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-   -   Review: Classic Retrofit Porsche 911 Fuse Panel (http://forums.pelicanparts.com/porsche-911-technical-forum/884315-review-classic-retrofit-porsche-911-fuse-panel.html)

mmahon04 09-23-2015 10:05 PM

Review: Classic Retrofit Porsche 911 Fuse Panel
 
Hey all,

Thought I'd share my thoughts on the Classic Retrofit Porsche 911 Fuse Panel offered by our host.

Reason for Purchase

I've had to do quite a lot of electrical work on this vehicle, and continually coming back to the fuse box has made me loathe its antiquated setup. I hate not being able to find Bosch (GBC) fuses with ease, and any I do find are the plastic type. My A/C circuit had always had some excess resistance in it at the panel (usually ending up in a slow meltdown of the A/C fuse without popping it), making me want to replace that fuse panel.

Initial product/packaging thoughts

Product was delivered inside what appeared to be a poster tube, but much heavier duty. For a second, I thought I had received the wrong product. Packed to the hilt with paper, then also wrapped in bubble wrap. Appears to be of very high quality manufacture, and pretty weighty. I have few doubts that it'll hold up.

Installation Notes

My car is an '88 Carrera, with basically the works as far as electrical goes. All wiring at the fuse panel (coming and going) is stock. Starting with that base point, let me say that there is no way in hell this can be installed inside an hour, or at least I'm not seeing it. It's not as if I'm a novice at this kinda thing either; I've done plenty of electrical and mechanical work to a wide range of vehicles, from vehicle rewires to full suspension installs to HVAC work. ~3+ hours is what it ran for me.

The issues that factored into the time taken were sixfold:
1) My wiring was exceptionally tight for some of the terminals (little to no slack). Initial suggestions are to loosely zip-tie the panel in front of the stock equipment while you're installing. My wiring was much too tight to allow that degree of play, so I let it hang loose sans zip-tie.

2) The stock wiring terminates in ferrules, meaning these will have to be re-rounded to install or removed entirely for space constraints. I was quite reluctant to do this, as it would mean trimming some of the lines even shorter than before. As suggested in their installation videos and in pictures on their site, I did need to remove the ferrules on 3 lines though.

3) There are fewer terminals on the "hot" side of the fuse block. The stock 911 fuse blocks have multiple terminals (joined on the backside) to accept multiple lines per fuse. Case in point: stock fuse block for panel 1 has 5 terminals (all joined on the backside) feeding power to fuses 4-6. This block setup only has one terminal aligned per fuse, meaning that in some cases you're initially attempting to cram 3+ wires into a single terminal (if you follow the install instructions to a T). I resolved this by looking at which "hot" sides are bridged together, and spreading the wires across those if possible.

4) There are slight shifts of terminal locations. While the order remains the same, the exact location of a given fuse may be different than on the stock fuse blocks. Would not be a big deal ordinarily, but when, in my case, fuse 2 for panel 2 (high beams) is shifted about an inch and a half to the left and the wiring is tight, this becomes a big issue.

5) Bolting the panel to the car. Initial install statements advise using some grease to stick the nylon spacers to the back of the panel, but I found it unnecessary. My problem was getting the original bolts through the panel, keeping them in place, and aligning everything. The spacing between the fuses (which includes the bolts holes) is not even pinkie-finger wide. I ended up cutting 4 narrow strips of duct tape, to which I put the screws facing out from the sticky side, and pressed them into the channels between the fuses and through the holes in the board. This kept the screws in place and allowed me to line everything up without worrying about losing a piece.

6) The fuse box cover needs to be altered. One of the interior vertical ribs on the fuse box cover needed to be clearanced/cut flush with the box to avoid the relays on the board, and a horizontal rib on the side closest to the front bumper needed to be trimmed flush to not hit a fuse. Initially I used a razor blade for trimming, but in order to clearance the rib over the relays, I ended up using an oscillator to make short work of it. Without that, I think you'd be stuck spending some serious time hand filing, grinding with a Dremel, or trimming out bit-by-bit with a razor.

After installation, turned the car over, and I appear to have every feature functional. Radio, A/C, all lighting, power seats, etc. I'll have to give it awhile to see if I missed anything.

Final Thoughts
Regarding the product, it does what it says it does. Pluses there for sure. On the downside, I would say that I have some serious gripes about the lack/position of feeder terminals. Near all my problems stemmed from that; removing of ferrules to slim down lines to fit in fewer terminals, stretching of lines to fit in terminals that have been shifted, and when I ran out of room, having to confirm that I could relocate some of the "hot" lines to other terminals (if bridged).

It's late and I'm tired, but I thought I'd write this up while my memory is largely fresh. Hope it comes to some use.

Thanks,
Matthew

tdw28210 09-24-2015 04:22 AM

Super write up. Thanks for sharing.

Sicklyscott 09-24-2015 04:45 AM

I was contemplating going this route over the much cheaper alternatives because of ease of installation. Your write-up however has me thinking differently.

Techno Duck 09-24-2015 05:11 AM

I installed two months ago on my '88 and i agree with most of the things said. I think this is a very nice part and i would still recommend it to others with due warning that installation is definitely not one hour.

My install took probably about 3-3.5 hours aswell and I consider myself very mechanically / electrically inclined. I also experienced difficulty getting the ferrules the wires are crimped into some of the terminal blocks; the terminal blocks aren't large enough to accept all the wires the same way everything is routed from the factory. After reviewing the wire diagrams i moved the positions of a few wires around on the terminal blocks to facilitate proper fitment just as Matthew did; this does not alter anything because of how the fused circuits are normally linked together anyhow.

The instructions were also not entirely clear about the extra wires left over with no terminal blocks; in particular on fuse block 1 and it left me second guessing myself. Basically these extra wires are sort of redundant due to the internal links so you place them all on one terminal block instead of spread out across 2 or 3 positions. After reviewing install pictures / comments on ImpactBumpers about the development of this fuse panel i figured out my answer.

I also had no trouble fitting the fuse panel cover, no modification required.

Having purchased both the cheaper alternative and this one i would still go with the one from ClassicRetrofit. Personally i was not too crazy about cutting and crimping a ton of spade connectors.

famoroso 09-24-2015 07:26 AM

Are replacement ferrules available?

Duc Hunter 09-24-2015 08:17 AM

I too did an install recently (need to write about it). I was very pleased. My biggest gripe on their side for improvements were the small size of the wholes to accommodate the larger wires/feruled multi-wires, like is mentioned above. If they could make the holes on the topsides terminals large enough to require no modification to those wires, I would have been completely satisfied with the install.

Jonny H 10-09-2015 10:39 AM

Hi Everybody,

I just spotted this review of our fuse panel. We take on board the comments and feed them into the design.

The screw terminals that we use are sourced in the US. They are the only screw terminals on the planet that are anything like the Porsche ones, plus they are robust enough and PCB solder flow compatible. They are specially plated aluminium so that they can be soldered. The holes are D shaped instead of round but are almost the same size. It is true to say that the ferules on the really fat wires need a bit of reshaping but they do work.

There are getting near to 100 installs done now across all model years 1974 to 1989. We find that folks with the later cars (after 1986) seem to have more trouble with the installation. It seems that the wires are thicker, stiffer and a bit shorter on these cars. Also they generally have more equipment, so more wires.

On our website, you can see me installing mine on my SC in real time. I lost a bit of the video but it genuinely took me 45 mins. That was my first attempt too. On the later cars, there are a few more wires and most folks take between 1 and 2 hours.

Regarding the 'inbetween' terminals, these only appeared around 1986, the majority of cars don't have them. We took the decision to leave them out as there is enough room to adopt the adjacent terminal. I should add this to the instructions to avoid confusion.

Regarding the lid, some fit straight on, some just need a small notch taken out with some sharp side cutters.

Thanks for supporting the product. We do care about the feedback. We have just updated the design to incorporate a high power headlamp feed based as this kept being requested. See updated instructions on our website for details.

I will also post the details of the new version on the other thread.

universeman 01-11-2016 07:06 AM

Adding my thoughts here...I installed this panel over the weekend in my SC, took me about 90 minutes start to finish. Fully 40% of the time was involved in trying to get the ferrules for the wires for just two terminals to fit into the holes on the terminals up top. I agree with all that has been said about making them a bit bigger; understanding that this may not be possible.

Everything worked on reconnection (except one wire that was too short to reconnect; I have yet to splice something onto it.) My lid fit right back on, no modification necessary. The nylon spacers were a bit of a pain to install, I used picks through the mounting holes, to which I snuck back behind and slid the spacers onto while removing/reinserting the picks through the spacers. Hand pressure at the screw location kept the spacer in place while I threaded the screws in.

The ease of use of this product makes it worth the extra cost IMO. I haven't tried the Fred Cook version but like others I did not want to do a bunch of crimping (and now, seeing how short some of the wires are, this turned out to be a smart decision.)

vick 01-18-2016 10:24 PM

I just installed this in my '78 SC today, all told it was probably two hours. Changing light bulbs is usually the extreme end of my electrical project envelope, so this made me a bit nervous and I took it slow. Watched the videos and then just started chipping away at transferring wires. I only had trouble with two lines where I had to remove the ferrules to get them to fit, but once removed I was able to fit all the wires (up to three) in the terminal. There were a couple that weren't long enough to transfer until I had removed the old fuse blocks, but once I had the new panel mounted in place reach wasn't a problem.

Beautiful product overall, seems very well made. My motivation to upgrade the panel was initially to simply add relays for the headlights, but then I decided that long term reliability would be improved with modern fuses and known clean terminals. The LEDs to identify blown fuses are pretty sweet too. A somewhat expensive solution for a pretty simple problem, but seeing the product and the easy installation I think it was worth it. Really cool to see new products with more functionality like this for our vehicles.

I checked and double checked to ensure I had all wires hooked up per their original placement. The moment of truth (or groundhog day - if you see your shadow you've got six more weeks of work) was uneventful - everything seemed to work as it had previously.

Couple of questions - I just looked at the amp rating for the terminal on the panel I pulled out as a road map for which fuses to place where, haven't attempted to read an electrical diagram to verify correct protection. Am I being too trusting?

Also, there's a terminal marked "H" just to the left of the headlight relays. I don't have a wire to run there - should I? Is that for later models?

Jonny H 01-19-2016 03:17 PM

Vick,

Good work on your update. You should consult a Bentley or Haynes manual to verify the fuse ratings but remember that the blade fuse values don't exactly match the old values.

The 'H' terminal is for running an extra battery positive feed if you wanted to further upgrade you headlamp bulbs. You don't need to use it for standard bulbs and you should find they are brighter now due to the relays.

Both of the above topics are covered in the install manual on our website (Home). We update the manuals based on customer feedback and sometimes the Pelican hosted version can lag behind.

vick 01-19-2016 10:50 PM

Thanks Johnny, great info. Typical me, I completely overlooked the instructions on your site. I did at least watch the install videos and they gave me a good idea what I was diving into. I have the Bentley manual so I'll brave the electrical schematics to verify correct fuse placement.

Good thing I read the instructions though, very nice that you included on-board links between 2-3-1-2. I'll go back now and remove the jumper I carried over from the old fuse block.

Interestingly every wire I moved has the same type of ferrules so my car and panel appear to be very original and unmolested.

bugstrider 01-20-2016 08:39 AM

Vick,

PM sent

Cheers Trevor

patz 01-20-2016 09:01 AM

"I" was happy. No issues.

dyerkes 01-20-2016 12:00 PM

Any status update on the engine bay fuse panel?

Jonny H 01-20-2016 03:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dyerkes (Post 8965430)
Any status update on the engine bay fuse panel?

They are being manufactured now. Should be ready in 3 weeks or so.

Gretz 02-24-2020 05:33 PM

Finished installing my CR front fuse panel and here are a couple thoughts:

First of all, this fuse panel is a sweet piece of work. It is very nicely made and looks beautiful. I love the integrated headlight relays and the diagnostic LEDs.

This project took me way longer than it should have. I read all the reviews and guidance prior to the install. All of the steps seem pretty straightforward. Although I am not a professional mechanic this type of electrical work is certainly in my comfort zone. I suffered some of the same problems that other people did: Very short wires, and too many wires in some fuse ways. My car (1982 SC) does not have any additional equipment like a crazy stereo system or alarm, so my install should be fairly typical.

I tried to follow the process set forth in the instructions by keeping the new panel in front of the old and transferring each wire in each fuse way on the bottom. Several of them were just too short to even make the connection. So I was forced to label those wires and move on. I thought that the upper wire transfer would go easier. Right at the beginning I could tell that it would not. So I ended up removing and labeling all the wires on the top row and removing the fuse panels all together. Then I screwed in the new fuse panel to the bracket. I then connected the short wires from the bottom that would not previously reach.

Next I began connecting the top row of wires. Most of them went OK, although at least one was a larger gauge that needed some reshaping to fit into the fuse way. A couple others had three wires and I had significant trouble fitting all three into each fuse way. It took a lot of work. As others have said it would be better if there were more room to fit larger gauge wires or multiple wires. I understand from what Jonny said that these were the only components available that were anything like what Porsche used originally. I get that, but understand that some of the terminals may take you more time than connecting the rest of the entire upper row.

My suggestion to folks getting ready to undertake this project is to simply disconnect and label all of the wires from the fuse panel, install the new panel and reconnect all of the wires. On the surface it seems like the labeling of the wires will take a lot of time. However it actually doesn't take that long and I would rather spend time doing something I know will alleviate the frustration of trying to grasp and secure very short wires.

I also purchased the rear panel and I plan to install that within the next couple days. It should be wayyyyy easier, considering there are only three fuse ways. Fingers crossed!

tmadden2 02-25-2020 03:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gretz (Post 10763197)
I also purchased the rear panel and I plan to install that within the next couple days. It should be wayyyyy easier, considering there are only three fuse ways. Fingers crossed!


It is. And there's more slack in the wire than up front. Should be ten minutes. Trickiest part is not dropping any of the lithe mounting bits into the abyss.

Gretz 02-25-2020 12:02 PM

Did you drill holes or just use the adhesive pad?


Quote:

Originally Posted by tmadden2 (Post 10763476)
It is. And there's more slack in the wire than up front. Should be ten minutes. Trickiest part is not dropping any of the lithe mounting bits into the abyss.


Iciclehead 02-25-2020 01:13 PM

I have always been annoyed at how tight the wiring harness is in that location....I see no reason with the number of wires hanging around there why there could not be an inch or two more wire there.

Has anyone extended the wires (using crimp butt connectors w. heat shrink insulation) so that there is more room?

I have a spare harness so I could literally clip off a couple inches of the correctly colored wire, butt connect and thus make an easier time of it...

Thoughts?

Dennis

Gretz 02-25-2020 01:49 PM

I actually considered removing the fuse panel and bracket and soldering extensions on a number of the wires, and of course covering those with heat shrink tubing. In hindsight I probably should have actually done that.


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