Flames on the Sand Car are not always cool

Be safe and prepared.

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Flames on the Sand Car are not always cool

Post by LoBuck »

What better place for this than in the Dune Safety Forum.

Thanks to Jim Cockerman for sharing the heartache of his loss and to Bonnie Boone for getting the pictures to us.

Image
Long Travel owned by Jim Cockerham of San Diego, CA burns to the ground at the bottom of Olds Hill
over the 2004 New Years Holiday Weekend at Glamis

Image

Jim also made the following comments for people who emailed him asking how the spark happened with the engine off:
The key was off. The braided fuel line worked its way onto the positive battery cable connection on the starter (this is always positive). The braided line was also touching part of the frame or the transmission, which started an arcing process which began to burn a hole though the braided hose. We noticed a small flicker of flame maybe an inch tall. I turned to my nephew and casually said "Look! We have a little fire here." He swatted at the flame and it actually went out for a second, but then started right back up again. I could then see that the line was shorting out on the positive starter connection (it was white hot from arcing). I reached down to separate the line from the starter, but it was too late. The short had already burnt though the line and when I pulled the line away, it was like a water faucet. Gas was squirting out everywhere, igniting as it went. And you see the results in the pictures. Lessons learned: 1) Never use a braided line for a fuel line. 2) Get a battery disconnect switch. 3)Check and double-check the routing of the fuel lines. 4) Insulate all exposed electrical connections. 5) Don't procrastinate on getting insurance!. I didn't think this would ever happen to me because I've been going to Glamis for years and never had any close calls. I thought "What can burn? Its all metal". Yeh well, I see now - most everything. The policy was sitting on my desk waiting to be filled out.
Tip: If you buy a rail from a private builder, don't assume all is well. Double check everything. There is a reason why you pay top-dollar for a pro-built rail. I should have spent the extra money and bought that Funco or Extreme I was looking at. Thanks for the questions and concerns..... JIM


Bonnie has a web page with more step by step pictures. CLICK HERE
Last edited by LoBuck on Wed Jan 14, 2004 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Winston Cup »

So I take it from the description, it was the builder that routed the fuel line in a manner in which it was able to come in contact with the positive lead of the starter? What does he mean by private builder exactly? Expensive way to learn a lesson that's for sure. I feel for ya Jim. Let us know how much damage it ends up costing ya. Nice looking rail, at least it was. OUCH! :cry:
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Post by LoBuck »

Guy, I got the pics and an e-mail from Bonnie and thats all the story it came with.

I take it that Jim bought the rail built with the fuel line that way. Ouch is right.

How many of you are thinking how close is my fuel line to an electical or heat source? I was. Followed that thing in my mind from the tank, to the electric fuel pump, along the frame rails, up the firewall (oops dont say the f word too loud), thru the fuel pressure guage, to the carb. I think its OK. Better take a look.
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Post by FunRunner »

Too bad :cry: I had heard a long travel car had burned...too bad; really hate to see something like that. As Jim says, you have to be really careful in routing fuel lines; rubber lines can catch fire also, but not in the same manner; they do so when they come in contact with the exhaust, or could get damaged to the point where there's a bad leak; anytime you have a lot of length on fuel line, it needs to be routed very carefully. I used to run hard line the bulk of the way and then only use rubber connectors; the hard line needs to be secured and not flopping around, being kept away from the battery and exhaust... very sad sight, seeing a nice buggy like that burn; or for that matter any vehicle that is the source of somebody's hard work and $$$.

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Post by jm102397 »

So who was the builder?
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Post by L&L Corvairs »

Am very sad to see something like that happen. :cry: I assume that only the rail burned and no one was hurt. I sure hope so.

It does remind us to check and re-check everything.
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Post by Greg Hall »

Very unfortunate indeed. But also very fortunate that it didn't happen while people were harnessed in.

Image

Net result :shock:
Last edited by Greg Hall on Wed Feb 11, 2004 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Winston Cup »

Greg Hall wrote:Of course reading the comments from the vehicle owner tells a great deal about his lack of mechanical knowledge.
Not following you here Greg. :?
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Post by Greg Hall »

Jim Cockerham wrote:1) Never use a braided line for a fuel line.
Maybe a better idea is to never use a fuel line of any kind that is not properly routed and secured. Why on earth would a fuel line be running that close to the block and other parts? Even if not for safety concerns, the heat transferred to the fuel is another problem all together.
Last edited by Greg Hall on Sat Feb 28, 2004 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Greg Hall »

[Edit by user]
Last edited by Greg Hall on Sat Feb 28, 2004 3:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Winston Cup »

Greg Hall wrote:Guy, just a couple of things stand out:
Jim Cockerham wrote:The braided fuel line worked its way onto the positive battery cable connection on the starter (this is always positive).
The connection on the post of the starter isn't always "positive" and isn't live unless the solenoid is actuated. Otherwise your starter motor would be running all of the time. Also it could be a positive ground system. I would think that on the (what looks like a) GM unit in this vehicle that it is negative ground and that the braided line was in contact with the "hot" or live post on the solenoid.
Well Greg, I went ahead and took it for granted he meant the solenoid when he said starter, since it's likely a piggy back GM style. I'm pretty sure that's what he meant. :wink:
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Post by Winston Cup »

Greg Hall wrote:Image
Man that is just sickening to look at. Gotta be heartbreaking. Be sure to pass on my condolences to him Glen. :cry:
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Post by Sandemon »

As hot as that fire got, I would have to think twice about reuseing that frame again, about the only thing I would use over is the front end. :twisted: 8) :)
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Post by ChoppedLiver »

Naw, it should be OK. I would suggest stripping it, sand blasting it and then heat treating it. They can bring it back to a 0 condition and then build it back up and actually make it stronger.

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Post by L&L Corvairs »

Agree with Scott on the frame. If it was 4130, it should have withstood that fire pretty good, including the welds.

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Gregs Comments

Post by BonnieDoll99 »

Greg -
This wasn't his first trip in the sand and yes, it was a costly mistake, but don't you think he knows that??? Showing "your point" is welcome. However your way of doing it by rubbing it in his face is uncalled for. You don't need to add "fuel to the fire" so to speak. We have shared this pic and story so that others WON'T make this mistake in hoping it will give everyone a reality check. Jim doesn't want this to happen to anyone else.

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Re: Gregs Comments

Post by Greg Hall »

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Last edited by Greg Hall on Sat Feb 28, 2004 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Goodwrench3 »

Well first off this is a real bummer for anyone to have to go through especially on your vacation. I am glad no one was reported hurt and the car was not moving at the time.

I will have to say if they had a safety kill switch mounted somewhere away from the motor this may have prevent such a huge fire. I have always installed kill switchs in all the cars I have built and make sure its hooked up to the ground side of the battery, this way it disconnects everything. It's best to use the heavy duty type switch found at KarTek or most race shops. This switch is also good for when buggy is not in use or for trailering and also aids in security when away from buggy like at the hill, store or vendor row etc.....

As for the fuel line I would only recommend steel braided for fuel, oil, or anything flammable or under in pressure. It's the best protection out there as used in all racing applications, but it's a must to make sure it's properly routed and secured.

Well good luck in rebuilding!!!!!

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Post by Greg Hall »

[edit by user]
Last edited by Greg Hall on Sat Feb 28, 2004 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by LoBuck »

Tomato/Tomato

Potato/Potato (add an e if you're a Dan Quayle fan)

The head bone's connected to the neck bone

I think we got the general idea. Let's give Jim a break now OK? [-X :-#
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Post by Greg Hall »

[Edit by user]
Last edited by Greg Hall on Sat Feb 28, 2004 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by OBSESSED »

Guy Chrest wrote:
Greg Hall wrote:Image
Man that is just sickening to look at. Gotta be heartbreaking. Be sure to pass on my condolences to him Glen. :cry:
Holy crap, this makes me so sad.
It was an accident of extreme quanities.
I can not know how the owner of this rail feels, but I feel your pain.

Steve
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Every rail should have a battery disconnect and a fuel pet-c-ock

The year 1982

My friends rail (with exposed gas ped cable).
Anyway, it had sawed(the accelerator cable) through the HOT+ battery cable to his starter. Which was also near the fuel line. Well, the blazing hot acc cable (braided steel) melted through his gas line.
When I got to my friend's rail it was grounded out and gas was spurting out, on to his hot engine/cable/battery/
A 12 volt welder.
My friend was running away from his rail yelling:
"It's gonna blow.... it's gonna blow..."
I ran up to his rail my friend passed me going the other way.
I surmised the situation and looked for the point of fire.
I yanked off the battery cables.
"Throw sand on it (THE Fire)" I yelled.
As we threw sand on it the fire went out, then re ignited....
I looked under his gas tank, and turned off his petc-ock.
"Your petc-ock!" I yelled (as only I can yell)Image Image

We saved his rail.

I was hot & thirsty and we had to limp back to Gecko Campground with 5 people on my 2 seater. We were down near "Fillers Hole"

That day My friend got the parts to fix it at the store.

We went back the next day to pull start it and then get it back to camp.

Another Glamis Trip, another story....

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Post by NOSJunkie »

Does anyone carry an approved fire extinguisher???????? Maybe could have stoped it.

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Post by Winston Cup »

jnjburns wrote:Does anyone carry an approved fire extinguisher???????? Maybe could have stoped it.
If you look through the pics on his site, about 3 or 4 fire extinguishers were emptied on the thing and it didn't even faze it. Problem likely was that the fuel line kept arcing and relighting it. Combine ongoing fuel and spark and your pretty much wasting your time with a fire extinguisher. Battery cutoff would've been the only hope. I'm curious, how many have a battery cutoff on they're rail? Not many I'll bet. I don't think I would've thought of it.
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Post by OBSESSED »

battery cutoff
Or your battery must be open to your hands to yank off the cables.

Another time:

Following duner in bottom of bowl
He stalls
I wiz by

I wait for him at top of bowl

I see him franically pulling off side panel
His battery hold down came loose on a new rail.
The hot cable ran through a battery box with out a groumet had grounded out!
12 VDC welder again.
His rail killed and he smelled something burning
Got his d-zus wrench and got his side panel off in the nick of time.

Rail Saved

**How many people fuse or circuit breaker all the hot wires from the battery?**This would have also cured the issue

How much amperage does the starter pull
put an inline circuit breaker right at battery

--------------------------------------------------

Then there was the time my consol caught on fire because of ** above.

I havn't always been a famous :lol: expert :lol: :lol: on wiring :lol: :lol:

Sheiot happens

Sad, very sad but true...

SB

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Post by Greg Hall »

It isn't a rail but I use a primary battery cut switch that breaks the positive ahead of all circuits.

I also use a second battery switch on the negative side that is hidden.

Both fuel tanks have petcocks on them and the fuel tank selector switch will cut the flow from inside the vehicle as well.

Fire ext. will not help in a situation where fuel is being fed to the fire.

The fuel pumps are on a safety circuit that will cut if oil pressure drops below 5lbs for more than .5 second.

This is all basic safety stuff that should be on any vehicle heading for the dunes!
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Post by MXFOX »

i was ther with jim when it happened i was on a quad. Jim rode the rail to top of hill then rode down. he parked every1 got out and he noticed the fire jsut like he said, it went out then caught again. (grabed fire extunigusher and used it nuthing happened). all we could do was watch it burn. after words. we were talking and yes alote could have been done to prevent this from happeneing. but we werent aware of the problem. We COULD havwe had the line rerouted. but the rail was bought privatly and we figured it was ok. we never gave it a look at because the man that we bought it from dint have any problems with it while he drove it. We did notice that line and only thought it was a power steering like. but it dint look as if it were close to any electricals. today is 1/11/03 so far the frame has been striped cleaned sand blasted heat treated checked for cracks ang was painted yesterday. new parts or on the way. we will have this finished by president day weekend.

How many people when you buy something used or new actually inspect the whole thing before you take it for a ride?

and maybe having "just us boys" rebuild the thing isnt a good idea but if Mr. hall is such a good mechanic and likes to nic pick everything that is said(so what if it wasnt the ride wordage for the started seloniod it was only put in here to poist and let others be aware of what happened and what could happen) maybe he owuld like to redo the whole thing for us. youll prolly nic pick this to but i dont care. this info isnt for you to nic pick it is for you to be able to entertain yourself while you sit a your computer wasting your time picking up on every littlw word that is wrong or misused. Just becasue a word is misused on here. doesnt mean that when we rebuild the rail that we are gunna get the selniod and the starter mixed up.

thank you for your input. and have a nice day.
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Post by Greg Hall »

MXFOX wrote:
How many people when you buy something used or new actually inspect the whole thing before you take it for a ride?
The choice was his to inspect the vehicle or not before trusting his life to it. I for one, choose to take the time to inspect any off-road vehicle that I have not personally built myself. Those that know me can attest to the reliability of my vehicles. Any new motorcycle/ATV etc... that I buy will be torn down to the frame and rebuilt from the ground up prior to the first trip otherwise it will sit home until it is right.

Again, the choice was his.

I fully understand the fact that accidents happen and there are many things that can't be controlled.
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Post by Greg Hall »

Maybe I am looking at this all wrong (what else is new!) and should be looking at a way to provide a possible solution.

A while back there was some discussion on the possibility of providing a safety inspection ran by professional builders and qualified technicians with a donation going to the ASA. Ran somewhat like the weigh-in that Steve et al. ran in the past.

My concern would be two-fold:
A, The liability of passing the vehicle and then a subsequent failure would directly put the ASA (or whoever associated with doing the inspection) in the line of fire.

B, Participation. What sand car or off-road vehicle owner wants people looking for faults on their pride and joy? If the problem found isn't something easily corrected, would they load up and not drive their toy the rest of the weekend? It couldn't be and shouldn't be something enforceable....or should it?
What if the problem that was identified causes a major failure and someone is hurt after the owner has made the choice to go ahead and operate the vehicle knowing this problem exists.....then it is no longer an accident! If death is the result, it is manslaughter!
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Post by texas duner »

Bla , Bla , Bla , what ever , ( spell check anyone ????)Greg you made your point
David

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Post by Winston Cup »

Hey MXFOX, post some pics when you guys are done with the rebuild, that would be cool.
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Post by rhartley »

Mr. Hall to nit pick a fellow duners loss shows no class whatsoever on your part. You truly are a legend in your own mind.

Jim, good luck on the rebuild. please post pics of the rebuilt buggy.
The real world is with you.

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Post by Greg Hall »

rhartley wrote:Mr. Hall to nit pick a fellow duners loss shows no class whatsoever on your part. You truly are a legend in your own mind.
The safety of my family and friends (this includes all duners including you, Mr Hartley) is paramount. There have been way too many problems like this one that could have been avoided with proper preparation.

As far as being a legend in my own mind.....only I would know that part! :roll: If I could only remember where I left it!
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Post by OVERTIME »

Greg Hall wrote: As far as being a legend in my own mind.....only I would know that part! :roll: If I could only remember where I left it!
Class act Greg.
On that Subject, a couple of ty-wraps at 10 cents each would have saved fifty large. Its not Jim's fault... you need to know what your basic requirements are... you need to know where the problem areas are and how to fix them... A person buying a "turnkey" car should have the confidence that something this minor will not cause the car to go catastrophic. (I'll bet Jim felt the same way) It is simply the builder's responcibility. An informal inspection COULD have prevented this loss of property and most importantly... injury to loved ones.
For me, I LOVE doing this stuff... Electrical systems are a thing of beauity if done properly. I would LOVE to help in an informal, non legaly binding inspection where you could suggest basic fuel/electrical system safety measures.
I'm always happy to help a fellow duner.
Last edited by OVERTIME on Sat Feb 14, 2004 3:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Greg Hall
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Post by Greg Hall »

Looks pretty unanimous that I own an apology for being so crass, (more like an *****!)

I certainly wish those involved all the best in getting this car back to the dunes and I do apologize for adding insult to injury, I will think things through next time I feel the need to pop off.
Greg Hall
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KX 100 My 11 year old son's
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Post by Mongoose »

<deleted by admin>
Frank

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Post by Greg Hall »

Mongoose wrote:<deleted by admin>
Huh? I guess I missed something. :shock:
Greg Hall
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http://www.hallsengine.com
Visiting and helping to protect the dunes since 1962
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http://www.RideOcotilloWells.com

'06 KTM 525EXC
'98 KTM 620SC
'06 KDX 200..my son's bike
KX 100 My 11 year old son's
KFX 400 also my son's bike
LT 500..all mine

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Post by airkuld »

I lost a bug a long time ago (my first car) to a broken fuel line. Still check them to this day periodically on all my vehicles. Good luck on the rebuild.

Doesn't somebody make a fuel pump kill so that if you lose line pressure it shuts down the pump? Seems like I've heard of something like that.

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Post by Mr Big Wrench »

I know Fords have a "Inertia" switch to cut the power to the electric fuel pump after a impact, but have not seen a pressure activated one, it would have to be adjustable one in a carbureted system, because of the pressure drop when the needle's open might trip it. The Best way i'm aware of is a Battery cut-off switch accessable to the driver, with a Electric fuel shut off as close to the tank as possible. That way when you cut the power with the Battery switch the pump shuts off and the fuel shuts off in case the line ruptures between the tank and pump. NOT foolproof, but better that a total loss. Modern fuel injected vehicals use the computer to turn the fuel pump on for a few seconds when you turn the key on to prime the system, then it shuts off until the engine is running. It will also shut off the pump if the engine stalls. I guess it could be adapted to off road vehicals, but I'm no expert in how to do that!!
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Post by Greg Hall »

airkuld wrote:I lost a bug a long time ago (my first car) to a broken fuel line. Still check them to this day periodically on all my vehicles. Good luck on the rebuild.

Doesn't somebody make a fuel pump kill so that if you lose line pressure it shuts down the pump? Seems like I've heard of something like that.
I use something like this to cut the electric fuel pumps off:


SUM-G1438

Image


$12.95

Should Ship By: Monday


Overview
Vendor: Summit Racing Equipment
Product Line: Summit Oil Pressure Safety Switch
Material: Steel
Finish: Zinc Plated

Turn off worry

7 psi oil pressure safety switch

Our Summit oil pressure safety switch shuts down your engine when your oil pressure drops below 7 psi, saving your engine from damage. With complete instructions and wiring diagram.

Sold individually.

Warranty
At Summit Racing Equipment, we do business based on a very simple idea. If you're not 100% satisfied with our products, prices, or service, we'll give you your money back--GUARANTEED! Just return any new or unused part to us within 90 days from the date it was shipped to you, and we'll refund the full purchase price. (Excludes custom-ordered parts.)

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Greg Hall
KG6IAT
http://www.hallsengine.com
Visiting and helping to protect the dunes since 1962
Image

http://www.RideOcotilloWells.com

'06 KTM 525EXC
'98 KTM 620SC
'06 KDX 200..my son's bike
KX 100 My 11 year old son's
KFX 400 also my son's bike
LT 500..all mine

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Post by Greg Hall »

This is the same basic thing but with a 15psi setting:

Overview

Image

Save your engine from destruction.

Fuel pump safety switch

This fuel pump safety switch is designed to shut off your electric fuel pump when the oil pressure drops below 15 psi. It's easily installed into the oil pressure sending unit, and will work with all 12 V systems.

---------------------------------------------

These will need to be wired into the switch side of your pump relay in order to handle the current draw.

The only other thought is if your tank is mounted high enough to cause it to gravity feed cutting the pump off won't solve the problem. In this kind of application you would still need a mechanical shut-off valve.
Greg Hall
KG6IAT
http://www.hallsengine.com
Visiting and helping to protect the dunes since 1962
Image

http://www.RideOcotilloWells.com

'06 KTM 525EXC
'98 KTM 620SC
'06 KDX 200..my son's bike
KX 100 My 11 year old son's
KFX 400 also my son's bike
LT 500..all mine

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Post by Mr Big Wrench »

Greg: I think the fuel could be leaking while the engine is still running, the oil pressure would keep the switch "ON" and pump some more fuel. I think this would only be a problem in a carbureted system, as a fuel injected system would not have enough pressure to fire the injectors and the engine would stall. Thats why I would like to see a pressure switch in the fuel line to cut off the pump. I like your idea, but would still have a Battery cutoff switch near the driver and a electric fuel shut off as close as possible to the tank. The manual shut off only works if you can get to it in a fire. The electric shut off should be OFF as the default (spring loaded off). NOT nit picking your idea, just trying to improve on it. :)
Bob J.

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08 GMC 2500HD 4X4 CC LB Dizzel
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Greg Hall
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Post by Greg Hall »

Mr Big Wrench wrote:Greg: I think the fuel could be leaking while the engine is still running, the oil pressure would keep the switch "ON" and pump some more fuel. I think this would only be a problem in a carbureted system, as a fuel injected system would not have enough pressure to fire the injectors and the engine would stall. Thats why I would like to see a pressure switch in the fuel line to cut off the pump. I like your idea, but would still have a Battery cutoff switch near the driver and a electric fuel shut off as close as possible to the tank. The manual shut off only works if you can get to it in a fire. The electric shut off should be OFF as the default (spring loaded off). NOT nit picking your idea, just trying to improve on it. :)
Bob, no worrys on the nit pick! Many applications are different and thus require their own solution.

I base my safety shutdown solutions on the requirements of NHRA and SFI with some additional features added based on the application.
Greg Hall
KG6IAT
http://www.hallsengine.com
Visiting and helping to protect the dunes since 1962
Image

http://www.RideOcotilloWells.com

'06 KTM 525EXC
'98 KTM 620SC
'06 KDX 200..my son's bike
KX 100 My 11 year old son's
KFX 400 also my son's bike
LT 500..all mine

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Post by steve c »

The power disconnect is a good idea but who knew what would happen the line could of fell on the battery positive and done the same.I saw a sheriffs bronco with major fire damage it turns out the power cutoff switch had shorted out somehow and burned half the car.Maybe mount the cutoff on the ground for emergencies.You never know what your getting I purchased my buggy from a guy who seemed honest etc. when home after my first trip i started checking it out i found it had no fuses at all just a control box.I endid up putting inline fuses for everything in the back by the battery and rewiring it.I also found the seats were secured with sheetmetal screws you could not tell without disassembling the seats>He had been driving it that way for years. after that discovery I disassembled everything and checked all the hardware etc. replacing the questionable parts like harness hardware and brake line routing .

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