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Why you should carry a fire extinguisher and spare points

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I'll start by saying the car is fine, and was running again shortly after the incident.

I slowly refreshed my original engine starting in april, and finally got the chance to put it in on Monday. Pulled my spare on Monday, installed the original Tuesday, and wrapped up the install and tuning yesterday and today before and after work. Had a couple hiccups, but sorted them all out. Got it pretty much all dialed in this evening, and took it out for a spin, everything is great. Pull back up to the shop and put the hood back on, pack up and head home, ear to ear grin the whole ride home.

Specs on the motor: New bearings and rings, head bolts, timing chain, mechanical chain tensioner, IE 292 cam, IE HD rockers, IE HD springs, TEP 4-1 header, custom header back, 38/38, 4" crank pulley, and electric fan. Once its broken in, I have a set of Dellortos waiting.

I pulled up to my house, walked in, and told my girlfriend the car was home finally. She wanted to go for a spin, so we took off for a cruise around town, and stop at the local In 'n Out (fast food joint for those not on the west coast). She couldn't believe how smooth it was, pulling nicely through the gears. We pull up to the drive through, place our order, and wait. Pay our bill, wait. I didn't want to have my new motor sitting and idling for too long, so I shut it off until the person in front moved up.

I noticed a little bit of smoke coming up the hood vents, and figured it was just a bit of oil leaking from the oil cap (6 months old!), and didn't think much of it. Out of habit, I pumped the gas pedal before I tried to start it, and then it just started cranking, no start though. I figured I flooded it, so I put the pedal to the floor, crank again. Cough. A bit more smoke - must be dripping on the now heatsoaked header. My girlfriend tells me to give it a rest, and just push it up to the food window, and we'll get our food, eat, and then figure it out.

Out of the car we go, I steer and push, she pushes from behind. I pull up the get my food, grinning, and say to the guy at the window, "Terrible place to break down, huh?"

He chuckles and says, "Yeah, no worries." He turns around with my drinks, looks at the car and said, "Is your car on fire?"

I laugh, and respond, "Well if it is, hand me the food quickly so, I can push it on down into the parking lot. I grab the food, put it on my seat, and start pushing again. I look at the hood, and suddenly notice a bubble forming on the right side of the hood. Then I realize it is on fire. Without saying anything to the girlfriend (so she wouldn't freak out), I calmly reach into the back, grab my fire extinguisher, unlatch the hood. Sure enough, my spark plug wires are on fire. Two quick shots and I put it out, but my plug wires and pertronix wires are melted, and on the the wires on the negative side of the coil has slightly melted insulation.

I don't have any extra wires with me, so I call up a buddy of mine to see if he can pick some up from Kragen. After he stops laughing, he agrees. Unfortunately, they don't have any in stock. He has plenty of old plug wires around the house, so he grabs a V8 distributor cap with wires attached, and goes and grabs me a set of spark plugs since mine don't have the nubs on the back any more.

After waiting about an hour, he pulls up. He keeps my girlfriend company while I put the old points in, ford plug wires, and new plugs in. I wasn't sure if the distributor cap got damaged or not, so we planned to go get my spare from home if it doesn't start.

Car fires up first crank, spark plug wires do not catch fire. Runs just as good as before it all started.

While I was waiting for my friend and assessing the damage, it looks like my #3 plug wire made contact with the heatshield on the exhaust gasket and melted the rubber right before the ceramic boot, causing the wire to catch fire, and spread to the others.

Things could have been much worse had it not been for the fast food delivery at the window, and if I hadn't kept a fire extinguisher handy.

No pics now, it was dark when it happened. I'll take pictures with my phone tomorrow though.

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So you got a side of "hot fried wires" with your order? Im glad it wasn't worse. We must love these cars. They are "so dam safe!"

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extinguisher you'll never need it (well, almost)!

I've been carrying one for over 25 years (after my Renault caught fire and I didn't have one) and have never needed it for my own car--but have put out a couple of fires in other people's cars...cheap insurance.

To do it right, buy an extinguisher with a metal valve body (where the nozzle and gauge are). They can be recharged. Recharging shops won't touch an extinguisher with a plastic valve body, as the plastic gets brittle as it ages and tends to explode when recharged.

cheers

mike

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That's absolutely crazy I've never heard of a car catching fire like that because of a wire.

I recently had my 2002 caught fire too but it was the carburator apparently it was flooded, back fired and lit up a pool of gas on the intake manifold. To my bad luck my fire extinguisher went away on a VW I recently sold (by mistake) and I ended up blowing off the fire (I know not very smart).

But yeap fire extinguisher is a must have.

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Similar thing happened to me after I had finished replacing the transmission, clutch, manifold with a tii one and plug wires with generic spark plug wire and twist on parts. Took my mom out for a drive (her car) and about halfway through the drive the car started to run like crap. RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE and it lazily accelerated afterwards, running awful throughout the range. Turns out we made it home on 2 cylinders and the other 2 wires had melted to the manifold. I fabbed up a heatshield, replaced the wires and tied them up best I could, and I'm trying to get one of the 320i plastic wire carriers...

What fun that was >.<

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glad you are okay and sounds like the car is to,did you order that burger animal style?

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Cheeseburger no onions, animal style fries, chocolate shake.

My buddy at work gave me some Kevlar sleeves to put over the wires.

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I had a close call (crane ignition box wires were too long and touched the exhaust, whoops), that kind of thing can really suck. I cut and spliced the wires so they're the correct length to prevent this from getting worse.

Where do I buy a proper fire extinguisher with the metal valve body? I have a cheapo plastic one for now but would love to install the real deal in all our cars eventually.

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