Lotus Elan

Plus 2 Engine Fire

PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:47 am

I worked in the petrochem industry for many years and have had a lot of fire training and I have debated in my own mind how I would tackle an engine fire in the past.

3 options
1. crack open the bonnet and spray it in under the carbs - which I did, the fire did not flare that much as there was sufficient air flow up through the gap between body and bonnet already to feed it and I was lucky that not a lot of fuel was flowing out of the melted fuel line
2. spray up through the grill - its a long way to the fire and through the radiator so not much powder would reach the fire
3. lie down beside the car and reach under the engine from the side just behind the front wheels and spray up into the engine bay - while I consciously thought of this at the time somehow I could not make myself lie down next to burning car and reach under it especially when the grass is also burning there!. This is probably the best thing to do but also hard to do in real life :shock:

A plumbed in system with a 4 or 5 kg bottle and nozzles at the bottom of the engine and either side should kill any fire with minimum need to think. I agree I think I don't want nozzles in the cockpit as an accidental discharge while racing could be worse than a fire.

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Rohan
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:44 pm

Rohan - glad your fire training worked for you (talk about Grandma and egg sucking!!!)

Was womdering whether an AFFF system might work better than powder - what do you reckon? Wonder if a water mist system is possible in a car?
Steve

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PostPost by: rdssdi » Wed May 01, 2013 12:47 am

I purchased a halon equivalent fire system but never installed it. This may be the proper time to do that.

Any suggestions where to place the bottle and nozzles in a +2?

I will look for it and re-familiarize myself with the specs. It has been a while.
Bob
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Wed May 01, 2013 5:34 am

Not quite sure what you mean by Halon equivalent but Halon was outlawed quite some time ago now (Montreal Protocol - which was daft as a fire produces far more Ozone depleting gases than an extinguisher would).

Be interested to know what the equivalent is - I know commercial installations would be FM200 or Inergen but I can't think anyone would have produced these for a fixed car extinguishing system unless it is a CO2 which were available anyway - what have you got I'm intrigued.

As to postioning of nozzles I'd suggest the most likely area for a fire would be carbs so somewhere near there. If memory serves correctly you only need to get the oxygen content of the area down to under 14% so that fire will not be supported so injecting a lot of other gas will achieve that pretty quickly however due to the open nature of an engine bay and gas it can seep away pretty quickly and reignition is then possible. Which is why AFFF and dry powder are alternatives because they smother the fire. CO2 has a major cooling effect initially but again may not prevent reignition. Tempting as it is to open the bonnet soon after a fire is out it is not always a good idea but it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation - you want to make sure the fire is out but the fresh oxygen can cause the reignition. It is I know hard to remain calm and rational in such a situation but if you can check up through the grille or listen or even see liquid fuel dripping there can be clues that the fire is out - in this circumstance I'd be tempted to leave the bonnet closed until you know for certain.
Steve

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PostPost by: 512BB » Wed May 01, 2013 8:36 am

Just as a tip, and one that I have fortunately never had to use, I always carry a pair of heavy duty leather gardening gloves in the boot of all of my cars for just such an event, should it ever occur, as I would not want to be trying to use my fingertips to open any bonnet with flames licking up between the shut lines. But with a pair of said gloves on, you would not feel any heat.

Experience gained from many years use of a large log burning stove.

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PostPost by: 512BB » Wed May 01, 2013 8:38 am

Just as a tip, and one that I have fortunately never had to use, I always carry a pair of heavy duty leather gardening gloves in the boot of all of my cars for just such an event, should it ever occur, as I would not want to be trying to use my fingertips to open any bonnet with flames licking up between the shut lines. But with a pair of said gloves on, you would not feel any heat.

Experience gained from many years use of a large log burning stove.

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PostPost by: rdssdi » Wed May 01, 2013 11:43 am

I have a Safety Systems 10 lb. Fire Bottle with two remote nozzles (MFG 02/08). Filled with Dupont FE-36. It is now 5 years old so it may need to be refilled and serviced. I will have to look into that.

It was an Elan group buy some time ago.

I will most likely have to mount the bottle in the trunk (boot) and place one nozzle around the fuel tank and one by the carbs. They caution against a nozzle in the passenger area. I have to determine where the actuating "button" can be placed.

If someone has done this I would appreciate some advice.

Bob
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PostPost by: rdssdi » Thu May 02, 2013 12:15 pm

Memory being what it is I believe that the group by on the fire system was a Europa group.

Anyway, I will endeavor to install the system into my +2. As the engine and trans aare presently out of the car it would be an appropriate time.

Does anyone have any reservations with the use of an FE-36 fire bottle in a road car?

Bob
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PostPost by: alaric » Fri May 03, 2013 3:05 pm

Glad to hear you're ok Rohan. A scary experience to say the least. Thanks for relaying that. I'll be fitting some heat shields to my car now. For my own fuel line I used a copper pipe the length of the chassis tunnel, pushed through fuel hose, but the flexible part at the end is still just fuel hose, so will suffer the same demise as your own. A fuel shut off valve sounds like a must in the elan +2.

Regards.

Sean.
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PostPost by: bengalcharlie » Fri May 17, 2013 2:16 am

hi Rohan

As always I read your posts with much interest. Shame to hear about your incident but happy to hear you are safe and the car has not suffered major damage.
It definitely make you think how to prevent this from happening ever again.
I carry a small fire extinguisher as well and a fire blanket and will add some welding gloves as suggested.
I also have the bonnet lined in the same fire retarded material although I am no sure if that would be of benefit in case of an engine fire.
Bottom line is to give your car a regular all over check.
Recently my left front wheel collapsed, luckily I was just backing out of my drive way, Turned out that the bottom suspension bolt had fallen out of the trunnion . :shock: I was stunned and extremely grateful it did not happen on the motorway!! I had a nyloc nut on it as well. Now I check my car every 6 months because I do not like this to happen ever again.
cheers
robin
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PostPost by: Quart Meg Miles » Sat May 18, 2013 4:34 pm

It's taken most of my life to realise that a Nyloc is a "use once then throw it away" device. In theory a nut done up to the correct torque should never come undone so only non-tight bolts like Weber fixings should need a (new) Nyloc. In practice it ain't necessarily so.

Good data on fire fighting here; I've only had one smoking dash and it decided to put itself out.
Meg

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PostPost by: bengalcharlie » Mon May 27, 2013 6:32 am

Hi Rohan

Have you decided on a particular fuel cut off valve? any recommendations?
Also would it be safer to relocate the fuel tank outlet to the top of the tank with a metal tube running inside in order to stop fuel running in case of a fire? would the mechanical fuel pump cope with this alteration or do you need a electric pump?
I would consider these changes after reading your story.
cheers
robin
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon May 27, 2013 9:46 am

Hi Robin
I have done a bit of searching on the web and lots of potentially suitable valves around not selected one yet.

Taking the fuel pipe out the top of the plus 2 tank does not change the problem as it will still syphon to the low point where it runs though the chassis

It you roll the car and it ends up inverted both the Elan and Plus 2 will suffer as the fuel will leak out the carbs with the car inverted so I will be putting a cut off valve in both my Elan and Plus 2. My S1 Esprit already has one of these valves and I may see if I can source the valve Lotus used in the Esprit just for parts commonality.

The problem exists with either an electric or the mechanical pump. With an electric pump in the rear the solenoid valve can be wired to the same supply as the fuel pump so the pump stops and the valves shuts based on the same cut off. If you the mechanical pump still you need to run a power supply to the solenoid valve which should be positioned as close to the tank outlet as possible.

Was racing the Elan last weekend. It to quite a few laps to get worrying about and engine fire out of my mind when I hit the track so I could concentrate on driving !! :D


cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: sutol45 » Tue May 28, 2013 9:32 am

Back to the fuel shut-off valve - and I note that your car has Webbers.

However, in 1975 there was a factory recall to fit ALL Dellorto carburetted PLUS 2s with a fuel shut-off solenoid valve (AND a change in to Viton tipped float chamber needles).

There was a verbal recommendation that all PLUS 2s, due to the fuel tank position being higher than the carburettors, unlike the Elan arrangement, be fitted with a fuel solenoid shut-off valve but this was never promoted by the factory for Webber carburetted cars - only for the Dellorto carburetted cars.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue May 28, 2013 10:57 am

My Plus 2S 130/5 is a 73 car and originally came with Dellortos. I changed it to Webers a few years ago as I had a spare set of 40DCOE's from my Elan and I was playing with the jetting and it was easier to work with Webers for which I already had a range of jets plus I was testing the hypo jets and emulsion tubes that Keith at sidedraftcentral was developing which are designed for Webers.

My car must have missed the recall in 1975 as it unfortunately never had a shut of fitted, it was a UK delivered car and would still have been in the UK at that time.

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Rohan
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