A month ago, Disney put out a call for classic cars to join a RunDisney Marathon Weekend here in Anaheim. I submitted DMC #10515, as I love Disney and it would be fun. The only drawback was having to check in by 5am – A. M. ! Luckily, the location was only 8 minutes from my place, but that still meant getting up at 3:30a to get ready, eat something, pull the car out, make sure it’s cleaned up, and get to the location so I can setup the cameras and look at the other cars that were there.
Everything went great until I got in the car and turned the key. Usually, there’s a sound of electronics coming to life and the fuel pump pumping some gas. But there was nothing. For a split second, I though the battery was dead, but when I turn the key further, the car cranked as usual. But that’s all it did. It just cranked. It didn’t fire. It did that several times for a few seconds, then thought maybe I blew a fuse. Once I finally got the cover off the electronics panel, the first thing I noticed was that I had left the fuse box cover sitting sloppily on top the wiring, pushed up against the fuse block. Then, with the flashlight, I saw that the cover had a big melted spot that wasn’t there before. Then I saw fuse #7 twisted and messed up.
Upon looking closer, I saw that the #7 was melted and the fuse socket was mangled. Arg!!! And guess what the #7 fuse is? It’s for the LAMBDA and ECU relay (LAMBDA is like the check-engine circuit), and the fuel pump (among other things.)
So, no #7 fuse, no fuel. No fuel, no Disney marathon car show.
Oh, this was Sunday morning, the day before Labor Day, so DMC California wouldn’t be open until Tuesday. So, I jumped on DMCTalk and other DeLorean message boards and websites to see what the consensus was… and it turned out that even DMC has a knowledge base article about melted fuses… and THEIR photo showed the same melted fuse as mine! It turns out that many people have had this problem, and it’s just a poor design on the part of #DeLorean. That fuse slot moves a lot of current, but they choke the current from a larger gauge wire, down to a smaller gauge wire in the fuse block! Which means, more heat and a higher chance of failure for that fuse.
So luckily, it wasn’t something that I did wrong, it was just bad luck. Well… I’m pretty that because I left the fuse block cover on top of the wires and fuse block, that when the thick,somewhat heavy wood cover was sitting on top of it, there was enough pressure to push or move that fuse – which has been in the same spot for 30+ years – and caused it to move… most likely into touching a more oxidized part of the fuse socket, which increased the resistance enough to generate a bunch of heat, thus melting the fuse, the socket and that part of the block. Grrr!
Well, the DMC KB article (and DMC CA) suggests just bypassing that socket with an inline fuse is a perfectly good solution. They even said that other than not looking pristine, there’s nothing at all wrong with leaving it like that.
At some point, I’ll replace the whole block, which will take many hours of contorting my body and meticulously rewiring each fuse socket to a new block. So, with that in mind, and to make it easier to install the inline fuse, I ran to Harbor Freight and bought a good crimping tool, some crimp connectors, and a good wire stripper. Total cost, $30.
Also, at Danny’s suggestion, I bought replacement fuses, just in case, for the 30+ year old fuses in the block. That was a GOOD deal from AutoZone – a 10 pack of 10A fuses was $8.49 – a 10 pack of 20A fuses was $7.49, and a 2 pack of 30A fuses was $3.99! Amazon was a couple dollars higher for each! However, two auto parts stores nearby did not have an inline fuse with 16 gauge wire, so I did order that from Amazon, and for $3, they sent a 5 pack!
I did my first repair on the DeLorean! I disconnected the positive battery cable, then cut the wires connected to fuse #7 from the bottom of the fuse block. Then I stripped the wires, and got good crimps on both sides of the connectors for both wires of the inline fuse. I then tucked the wire around the fuse block mount, so it won’t get pinched or cut, leaving the inline fuse sticking up near it’s original spot in the block. Then I pulled all of the original fuses and looked at the sockets to see if the contacts were dirty or oxidized, but they all looked good. So I installed all new Bussman easyID blade fuses, just to make it easier to see what fuses are blown in the future – and in case any of the 30+ year old fuses had old issues.
After reconnecting the positive battery cable, I turned the key, hoping that nothing caught fire or blew up and that I’d hear those wonderful fuel pump and relay sounds. I did. The car started right up. In fact, it could be my imagination, but I I think the car actually started faster than it ever has before. And it started just as fast a second time when I started up again to pull it back into the garage.
I put the battery cover back on, made sure everything was tidied up, and I was done. Whew! I’m luck it was that easy.