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  #1  
Old 12-26-2014, 02:38 PM
JRo JRo is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Poestenkill, NY (near Albany)
Posts: 126
Default RV-12 engine compartment fire

Guys,

I was running my engine today prior to flight, waiting for the oil temperature as always. SkyView warned "Shutting down in 30 seconds" and "Aircraft Power Lost". I shut down immediately, smelled smoke, then saw smoke at my feet. Exited the cockpit, peeked through the oil service hatch, saw yellow flames about 3-4" tall burning gently at rear of engine, straight below GPS antennae about 7". Extinguished immediately. Removed top cowl. Disconnected ship's battery. Fire appears electrical, but cause unknown. Pitot tube melted away for about 6" section (that appears to be mostly the combustion). Wire bundle severely compromised. Both throttle cables and both choke cables badly burned where they're bundled together and tie-wrapped to motor mount about 6" forward of firewall.

The hits just keep on comin'!

Jim
N448JR
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  #2  
Old 12-26-2014, 02:41 PM
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scrollF4 scrollF4 is offline
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Location: Flower Mound, TX
Posts: 1,631
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Wow, Jim, if it had to happen, I'm glad it happened on the ground where you had options. Let us know what you find.
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  #3  
Old 12-26-2014, 04:14 PM
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Sam Buchanan Sam Buchanan is offline
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Location: North Alabama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRo View Post
Guys,

Both throttle cables and both choke cables badly burned where they're bundled together and tie-wrapped to motor mount about 6" forward of firewall.

The hits just keep on comin'!

Jim
N448JR
Very sorry to hear about the fire, I know that is discouraging.

Since the throttle and choke cables are fried the first thing that comes to mind is that something is wrong with the engine to airframe ground strap. If that ground is compromised, the electrons may decide the control cables are the easiest path to ground.
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  #4  
Old 12-26-2014, 04:16 PM
BigJohn BigJohn is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Gloversville, NY
Posts: 1,588
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Scott McD. See my PM.
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  #5  
Old 12-26-2014, 08:35 PM
RFSchaller RFSchaller is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 3,163
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Very sorry to hear this. These are our babies. It's terrible to hear something like this. Please let us all know when you find the cause.

Rich
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  #6  
Old 12-26-2014, 11:12 PM
Driftdown Driftdown is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Clearwater, Florida
Posts: 398
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Jim,

Very sorry for your loss.
That withstanding, it was good that nobody got hurt and you had not departed yet.
It's just metal, rubber and plastic . . . and it can all be replaced.

When it is all sorted out, please let us know what happened.
What you find out may help another operator avoid a similar situation.
We are all here to help each other out.
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  #7  
Old 12-27-2014, 10:45 AM
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cactusman cactusman is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 487
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRo View Post
Guys,

I was running my engine today prior to flight, waiting for the oil temperature as always. SkyView warned "Shutting down in 30 seconds" and "Aircraft Power Lost". I shut down immediately, smelled smoke, then saw smoke at my feet. Exited the cockpit, peeked through the oil service hatch, saw yellow flames about 3-4" tall burning gently at rear of engine, straight below GPS antennae about 7". Extinguished immediately. Removed top cowl. Disconnected ship's battery. Fire appears electrical, but cause unknown. Pitot tube melted away for about 6" section (that appears to be mostly the combustion). Wire bundle severely compromised. Both throttle cables and both choke cables badly burned where they're bundled together and tie-wrapped to motor mount about 6" forward of firewall.

The hits just keep on comin'!

Jim
N448JR
Any info on the source of the fire yet?

Will you have to make an NTSB report?

Between this and another reported brake fire on another Van's airplane, I am glad I picked up that small fire extinguisher from ACS.

Glad the only damage is wiring and pitot tube, those can both be replaced!
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  #8  
Old 12-27-2014, 11:51 AM
DHeal DHeal is offline
 
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Location: Windsor, California
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I think Sam B's thought re: throttle cable/choke cable acting as a primary GROUND may be on-target. That or possibly a shorted power wire chafed through at the firewall?
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  #9  
Old 12-28-2014, 05:12 AM
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Geico266 Geico266 is offline
 
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Location: Huskerland, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DHeal View Post
I think Sam B's thought re: throttle cable/choke cable acting as a primary GROUND may be on-target. That or possibly a shorted power wire chafed through at the firewall?
I would think a shorted wire would have popped a breaker or fuse somewhere.

I would think the OP would have found the cause by now.
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  #10  
Old 12-28-2014, 08:29 AM
JRo JRo is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Poestenkill, NY (near Albany)
Posts: 126
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It looks as though the wire from the starter relay to the cockpit switch panel became compromised. It is NOT fused. It is "hot" whenever the master switch is on. The insulation melted off this wire like a snakeskin from the starter relay to the point where it crosses beneath the choke cable, and heat became excessive, but very local. Damage was to the firewall forward wire harness, choke cable, throttle cable, pitot tube forward of the firewall, and GPS antennae cable (which is permanently attached to the GPS antennae). Damage was all contained in a very small area, and would likely not have spread, especially once the master is switched off.

Fire extinguisher should always be handy. But remember, an extinguisher which operates through suffocation of the fire will also suffocate the occupant(s) of a small enclosed area, like the RV-12 cockpit.

Jim (the guy with the fire)
N448JR
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