Air Cleaner Fire

Submitted: Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 22:07
ThreadID: 69458 Views:3111 Replies:8 FollowUps:14
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G'day All. Just back from a fantastic 4 week trip thru the Gibb River Road and Mitchell plateau. Not far from Broome we drove past a small roadside spinifex fire, nothing dramatic, but about 1 km later, the engine stopped. Opened the bonnet and smelled something hot, top of air cleaner, very hot. When we pulled the top off and removed the air cleaner element it was half gone and burst into flames when the air got to it. Got to Broome and replaced the air cleaner top and element, but while traveling to Derby the turbo was making a new noise. Turns out the heat and debris from the air cleaner has destroyed the turbo blades. Being a Friday, and only 3 flights a week into Derby, things weren't looking to flash for a quick repair. We pulled into BP Colac in Derby and got the best service you could ever hope for. The guys put it straight into the workshop, identified the problem, shopped around Perth for a turbo, gaskets etc and got it all ordered with the assurance it would be on Monday's plane. Sure enough, just after lunch on Monday..job complete. We completed the trip with no further probs. By the way, the grader has been over almost all the GiImage Could Not Be FoundImage Could Not Be Foundbb amd Mitchell roads, a really easy trip.
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Reply By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 22:22

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 22:22
Nasty! So did the turbo bits pass thru the engine ok?
Good to hear of the good service you obtained up there. How did you go with insurance?
Gerry
AnswerID: 368192

Reply By: Member - Warren R-Silver Sands - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 22:34

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 22:34
Yep the turbo bits must have been small enough to go thru the valves without damage...I hope. all seems ok. Insurance company was great as well, with approval within an hour of recieving the quote from the garage. Not very often you can say good things about insurance companies, but this is one.
AnswerID: 368194

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 22:59

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 22:59
and the name of the "Insurance company" is ??

Maîneÿ . . .
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FollowupID: 635750

Follow Up By: Member - Warren R-Silver Sands - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 00:04

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 00:04
Lumley General insurance
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FollowupID: 635755

Follow Up By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 07:19

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 07:19
Depending on size and shape, they may well be stuck in the Inter Cooler.
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FollowupID: 635764

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 11:11

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 11:11
As Nick says, the intercooler will catch a lot of debris and I'd assume this was thoroughly washed out to remove bits. I had a similar problem with a Prado TD - dealer's mechanic dropped some stuff in the aircleaner and it did identical damage to the turbo. Most bits were retained by the intercooler, but some got into one of the cylinders and scored the bore. Dealer got to keep the old car after much haggling.
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FollowupID: 635791

Follow Up By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 17:42

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 17:42
Hi Phil, did the dealer get to keep the employee as well? :D
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Reply By: Wherehegon - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 23:38

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 23:38
Hi Warren, was just wondering did you determine how the fire started in the airbox, did the snorkel suck it through ?? I presume this is the only way it would have entered the airbox ?? Regards Steve
AnswerID: 368199

Follow Up By: Member - Warren R-Silver Sands - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 00:06

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 00:06
G'day Steve. Yep in thru the Safari snorkle. A freakish thing considering how small the grass fire was.
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Reply By: Member - Rodney B- Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 23:41

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2009 at 23:41
I see a picture like this and it makes me glad I've got a petrol engine.'
I reckon you were very lucky it wasn't a major engine failure.
You must have picked up a burning piece of grass in the air intake?
I would be pulling the head off to check the tops of the pistons if that was my engine before the insurance signs off on it.

Cheers
AnswerID: 368200

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 07:49

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 07:49
Rodney,
why would it be any different in a 'petrol engine' to a 'diesel' engine, assuming they both had similar snorkels etc ??

Maîneÿ . . .
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Follow Up By: Member - Tour Boy ( Bundy QLD) - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 08:24

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 08:24
More than likely the petrol engine wouldn't need a turbo to make it perform therefore no disitergrating blades into the engine/ intercooler.

Cheers
Dave
Cheers,
Dave
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Follow Up By: Member - Rodney B- Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 11:11

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 11:11
Mainey
The Turbo disintegrated and the bits went somewhere (I suspect some into the engine) and yes if the air cleaner caught fire in a petrol engine the paper element would just disintegrate and burn away.
I'm not sure about the aluminium filter cage but I suspect that it must have been melted by the fire to get drawn into the Turbo and cause that damage.
The petrol engine doesn't have a turbo spinning at thousands of revs to suck the bits in.
Nasty.

Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 10:01

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 10:01
I'm wondering if a Cyclonic PreCleaner would have separated out the burning embers and prevented the paper filter fire ?

During the Canberra Fires the urban Fire Pumpers were disbaled when their air filters caught fire from the embers.

I wonder how Rural Fire service tankers prevent this problem ? I've never heard of an RFS tanker being disabled by ember intake.
AnswerID: 368227

Follow Up By: tim_c - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 11:26

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 11:26
Good questions Mike - sure makes you wonder. Perhaps we all need to fit fine metal mesh "ember screens" to our air intakes?!
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Follow Up By: Member - Tour Boy ( Bundy QLD) - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 12:04

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 12:04
mmm..interesting, I have melted many a tanker driving out of the danger zone and have never had a filter fire. Maybe not enough ember attack.
Cheers
Dave
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Dave
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Follow Up By: dbdb - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 12:31

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 12:31
One of our CFS trucks had its filter burnt getting out of a grass fire - non turbo diesel so no other issues.

cheers,

Richard
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Follow Up By: garryk - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 17:45

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 17:45
G'day
Fire appliances here in Queensland had problems with air cleaner fires when attending grass fires
It was mostly Scanias
but at least one Mercedes burned
Scania now sell fire retardant elements for this application
To my knowledge no issues with Japanese trucks

Garry



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FollowupID: 635838

Reply By: Flywest - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 17:40

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 17:40
Most interesting story & pics / explanation.

Glad it worked out OK for you - besides the obvious worry in the interim while waiting etc, and also good that the insurer looked after you.

I fiind the amount of damage to the turbo blades absolutely amazing.

I could imagine that in a fire inside the air cleaner with inducted air under vacuum pressure that temps could get quite hot - superheated in fact.

I just find it hard to believe that hot burnt paper could do that much damage to the turbo fan blades in 1 kilometer between passing the fire & when the engine stopped. (essentially all the metal mesh in the filter was undamaged/ remained in situ).

So - the only thing passing thru the turbo would have been smoke & ash from the burning element paper, and whatever dirt (silica) was trapped within the paper element.

Thats a huge amount of erosion on the turbo fan blades, turbps as a rule get pretty warm at shutdown etc with radiant heat from the exhaust fan side of the turbo...so those fan blades should be pretty heat tolerant metal one would think.

It seems obvious from your description - that you then had to drive the rest of the way to Derby from the Broome end grassfire incident, without any form of air flter?.

I am wondering if this isn't where MOST of the turb fan erision damage occurred?.....

Sometimes you can get away with driving without an air filter for reasonable distances IF the air is clean of suspended dust, and typically this would be on sealed roads around the citys during or just after rain when the air is clean and theres no dust.

However up north with dry conditions - and twisters / dust devils / willy willys, road trains and other traffiic, sometimes the air contains a LOT more dust than we realise and at speed thru a air intake sysytem on a turbo can be quite abraisive.

Perhaps the mahjority of erosive damage to the turbo blades was done on the unfiltered air trp to Derby?

Maybe theres lessons here for the rest of us about using and carrying a "beanie" ore filter on the snorkel intake and carrying a spare air filter?

Maybe the beanie would have stopped the ember and maybe the spare air filter would have prevented the turbo damage.

Were it mine - i would be worried about having "dusted" the engine (polished out the honing cros bleep ching of the cylinder bores) and them now behaving like glazed bores allowing oil and compression to bypass the rings etc.

At the least I would get a cylinder contribution test performed (compression test), in case there is advanced cylinder and ring wear as a result of the unfiltered air trip to Derby commensurate with that we are seeing in advanced erosion of the turbo fan blades.

Somehow something just doesnt sit right - between the described incident and the photos of Turbo damage to me - I'd be guessing theres more damage so far unseen based on what the photos depict.

I could of course be totally wrong, and for your sake I sure hope so.

Best of luck and thanks for taking the trouble to post - I'm off to get a spare air cleaner and snorkel beanie!

Cheers
AnswerID: 368266

Follow Up By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 20:59

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 20:59
I was thinken the same.
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Reply By: Member - Tony & Julie (FNQ) - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 19:04

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 19:04
That was a lot of bad luck - Glad it is all back on the road - On a different note. Driving down a track through the rainforrest the other day my diesel started making some funny noises and lost some power. Stopped straight away.

Culprit was a large H/Duty leaf that had covered the snorkel intake. Shows you have to be aware of what is going down that chute. Cheers Tony
AnswerID: 368286

Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 21:25

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 21:25
Warren,

do you think this would have been minimised if the head of the snorkel was turned around to face backwards?

I've never heard of this before but I guess it's exactly the same as being told to turn the evaporative aircon off during a bushfire.......

cheers from Halls Head.



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