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Fuel line engine fires - why??
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jaeger74
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:01 pm    Post subject: Fuel line engine fires - why?? Reply with quote

Good evening -

First off all: I am not disputing that Vanagons have an issue with engine fires and that the fuel lines have to be changed on a regular basis. It is a priority project for the upcoming off season for me. GoWesty just put up another news story of a burned down 1980 van on their facebook.

My question is though is: Why are Vanagons prone to that problem? There are tons of other cars and they have been on the road for a long time too. Is it the way the lines run on top of the engine, is it that plastic piece in the fire wall that cracks wiht age?

Just curious - and DONT GET YOUR VANS BURNED DOWN, PEOPLE!!
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wcdennis
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VW was an early adopter of fuel injection, so that means more older vehicles with fuel under pressure in hoses that have become weak with age. Any cars with similar age and fuel injection are prone to fires. One little crack in a line is all it takes.
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DAV!D
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Old jaguars are in the same boat. The old v12s that were fuel injected have been known to catch fire.
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Jake de Villiers
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The rubber fuel lines are routed above the exhaust, and when they perish, they leak onto the hot manifold...

And the stupid plastic firewall fitting snaps off, spraying gas everywhere.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of makes out there have very little rubber hose in the engine compartment, while VW uses a lot along with several plastic pieces. They also use the plastic line forward of the engine compartment which can carry the fire forward. There are just a lot of things that VW could have done to reduce fire risk that were not done. At least they are not as bad at burning to the ground as a bay window bus, those are really ridiculous
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The engine is in the back. When a fuel leak happens while driving the gas smell is swept away behind the vehicle and the driver doesn't know. When other drivers start honking and waving to point to the flames, it is too late.

Mark
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randywebb
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jake de Villiers wrote:
The rubber fuel lines are routed above the exhaust, and when they perish, they leak onto the hot manifold...

And the stupid plastic firewall fitting snaps off, spraying gas everywhere.


Yup - and those are design deficiencies... bad engineering.

(I suppose we could give them a pass on the plastic firewall fitting as it usually lasts a decade or two...)


AFAIK, the only examples of good engineering on the Vanagon are the body shell and the windshield wiper arms (which people were complaining about just today).
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tootype2crazy
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alcohol in modern fuel loves to eat traditional rubber as well. It keeps the engine and the environment clean, but ethanol and rubber don't play well together.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The cold start valve on early fuel injected Mercedes Benz used to fail in such a way that it would spray the Distributor with gasoline!

No, nothing unique about the Vanagons.

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dhaavers
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why NOT...??? Sure gives us something to talk about all year...

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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am planning on doing the fuel lines on the replacement engine going into my 83 1/2 POS today and so have been mulling about this problem for a while. I have a steel supply line run from the pump/filter to the engine bay, but need to do a steel return line as well. In thinking about it I think the return line is more of a fire hazard than the supply line as once the pump is turned off as the supply line will not gravity feed much fuel to an engine fire, while the supply line is an open pipe and will flow nicely. I am thinking I might add a check valve to the return line near the tank to stop back flow.

What would people think of moving the FPR forward so it was right at the tank?. In this position it would prevent backflow through the return line. It should operate the same, one would just need to run a long vacuum line to it.

Thoughts???
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seanjenn
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saw some pics on Ben's site where he moved that FPR out of the engine bay, mounted it to the other side of the "firewall".
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IdahoDoug
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To me the biggest issue is the flat 4 engine layout. On straight 4 cylinder engines (perhaps 50% of engines) engineers put the intake n fuel on one side of the engine and the hot exhaust on the other. On v6 n v8 engines the fuel lines are nestled in the v while hot exhausts are on the outside.

On the flat 4, the exhaust is all over under the engine and the fuel lines are all over atop it - virtually assuring that gravity will bring any fuel leak right down to a hot exhaust.

So, replace those lines!

DougM
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woggs1
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just replaced my fuel lines yesterday along with the Van-cafe aluminum fuel rails and the metal fire-wall fitting (new baby=paranoid).

I was wondering how often you guys change your fuel lines. I did it after about 6 years and for some reason the old firewall fitting was the original plastic Embarassed .

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kirsplat
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen the BMW and OE German fuel line degrade and show cracks at the ends within a year.

It would be wise to inspect these brands at least twice a year and plan on replacing them every 2-3 years.

The newer Gates Barricade and Goodyear 30R9 fuel line hold up to the higher ethanol % in today's fuels but should be inspected every year.

Also routing the feed lines above the intake plenum instead of under keeps them futher from the heat of the block.
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randywebb
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woggs1 wrote:


I was wondering how often you guys change your fuel lines.


that is a really good question

tires should be replaced after 6 years, and experts tell me the same thing for rubber brake hoses

so...
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skier
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many of my other vehicles have had metal fuel lines, going back to my 1930 Ford. Also, as previously mentioned, many designs route the fuel lines away from exhaust manifolds. Straight 4, 6 and 8's have all had intakes opposite the exhaust.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

randywebb wrote:
woggs1 wrote:


I was wondering how often you guys change your fuel lines.


that is a really good question

tires should be replaced after 6 years, and experts tell me the same thing for rubber brake hoses

so...


The recommendation is that tires that are more than 6 years old not be put into service, very different recommendation from needing to replace them at 6 years.

For fuel lines the originals were good for an easy 15 years, the replacements probably less. It is not an very hard or expensive job, so 5 years is probably ideal and 10 years should hopefully be okay. We will need to see how changes in the fuel go over the next few years and how they effect the fuel lines.
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randywebb
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can pretty much guarantee you will feel the effects of tires that are 6 years old - esp. if you try to stop quickly. Don't ask how I know...


...but we agree re the fuel hose replacement interval
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of the tires on my rigs are more than 6 years old at this point, some much older, while I like to keep my fuel lines and brake lines on the newer side.
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