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  #1  
Old 01-16-2017, 11:26 PM
Yadkin Yadkin is offline
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Default Almost caught fire

NC mountain weather was ridiculously warm, and no fun playing in muddy snow so with several days of rain behind to wash the salt off the roads I took the wife on a drive to the top of Grandfather Mountain. She wanted to hike the grandmother trail which is off of the "Mile high bridge lower lot".

No traffic in front of me so I took the ascent at a brisk pace. Driving past the Forest Gump curve the transmission felt a little funny but not alarmingly so. I got to the grandmother lot and decided to go into the second (higher) entrance.

Suddenly the engine quit and I notice grey smoke coming out from under the hood on the drivers side. I shut the ignition off, put it in neutral and coasted backwards into the first lot entrance. I pulled my fire extinguisher off the driver's door and opened the hood. No fire, just smoke. And a burning electrical smell.

There was transmission fluid everywhere. I keep a small canvas painters tarp in the trunk so got that out and set it under the leak to absorb most of it. I had a small tool box with me but no towels. A small box of tissues and some Windex. I emptied the tissue box and set to work cleaning the worst area to figure out where the leak was. All the hoses looked OK- tranmission cooler and power steering pump, so I decided it must be the pump seal. Fluid was all over the belts and had spayed all under the hood in line with the pulley. Some of this went all over my ignition box and the wiring and that's probably what had started to catch fire.

I used up the tissues quickly and the empty box was now the receptacle for that. I used windex to clean my hands got on the phone to AAA. No signal.

We hiked up to the upper lot and got a signal on the far end, dispatch told up it would be an hour. We waited nearly three hours for the flat bed. Guy was super nice. Hauled the Bird back up to my cabin garage.

Dilute Simple Green in a spray bottle and a paint brush worked well to clean up most of it. Where the smoke penetrated I had to use a higher concentration and a cloth rag. After I got everything cleaned, rinsed and dried I went about trying to figure out what happened.

Sorry no pictures- my hand were greasy and one of my fingers kept bleeding- cut from when I manually released the parking brake.

I had used a short section of hose to go from one transmission cooling line to the radiator fitting and kinked it slightly. the stress on the hose poked a small hose in aimed a spray directly at the power steering pulley. Ignition box dead.

The hose is easy enough to fix if I can't find a 45 degree bent fuel hose I'll cut the steel tube and use a longer hose.

I have been having a nagging ignition issue and I was suspecting the FAST CDI box. I don't think it likes the Pertronix distributor with the Ignitor II module. Now that it's gone I'm going 100% Pertronix, so just ordered a new Second Strike box and Flame Thrower II coil.
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  #2  
Old 01-18-2017, 08:31 AM
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Steve glad to hear that all turned out well, especially while travelling the mountain roads. Another reason the we should ALL have a fire extinguisher in the car, at the ready. Can save lots of $$$

Suddenly the engine quit and I notice grey smoke coming out from under the hood on the drivers side. I shut the ignition off, put it in neutral and coasted backwards into the first lot entrance. I pulled my fire extinguisher off the driver's door and opened the hood. No fire, just smoke. And a burning electrical smell.
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Old 01-18-2017, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yadkin View Post
...All the hoses looked OK- tranmission cooler and power steering pump, so I decided it must be the pump seal.

...I had used a short section of hose to go from one transmission cooling line to the radiator fitting and kinked it slightly. the stress on the hose poked a small hose in aimed a spray directly at the power steering pulley. Ignition box dead.

The hose is easy enough to fix if I can't find a 45 degree bent fuel hose I'll cut the steel tube and use a longer hose...
'HOSE' keeps repeating in my head. Transmission lines normally don't use hoses because rubber is always the weakest link especially where heat is involved.

I suggest you use steel line with flare fittings and NO rubber hoses, much the same as Ford used when your car was new. The flares can be simple 45-degree fittings, not inverted flare. Fittings are in every box store, in brass. - Dave
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyconnected View Post
'HOSE' keeps repeating in my head. Transmission lines normally don't use hoses because rubber is always the weakest link especially where heat is involved.
Every Thunderbird I've ever had has metal to rubber at some point in the cooler line before it goes into the radiator. I doubt you want a solid line from the transmission to the radiator because of vibration.

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Old 01-19-2017, 01:37 AM
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John, some models have straight steel tubes and some have a rubber nipple. I can show you pictures if you like but this held true across Ford and Mercury lines with six and eight cylinder engines. You are probably right about the 'birds because the parts catalog pictures I found simply say "typical".

My cars have solid lines but they are not 'birds. Again, I can show pictures of both. Apparently the length of the steel lines is enough to allow flex in a radial fashion (kinda like your arm rotates your wrist) because engine vibration isn't that much.

Anyway, I would still use steel rather than rubber on hot transmission lines. - Dave

Edit: Pics...


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Last edited by simplyconnected : 01-19-2017 at 02:01 AM.
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Old 01-19-2017, 11:17 AM
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I agree that solid metal would be the way to go. I figured if they would spend the extra money to go from metal to rubber and back to metal there must be a good reason. Also I've replaced quite a few of them with everything mounted in the car and it would be nearly impossible if it was solid metal.

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Old 01-19-2017, 11:35 AM
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Steel would be preferable but as a practical matter the lines are long and difficult to form then install in one piece. I've had no leaks in the connections between the hose and fittings so far, and normally that would be the weak link.

What pressure are these cooling lines under?
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Old 01-19-2017, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yadkin View Post
Steel would be preferable but as a practical matter the lines are long and difficult to form then install in one piece. I've had no leaks in the connections between the hose and fittings so far, and normally that would be the weak link.

What pressure are these cooling lines under?
Not an awful lot of pressure, a single hose-clip will hold the rubber hose to the steel line although being fussy I use two hose-clips just to make sure things don't come apart.
I can't speak for steel lines but I have seen a case where somebody used solid copper lines and one of them cracked and leaked after a couple of months, it cracked/split near the trans so can only guess it was the movement of the trans that fatigued the copper.
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Old 01-19-2017, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yadkin View Post
Steel would be preferable but as a practical matter the lines are long and difficult to form then install in one piece...

What pressure are these cooling lines under?
One line has enough pressure to push hydraulic oil through the cooler. The return line is at atmospheric pressure because it is a 'return to tank'. BTW, all lines are pre-bent and installed as a unit in the factory, after the engine & trans are in place. If you can imagine steel lines dangling off the engine while dropping it... They'd get bent up. The guy on the line isn't connecting rubber hoses and clamps, either. He simply screws the flare nut into the radiator fitting, and done.

It's exactly BECAUSE the lines are long, that they don't need hoses. The first tie-down clamp happens well behind the front of the engine. The rest forward, is free to flex. I have never seen one fatigue and break over millions of cars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scumdog View Post
...I have seen a case where somebody used solid copper lines and one of them cracked and leaked after a couple of months, it cracked/split near the trans so can only guess it was the movement of the trans that fatigued the copper.
Straight copper is not a good choice, even for a 3/16" brake line. Copper can be an alloy like cunifer line has but it's far too soft by itself. Copper and zinc make brass which works great for fittings (especially in the Rust Belt).
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  #10  
Old 01-19-2017, 06:19 PM
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OK so it's atmospheric pressure at the end of the line into the transmission, so the pressure at the feed end is probably pretty small. Maybe 5 psi or so.
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