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      05-21-2012, 08:14 PM   #1
akotten
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Engine Fire At The Track

I experienced an engine fire this weekend during a driving school in Colorado. I had completed Saturday without issues, and then during the 3rd lap of the first session on Sunday it happened. I saw smoke between me and my instructor, and then fire coming out the side as I turned into a corner. Luckily, both of us got out immediately without any injuries and the corner workers put out the fire within a few minutes. Props to them for a fast response!

So here's what I "think" may have caused it. I'm almost certain it started with a ruptured methanol line, which started a small fire, which then burned through a fuel line, creating the fire I had to jump over to exit the car.

As of right now, all I know is that it burned through a fuel line, melted shut the brake booster hose, wrinkled one of the boost vent hoses, and melted all of the undertrays. The car is not driveable. Also, my methanol lines were seared shut, and one after the pump, had a 5mm hole that looked as if it burst after getting too warm. The main methanol feed line that runs across the valve cover appeared to be the main culprit, but for all I know, I had a fire that started elsewhere and got to the meth lines later.

So, with track season starting up, if any of you run methanol at the track I must advise the following:

- Inspect all lines before and after each session

- Run mixtures of 50/50 or less (This occurred on a 75/25 mix)

- Perhaps look into an alternative material for the methanol feed line


The worst part of this was that I was nearly 700 miles from home. Fortunately I had a friend along to give me a ride home, and a fellow BMW CCA member trailered my car to his house near Denver to await further inspection/repairs.
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      05-21-2012, 08:17 PM   #2
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Where are the trunk mount advocates?
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      05-21-2012, 08:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpirelli View Post
Where are the trunk mount advocates now?
This crossed my mind, but you'd still have to carefully position the feed line and choose a high temp resistant material. If the feed line were capable of higher temps, this would not be a problem at all.
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      05-21-2012, 08:29 PM   #4
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akotten-- I'm so sorry this happened to you. But i'm glad you are ok and that the damage wasn't worse. First thing I would do is check the lid of the WW tank. I think it's far more likely that meth sloshed out of there, started the fire which damaged the meth feed line going into the pump. The meth lines should be more than capable of withstanding under hood temps as they are rated up to 800F and 350psi. Underhood temps rarely go above 250F even during racing conditions and the feed tubing doesn't even see any pressure. That's why its far more likely that the fire started elsewhere and then damaged the meth lines. When you get a chance to inspect the car again, please call us and ask for me. It would be a good idea to find the exact cause of the fire so it doesn't happen again or to anyone else.

Last edited by shiv@vishnu; 05-21-2012 at 08:35 PM.
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      05-21-2012, 08:31 PM   #5
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Yikes, sorry for the loss. Keep us updated.
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      05-21-2012, 08:32 PM   #6
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Seems like a lot of fire going on lately with guys running meth.
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      05-21-2012, 08:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nack54 View Post
Seems like a lot of fire going on lately with guys running meth.
yeah it's got me spooked. I'm in the process of switching to a trunk-mount tank and will be running braided lines the whole way
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      05-21-2012, 08:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akotten View Post
The main methanol feed line that runs across the valve cover appeared to be the main culprit,
Are you speaking of the line that runs above the engine across the plastic cowl that has the charcoal/pollen filter?


Quote:
Originally Posted by akotten View Post
- Run mixtures of 50/50 or less (This occurred on a 75/25 mix)
There are still mix reviews on this, some say it's safe (the ones that sprayed a 49/50 boostjuice mixture on hot exhaust manifolds), others say it still burns invisibly. Perhaps maybe a good time to research Denatured Alcohol since it starts off with a higher boiling point?


Quote:
Originally Posted by akotten View Post
The worst part of this was that I was nearly 700 miles from home. Fortunately I had a friend along to give me a ride home, and a fellow BMW CCA member trailered my car to his house near Denver to await further inspection/repairs.
How mod friend are the dealers in RC? When I lived in Sioux Falls, the dealers were not so mod friendly.
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      05-21-2012, 08:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpsimon View Post
yeah it's got me spooked. I'm in the process of switching to a trunk-mount tank and will be running braided lines the whole way
Same here.
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      05-21-2012, 08:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiv@vishnu View Post
akotten-- I'm so sorry this happened to you. But i'm glad you are ok and that the damage wasn't worse. First thing I would do is check the lid of the WW tank. I think it's far more likely that meth sloshed out of there, started the fire which damaged the meth feed line going into the pump. The meth lines should be more than capable of withstanding under hood temps as they are rated up to 800F and 350psi. Underhood temps rarely go above 250F even during racing conditions and the feed tubing doesn't even see any pressure. That's why its far more likely that the fire started elsewhere and then damaged the meth lines. When you get a chance to inspect the car again, please call us and ask for me. It would be a good idea to find the exact cause of the fire so it doesn't happen again or to anyone else.
Oddly enough, one of the first things I inspected after the incident was the WW cap. It appeared to be OK as I opened it and then closed it again. Also, all of the fire appeared to have occurred on the drivers side. If meth splashed out of the WW fill neck, I think there would have been damage near it, which there clearly was not. All of the damage is on the driver side, starting just after the valve cover. I just looked through my phone and I really didn't take any pictures other than the car on the trailer. I'll try to call you tomorrow sometime, Shiv.

Unfortunately, I probably won't see my car again until it's fixed. There are some really good shops around Denver so I just can't justify the cost of having it towed home.


Spool Twice: I won't disclose where I'm going to fix this or where I'm originally from until insurance takes care of things. RC is just the location for school.
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      05-21-2012, 09:01 PM   #11
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could it have spilled out and pooled on the under tray and ignited from there??? wither way sorry for your loss dude. In my consideration of meth i looked at safety first, seconf and third and there is no way i'm putting meth in the WW bottle. i'd strongly suggest anyone running meth to get a trunk mount tank period

Last edited by pavo335; 05-21-2012 at 10:20 PM.
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      05-21-2012, 09:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpirelli View Post
Where are the trunk mount advocates?
Present.
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      05-21-2012, 09:19 PM   #13
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Any pics of the damage? Too soon?
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      05-21-2012, 09:23 PM   #14
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That sucks, glad you guys got out ok, good luck.
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      05-21-2012, 09:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpsimon View Post
yeah it's got me spooked. I'm in the process of switching to a trunk-mount tank and will be running braided lines the whole way
Where are you sourcing these braided lines?
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      05-21-2012, 09:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stangorang View Post
Where are you sourcing these braided lines?
The tank I ordered is still a couple weeks away so I haven't gotten to ordering the lines yet. Not sure yet where I'm ordering from
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      05-21-2012, 10:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akotten View Post
Oddly enough, one of the first things I inspected after the incident was the WW cap. It appeared to be OK as I opened it and then closed it again. Also, all of the fire appeared to have occurred on the drivers side. If meth splashed out of the WW fill neck, I think there would have been damage near it, which there clearly was not. All of the damage is on the driver side, starting just after the valve cover. I just looked through my phone and I really didn't take any pictures other than the car on the trailer. I'll try to call you tomorrow sometime, Shiv.

Unfortunately, I probably won't see my car again until it's fixed. There are some really good shops around Denver so I just can't justify the cost of having it towed home.


Spool Twice: I won't disclose where I'm going to fix this or where I'm originally from until insurance takes care of things. RC is just the location for school.
Where is the meth pump located and how are the meth lines routed?
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      05-21-2012, 10:36 PM   #18
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In before WW meth users in denial join the thread.

OP, my sincere condolences.
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      05-21-2012, 10:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpirelli View Post
Where are the trunk mount advocates?
You rang! Always said I hated the WW tank
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      05-21-2012, 11:06 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akotten View Post
I experienced an engine fire this weekend during a driving school
Really sorry this happened to you on Sunday. That event has definitely bumped an in-car mounted fire extinguisher to a very high spot on my list of modifications, since my running with fire-extinguisher took much longer than I had hoped, and it's not always clear that an HPDE would have that fast of a response. Could have been really ugly if that happened at T-6 or some place less visible to Control.

In case you were wondering - I returned the tow-hook to the guy who lent it out. Hope that didn't cause any grief later on.

All the best.
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      05-21-2012, 11:42 PM   #21
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First of all, you guys who run high meth mixtures know you're taking a risk. But honestly, no offense but you're all idiots for running push fittings and the windshield washer reservoir. I'm getting a 335i again in the next few months most likely, and I'm going to show you what a proper front mounted meth kit should look like. I've drawn up the plans a year ago before I totaled my car but the tank is very small, serves its purpose, will require filled frequently, will be safely on tap for a couple highway pulls, but it will be a self contained unit in the driver fender. Custom built tank with the pump mounted at the bottom of the tank with the safe injection or equivalent all plumbed into the tank using entirely -an fittings and the hose to the charge pipe from the driver fender will be all of 1-2 feet long and won't pass or cross any hot parts.

Stop using cheap plastic push tubes and stop mounting your meth kit on the hot side of the engine.... At least use an fittings, braided lines and mount it in the trunk. Just because push fittings work on your Subaru doesn't mean squat here. And stop running 90/10 80/20 if you're going to use the windshield wiper reservoir.
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      05-22-2012, 12:38 AM   #22
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Sorry for your loss OP.

We all know meth is dangerous and we all assume the risk of running meth. How many WW fires will it take before we all realize the common factor?

Most of you know me from my past posts, but if you donítÖ I also had a meth fire last year. Chris from HPF was in the car with me when this happened. We just installed a new set of DPs and took the car out for a video shoot of the proto type HPF 3Ē exhaust which I might add is one really bitchín exhaust system. Anyway, within 1 mile of hard driving at WOT, the car started smoking from a meth fire that caught the foam under the valve cover on fire. When we got the car back to his shop, we found the under pan was covered in meth. I was lucky and was able to put the fire out before it caused any real damage.

When something like this happens we all want to know why, but I think we all keep asking the wrong questions and overlooking the obvious. The WW tank was not designed for high % meth. It doesnít contain safety foam to prevent sloshing. The vent does not have a hose that allows for safe discharge of excess meth or pressure buildup within the tank. The vent will allow meth to discharge as pressure in the tank increases quickly as the meth reaches its boiling point. The cap cannot be secured and could allow meth to escape as pressure in the tank builds up. Most DPís are not coated and reach temperatures high enough to cause auto ignition if meth comes into contact with the pipes. Depending on how much meth is on the sub pan when the fire starts will ultimately depend on how much damage is caused.

We all know the risk of running Meth, and safety should be our #1 concern. Iím not saying itís the fault of the vendors who sold the WW solutions, but I will say they need to step up and acknowledge the WW tank solution is not suitable for racing conditions and offer an upgraded solution that is safe. They should also stop promoting the sale of WW Meth solutions.

I know some of you have been running WW solutions for a long time without issue, but like I said before, itís only a matter of time. Your odds of having a WW related meth fire are better than winning the lottery. So are you going to wait for your number before you upgrade to trunk mounted tank?
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