View Full Version : Rochester Manufacturing Mak-Saf Battery Disconnect Switch

Nicholas Studer
04-26-2016, 05:37 AM
My 1961 Eureka-Cadillac came with the remnant of a battery disconnect switch mounted underneath the dash. Marked Rochester Mfg Corp - Google searches pulled up little on the maker. There was a suggestion in a previous thread that it wasn't original to the car.


The car also has a large battery switch on the radiator core support.


Mr. Edwin Otten, who owns the 1959 Eureka-Cadillac Hi-Boy formerly of the Bogota, NJ First Aid Squad was kind enough to send a few photos of his car. That car's battery switch remained - photo below. This was likely a Eureka option purchased by at least some NJ squads.

Has anyone seen one of these battery disconnects before? Something similar appears to be made today: http://www.rennline.com/Rennline-Remote-Pull-Cable-Kit-with-T-Handle/productinfo/EL20.21/ Perhaps the T-handle pulls a wire wrapped around or through the large handle up front? I'll be looking closely next opportunity...

I was thinking it may be possible to salvage parts out of that kit or similar to rebuild the Rochester setup - unless someone knows a Rochester Mfg Corp enthusiasts group I somehow missed! Now to find at least a nice handle... Any ideas on anything? :)

Paul Steinberg
04-26-2016, 04:38 PM
The emergency pull switch as shown in both pictures is for disconnecting the batteries in an emergency situation, such as being involved in an automobile collision. The reason for it, is in an accident, the battery cables can become damaged, and the result would be an electrical fire. By pulling the battery disconnect switch, it shut off the power to the cables at the battery. It is not to be confused with a battery switch that you would be switching on when you want to start the car, and off, when you park the car. Most times, this switch is referred to as the Cole Hersee switch. Superior Coach almost always used the Cole Hersee switch. On the other side of the coin, Miller Meteor used a different method to switch the batteries, and they utilized a grounded solenoid, that you would energize through a rocker switch to make the battery connection.

Joe Rackov
04-26-2016, 04:58 PM
Paul, I've worked on a friend's 69 M-M and that one has a Cole-Hersee and if I remember correctly his 68 also has one.

Jacob M. Fournier
04-26-2016, 05:04 PM
Not quite the same as the Rochester, but an idea...

Flaming River battery disconnect with lever (http://www.flamingriver.com/index.php/products/c0015/s0004/FR1003-2)

Jacob M. Fournier
04-26-2016, 05:14 PM
Even better - found the Rochester switch...

Rochester Gauges Mak-Saf switch (http://www.rochestergauges.com/products/2835.html)

Nicholas Studer
04-26-2016, 05:46 PM
Well Jacob - was not expecting that. My Google-fu was apparently very weak on this topic when it's still made today...

Nicholas Studer
06-22-2017, 04:51 PM
I contacted Rochester Manufacturing twice now. Last year, I asked if I could but a new unit and was told they don't actually stock them, and sell them only in batches of 10 minimum. It's fascinating - their website is reusing the same basic cartoon from 1952 ad seen in Popular Science. However, despite it showing automotive use, their customer service knows little more than forklift manufacturers buy them. Perhaps because I'm not talking to their engineering folks, they couldn't even tell me which variant (apparently there's several) that I'd want for a car even if I were to cough up $4000 for 10 switches...

I have found the device was basically disconnected and the wires wrapped up or loose inside the engine compartment - perhaps it still works? Today, I gave them a call to see if I could buy a replacement T-handle - which is the main component I am missing. They told me they don't sell any replacement parts - nor do they service any of their products. They also couldn't tell me who could fix mine if it's broken outside of "maybe you should check with forklift companies."

Oh well - not sure I've seen such a major manufacturer so disconnected from a currently available product of theirs. Hopefully the shop and I can figure it out when it gets ready to reassemble. I was able to turn up a somewhat newer "Mak-Saf" switch on eBay last year that was government surplus, new in the box. Worst case, I'm sure we can get something together.

John ED Renstrom
06-22-2017, 11:04 PM
if the out side shield is still there it just a long choke cable. check with a ware house that uses electric forklifts got to be some of them scraped.