cutting up the chassis and drill.

    Plexi
     
  6. chard

    chard Active Member

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    I did some research into this and it’s quite scary stuff. Essentially if it’s got a bulgin and a pin adjustable voltage selector it won’t pass a PAT test. Furthermore even as individual private sellers if we sell a vintage amp with a bulgin and supply the original power cord in the EU or USA if something were to happen to the buyer the seller is legally liable.
    From the legal point the only way to get around selling/buying an amp that doesn’t meet current minimum safety standards is to sell/buy it as a non functioning antique.
    Having digested the various health and safety doc out there I’ve pretty much decided to convert my old rigs to iec sockets. TAD does one which does not require any drilling of the chassis and as far as the voltage selection goes it’s one one wire to solder and resolder to alter it. I know this may be blasphemy but as much as I love my old Marshalls I don’t want them to kill me. They can always be reverted back in any case.
    Food for thought.
     
  7. Marshallhead

    Marshallhead Well-Known Member

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    You can't even do a PAT test on a bulgin socket equipped amp. The test requires the power cable and the amp to be tested separately, and the test equipment only facilitates IEC type connections.

    All my old amps have IECs fitted - they're players rather than museum pieces.
     
  8. pleximaster

    pleximaster Well-Known Member

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  9. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    Start the reactor... Free Mars!
    You can basically make a plate to cover the hole and mount another type connector in the same space, with the same screw holes.
    You don't have to drill the chassis...

    The original amps have an aluminum chassis...(if the amp is aluminum)
    used as a circuit path ( ground for a high voltage circuit path)...
    and that doesn't meet safety codes either (FYI).
    To comply, the circuit path would be lifted off the chassis.

    The amps also have dissimilar metals used to ground the circuit path to the aluminum chassis, and that doesn't meet safety codes either.

    So there is more than a power connector issue......if you want this to comply with safety requirements.

    I would say that: vintage market would accept connectors if the chassis has not been drilled and modified.
    (save all the original parts to keep w/ the amplifier)
    It's understandable why you would update the power for safety reasons. But hacking up the chassis (drilling out the holes bigger) is a bad thing.

    Are you just going to collect it?
    OR are you actually going to play it?
    Because if you are going to take it out and play it, there is definitely issues.

    And, where there is many people who ignore the obvious safety hazards of grounding aluminum (as above), the danger is very real and is still none-the-less present.

    Deny it all you like, but that doesn't make it safe. (spoken by a card carrying electrician)
     
  10. neikeel

    neikeel Well-Known Member

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    For those of you in the UK please read and digest. Focus on the sale of second hand electrical equipment.
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/electri...for-second-hand-or-hired-electrical-equipment
    The reson why old style Bulgins will fail MOST PAT tests is because the straight type mains lead can be unscrewed without the need for a tool. The right angled type with cord clamp is much safer and is the only type I use. The same goes for the pin type voltage selectors, you can pull the pin and make contact with the terminals, they need covering. 50v is the maximum rating for this type of device. Modern coin slector switches have no moving parts accessible without tools and for this reason are safer.
    As you will see with modern power leads both the equipment end and the UK standard 13A 3-pin mains plug are moulded sealed units. Technically if you install a new plug on the end that is a modification and might not pass PAT testing on new equipment but under the regs above if safely installed on a second hand item then they would pass muster.
    Vintage amps that I work on that go out for working gear get an IEC (without drilled chassis).
    I will not touch on the Aluminium (which is clearly superior to aluminium) chassis stuff yet again.
    Hot valves are dangerous things too - perhaps the amps should be hermetically sealed to stop people looking inside or anti tamper screws used?
     
  11. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    Start the reactor... Free Mars!
    An example of steel to aluminum ground connection:

    aluminum chassis.png The oxide which forms between dissimilar metals can cause a complete disconnection of the circuit path.
    The oxide forms a perfect insulator between the steel and aluminum.
    (it doesn't matter how tight the screw is)
    This is why the grounding rules for aluminum were changed.
     
  12. neikeel

    neikeel Well-Known Member

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    Off topic - thread hijack
     
  13. stickyfinger

    stickyfinger Active Member

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    Are you talking about the 2 piece bakelight casing that screws together?
    I would hope folks would recognize them coming apart and fix it.

    I'm more afraid the ground connection within the plug, socket and screw pin coming loose. Cant regularly check those. Locktight is a must but you cant Locktight the screw pin.
     
  14. coldengray

    coldengray Active Member VIP Member

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    Not even remotely on topic and you are worse than a broken record.
     
    pleximaster and Micky like this.
  15. coldengray

    coldengray Active Member VIP Member

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    I always use Locktite on Bulgin set screws, the blue stuff which makes a strong connection but can be broken by hand if needed later in the amps life. I have used a few Bulgins with soldered connections.
     
  16. stickyfinger

    stickyfinger Active Member

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    Ive been Locktiting the screws to secure the wires but do you Locktite the pin to the terminal? This could get tricky as it needs to make a solid connection. These can come loose very easy with little torque and no prevention lockwasher .
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

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