WARNING; Canning and Anne Beadell - too hot for some

Submitted: Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:04
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We've just completed a fascinating trip on the Canning and Anne Beadell tracks, and have a few warnings and thanks to pass on.

SPINIFEX WARNING

First, we didn't actually COMPLETE the Canning, because one of the three vehicles in our party caught fire and was destroyed only about 140km into the journey from the northern end of the track - spinifex under the vehicle was ignited (probably by overheated dpf or catalytic converter and/or a failure in the fuel line).
Our friends lost a brand new Prado in just five minutes - so a salutary lesson to constantly check under the vehicle when travelling in such conditions, and make sure that under-body protection, vehicle lift etc is adequate.
Fortunately there were no injuries, but it was a traumatic experience for all involved.

A BIG THANK YOU TO BILILUNA

After the above incident - in which friends lost all possessions including ID, cards and comms equipment - it took us four days to sort out transport back home for them, commencement of insurance claims, etc.
This would not have been possible without the very kind and generous assistance of the Bililuna community, both Aboriginal and white members, including the community nurse and store managers. Thank you for caring and providing practical assistance.

ANNE BEADELL DELIGHT

After seeing our friends safely on their way home, the four of us in the remaining two vehicles detoured to complete the southern end of the Canning, and then travel the Anne Beadell highway from Laverton east towards the Stuart Hwy. A fantastic journey with delightful scenery and virtually no traffic.
The middle section in particular, comprising the Spinifex lands and including Irkurlka, is an absolute delight, and the management is a credit to the Aboriginal community which provides facilities and welcomes travellers to their land.

THANKS TO FORUM MEMBERS

In planning the journey we sought advice on the forum, and received very useful feedback which was much appreciated. Special thanks to @gmnory and @boobook for their advice on various aspects of the route and available detours.

BUT WHY ALL THE MESS?

If we all want to have continued access to these special areas of remote Australia, please everyone take care of the land you travel through. Is it really too much to ask everyone to take their empty beer cans with them, and burn toilet paper, instead of leaving a mess for other travellers of the traditional owners to clean up?

Cheers,

Wildmax
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Reply By: Shaker - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:17

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:17
Very sorry to hear about your friends Prado, when we did it we had long wire hooks to pull spinifex out from around the tail shaft etc, also carried garden sprayers full of water as extinguishers, fortunately we didn't need them. I know some travellers unforgivably leave their rubbish around, but I don't think that they can be blamed for the majority of the beer cans & cartons, which seem to be even more concentrated around certain populated areas!

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Follow Up By: Member - Wildmax - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:31

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:31
Yep, we used the wire hooks with great enthusiasm, especially after the incident - amazing how the spinifex can build up if you don't keep to the task!
I take your point about the rubbish, but interestingly on this journey it was not around populated areas, but just at camp sites used by travellers.
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Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:44

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:44
Wow! What a bummer!

Good thing no one was hurt - possessions are more readily replaced than a loved one.

Like Shaker, I carry a hook I made from a pot plant hanger - about $3 bucks from Bunnings. Nice and thick to remain rigid enough to probe,, but thin enough to still be flexible to get int to tight spots.

I opt for a water fire extinguisher. This can be refilled as needed and repressurised using the compressor. A bit heavier, but I've had a Hills garden sprayer crack. The stream is a little better at penetrating as well. I have it tied on the left rear of the roof rack (most fires seem to start at the front or the right side)

Not for everyone but works for me!

Cheers

Anthony
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Follow Up By: IvanTheTerrible - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 23:20

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 23:20
We used a tent peg. Did manage to burn my arm once though.
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Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 00:22

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 00:22
Wow, that would be pretty upsetting, and costly as well, because there's always a lot of out-of-pocket expenses when this kind of thing happens.

I can remember a bloke losing his F100 back in the late 70's/early 80's, he was carrying all the petrol for the group in 4 x 200 litre drums!
They got the petrol drums off, but he left his wallet behind the seat, and he lost that, along with the $300 he had in it, as well as all his CC's!
$300 was a LOT of money in those days!

Worst part is not being able to do anything but stand back once the fire takes hold - and it takes hold rapidly!
The Prados seem to be the most prone to catching fire. They must have just the right layout to maximise spinifex buildup.

That vegetation is pretty thick, too, signs of the exceptional rainfall in the North and Interior of W.A. over the last couple of years.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - Wildmax - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 16:22

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 16:22
Yep our friends lost quite a bit of cash too - you always to have to carry a bit of a stash in the outback, just in case :-(
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 07:55

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 07:55
Geezuz Adrian. How shocking for the Prado owner and the group. At least all are well.

That serves as a poignant reminder to be very aware of the spinifex status under the car. I hope the rest of the trip was much more enjoyable.

As an owner of a DPF vehicle, I feel more vulnerable than most with this situation. This is timely for me to review my setup.

You mention that the Prado was near new. Do you know the details ( year / DPF or no DPF etc).
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 08:15

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 08:15
Adrian,

You have prompted me to read the manual about DPF. It it possible to shed a little more information on the events that led up to the fire. Nothing against the owner, it could happen to anyone. I would like to understand how to minimise a similar event.

Obviously checking clearing Spinifex has become a higher priority for me after reading this.

My 200 Manual mentions
1)Don't park in log grass during or after a DPF cycle
2)That a DPF cycle may happen automatically at speeds over 60kmph for more than 20 - 30 mins
3)A light will come on, requiring a manual cycle if lower speeds are used.
4)A DPF cycle is required more frequently if speeds are below 20kmph.

I have only ever seen my happen on the freeway, and the Manual is not 100% clear on how what may happen at other times.

Do you know if your friend did an auto or manual DPF cycle on the trip? And was the vehicle parked or mobile when the fire was noticed?

Assuming the Vehicle had a DPF of course.

Did the fire start when parked or moving?

Thanks
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Follow Up By: Member - Wildmax - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 16:36

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 16:36
Hi Tony,
Yep, it was a pretty unpleasant experience for all concerned. Fortunately the wind took the resulting fire away from us, as a big spinifex scrub fire took off really quickly after the incident.
Had the wind been blowing towards us we could have lost the other two vehicles (not to mention personal risk).
The Prado was only 7 weeks old, though may have been a late 2016 build. I'm not sure whether our friend did an auto or manual dpf burn during the trip, and I think one issue may have been that he didn't know his new vehicle as well as we all do when we have the same drive for a year or more and become familiar with every little foible and rattle.
We had been travelling around 20-40 km/h for around 120 km that day, with regular stops to check/clear underneath.
We were in the following vehicle, and first noted a couple of small spot fires on the track after he went through - so we stopped, put them out and checked under his vehicle.
Then just about five minutes after we got moving again there was suddenly a lot more fire underneath and a continuous strip of reasonably high spinifex between the wheel ruts - so nowhere clear to pull off.
We emptied two extinguishers and tried shovels etc to clear the problem, but I reckon by then a fuel line had been ruptured and the fire was getting plenty of help - so it was just a matter of getting the humans and the remaining vehicles a safe distance from the blaze.
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Follow Up By: Member - Wildmax - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 16:41

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 16:41
I'm in two minds now as we are planning to change over the 8-year-old vehicle, and I had decided on another Hilux.
Not sure if all the diesel dual cab utes have the same Euro emissions crap on them these days, but it would be good not to have that worry - maybe the Isuzu ute has older technology?
Trouble is, you really see nothing but Toyotas (or the trusty older Patrols) on the track when you get really remote and we've had fantastic service from our old beast - would be very reluctant to change brands.
Cheers,
Adrian
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Follow Up By: Dean K3 - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 19:11

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 19:11
Dont like reading this, as having a prado 2008 makes me wonder if having bash plates fitted is good idea or not, even for gravel roads etc. But any long grass/vegetation is a fire risk regardless of type of engine fitted or vehicle - seen pics of rally cars semis all go up in smoke due to vegetation underneath

DPF - fitted or not maybe a bit hard to establish only real way to find out is if adblue (urea) is added when servicing - yes european cars (merc iveco) will have this as part of the normal servicing, has small tank fitted non accessible to operator unlike heavy trucks where you fill up at bowser - they can be run without but error code occurs and engine de-rates until it filled up again.

No injuries sustained just hope insurance pays out for all lost without issues
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 20:33

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 20:33
Wildmax - all the latest model diesels, including Isuzu D-Max, Hilux, Fortuner, Prado, Triton, Amarok, Ranger and Nissan, have DPF.

They all needed to fit either DPF or SCR (AdBlue) to meet the newest emission standards, the full Euro 5 level, which started on 1st November 2016.

"Core" Euro 5 emission standard was applied from 1st November 2013.

Australian emission standards

Interesting article below, about DPF and off-road driving.

DPF and Off-Road driving

The biggest problems with DPF, is the DPF temperature requirement that is needed to be reached.
There are obviously times when low-speed and short-trip operation will not generate the necessary heat.

If the DPF fails to regularly meet the temperature level required, it blocks up and then needs to be replaced.
Then there's the minimum speed requirement set by a number of manufacturers. One is required to drive at a minimum of 40kmh or 50kmh to active the DPF regeneration.

All in all, from what I see of DPF, it's a right PIA.
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 19:13

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 at 19:13
Distressing event for you all, Wildmax!

We've just returned from a trip into Geosurveyors Hill & the Geocentre, where most of the travelling was off road, but not luckily, through big stands of spinifex and other dry grasses. The subject about fires sometimes came up around the campfire, but the subject was soon dropped once the Port came out! Of the 4 vehicles in the group, the Prado & Ranger picked up much more litter than the 2 Landcruiser.

Can recall some years ago, we received an email, including photos, of a Prado being engulfed in flames and the massive plume of smoke that ensued. Memory is a bit dim now, but think it was in either Spinifex or buffel grass country. However, the fire appeared to start at the rear passenger wheel, and it was suggested that the brake caliper caused enough heat, or a fire, that ignited the fuel line at that point. Like your friend's incident, the vehicle was rapidly consumed.

Bob



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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Jun 25, 2017 at 08:42

Sunday, Jun 25, 2017 at 08:42
So sorry to hear about the bad luck experienced by you friends - thankfully everybody was safe.

Thanks for posting this it serves as good and sobering information to all outback travellers wherever they maybe travelling.

I hope your friends were able to sort it all out via insurance etc.

ATB
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