Yesterday, getting ready to put the cars into storage for the winter, I started my 36 Roadster, the float valve stuck open. Before I realized it, the engine was engulfed in flames. To begin with I would not have noticed it right away except for the flames coming out of the hood louvers. I jumped out of the car (with not much space between me getting out and the car next to it)fortunately, I had a large fire extinguisher right there. I was able to put the fire out. I was lucky, once we got the car out of the garage, the only damage was black soot over everything, even the wiring survived. I consider myself very lucky. If I had not had the fire extinguisher there, I would have lost the garage and likely the cars in it.
Float valves do stick just as well as a grose jet.
Word to the wise, doing anything around our old cars, have a fire extinguisher close by.
Wow, Dan....thank God you and the car made it out "OK". Think I"ll add some extinguishers other than what's in the cars too! You were lucky. Good luck with all the cleanup, shouldn't be too bad-I hope.
Quick thinking Dan. Glad the damage was minimal.....
It wasn't luck, it was your own prior good sense that put that fire extinguisher within easy reach, good job.
I have two large legacy Halon fire extinguishers on opposite sides of my garage (one next to the garage door and one next to the door that goes into the house). I also carry a small legacy Halon extinguisher in each of my cars (including the running board toolbox of the T).
I also have several dry chemical extinguishers in the house, one next to the washer/dryer (in case of a dryer lint fire), one under the kitchen sink, and one in the basement.
When I bought my '66 Mustang back in high school I noticed that there was a small spot on the hood where there was no paint. I asked my teacher who I bought it from what happened and she said that the gas line broke and sprayed the distributor with fuel and started a fire. Luckily she had a small fire extinguisher in the car and put it out. That empty extinguisher was still in the truck when I picked up the car. Not sure why she never put in a new one, especially after just having a fire. A new extinguisher was the first thing I bought for the car!
Thank goodness for the fire extinguisher. I really hate those that spray powder.
While working at my dad's garage, a guy brought a truck in that had caught fire under the dash. What a mess. I don't think I was ever going to get all the powder cleaned away so I could repair and paint.
My father and I once purchased an engine out of a 59 Chevy that had been burned up in a fire. The carb had melted from the heat to where is sort of looked like a deflated image of its former self. When we disassembled the engine, and removed the carb, under the melted assembly was the fossil remains of 3 cigarette butts. Mystery solved.
I also had to put out a carb fire with what I had at hand, which was not a fire extinguisher, and not UL approved material for sure, and forced a partial rebuild of the engine. Was very lucky that day. All vehicles in my house have them now. Happy to hear you were better prepared than I.
Very lucky to say the least! You could have out for a drive or down the road a ways and it could have been all over for you and your neat 36.
Since its a convertible maybe you could have jumped out if you had to.
Glad it didn't come to that.
Its a good reminder to respect gasoline and our old cars.
I'm so glad you were already prepared and that damage was minimal. Thank you for reminding me and others that if we ever need a fire extinguisher, we will not have time to drive to the store and purchase one.
Hap l9l5 cut off
Every car, new cars included, should have a fire extinguisher. On its maiden voyage, my Model A was saved because someone in a late model Mercedes saw us struggling to extinguish a carb fire and pulled off to help. Several times before we left for the tour we told ourselves to pack a fire extinguisher and just plain forgot. Had it not been for the guy in the modern car, mine would have burnt to the ground. Besides, I'd wager modern car fires are more common than old car fires simply because there are more of them on the road. How many times have you passed one burnt to the ground on the interstate or seen in the scorched patch on the shoulder of the road?
Good on Dan for being prepared! A fire can be snuffed out a lot quicker if you're steps from an extinguisher rather than minutes away.
OK - is it time for a fire extinguisher thread?
Not a "tell about my fire" but a thread that covers what fire extinguisher is best for the garage and car.
It also could include leads to get the best deal
I could not, in good conscience, use a Halon fire extinguisher, knowing what it would do to the environment. I would hate to lose an antique car or possibly injure or maim myself or someone else, but I'm afraid I'd have to let it burn if my only choice was Halon. After all, antique vehicles are just material things and even our lives are temporary. The Earth needs to be protected at all cost without regard to lives or material things.
A topic near and dear to my heart. The Oilfield used to have a lot of fires, some of which were pretty bad and killed people. One of my jobs back then was to check the fire bottles on our equipment and in the Districts, I never looked but that I would find several that were inoperable for various reasons, I am talking about the dry powder style. It was such a problem that most Districts had a dedicated employee to do nothing but keep up their extinguishers. A lot of our equipment had built in racks where the operator could trigger several at once. We finally went to the large truck mounted foam extinguishers, like Fire Departments and Airports use, to use on Frac jobs. Right after the War, I used a Carbon Tet extinguisher on a fire, and made the mistake of being down wind, came close to getting me. I came up on a car fire one night, always had a 30# dry powder in my trunk, jumped out to put out the fire, and the driver stopped me, said he had set it on fire and wanted to burn it to the ground, hated the car for some reason. I would strongly recommend a liquid or Halon extinguisher for personal use, I like Halon, and have several. The powder makes such a mess, and as stated, not always reliable. In my flying days, we could often put out a fire on an engine by letting it run and sucking the flames into the air intake, or diving, but that was a different situation,speeding the engine up and letting it run sometimes would be a technique we used in my younger days for a car fire, not always successful. Like I said, I like Halon, works very well, next the liquid styles, lastly powder, plain old dirt or sand works sometimes, but a fire bottle is always best, "Don't start a T without One".
I had a fire that started on a vehicle I was driving. It started as a electrical fire which progressed to other things. I did NOT have a fire extinguisher with me. Fortunately I got the hood open and had a wrench handy to disconnect the battery. Then used up all the water bottles I had and finished the job with my wife's Diet Coke!!
When I worked at a dealer in San Rafael, Ca. a salesman came running into the shop shouting that a car was on fire outside.
I grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran out there to see a 60's Thunderbird on the freeway shoulder with the hood open and the engine fire burning.
As I jumped the fence with the extinguisher the lady that had been driving the car shouted, "Let it burn".
She said that was the third time it had caught fire and was sick of that stupid car.
Just then the fire truck got there and put the fire out.
The lady was not too happy that they saved her car.
Approved extinguisher is required to pass the yearly vehicle inspection here. As well as reflectors and stocked first aid kit. No got, no pass. On that same token, airbags aren't a requirement and you can buy Mapanagua (cane liquor) at roadside stands everywhere.
Wow Dan I'm really glad to hear you were successful putting the fire out and didn't get hurt! Thanks for posting.
I find it interesting, reading the thread about guys that are overly concerned about a little clean up after the fire was put out so quickly. Also those who have been misled about the Halon types of "clean agent" advertising.
My God, if you have a Fire use ANYTHING to put it out if its SAFE. Of course, Every fire will go out by itself so don't get yourself hurt but to stand and watch your treasure burn up because a possible amount of damage to our environment is mind boggling.
Do a search of Fire Extinguishers back in March when I posted a review of the different types with my recommendation and why.
Yes, this is a subject where we need constant prodding and reminders. Like changing the batteries in those smoke detectors which we were supposed to do Last month.
Gee guys, I thought my sarcasm was was thinly enough disguised to be somewhat transparent.
It is my understanding that the manufacture of Halon extinguishers has been banned in the name of environmentalism, although you can use one if you have it, but cannot get it refilled. Seems they have their priorities out of order. After all, it's not like every person in the world is going to discharge one three times a day.
I had 2 halon fire extinguishers. I think my x wife has them or she got rid of them. When I bought them, I was impressed the way they worked with no powder.
No mess is certainly an advantage. I suppose CO2 may be the only option now that leaves nothing behind? I think they are rather expensive and also large in comparison with dry chemical types with similar extinguishing capacity. I have heard that dry chemical is very abrasive and can ruin an engine if sucked in through the carburetor, but it may just be an old wive's tale. I couldn't say.
Thank you for sharing this incident with us! We all need this reminder from time to time.
I suspect car fires are going to become more common in the coming years. We are seeing more problems from our antiques sitting for fewer months and I believe it is due to the poorer quality of our gasoline. Newer cars, boats, and motor-homes should be soon to follow.
I can tell several tales of car fires I have seen over the years. This time I will just say that one time I put out a neighbor's car fire with a water-soaked beach towel.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
For Fred Dimock, quite a bit of info in here about types, cost, etc.
For dry chem types, about once a year, be sure to turn them upside down and rap a few times with a rubber mallet. The dry power can compact overtime resulting in nothing coming out when activated.
Thanks for the tip, I've never done a thing to my dry chemical extinguishers, I'll give them all the "treatment" today!
Those CO2 extinguishers are super for cooling beer.
Praise the Lord you and your possessions are fine. Someone was looking out for you!
Mark, the best thing to do is sit them upside down for the Day after a couple taps with a rubber mallet. The powder is so fine that after sitting or especially in a vehicle with the vibration it gets packed really tight. You can't believe how fine. Maybe like baby powder. It takes a long time for it to flow back to the top when inverted.
This loosening tip is to prevent the extinguisher from clogging/jamming/bridging during use which does not happen very often but possible.
The short coming of the vapor type (halon / CO2) extinguishers is 1. CO2 gas must PUSH Away the Oxygen to put out the fire it doesn't Cool it. 2. The Halons are chemical chain breakers (magic) which turn into vapor and easily blow away or dissipate with no reflash protection for either. When you compare how much fire they will put out you'll see a much smaller number and usually no class A for either type. The halon types were designed for high dollar computer rooms and equipment then advertised widely as a unit that puts out fire with no mess afterward. It is Dangerous to inhale the vapor when heated. (Phosgene)
You can still buy Halon but it is very expensive and must recycle the agent.
You have to think which is more important? Putting out a fire or dealing with a little debri and dirt like you see in Dan's 36 Roadster?
Read the UL label on the ext. to find out how much horsepower" your extinguisher has and also what type of fires it will work on.
You will see a Classification like, 3-A-40-B : C on a 5LB Amerex Model B402 extinguisher.
This means how big of a Class A and B fire it is designed to extinguish by a nonprofessional. No ext. will put out an electrical fire. You must turn off the power. The letter C only means it is safe because the agent is Nonconductive.
Class A means any material that will leave and "ASH" and a Class B fire is a liquid type like oil or grease, think "BOIL".
The ABC rated units must work differently for both types of fire. The dry chemical SMOTHERS the class B with a thin film and also the class A differently by melting with the heat turning into a sticky surface sealing in the heat preventing the oxygen to get in. Cooling is best done on any fire with water. No other chemical absorbs as much heat.
Buy the one with the biggest AB rating that has a hose and a metal head.
Thanks for reading such a long post but few people ever learn much about how fire extinguishers work until too late. Many never do.
I took the carburetor apart on my 36. I found there was a leak in the float, which of course kept the float valve from closing. There was debris from the fire extinguisher, which kept my wife and I busy washing the dust off the cars yesterday. Of course, the 36 had the most on it, I blew that off with some air, then hosed the rest of it down thoroughly with water. All that was left was a little coating of soot in the engine compartment.
Jim, you are right, someone was looking out for me. I do thank God I was able to put it out. Usually the fire extinguisher is in the middle of my bay garage, for some reason I carried it over and put it next to the car before I started it. Can't say what made me do that!
same lesson here - always make sure you have an Extinguisher in the garage and in the car.
I used to work for a collector restoring veteran/vintage cars when I was young. He had a house which had a garage underneath which could hold 20-25 cars of the hundred odd collection. Only high end cars were allowed, if I found any Model T parts on the shelves I was ordered to take them home, Got my Jones speedo complete that way.
The doors on the garage folded back and four cars at the front had to be removed to allow those behind to exit. Most of the cars were English/ European such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Bugatti, Austro Daimler, Delaunay Belleville. Hispano Suiza, De Dion, Vauxhall.
All the cars were fitted with a small extinguisher so with 20 odd cars it was always easy to obtain one.
One of the cars a Vauxhall 30/98 was prone to catch fire when starting up. It had an Updraught Zenith carby which had no choke and the method used to prime the carby was to lift the float needle till fuel flowed out. To catch the fuel it had a tray under it with a drain which sent the excess fuel away from the motor and body to a clear spot under the car. If the motor backfired and a fire started one just reached for the extinguisher between the front seats and gave it a blast.
One day I was asked to get out a 1912 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost for a wedding. It was behind the front line of cars.
All went well moving the cars until I came across the Vauxhall. Sure enough it set the fuel on fire so I reached for the extinguisher and found it was empty. No problem I just went to the next car and got out its extinguisher. Every car in the garage had an empty extinguisher. When the one in the Vauxhall ran out it was changed for another from one of the other cars.
By this time the flames were getting high in the engine bay, the fuel was heating up the fuel in the carby which was spewing it out making the fire worse. Here I was alone under this house with a few million dollars worth of cars trapped inside with the possibility that nights news would have me on it as the idiot that burned down a house and car collection worth heaps of money.
At the back in a corner was an Essex Fire engine which had been restored a few months before to use on the owners farm. It had a soda Ash extinguisher which had to be turned upside down to operate. Unfortunately it had been left on the ground behind the Essex a few weeks before and had be knocked over making it go off. D
Desperate I grabbed it and held it over the fire and shook it upside down. It gave a few spits just enough to put out the flames. The only damage was melted spark plug leads.
I immediately rang the boss and told him what had happened, I was ordered to get in my car drive into the city use his account and purchase several large extinguishers for the garage and to remove all the empty ones from the cars and replace them.
A new set of rules applied from that day, once empty an extinguisher had to be refilled not swapped for any other.
I still shudder when I think about that day, that was 40 years ago, most of the cars in that collection have since been sold on after the owners passing and bought in excess of a Million Dollars each.
I have 3 extinguishers in my garage and one in each car.
Gene, you forgot the class "D" like we have at work. Flammable metals like magnesium, Lithium, and sodium. Pretty rare to have those around the home shop.
We remember it this way:
A: can make ash
B: can come in a barrel
C: involves current
D: Dang that's hot.
I like that. Maybe I can remember it that way.
Nah, didn't forget, Just put in the most common guys might have.
We could add add Class K. Those kitchen types.
Just a couple of pointers I hope everyone will remember and maybe tell the wife again.
For cooking fires..
1. Turn off burner.
2. Put the lid on pan or cover with wet towel.
3. Do NOT carry pan outside!
4. Do not throw water at grease fire.
I also think RACE is important to remember. This is the steps IN the ORDER that you should do when you have a fire emergency.
R. Rescue. Is it safe for you?
A. Sound the ALARM, call for help
C. Contain the fire, unplug, turn off valve, put on lid, move other things away.
E. Extinguish only safe and you know how.
Remember... Every fire will go out by itself so don't get yourself hurt trying to fix something that will fix itself.
Another scary thought.... Those little 2 1/2lb extinguishers that everyone has for their car, boat or trailer only have a discharge time of 5 SECONDS or LESS!! Be sure to test fire it first before getting close to a fire just to make sure it works before you get hot.
Be Safe and Prevent first.
I have a '35 Cabriolet that "had" the same original setup that I drive quite a lot. I have put an inline filter between the fuel pump and Stromberg 97 as well as use a fuel pump that has a bowl type filter in front of the pump. Any debris going into the 97 needle valve can give you the same result. I wouldn't leave it the way it is after the float is replaced if it were mine.
Had my convertible for 40 years but never had a hole in the brass float though. I better keep an eye on it. I also have not had a fire but that fuel pump has put gas all over the engine before I modified it a little. I went to the barber shop this morning and there is a fire extinguisher on top of the front seat for that very reason.
V8 Note: I noticed that roadster has the short firewall supports. I have the same on mine. First other one I have seen. I found out in the '70's that Ford did sub the early '35 closed car firewall supports on some of the open cars. The '35 sedans only used them for a very short period of time and it was a way to use them up. It is correct. Mine was also a very original car.
Ken in Texas
Heres a good one. so far no answers on the web.
I gotta work your brains. One of the last IH TD 15
dozers that start on gas. Last run maybe this past
June. No start, yes little water in its one gal
gas tank. Climate morning am due (damp). No spark.
I but new coil and wires. Next my kid pulls out
the plugs & I sand blast them. Next the kid goes
back to the pit to install plugs (while im still in
the shop) next kid runnin back for an extingusher
and he's all burnt up?? the batt. is off, the engine
is cold, could be a little extra fuel down there.
He is sitting on steel tracks. He starts to thread
the first plug in and it blows up and him of the
tracks??? Black burning smoke in the sky.
So whats your guess? static electic ruled out
dozer electric ruled out (batt not connected)
I dont know of static charge from your finger on
a 60* damp day. and he dont smoke. and no it wasnt
thurdering and lightning. I give UP sam
Always carry one with you. Aim low, at the base of the fire. If you never need it, all the better.
Sorry for the late posting but we can't say this often enough.
Ken, I have a back up electric fuel pump on the car that has an inline filter. Fortunately I didn't have it on at the time. The problem with the float was a crack in the soldered seam. As far as the short firewall supports go, I have noticed them on all Roadsters since I have been checking them out, which with the number of Roadsters left, it hasn't been a lot. Maybe the body company that made the Roadsters bodies had a stock of this style support. I'm glad you have an original car. Mine looks like it is, but it is not. It had a chebby engine in it and hydraulic brakes. I had to repair the front cross member where they cut to clear the chebby fuel pump. Also, I had to replace a section of the frame where they had the master cylinder. I also put it back to the original mechanical brakes, (stops great, no need for hydraulics). In the near future I will restore the car. I'm having fun driving it the way it is right now.