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MG MGA - Fire Hazard

fuel pumpwing is from the MGA Register Newsletter now being circulated by Stuart Mumby. It's something for us all to take note. How many of you carry a fire extinguisher in a ready accessible position? I keep mine on the driver's cockpit wall.

"Robin Howard, owner of MJB 191, the former Works rally car, contacted me with some bad
news. When he was coming back from MGLive in June the car suffered a bad fire. The
result is that it needs a major rebuild and it is intended that this will be undertaken by Bob
West early in 2015. Robin hopes to get the car back by early 2016 so it is ready to compete
with a number of the other ex-works MGA in the recently resurrected Rallye des Alpes. MJB
191 was driven by John Gott in the event in 1956 and David Mylchreest did it with the four
other ex-works cars in 2006. Robin says that with the help of his insurer

Steve Gyles

Steve, doesn't petrol require a flame or a spark to ignite it? I have often spilt petrol onto a hot exhaust manifold and nothing happens, but I had a motorcycle carb flood over its magneto, and as soon as I turned the kick-start, the magneto burst into flames. I would imagine that the pipe split, the leaking petrol was vaporized by the exhaust, filling the engine compartment with inflammable gas which was then ignited by the distributor or a leaking HT lead.
How do you identify susceptible rubber pipes? I have stainless-steel braided pipes which I probably fitted 6 or 7 years ago. I can't remember where I got them from or whether they were said to be resistant. I have done about 15,000 miles with them but not noticed any black pieces when I last cleaned the 'thimble' filters on the carbs, but I think I will take a look at them soon.
That's a very business-like fire extinguisher you have there ( I guess if you are going to have one, it needs to do the whole job, rather than give up half way through!), have you any recommendations for types and suppliers?
Lindsay Sampford

Lindsay. I am just the messenger! Like you I have spilt fuel on the exhaust without an issue (sunk float - overflow). Neither have I noticed any deterioration in any part - yet. As a point of interest, I always use super unleaded. Does this have the same ethanol content?

Steve
Steve Gyles

I think super unleaded is supposed to have less ethanol. I'm a skinflint and use the ordinary!
Lindsay Sampford

Steve,

Unless its a foam or dry powder extinguisher I suspect it would struggle to extinguish a petrol based fire.

As an aside, I was offered the chance to purchase MJB 191 in the late 70's, the car was residing in a welders yard in Luton being broken for spare parts.

When I looked at the car it was a little different to others, in particular the boot floor had been modified to take an extra large fuel tank.

I removed a few parts from (adjustable shock absorbers and bonnet) and was tempted to purchase the complete car as the number plate matched my initials.

This was in the days when no one wanted rusty old MGA's and before the internet, so I didn't appreciate the significance and competition history that went with the MJB 191 registration number until a few years later when Graham Robson's book was published. So having nowhere to store another MGA I declined and passed it on to Vic Ellis.

The price I declined an ex works MGA at was 25!!!!!

You wouldn't think it possible to make the same mistake twice, but there was also a Harrington Alpine that I couldn't keep due to lack of space and sold for peanuts. The ones that got away.


(M)JB
John Bray

Steve, what size/weight is your fire extinguisher?
Lindsay Sampford

John and Lindsay

It's a Kidde dry powder extinguisher. 1.5kg and about 14" high. It's on my list to replace this winter as it is about time expired. Should be fun letting it off. I think I will get the next size up. This one does about 12 seconds. They are available in Argos for about 34. Cheap really when you consider the cost and inconvenience of a rebuild.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Dear all,
I also had a fuel line leak with the original metal wrapped fuel line but this was back before ethanol and I have never again used the wrapped lines - Seeing what those lines look like is far more important to me than "originality" - very pleased no one was hurt!
Bayard
Bayard DeNoie

Steve, can't find a 1.5kg Kidde, they seem to be 1kg or 2kg, the 1kg is around 15. Kidde say change your fire extinguisher at 12 years regardless of condition (unless the gauge goes out of the green or it shows sign of damage before 12 years). Have you had yours that long?
Lindsay Sampford

I considered a fire extinguisher in my MGA, but the passenger compartment is so cramped as is (I have to wear undersized shoes when I drive it), I couldn't find any place to mount one.
David Breneman

excuse the mess.

mog

Sorry Lindsay, probably confused you. The total fire extinguisher weight was 1.5kg. Although not stated on the label I assume the contents are about 1kg. The design seems to have changed since I bought mine. They all look a greater diameter which might make it too cramped even for my slight frame putting a replacement on the driver's wall.

Steve
Steve Gyles

I have replaced the flexible lines in our MGB and TD with modern fuel injection hose (and got rid of the braided hose, which just hides any deterioration). Modern flexible line should be able to handle ethanol in the fuel and using the fuel injection line adds greatly to the strength. Also anyone with a fuel pump that hasn't been rebuilt in the past 10 to 15 years, should do an overhaul, if for nothing else to replace the diaphragm with one sold today which are using material that will withstand ethanol. I get the diaphragms for the pumps that I restore from a competitor, who makes his own diaphragms, but I have to assume that Burlen Fuel Systems (or whatever name they use today) uses the same ethanol proof diaphragms. Cheers - Dave
D W DuBois

David
I carry a small powder extinguisher in the car, I have found that the best place for it is clipped to the front of the seat frame lying across the car beneath my legs and it fits there perfectly.
(I will post a picture of it later when I get home from work)

The extinguisher comes with a mounting bracket which I have fastened to the seat frame using strong cable ties, so no holes needed to fix it.

It is instantly accessible in that position but at the same time,it still allows the seat position to be adjusted and it also doesnt get in the way of my size 12 feet.

I have now decided to fit a second one to the passenger seat over the winter.

Colyn
c firth

Lindsay

This fire extinguisher on UK Ebay is the closest in size that I have found so far that is comparable to the one in my photo: Item 111014731130

That said, I did find the identical one on USA Ebay: Item 261657722977

For anyone interested in my stowage position, it is awkward getting in and out of the car, especially if you are a larger frame than me (5' 9" and 154 lbs). I have to pull my outboard leg inboard by grasping my leg just below the knee. Once inside I have no problem with the pedals. I've got used to it now. The extinguisher is 8cm diameter. If I buy anything larger I will need to modify the trim panel to set the extinguisher further outboard. It's either that or stow in the boot which rather negates its value for being ready accessible. The extinguisher is meant to be stowed upright, so storing flat on the tunnel (as I once did - it's also hot there) or somewhere under the dash or as Colyn describes in front of the seat is not ideal for my version. What do your instructions say Colyn?

Needless to say I have no knowledge about left hookers and pedal positions etc.

Steve
Steve Gyles

I've carried a fire extinguisher (dry/chemical type) ever since I got my A on the road some 35 years ago; I'd seen more than a few car fires in classic cars. I mounted mine right in front of the driver's seat by attaching the extinguisher bracket to the front seat frame with nylon zip ties. The extinguisher doesn't interfere with entry/exit, and is immediately available for use. Do change them out periodically as recommended by the manufacturer to make sure they will work if ever needed.

Nick Kopernik

Nick

That looks like the one I have. It's a neat mounting, but I think you may find that the instructions say to store vertical. That said, I just found out that mine was 1996 (oops) and I had stored it horizontal on the tunnel for about 5 years. As it was more than a little time expired I have just fired it off in the field behind me. It worked a dream. Great clouds of powder!!

New one on order. May follow your example and Colyn's above.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Steve/Colyn, great minds think alike! I did a bit of quick research on the vertical vs. horizontal storage issue and could not find any comments with one exception: it was recommended that dry chemical units be removed and shaken every 6 months to redistribute the chemical, so it would appear that horizontal storage would be OK. And my fire extinguisher label only states that the unit should be discharged in a vertical fashion, nothing about vertical storage. I also found out that industry recommendations are to replace every 5 years regardless of what the indicator dial may say, but this may be more of a marketing ploy vs. functionality issue. Having an extinguisher is very cheap insurance for your car or someone else's. I helped put out an engine fire on a BMW some 10 years ago with the extinguisher I had in my A; the owner wanted to slip me and another driver with extinguisher some cash, but neither of us took it. We were just happy to have kept the damage contained.
Nick Kopernik

Steve

Shouldn't you have waited for the new one to arrive before discharging the old one?

I was once flagged down by the driver of an Austin 1100 and asked if I had a fire extinguisher, as there were flames and smoke coming from the steering column.

I didn't have an extinguisher, but I did have some tools, so I disconnected the battery and the fire went out.
Dave O'Neill 2

Dave

The 'boy' came out in me and I couldn't wait til the new one arrives on Thursday! Also, not driving the car until the end of the week. I have one in my Merc if I change my mind.

I once suffered a fire in my Cortina in Germany in 1972. I was on an autobahn when smoke started coming from the under the bonnet. I pulled in and baled out with the wife; then remembered to go back and get our baby out of the back seat! I then opened the bonnet. The extra air caused an immediate spread of the fire. A BMW driver stopped and put the fire out - split fuel pipe under the bonnet! He then towed us to a garage where the problem was sorted in under an hour without any obvious bodywork damage. Not a nice experience. The German driver would not accept any sort of payment. Very nice chap.

That is why I have since carried extinguishers in our cars. I strongly advise everyone to do likewise. Fires in cars are frightening.

Steve
Steve Gyles

I had heard that opening the bonnet tends to make the fire flare up.

I believe that the recommended procedure is to just 'pop' the bonnet and direct the extinguisher through the gap.
Dave O'Neill 2

My fire extinguisher with mini-flashlight attached. Both items very handy, fortunatly have only used the flashlight. Replacing with a haylon type shortly. Marvin,ct

Marvin Stuart

That's a neat installation Marvin. On the subject of cause of fire, I checked the thimble filters on the carbs for rubber debris, indicating breakdown of fuel pipes due to ethanol and found absolutely nothing at all. The stainless steel braided fuel lines were bought from MGOC in 2007, so they could be ethanol resistant. I removed the flexible line that connects the fuel pipe to the carbs, straightened it and held it to the light whilst squinting through it. The inside of the pipe was clear, smooth and shiny, so no sign of degradation. Will still get a fire extinguisher though and may fit it where Marvin has.
Lindsay Sampford

Marvin, new Haylon production ceased in 1994 and has been pretty much banned world-wide. I know here in the U.S. it is still available, but if I remember correctly its only available as refills of existing systems or old stock. I know it is still used in racing, but its expensive and does have drawbacks. Newer dry and foam type suppressants are out there and work as well if not better than Haylon. Food for thought.
Nick Kopernik

Halon was outlawed in UK motorsport back in the '90s.
Dave O'Neill 2

Colyn - Your idea of attaching it to the front of the seat cushion frame is intriguing. I've always felt bad about not having a fire extinguisher. I'm going to investigate that. I don't need to worry about adjusting the seat. It's as far back as it's possible to go (I never carry the side curtains in the pockets behind the seat because of that). And of the half-dozen or so friends I've let drive the car, nobody's ever asked if the seat moves forward!
David Breneman

I carried a fire extinguisher just like the one in Steve's picture in my Jeep for years, but never had to use it. It was getting old, so recently I replaced it with a similar sized serviceable unit, from a fire equipment store. I found that the cost was not much more than a new disposable unit of the same type, and the mounting bracket was also much higher quality.

My brother and I have one in our TD, and my MGA will definitely be getting one when it is back on the road.

-Del
D Rawlins

I took a hurried picture of my fire extinguisher attached to the front of the seat frame last night.

Apologies for the state of the carpet,I hadn't realised it was so much in need of a vacuum cleaner.

Colyn

c firth

I have opted for Marvin's installation and am very pleased with the result. Completely out of the way for entry, exit, pedal control and seat adjustment.

I got the new extinguisher off Ebay (360749774074). It's 1Kg powder and seems very decent quality for only 12.45 and free postage. I plan to get another for the passenger side.

Steve

Steve Gyles

Steve, I had just about made my mind up to fit mine in the same position as Marvin's but having seen yours I am decided. That chassis rail looks as if it has been designed for a fire extinguisher to be fitted to! It's even better in a right-hand drive car because you can grab it with your right hand; not so good if you are left-handed!
Lindsay Sampford

Lindsay

I have ordered the second. As it happens, her indoors is left handed so suits us both fine!

For the purists, this fitment does require a couple of small holes drilled into the metalwork for self tapping screws. However, the carpet covers the holes very well if you ever decide to remove the bracket. In fact I had trouble finding the holes again when I came to screwing the bracket on!

Steve
Steve Gyles

Equally important to keep a fire extinguisher handy in the garage. In this case, bigger is better. I keep a 4 pound unit near the door.

If you are looking for an extinguisher that will not leave a messy residue, it appears that "Halotron" is the replacement to Haylon. Expensive buggers.

John
John Backman

All of the extinguishers where I work are Halotron, because it doesn't have any corrosive effects. Important when working around multi-million dollar aircraft. Might be worth spending the extra money for an extinguisher carried in a car that you care about. It would be a shame to get a fire put out quickly, only to watch it turn to rust over the course of the next few years.
D Rawlins

Just a comment from Downunder on fire hazard control.

Fire extinguishers are compulsory for club motorsport (motorkhanas, hillclimbs, sprints etc) upwards in Oz so a lot of our cars have them fitted. Rules (CAMS) are dry powder type, minimum 0.9kgs, metal frame and clips only, fixing capable of withstanding 25G force and accessible by the driver with his seat belt still fastened. They must be pressure tested every 3 years (cheaper and more practical to buy a replacement) - interestingly the Australian Standards only require testing every 5 years. No restriction on mounting horizontally but it is recommended that they be given a shake periodically to stop the powder compacting (scrutineers always give them a shake before they hand them back to you after checking date).

A common fixing location is in front of the passenger seat (no need to ever adjust this seat).

Tarmac rallying requires (2) fire extinguishers (one in front of each seat works). Also there needs to be an independent switch to control the fuel pump (at night you might need the interior light on but need to stop the fuel pump!). Also in several levels of motorsport you need a battery isolating switch accessible by the driver and externally. Another mod worth doing is to pipe the fuel bowl overflows almost to ground away from the exhaust system using silicone tubing extensions.

My coupe was originally setup for tarmac rally - see pics attached.
Mike

Mike Ellsmore

Useful and valuable conversation on a critical safety feature for both the owners of A's and others who may need help!
Nick Kopernik

I went into the garage yesterday to find that the power had tripped and there was a smell of burning.

It seems that my electric fan heater had expired. I haven't dismantled it yet, so I don't know what happened to it.

I was in Aldi this morning and they had a 6Kg powder extinguisher complete with wall mounting bracket for the bargain price of 19.99, so I bought one for the garage.
Dave O'Neill 2

An acquaintance of mine is a retired firefighter, and he put a sprinkler system in his workshop area. I don't think he had to spend much money to do it, either. Just some PVC pipe and the sprinkler heads. I may do similar in the next workshop once we move.

Remember that the true purpose of the shop extinguisher is to allow you to fight your way out of the building more than it is to fight the fire. A sprinkler fights the fire, whether you are in the building or not.

-Del
D Rawlins

I carry a small fire extinguisher on the floor behind the driver's seat. It's not attached but seems to stay put OK
H L Davy

I found I was unable to mount my second extinguisher on the sloping chassis member on the passenger side as it was obstructed by my radio speaker. So I opted for the seat mounting as discussed above. It is retained by two cable ties to the seat tubing as shown in the photo.

On reflection, this is probably a good arrangement for me as I normally drive the car solo and this allows me to reach both extinguishers with ease, assuming the worst case scenario of being trapped in the driver's seat.

Steve

Steve Gyles

Both really neat installations Steve.
Colyn
c firth

Thanks Colyn. Just in case anyone says "why not both in front of the seats?" I would add that the length of the extinguisher I bought makes it just too wide/long in front of the right hand seat because of the hand brake assembly.

Steve
Steve Gyles

I've been reading about the contents of powder extinguishers getting packed down solid due to the vibration of being in a vehicle. Powder extinguishers in this condition fail to dispense their contents properly when deployed. It is recommended that extinguishers be removed and shaken regularly if they are mounted vertically or turned if they are mounted horizontally. But there are those who say that if the extinguisher is mounted horizontally, the powder can clog the valve mechanism so that the extinguisher doesn't dispense anything when deployed! Does anybody have any knowledge or experience on the matter?
Lindsay Sampford

Lindsay

My time expired extinguisher had been in the car for 18 years. It spent half its life flat on the gearbox tunnel and the rest vertical by the door pillar. I never consciously ever gave it a shake, I just let the car do that on pot holes etc. When I fired it off two weeks ago it worked perfectly as far as I was able to gauge.

However, it's one of those items that you can never be sure about until you need it. I will be following the instructions from now on, assuming that technicians have done the tests to bring it to the market place.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Gents,
As our motorsport governing body (CAMS) require us to change our fire extiguishers every 3 years most of us had several out of date powder extinguishers stored in our garages. It was decided that we would have a fire fighting training day supervised by our local fire authority a couple of years ago. We all brought our old powder fire extinguisher along for a play - about 50 in all, the oldest about 15 years old, all powder. Not one failed to work! While it might not rate as a scientific test I don't there is too much to worry about for the casual user. If you stick to the replacement schedule set by your standards authority (5 years in oz) you wont have any trouble. And like some things "bigger is better"!
Mike
Mike Ellsmore

Steve and Mike, that's reassuring to know. The Kidde fire extinguisher I bought has a sort of plastic buckle thing to fasten the holding strap, and I could see that breaking with over-use if the extinguisher were removed every couple of months for shaking.
Lindsay Sampford

Lindsay, you might see my earlier comment where plastic fixings and cable ties are taboo here (for competition). Look for ones with a metal toggle clip and strap as well as the neck spring clamp.
Mike
Mike Ellsmore


Hi all,
I have just bought a 6kg extinguisher in my local Aldi
reduced to 12.99.
Steve A
S Ash

Thanks Steve, that's really cheered me up! ;o)
Dave O'Neill 2

Only 8.99 at Aldi this Sunday
Richard
R A Evans

Richard

That's a 600g 'car' extinguisher, not a 6Kg.
Dave O'Neill 2

Here's the 6Kg version

Dave O'Neill 2

Lots of mention of Halon.
It works by excluding oxygen, but being a gas it is totally useless in open-air situations. It won't stay around. Its use was in electronics control rooms and the like, because it was breathable, before the GHG people banned it.
3:0:1^99:0:1^9:0:2^8:0:4^97:1:6^18:0:1^127:0:3

When I started in the IT industry, Halon was used in main-frame computer rooms to protect the incredibly expensive equipment.

I was told that if the alarm sounded, to evacuate immediately, as Halon removes oxygen from the atmosphere, which isn't too good for your health.

A couple of people have mentioned Halotron, the modern replacement for Halon. It would seem that Halotron isn't too healthy, either...

"The manufacture of UL Listed halon 1211 extinguishers was supposed to cease on October, 2009. The future listing is still in discussion. Halotron I is the replacement extinguishing agent. It takes a larger volume to get the same ratings as 1211 has.

This is a volatile extinguishing agent that should be used only with a breathing apparatus."
Dave O'Neill 2

Quick update.

Lidl have an extinguisher and various other car related items on offer from Thursday.

Dave O'Neill 2

Ditto what "arial small" said (if that really IS his name). Halon is only useful in an enclosed space. Now that it's banned a lot of data centers use carbon dioxide. But, like Halon, it's only breathable to the extent that it's not poisonous. If you don't get out FAST you will pass out and suffocate from lack of oxygen. That's why data center installations have a "dead man switch" big red button near every exit. You can hold that button down to prevent the Halon or CO2 from being released until everyone's out.
David Breneman

This thread was discussed between 08/12/2014 and 26/01/2015

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