<VV> Electrical Fire (long)

Bill Elliott Bill Elliott" <corvair@fnader.com
Mon, 09 Aug 2004 10:13:43 -0500

Wow...some story!

Having British cars, I'm used to a little smoke from the electrical system. But my "closest call" came with my Audi quattro. These were all handmade with 
stuff crammed into "wherever it would fit"... adding a 5 cylinder turbo intercooled oilcooled AWD engine into a compartment designed for a FWD 4 banger.

As part of this, the battery moved to under the back seat (with a little plastic cap on the positive terminal that the seat frame actually sat on...)

Then they ran a HUGE (like 1/2" in diameter) cable from here to the starter (which hung down lower front and almost center of the slant engine...subject to 
lots of oil spray)... and it was from here that the entire power of the car was distributed.

Well, at some point the routing of this main cable had been changed from design. (From the factory? During a clutch job?) and it now touched the braided 
oil cooler lines... which moved back and forth as the engine moved. Of course, you can't actually SEE any of this it's buried so deep.

So one winter day in WI I get home from work (60 mile commute each way), park it in the garage, and go inside. My wife came home early that day... about 
10 minutes after I did. She comes in and says "your car has steam coming from under the hood". So I go out...and it's not steam but white smoke. I pop the 
hood and flames flare up. I grab my trusty extinguisher (numerous extinguishers in every corner of the garage) and empty it into the engine compartment. It 
knocks down the flames... and I can see stuff glowing in the engine compartment. Then the flames pop back up and now there's oil burning.

It was only then that I realized it was electrical. So I run and pull the back seat up and disconnect the battery. The fire goes out before I can get back to the 
front to hit it with another extinguisher. 

Post-op.. the braided oil lines had sawed through the battery cable and grounded. So it began melting down. That was the initial smoke. Then, as things 
heated up and the braided lines had amps running though them, the oil line burst and started dripping oil onto the hot wire.

Luckily, nothing was hurt other than the battery cable and the oil line.

Corvair content:
You question is a good one. I have often thought something like that would be a good idea... and noticed in a Corvair I recently say that someone had 
added a self-resetting 50amp circuit breaker at that spot.... and I made the note to myself to add one to each of my cars... My only concern was that 50 
amps would be high enough...

Bill Elliott

>Would have been nice if the general had put some type of circuit breaker where
>the little round terminal block resides and furnishes unfused power to the
>car.  Has anyone done this successfully.  If so I would certainly be
>interested in hearing how and what you used.  Be safe.
>Cecil Mills
>Cocoa, Fl.
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