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Thread: "multisection" capacitors help

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    Question "multisection" capacitors help

    OK. I'm kind of "visual" guy... sorry for the basic question - I came across multisection cap in an Ampeg B15N that I'm restoring right now. I have already changed bias cap, and one of the 30uf 600v filter caps. The one that is odd is a 3-section capacitor. It's a 40/40/40-500V. I see that each section has its own symbol like triangle, square, etc. They look like they're having common ground (black)?

    I need to replace it by three regular caps, as the multisection cans are super expensive.
    So, am I thinking right:

    #1 40uf /500V (+) goes to yellow and (-) goes to common black ground
    #2 40uf /500V (+) goes to red and (-) goes to common black ground
    #3 40uf /500V (+) goes to orange and (-) goes to common black ground

    Like the image below:
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boroman View Post
    OK. I'm kind of "visual" guy... sorry for the basic question - I came across multisection cap in an Ampeg B15N that I'm restoring right now. I have already changed bias cap, and one of the 30uf 600v filter caps. The one that is odd is a 3-section capacitor. It's a 40/40/40-500V. I see that each section has its own symbol like triangle, square, etc. They look like they're having common ground (black)?

    I need to replace it by three regular caps, as the multisection cans are super expensive.
    So, am I thinking right:

    #1 40uf /500V (+) goes to yellow and (-) goes to common black ground
    #2 40uf /500V (+) goes to red and (-) goes to common black ground
    #3 40uf /500V (+) goes to orange and (-) goes to common black ground
    Your assumption is correct, and your solution looks good. I expect your B15's power supply will be happy with that.

    Those Tube Amp Doctor filter caps look very small - but if they work, that's what counts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Your assumption is correct, and your solution looks good. I expect your B15's power supply will be happy with that.

    Those Tube Amp Doctor filter caps look very small - but if they work, that's what counts.
    Ha! Those are my weak Photoshop skills. In fact, they're larger!

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    Just curious - can I use 47uF in that section (instead of 40uF)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by boroman View Post
    Just curious - can I use 47uF in that section (instead of 40uF)?
    Yes.

    What I often do with B15's is remove the "twistlok" multisection cap, replace it with a 50+50 uF 500V dual cap - lately F&T brand - but I have to install a bracket to hold the 50+50. Then only one cap section needs to be an individual.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boroman View Post
    Just curious - can I use 47uF in that section (instead of 40uF)?
    Sure!

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    Supporting Member Randall's Avatar
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    Maximum filter for a GZ34/5AR5 is 60uF, and 47uF is less than 20% over 40uF, so that should be fine.

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    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

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    I've done this in the past by using an inexpensive dual 50uf + 50uf 500V radial can cap plus a single axial 47uF 500V.

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    What a news! thanks @Randall

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    What I often do with B15's is remove the "twistlok" multisection cap, replace it with a 50+50 uF 500V dual cap - lately F&T brand - but I have to install a bracket to hold the 50+50. Then only one cap section needs to be an individual.
    Whoah.. too much mathematics for me prbably. How you'd replace 30uf and 40/40/40 with 50/50?

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    50/50 replaces two sections of the 40/40/40, and then an additional capacitor for the other 40. The 30 uF would be another cap.

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    Last edited by Bloomfield; 09-03-2019 at 10:50 PM. Reason: missed 30uF

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    OK. Now the hard part... Need some help as my head will explode :/ My friend brought to me an Ampeg VT40 (which is a combo version of a V2 head), that he took out of the car and during rain transported to the club and (silly) connected to the main power. He saw tube crackling so immidiately turned it off. I have replaced some of burned resistors and little caps (along with the 20+20 cap that had leak).

    Now, I have turned it on (without power tubes) and saw sparks show around the C20 70/40/40 cap and leg of 100k resistor. You can see on the picture it's burned to black, one leg. It has burned now. I unsoldered the resistor and it measures fine. I want to replace that cap but I don't see 70/40/40 in Europe. But seeing schematic it uses only 70 and one 40 section, right? (the third, 40uf section isn't used? But ground of the thrid section is....). How to do it right? I know the best way would be getting 70/40/40 and solder it like it was before, but maybe is there any simpler solution?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    EDIT: both big caps 70/40/40 and 40/20/20 are bad and leaked... So, is there any way I could replace those with single ones available? And how do I connect that mess?

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    Last edited by boroman; 09-14-2019 at 01:02 PM.

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boroman View Post
    EDIT: both big caps 70/40/40 and 40/20/20 are bad and leaked... So, is there any way I could replace those with single ones available? And how do I connect that mess?
    Yes, good choice to replace both multisections. What I do in cases like these, get dual can caps with "close enough" values. The capacitance does not have to be exact, keep that in mind. Lately I've been using F&T 50+50 / 500. F&T are German made, Antique/tubesandmore.com carry them in the US. Hope you can find some in Canada.

    After having a look at the schematic to refresh my memory, things are a little more complicated than simply swapping in fresh can caps. Ampeg uses a series connection to enable higher B+ voltage. Fortunately the negative pole on the F&T & similar caps is brought out on a connecting pin. To simulate Ampeg's main B+ filter use two 50+50 caps in series. Jumper the + terminals on each cap, now you have 100 uF caps. DO wrap the 50+50 cap cans with an extra layer of quality electrical tape where they are held by the bracket. The outer can may be connected to the - terminal, and in Ampeg's design, neither of the - terminals are to be connected to ground so a little extra insulation is all to the better.

    Use a pair of individual 47 uF 500V caps to replace the series cap filter Ampeg uses for the second hi voltage filter. It would be a good idea to parallel each cap with a resistor, 2 watt 100K to 330K to balance their DC potentials. You may want to use tie strips to mount these individual R's & C's.

    A pair of balancing resistors across the first stage filter caps would also be a good idea.

    Let's hope that's all that's needed... well not exactly. DO replace your bias filter cap while you're at it. Even if it's not bad - yet - swapping in a fresh one is "cheap insurance".

    Hope you can revive that VT40 - they're terrific sounding amps. I fixed one up & had it sitting around here for a decade before someone bought it - then he sold it to Earl Slick. Earl called up & we had a chinwag about it - he agreed with my opinion "it's the sound of the Stones in the 70's" - classic! - everything from Exile to Some Girls.

    NOTE: To try & prevent the "exploding head" feeling, let's have a look at how Ampeg deploys their filter caps. First, one is a 40 + 20 + 20 uF with all 3 sections paralleled so effectively it's 80 uF. That cap is connected in series with the 70 uF section of another can cap. Theoretically they should be the same, but here's Ampeg to prove once again "close enough for rock n' roll" is plenty adequate. We can apply fancy formulas, and what we'll find is the effective capacitance is somewhere around 37 uF. When the can caps are replaced with dual 50's, each parallel wired, the result is 50 uF. A little more filter, less hum from the B+ supply, no harm done, in fact a little better than straight from the factory.

    FWIW you'll have the devil of a time finding 70 uF in can caps anyway. So avail yourself of what can be found these days & don't worry.

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    Last edited by Leo_Gnardo; 09-14-2019 at 04:19 PM.
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    When recapping oldtimers (vintage) amplifiers, original capacitors of appropriate values cannot always be found. It is therefore necessary to adopt the first approximate value that is produced.
    The installation of "fresh" capacitors of approximate values, does not damage the amplifier and is much better than the search for "vintage" parts, because the time done its thing (insulation resistance, leakage current, loss factor, etc.)
    Formatting old capacitors in order to keep the amplifier in its original state is only a temporary measure with an uncertain result.
    The connection of "fresh" capacitors in parallel with the old capacitors is not recommended because the loss factor (tgδ) of the old capacitor is still present.

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    Recapping Ampeg V2

    C19 (40 + 20 + 20 = 80uF) replaced with 100uF
    C20 (part 70 = 70uF) replaced with 100uF
    Original C19 (80uF) in serias with C70 (70uF) = 37.33uF
    Replacing C19 (100uF) in serias with C70 (100uF) = 50uF
    Replacement is OK

    C18 (40uF) replaced by 47uF
    C20 (part 40 = 40uF) replaced with 47uF
    Replacement is OK

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    It's also useful to remember that old caps had a very wide tolerance. -20%/+80% were common. I see a lot of old caps that read high compared to their nominal value.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    It's also useful to remember that old caps had a very wide tolerance. -20%/+80% were common. I see a lot of old caps that read high compared to their nominal value.
    My cap meter reads leaky caps as if they have higher than expected values, say 40 to 200% over. If I'm reading an old cap say 40+ y/o I interpret "bonus" capacitance as leakage, not a magic advantage by far. And those caps are destined for replacement anyway, so if I read their value, it's mostly for amusement. Occasionally I find one that reads a small fraction of its rated value, of course that means it's headed for the rubbish bin, for sure!

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    Quote Originally Posted by boroman View Post
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    It's a bit hard to tell, but it looks like that (-) lug arced over to the chassis. I assume it's one of the caps that needs it's shell insulated from ground.

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    My cap meter reads leaky caps as if they have higher than expected values, say 40 to 200% over.
    Agree. Markedly increased capacitance of E-caps is most probably a measurement artefact. Simple meters just interpret the total magnitude of impedance, while better LCR meters are able to identify resistive and reactive components.

    Typically E-caps lose capacitance over service time because they dry out. Less electrolyte volume means less active capacitor area means less capacitance.

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    Dumb little cap meters like the ones in a DMM send a small charging current out to the DUT, and reads the rate the voltage rises. It then translates that into capacitance. Well, if your cap is leaky or worn, it charges at a slower rate. That fools the meter into thinking the cap is larger than it should be.

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    When checking old and new capacitors, an ESR meter may be the right solution, as it indicates, among other things, the state of dryness.

    Personally, before any capacitor testing, I use an old good analog ohm meter at range x1000, on base of the instrument pointer in permeable and non-permeable direction with 90% accuracy can be judged capacitors condition.

    The real solution is the RLC bridge, but this measurement is thing of the past, the digital C meter has suppressed it because more that sufficiently shows the value of capacitor capacity.

    For demanding testing H.V. capacitor (the first C after the rectifier) I measure the leakage current through the capacitor by connecting the capacitor with series resistor 100k / 2W direct to + HV.
    If, over a period of time, the current starts to rise or is unstable, this indicates a loss factor. I allow 0.5 - 1 uA Correction) and then is "peace in house"

    EDIT 190915
    Correction)
    instead: I allow 0.5 - 1 uA ... ...
    should: I allow 10 – 50 uA ... ...

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    Last edited by vintagekiki; 09-15-2019 at 09:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randall View Post
    Maximum filter for a GZ34/5AR5 is 60uF, and 47uF is less than 20% over 40uF, so that should be fine.
    Depending on the vintage of B15N, the first cap after the rectifier is a 30uF. Then there is a 1k 10W, and then the 40uF sections of the can cap. I have a 1967 B15N on my bench right now. Someone had replaced the can with a CE several years ago, but didn't replace that 30uF cap, so when it went bad it took the power transformer with it and the transformer leaked a bunch of black tar like goo all over the inside of the amp. I had to take everything out of the amp carefully and clean it all up, then replace the power transformer and that 30uF cap. I say carefully because that black goo stuck to everything and it was hard to get the PCB out without breaking it. Anyway, the can cap is bad also. The 1k resistor will start smoking even on the light bulb current limiter with only the rectifier tube in the amp. These amps don't have much space inside so this is one that benefits from having the can instead if discrete caps. In my case the customer is going to pay for the can, so I'll just replace it instead of using discrete caps and trying to find space for them inside. Even if I went with a dual 50uF can there isn't much room inside, and the customer would likely be a stickler for originality, knowing him.

    Greg

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    Thank you all, I really appreciate that. I want to keep the solution as simple as possible and do not mess with other parts of the amp. Bias cap have already been changed. The susupicious resistors and little caps, too, along with 20+20 cap that I replaced by 40uf. OK, so is this "SIMPLE" solution will do the job?

    - REPLACING 1ST CAP: oriignal was 70+40+40 but third part was not used, so I could take 70uf and 40uf caps so everytjhing can be connected the same way - just all the grounds would have one point (joined grounds of 40 and 70 cap) right?
    - REPLACING 2ND CAP: original was 40+20+20+20 and JJ is maiking identical multisection so I can throw it just in place and connect.

    Am I thinking right and simple? Especially asking for the ground (-). As you see on the picture I posted in the last post, each old Mallory cap has 4 grounds and lot of things connected there. But those grounds are internally connected to each other (checked), so this was just the one common ground that just has the 4 terminal for better soldering/hooking up things, right?

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    Just to be sure on terminology, do not confuse ground with negative when looking at caps. The 40+20+20 negative terminal is not a ground - it connects to the +ve terminal of C20 70uf section and the junction of R56/R57.

    The cans have one negative connected to 4 terminals. The mounting is the twist-lock type and from a manufacturing perspective you have 4 tabs connected to negative, so why not punch them all and make them all solder terminals for convenience, rather than just have one negative and 3 redundant tabs. I can't recall ever seeing a multi-section cap in a guitar amp that had separate negative terminals for the different sections.

    With some multisection caps, the negative terminal connects to the can and/or mounting tab, with others, the negative is isolated so that when mounted it's not connected to the chassis ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    Just to be sure on terminology, do not confuse ground with negative when looking at caps. The 40+20+20 negative terminal is not a ground - it connects to the +ve terminal of C20 70uf section and the junction of R56/R57.

    The cans have one negative connected to 4 terminals. The mounting is the twist-lock type and from a manufacturing perspective you have 4 tabs connected to negative, so why not punch them all and make them all solder terminals for convenience, rather than just have one negative and 3 redundant tabs. I can't recall ever seeing a multi-section cap in a guitar amp that had separate negative terminals for the different sections.

    With some multisection caps, the negative terminal connects to the can and/or mounting tab, with others, the negative is isolated so that when mounted it's not connected to the chassis ground.
    Thanks for the explanation! My bad, I was talking about negative when I wrote ground... of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    My cap meter reads leaky caps as if they have higher than expected values, say 40 to 200% over. If I'm reading an old cap say 40+ y/o I interpret "bonus" capacitance as leakage, not a magic advantage by far. And those caps are destined for replacement anyway, so if I read their value, it's mostly for amusement. Occasionally I find one that reads a small fraction of its rated value, of course that means it's headed for the rubbish bin, for sure!
    I have a software-based tester that does a slightly better job of measuring cap parameters, better than my Fluke tester and dedicated LCR tester under most conditions. The problem with most high-voltage electrolytics is the ESR can increase along with leakage, so leakage increases the value and ESR reduces it, resulting in a totally useless cap reading the correct value. I find the only good way to measure a cap with a low-voltage tester is to firstly eliminate leakage as a factor. I have a HT supply that I use in series with a DMM to measure leakage current either at the operating voltage or the cap's rated voltage. With older caps you can see the cap 'forming' as the leakage drops, then eventually stabilizes.

    I find that there are very few instances other than personal interest to check the value of an electrolytic capacitor in repair work, though I had a piece of test equipment for repair where all the caps had house part numbers and no values, so that was probably the last time I needed to do this. Other than that it's mainly SMD caps or older low-value caps with unclear markings where actually reading the value is necessary.

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    The problem with most high-voltage electrolytics is the ESR can increase along with leakage, so leakage increases the value and ESR reduces it, resulting in a totally useless cap reading
    The µC based LCR meters I used gave correct C readings independent of leakage and ESR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by g1 View Post
    It's a bit hard to tell, but it looks like that (-) lug arced over to the chassis. I assume it's one of the caps that needs it's shell insulated from ground.
    ^^^^That. If you zoom the pic, it looks like arcing to the chassis. I'm not sure the cap is even bad or in need of replacement. It looks like connections are just too close (maybe even touching) to the chassis.

    Edit: Just looked back and saw the photos of the caps leaking, so obviously they need replacing.

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    Last edited by The Dude; 09-17-2019 at 12:52 AM.
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