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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - S**t! Fire!

Bit of a scary and close call this morning. Wifey was having her first drive of the car. A couple of 100 m done the road I turn the heater control on, then I see sparks from under the dash and there is smoke.

"Fire! Pull over, pull over, kill the engine!"

Bit of panic, but I managed to get the bonnet up and blow out a small fire. Not a fun situation but no real harm done thankfully.

Turns out that when I messed with the heater control, as I hadn't attached it to the heater yet, the cable shifted and hit the battery +ve and shorted on the body (I dunno where the grommet went?!). The cable melted through and a bit of paint was scorched off.

Defiantly counting myself lucky. Geez, could have been so much worse.

I have been thinking time and time again, I need to get an extinguisher. I really wish I had today. So, what fire extinguishers do people carry? CO2 or powder? Size?

Also ordered some battery terminal covers.

This wee car really is keeping me on my toes!


M Le Chevalier


You're not the first to have that happen to them, I've not done it myself but I know a couple of people who have had it happen to them. I can't comment of the pro/cons of various fire extinguishers other than powder makes a real mess and in one case resulted in the engine having to be partially rebuilt as it was running when the extinguisher was used and it ingested enough powder to rust up the bores and rings. I know the guys at the race company I worked at for a bit hated the stuff as they had to clean all the parts after marshalls used powder on fires but it does put the fire out.
David Billington

Thank Providence you're all right Malcolm.

I had a similar fire in my Sherpa van years ago. Some clown of a PO had cable-tied the headlight wiring to the speedo cable, which finally chewed it way through. At 11pm on Xmas Eve on an unlit road 5 miles from the nearest village (Tyndrum)!

Your thread title says it all - as I did at the time!

Dry powder extinguisher for me. It forms a crust over the fire site which helps to prevent re-ignition. Mine's a 1Kg unit, but a 750g one would be neater.

DP does make a mess, but IMO it works better.

good save malc... congrats

As to fire extinguishers.... spend the extra and buy what is called an (ABC) fires are devided into categories

A = chemicals... gas, oil, greases ect
B = electrical ... battrey shorts, double earths,
C = rubish .... leaves, paper trash, ect

On the powder extinguisher.... never pull the pin and discharge for fun, once the powder escapes it must be recharged no matter how little was wasted... oxygen was introduced and the active ingrediant will only be good for a few more days

They do make a new ABC extinguisher thst is an aerosol can and reusable, I dont know anything about them, they seem to work well... my only fear is in deep winter if left to be frozen how effective are they

One last note, from my personal experiance... a 12 once can of cold coke a cola will knock down a huge flame almost immediately.... does it have to be cold? reg non diet? Actual coke a cola? I cant say, I never wanted to repeat that fire agian

While your getting extengishers for the car, get one for the kitchen under the sink, your other cars,, and the work working smoke detectors for your home... 1 per 1000sq feet is my rule of thumb

Sorry to be so butt happy about fire... I have seen alot of fire damage in my life time because of my fathers business ... so tend to treat fire with a bit more respect then most

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

I see this aresol fire extinguisher at walmart and other box stores fairly often

And my mother keeps it under the kitchen sink

Im guessing other brands like it are just as good

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Slight mix-up on the ratings, Prop. A is for combustibles like trash and paper. B is for liquids like gas and oil and C is for electrical. So, an ABC rated (BTW, don't know if this rating applies in Europe) extinguisher would be fine, but one rated BC would suffice.

Several years ago, I came upon a car fire and pulled over, got my extinguisher and put the fire out for the guy. It was the powder type. It did the job but left a mess with white powder everywhere in the engine compartment. I don't know how hard it is to clean that stuff up, or if it does any damage, but it left an impression on me.

When I got an extinguisher recently for the midget, I got one that uses a "clean agent" gas. Its a 2.5lb unit that uses Halotron I. Theses units used to use Halon gas, but that gas was banned a while back so the new ones use various other gases like Halotron I. They are more expensive, but won't leave the mess. I have not used it yet so can't report on its effectiveness, and it is rated BC.
(Click on the video button to see an interesting video)

Malcolm, your posting made me think about going and getting some battery post protectors ASAP! Cheap insurance!
Jack Orkin

Good post Jack.

The reason I favour Dry Powder is this.
When I did my fire training as everyone who works offshore in the UK sector does I learned about what is called the Triangle of Fire.

To sustain a fire there must be three elements: Fuel, Heat and Oxygen. Break the triangle by removing one element and you kill the fire.

A Halo-gas extinguisher is very effective initially, by denying oxygen in a slightly different way than a CO2 unit does. Halo-gas interferes chemically with the reaction whereas CO2 simply smothers it. But a powder extinguisher forms a kind of scab over the site which is designed to exclude oxygen AFTER the event so that residual heat does not reignite the fire. Neither type removes the fuel or heat elements from the reaction, but the powder at least isolates the oxygen element, hopefully long enough that the site cools enough naturally to prevent reignition (removing the heat element).

Dry Powder extinguishers are safe and generally effective on 4 out of 5 fire classes. The exception is cooking oil fires.

But, as noted, they make a hellish mess.

Whatever type you favour the best advice I can offer is this: once you start don't stop. Just unload that baby 100% and if you have another unload that too. Then run across the street and grab an extinguisher from the nearest shop and unload that as well.

Whatever type you favour the best advice I can offer is this: once you start don't stop. Just unload that baby 100% and if you have another unload that too. Then run across the street and grab an extinguisher from the nearest shop and unload that as well.

Then use your cat to wipe it down, then empty your bank account and buy lotto tickets, then sell the wife to prostitution...haha

Thanks grey for high lighting that im illiterate, I dont think anyone knew to you pointed that out.. im so embarrassed


Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Oh Prop.....

I hope I haven't offended you. Truly my friend that's the last thing I would want.

I offered the best advice I could based on the training I have undertaken which I have to revalidate every three years to mantain my certification.

I take my firefighting training seriously. I have successfully tackled eight fires. Seven at sea and one in my mother's house.

Three were general rubbish (class A) tackled with water hoses. Two were class B (flammable liquids - in both cases diesel leaks). Two were electrical (class E) but the scariest by far was a cooknng fat fire in my Mum's house with three of my sisters, my wife, two granddaughters and my Mum in the house.

I don't know about USA but here most fire services offer basic training FOC. I recommend it.

Haha... grey im just have a go at you... haha, no offence here

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Malc....A power cut off switch helps also...definately think about can be a useful item in a case like this experience. Been there too..nice save my friend! Hope the wifey wasnt too trumatized to ride with you again!
Steven Devine

Thanks Steven, I had considered that also. I think it would be good as an additional security feature too. Isolate the electric and take the key with you.

I assume if I were to look into fitting one, you just wire it in series to the -ve side of the battery?

Glad I am not the only one who has accidentally flamed their car. I hope it is a good reminder to everyone to take precautions.

M Le Chevalier

Never assume.
It depends what type of switch you are going to use.
If it's one that fits onto the battery post/terminal then -ve might be appropriate, but if it's an in-dash type as used on competition cars then it's fitted to the +ve side.
David Smith

If you'd had one fitted in the positive lead, it wouldn't have helped in this case. Get some covers for the battery terminals.

Dave O'Neill 2

If you use one of the plastic key types and put it in the earth side and fit it in the top of the passenger footwell you can then isolate it from inside the car easily but its hidden so doesnt spoil the look and adds a bit of security it you take the key out when you leave it.

Trevor Mason

Outrageously opportunistic sales plug. I have just started to offer a compact fire extinguisher suitable for fires of this sort, B, C, E, F fires. New(ish) technology, not powder, not CO2, Very compact and newly re-launched in the UK market. Clean, non-toxic, CE approved.

I always used to have a BCF Halon extinguisher in the Midget - sadly no longer allowed. Somewhere I have a lovely old chrome methylene chloride extinguisher. It still contains this precious fluid - banned I guess 30 odd years ago!
Clive Berry

Clive where can we find details of the technology, serviceability and costs please?
David Smith

I guess I'll learn about the new one next time I do my refresher course Clive.

Trev - that's exactly where my battery isolator of the type you describe is fitted. But it's isolating the +ve side like David said.

Another vote for battery terminal covers. I just replaced my tatty old ones.

I didnt know you could get aftermarket covers.

I have the big red key isolator and its hooked up postive side, but I keep it in the engine compartment .... it makes it easy to check everything before I take off and I always turn it off when im done with the car for the day

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Prop, the problem with having the isolator in the engine bay is you cant turn it off in a hurry if the need arises. That kind of negates the point of them.

Trevor Mason

Mounting the isolator on the top of the footwell, you can actually put it through the pedal box blanking plate, so you don't make any holes in the bodywork.
Dave O'Neill 2

What's the logic in isolating the +ve side of the battery instead of the earth?

I have the same set-up as Dave suggests. This makes it so easy to disconnect the battery when doing even the most minor poking about with the electrics which in circumstances where the battery terminals have to be disconnected would probably be tempting not to bother.

On an A, where the battery is buried under the hood and under a cover, the isolator is even more useful!
Graeme Williams

The purpose of my isolator is not immediate shut down but shut down for storage of longer ten 24 hours, and the isolater is close to the battry so the cables were cheaper... plus helps it perserve the battry over the long haul because there is no trickle down

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Theres nothing worse than to have a massive electrical short from the positive battery post to the chassis ground. It seems when ever you need to grab the bonnet pull cable to open this will be the one time it lets you down and comes off in your hand.

Im with Trevor on this one!

The problem with having the isolator in the engine bay is you cant turn it off in a hurry if the need arises. That kind of negates the point of them.

Steven Devine

Use an AFFF foam extinguisher. The power ones go 'solid'with the vibration of the car. AFFF is the one required for motorsport and specified for taxi etc. I hope you don't Ned to use it.

This thread was discussed between 29/11/2015 and 02/12/2015

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