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Old 10-14-2012, 11:00 AM
Indy Indy is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Prattville, AL
Posts: 61
Default RV-4 Carb/cowl fire in Oregon

Spoiler alert: for those looking for updates on the Cross Country of Justice, updates are coming, but you'll see why they're delayed...and how it ended.

After landing in The Dalles, Oregon (okay, technically the airport is in Washington) for the night, and starting up to taxi from the fuel pump to the tie downs I developed an engine fire. Engine wasn't starting--figured it was flooded and didn't want to run down the battery so I hopped out to push it to the tie downs...and saw a glow under the cowl. Looked down and saw flaming fuel dripping out the back of the cowl. Full story will come later (want to make sure all appropriate reporting with insurance and authorities is complete). Bottom line, all damage is forward of the firewall, but the fire burned long enough to need a complete new cowl. I had to return home to North Carolina, but the wounded bird is still at KDLS. Mechanic there can get the engine operational/safe again and do a temp patch on the cowl to get it to the Portland area (most likely) for the new cowl. Looking for anyone out there who might be willing/able to hire to do the cowl (including paint if possible--I've got the paint codes).

And if you're curious what the damage looked like under the cowl...

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Old 10-14-2012, 11:10 AM
dcarfly dcarfly is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: North Little Rock
Posts: 19

Thank you for sharing and we are all glad that you are ok! I am sure that we are are looking forward to your complete findings on the cause of the fire.
Best of luck with your repairs and a safe return to the skies!

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Old 10-14-2012, 11:17 AM
fatherson fatherson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 427

Ouch, Matt. How frustrating to have your wounded bird so far away. But how blessed you must feel that everything happened as it did, without injury or lasting damage.

Fire is my greatest aerial fear. My young son and I were driving on a city street when an engine fire started in my midsize sedan. By the time we pulled over, bailed out, and got the fire department dispatcher on the line, the car was fully engulfed.

We'll await your eventual report, but while waiting, congratulations that your minor mishap never became a major one.

Stephen & Tyson Humphrey
father-son team building new lives and an RV-9
VAF Donors: 2008 to 2014 * Friends of the RV-1
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Old 10-14-2012, 11:46 AM
AK4x4's Avatar
AK4x4 AK4x4 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: PAWS (Wasilla, Alaska)
Posts: 140
Default Possibilities

I have seen similar fires twice. One was caused by a malfunctioning float valve resulting in a fuel seap/leak that ignited on startup, the other fire was the result of pumping the throttle several times and the resulting puddle of fuel in the airbox igniting from a small backfire during an unsucessful start attempt. Russ
Russell Brown
"Happiness may never be sensibly pursued as an end in itself, because happiness is the by-product of achievement." -- Northcote Parkinson (paraphrase)
Wasilla, Alaska
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Old 10-14-2012, 12:15 PM
scsmith scsmith is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Ashland, OR
Posts: 2,971
Default synergy air in Eugene

Probably your best bet to find someone to fit a new cowl and paint it for you is Synergy Air in Eugene.
Steve Smith
Aeronautical Engineer
RV-8 N825RV
IO-360 A1A
WW 200RV
"The Magic Carpet" Flying since Sept. 2009
Hobbs 700
1/4 share in 1959 C-182B (tow plane)
LS6-15/18W sailplane SOLD
bought my old LS6-A back!!
VAF donation Dec 2020
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:03 PM
Indy Indy is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Prattville, AL
Posts: 61

We think the first scenario is exactly the cause. Thankfully those circumstances (most likely) would have prevented it from happening in flight (ie we think the spark came from the starter since there was no backfire that I could tell).

Synergy came highly recommended by more than one person, but they just got really busy with the new RV-12 production announcement so I'm still looking.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:11 PM
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Roy Thoma Roy Thoma is offline
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Hillsboro, OR
Posts: 183


Leighton in Hillsboro is GREAT with fiberglass. See PM.


N174RT (RV-7A) first flight 5/31/11, 1890hrs as of Sept 2021:
Tip-up, Lycon IO-360 EXP, WW 74HRT, AFS 5600T, AF-Pilot, IFD440, SL-30, echoUAT, D100 for backup, CQ1 headsets, CMW E-Lift

Our other riveted aluminum monocoque RV is a 2012 25' Eddie Bauer Airstream

Past aluminum monocoque vehicles:
N601RT (CH601HDS) First flight 5/03, 1550hrs after flying 8 years: 912ULS, GNS430W, SL-30, D10A Sold
1995 Midnight Pearl NSX w/BBSC Sold

EAA Chapter 105 board member 2010->2015
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:56 PM
Spindrift Spindrift is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 298
Default In good hands


Your plane is in good hands with Brett. My plane spent many hours in that hangar when he found metal in the oil.

I can also highly recommend Gary Brown if Brett needs some assistance to get it done faster. He helped get some of the final details done on my firewall forward when Brett was super busy. He can fly over from Independence. There are also a couple of RV builders in The Dalles that may be able to lend a hand, not to mention the slew in the Portland area that are a quick flight away. Unfortunately I'm now up in Seattle, but I told Brett you could have some of my air intake parts that we didn't use.

Good luck!
RV7A QB kit -- sold and now flying in S. Africa
RV7 purchased flying

"A pilot just bides his time until his plane can take him away again, into the air"
-- Jake Grafton (Stephen Coonts, Flight of the Intruder)
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:56 PM
Indy Indy is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Prattville, AL
Posts: 61
Default Thanks!

Brett told me about your metal issue. Nice to hear from you! Yup, I've been impressed with Brett...he's just undermanned like you said. Everybody at The Dalles was great--one of the volunteer firefighters lives/works at the airport. He was the first on scene (and provided a MUCH needed beer once the fire was out).
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:54 PM
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turbo turbo is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Stuart, FL /Hartford, CT/Virgin Gorda,BVI
Posts: 3,175

wow, glad you are ok. brings back memories of my airbox fire. glad i had a fire extinguisher on board to put out the fire. the damage was confined to the air box and top of the gear leg fairing. just today at sebring a rv-10 was spewing gas out of the cowl on a long hot start. thanks for posting this issue.
TURBO YES =VAF= Payed Jan2021
Ed D'Arcy
RV6-A 5,300+ hrs, R-44 1,600 hrs, Helicycle traded for 33 FFR coupe, 300 young eagles flown
Stuart, Fl / East Hampton,Ct / Virgin Gorda, BVI - villa sold.
addicted pickle ball player
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