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Vintage Audio (record players, hi-fi etc) Amplifiers, speakers, gramophones and other audio equipment.

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Old 11th Jul 2019, 4:10 pm   #1
stephen_g
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Default Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

Hi All,

I have a question regarding electrical safety as it relates to vintage equipment.
We are all aware that a lot of vintage equipment would not comply with modern safety standards.
Is it the duty of a service engineer working on such equipment, to modify it to comply with modern safety requirements, irrespective of whether the owner of the equipment requires it to be left "as originally constructed"?

Stephen
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 4:23 pm   #2
Edward Huggins
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

You will get many varying answers to this. In my case always I leave the unit as originally maufactured (or as found) but explain to the Customer how today's safety standards have changed since the original equipment was built and any, however slight, potential risks.
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 4:24 pm   #3
evingar
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

If it's your equipment, you can do as you wish. If you are restoring for someone else in my opinion you shouldn't modify the equipment. If you do so, you are taking on responsibility for the subsequent safety of it. If you state that it complies with the latest safety accreditation, you may be asked to prove this in the event of an incident. To safeguard yourself you will therefore need to get it independently tested - at great cost.

When repairing for 3rd parties, in my opinion, you should repair and restore the equipment to the original manufacturers design. You should then explain to the person you are restoring the equipment for what this means in terms of safety. Documenting this and asking them to counter sign would also be a good idea. i.e in AC/DC sets the chassis is connected to the supply and if a non polarised plug is fitted it could be at Line potential. Also, the inadvisability of leaving some equipment switched on unattended.

I would also look into insurance if you are thinking of repairing equipment commercially. Sorry if this sounds legalistic and harsh, but an incident could wipe you out financially - that's the world we now live in
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Last edited by evingar; 11th Jul 2019 at 4:32 pm.
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 4:36 pm   #4
newlite4
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

Bit of a grey area this one. The typical Dansette type record players of the '50s/'60s era were not earthed having just a two wire mains lead. This type of equipment is now designated as "Class 0" ie it has external metal parts but no earth connection. When new this would have been acceptable. The motor would have been isolated from the metal deck with rubber mounting bushes, the motor windings would have sufficient insulation from the motor frame and the wiring from the amplifier to the accessible cartridge would have used capacitor isolation. If all of those parts are in good order then there is little chance of accidentally accessing a live connection through normal use. The problems start when someone decides to add an earth connection to the turntable. On the face of it, this would appear to be good practice but there is no guarantee that the house wiring is correct. If the earth connection inadvertently becomes live then the turntable would become live also. Best policy would be to leave as per original design and to ensure that coupling capacitors are replaced with modern "X" class types and that the motor mounting bushes are in good shape.
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 4:55 pm   #5
paulsherwin
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

You should not modify vintage equipment even if it makes it safer. If you just repair it, it only needs to comply with the safety regulations in force when it was initially sold. If you modify it, it needs to comply with current regs.

Obviously you should caution any buyer about the potential dangers.
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 8:25 pm   #6
G8HQP Dave
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

There was a long thread about this only a few months ago.
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 10:49 pm   #7
GrimJosef
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
... If you modify it, it needs to comply with current regs ...
There is specific law relating to equipment which is being sold (strictly 'brought to market'). It imposes responsibilities on the seller (not on a repairer). I believe that law says that if you 're-manufacture' and then sell equipment it needs to comply with the current harmonised standards (all of them, not just the safety ones). Otherwise it can legally be sold as long as it is essentially the same as when it was first manufactured, assuming it was regarded as 'safe' then. There are exceptions if you can show that you are certain (absolutely 100% certain) that it's being sold for spares/scrap or for repair/re-manufacture by someone else. Just cutting the plug off when you know there is a possibility, however remote, that the buyer will put a new one on does not absolve you from your responsibilities. At all.

I'm not aware that the meaning of 're-manufacture' has been tested extensively in the courts, which is the only place its meaning can be authoritatively established. Every other opinion about its meaning is just that - an opinion. There is advice out there suggesting that actually even very small changes might be judged by the courts to amount to re-manufacturing. But whether the courts will heed that advice remains to be seen.

If you are thinking of selling re-worked vintage equipment and you are aware that it doesn't meet the standards then the best you can do, I think, is to get specialist legal advice that what you've done doesn't amount to re-manufacturing. Then you have to hope that if you ever end up in front of one the court will agree with your advisor.

I'm not aware that there's any specific law relating to the repair, rather than the sale, of vintage electrical equipment. There is general legislation though which requires anyone who sells a service, which is what repair is, to do an acceptably good job. Again a commercial lawyer ought to be able to advise on the ins and outs of that.

Cheers,

GJ
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Old 11th Jul 2019, 10:56 pm   #8
Richard_FM
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

I always check the plugs on any devices I buy even if it's been demonstrated to be working.

It's worth doing as I found the live wire of my Toshiba TV wasn't well screwed down in the plug, & could easily come astray if the cable had been pulled hard enough.
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 10:54 am   #9
emeritus
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

Intercepting about Class 0. I have a GEC 2kW fan heater. It has a metal case, the label bears the two squares double insulated mark, and on taking it apart there are indeed two layers of insulation in that the metal supporting the live parts is connected by insulated spacers to an electrically floating metal part that in turn is connected to the metal outer case by a further set of insulated spacers. Would this still count as double insulated, or would it be class 0 ? An academic point really, as the only modification would be replacement of the mains lead, which would be a repair.
I acquired it from work some 20 years ago when a PAT tester condemned it for lack of an earth, despite its double insulated marking.

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Old 12th Jul 2019, 11:50 am   #10
Lucien Nunes
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Default Re: Electrical safety and vintage equipment.

I also repair equipment as originally built, as far as available materials and common sense allow. For example, I would not replace a missing mains lead that had originally been of figure-8 construction with a similar cable today. I would use insulated and sheathed cable, not on the basis of 'upgrading' the unit's safety but because that is the modern replacement material that a competent repairer would specify. I would not generally add an earth, if none were originally fitted, as that would undeniably constitute a modification. Law aside, I believe that partial safety upgrades can lull the user into believing that it is 'up to modern standards' and cause them to drop their guard, when many of the original hazards remain.

Quote:
The problems start when someone decides to add an earth connection to the turntable. On the face of it, this would appear to be good practice but there is no guarantee that the house wiring is correct. If the earth connection inadvertently becomes live then the turntable would become live also.
There are some theoretical arguments in favour of class II equipment for certain applications, however the risk of shock from exposed metal parts of a faulty vintage class 0 device probably overshadow those of a faulty wiring system. After all, the hypothetical faulty earth connection could equally make the casing of a washing machine or kettle live. Under UK regulations and with our normal wiring system with reliable protective equipotential bonding, earthing is a recognised and recommended method of protection against shock and it would be the legality of modifying, rather than the risk of use on a faulty supply, that would seem to decide the validity of adding an earth connection.
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