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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 1:30:12 PM on 2 April 2016.
Cpsmusic's Gravatar
 Location: Melbourne, VIC
 Member since 18 February 2014
 Member #: 1507
 Postcount: 51

Hi Folks,

Still clearing out my late-Father's electronics workshop. I came across this and was wondering what it is?


Looks military?



 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 5:39:38 PM on 2 April 2016.
Garyoz's avatar
 Location: Perth, WA
 Member since 19 November 2008
 Member #: 381
 Postcount: 238

Hi Chris,

Could possibly be a high voltage transformer judging by the size of the insulators on the terminals.
Be careful as it may contain carcinogenic PCB oil!

See below for disposal requirements.



 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 9:22:22 PM on 2 April 2016.
Marcc's avatar
 Location: Wangaratta, VIC
 Member since 21 February 2009
 Member #: 438
 Postcount: 4178

Would have been nice of them (or do they) have some form of MSDS to tell us what it is actually soluble in, so that one can avoid dilution of it & causing it to spread. Some of these things can be chemically torn apart by caustic soda or strong acid & they are then not what they were, or dangerous: There are High temperature furnaces that can burn them back to their basic elements.

Many oil filled caps have stuff like that in them & there were quite a few Wax papers that had PCB in them, to help "self healing".

Some of the ways of dealing with some things has become bizarre & I have worked in a chemical factory with some very dangerous stuff, like known carcinogens & things that would flash & go boom with very little encouragement.

The melodrama surrounding Mercury I find incredible. The compounds of Mercury & vapours are the worst. But the solid stuff is something we chased around the lab benches & the concentration we got from that was insignificant. The long term exposure that did most of the damage was in millinery. The rest of us survived.

There was one chemical spill (solids) a few years back, in this area, where the drama lasted a few days & all it needed was an industrial "super sucker" which had all the right filtering and there was one available & it could have sucked it up safely in about 15minutes?


 Return to top of page · Post #: 4 · Written at 9:44:56 PM on 2 April 2016.
Brad's avatar
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6174

I remember some years back when the hospital operator I worked for (and now am back working for) got rid of all sphygmomanometers (I think that is the correct spelling) of the old 'thermometer' style. They each had lots of mercury in them and I built up a collection of about 130kg of mercury as I snapped the glass tubes and poured it all into jars. Today's sphygmomanometers are all digital, like most other things that used to be mechanical or contain the brew of deadly substances we used to surround ourselves with. Blood pressure is still measured in mmHg though in the same way that a horse race is still measured in furlongs.

As an electrician I still bump into PCB-filled condensers occasionally, though not where I currently work. They were still selling ceiling fans with these caps in the 1990s as these fans have split-phase motors - where one winding has to be out of phase with the other in order to start the motor. Today condensers that are used for starting motors and power factor correction use a similar electrolyte to the condensers we fit to radios. Whether that chemical is ultimately any less harmful I wouldn't know.

As for the mercury, I don't remember what I ever did with it now but it'd be much sought after now as it is not easy to get anymore.

A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 Return to top of page · Post #: 5 · Written at 10:03:57 PM on 2 April 2016.
Robbbert's avatar
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 18 September 2015
 Member #: 1801
 Postcount: 1303

Last year someone gave me his set of drawers containing components, knobs, etc as he was no longer interested. When I got it home and had time to go through it, I was horrified to find some loose mercury inhabiting one of the drawers. The cap had come off its little bottle. Somehow it had survived a 100km journey in my car without spilling a drop out of the drawer.

 Return to top of page · Post #: 6 · Written at 10:09:38 PM on 2 April 2016.
GTC's avatar
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 5830

They were still selling ceiling fans with these caps in the 1990s

I know a guy who was employed by the NSW Education Dept to deal with PCBs in school fans. Kept him busy for quite a while. Can't recall whether he replaced the fans or just the capacitors.

 Return to top of page · Post #: 7 · Written at 10:29:00 PM on 2 April 2016.
Brad's avatar
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6174

Around that time the issue got big after reports of a few people being splashed with hot PCB after condensers in ceiling fans exploded whilst they were sleeping. I vividly remember the photos of the dark goo being flung off the blades across and downwards. With the top layer of skin weakened by the temperature of the liquid the cancerous elements within would have found it much easier to work into the bloodstream. That said, the liquid is reportedly thin enough to soak through healthy skin.

When I worked for the Department of Health we just replaced the fans although replacing the condensers would have been sufficient. We filled dozens of bin liners (those yellow contaminated waste bags) with old condensers and inline with what Marc said, they had to be taken to a high-temp incinerator for disposal.

A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

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