Porcelain fuse cutouts, also known as suicide boxes, consist of a porcelain housing bolted onto a crossarm with a fuse inserted into the body. The fuse consisted of a thin piece of soft wire screwed to one side of a porcelain "stick," run over the top of the stick, and screwed into the other side. The stick was held in places by copper clips that were attached to heavy wires leading out the side of the housing and connecting to the distribution line.
Many times disconnecting the cutout or reconnecting it caused a large spark and, at times, even caused the porcelain housing to explode. This is where the nickname "suicide box" comes from.
The fuse sticks are frequently missing or broken. Removing them from the porcelain housing often required a good tug which sometimes broke the stick because of its long, thin nature. Some unglazed fuse cutouts were found in factury dumps so the chances of it having a stick are even more remote. Fuse sticks are not necessarily interchangeable and may not even operate the same way. Some require a twist and then a tug and others just a tug, another factor possibly producing some broken pieces.
To see examples of cutouts, click on any company name below.
Canadian General Electric
Fort Wayne Electrical Works
Pass & Seymour (P & S)
Pittsburgh/Pittsburg/Pittsburg Transformer Co.
S & H
To see examples of the "sticks" which hold the fuse and are inserted into the porcelain housing, click below.
Miscellaneous Fuse Cutout sticks
Click here for patent information.
This page created July 23, 2002
Updated July 1, 2011
February 26, 2010
August 19, 2002