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Thread: Engine Fire

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
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    Hi. This is my first post I have enjoyed reading but now I must post. My 82 Westie caught fire and burned a few days ago. I started the engine and then it stalled, it never stalls, then when I started it again it stalled then it would not start for the third time I looked behind me and saw the smoke billowing out of the rear top vents. I never smelled gas, nothing weird ever happened to leed up to this. I happened to be parked one bulding over from the fire department so the fire never left the rear end of the car, the interior and 3 other sides are ok other than a little smelly. The engine was rebuilt about 85k ago. I have no idea what happened and we are still waiting for the insurance people to give us their answer- junk or rebuld. She was in mint shape, we bought it in Seattle and had it shipped accros country on a trailer so we wouldn't have to put miles on it, everything worked fine, I even have the little ice cube trays in the fridge! Do you think the heat here in Virginia melted the gas lines or something?Could it be that she couldn't take the weather change from the Pacific Northwest to the South? Why didn't I notice any signs? Cars just don't catch on fire? Anyway I hope no one else has to go through the horrible experince I just had, thanks in advance for any advice or condolences

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
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    Clifford Gotts has started an excellent thread on fires & fire prevention under the TIPS forum.

    You definately have our condolences and also prayers the insurance company doesn't try to pull a fast one and total out the car because the repair bill will be high. Get a copy of Old Car Price Guide and prepare to do battle if need be.

    All the Vanagon series Westies are now 10 years old. Hoses don't last forever and with FI, there is pretty high pressure on the lines. VW uses a fabric reinforced hose for strength but it has the disadvantage of hiding some signs of wear & age. Your maintenance schedule has to include some serious hose inspections and a very conservative replace program if any doubt.

    Routine replacement every 5 years or so is not unreasonable. For new owners of a used Westy, it's probably safest to assume hose is original unless established otherwise.

    Also, use of these enhancers like Armor-All can damage a fuel hose. Final note, OLD fuel hose was not alcohol resistant; be sure all replacements are -- gasahol dries out the older rubber hoses making them subject to split. VW OEM is gasahol safe.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
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    Update on Buttercup. The insurance agency is reporting that it is totaled and they will pay $3000. It is so hard to hear when you are emotionaly attached to your Westie but I think the offer does seem fair. The camper is my main mode of transportation so I am sad to say I think I will take the money and run, we are in a new place and don't anyone that would rebuild her for me and who knows how long that will take and I nead a car in the meantime. Anyway thanks for all youradvice and condolences for Buttercup


    [This message has been edited by Capt. Mike (edited 07-18-2000).]

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    Raleigh, NC USA
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    Get a copy of Old Car Price Guide. It shows an '82 Camper worth US$2,000 for a class 4 and $4,000 for a class 3. Conditions classes are listed at the front of each issue. By definition, a class 4 is functional, but "ALL components may need restoration to be excellent. . .. Even from 20 feet away, there is not doubt that it needs a lot of help." Basically, class 4's are rough!

    Don't let them ride you into taking less than it's worth. They always try to downgrade the car and pull out THEIR books from THEIR appraisers. But OCPG is the only one that takes old cars way back AND grades them by condition.

    If they try to tell you that the are 'required' to use their book, they are lying through their teeth and you need to automatically take whatever legal steps are appropriate. Your insurance says "market" or "fair cash" value, NOT some book. See the topic on valuation books in the GETTING A WESTY forum.

    Also, in today's market, OCPG has to be considered a minimum as Westies are now often pulling one class above conditon due to their scarcity and uniqueness. They are truly becoming a 'cult' car and that very definately translates into market value. I turned down $25,000 for my '90 4x4 so you can see how the specialty market demand has sky-rocketed.

    Get several back issues of Hemmings Motor News and see what they have been drawing in the classic and antique market. Just don't accept their numbers at face value because they average in all the wrecks & rusted outs that bring the average way down. Demand a condition appriasal and proof they can replace it like kind & quality for that. i.e. "Show me where I can get one for that."

  6. #5
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    Jul 2000
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    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
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    The Insurance people won't budge and we can't afford a lawyer to dicker over another 1ooo. They are letting us keep her and I have 2 different VW mechanics comming over for a 'House Call' to see about restoring her vrs scraping her. I can't let her go to VW heaven yet!! We also don't want to take a loan for 25k or more for a new car. I am guessing we can fix her for around 3 to 5K. Am I crazy?
    ~Buttercup


    [This message has been edited by Capt. Mike (edited 07-20-2000).]

  7. #6
    Join Date
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    Use the "Post Reply" button at top of page instead of the one inside message box to avoid duplicating previous posts.

    By letting you keep her, they are giving you $400 Parts Car value above the cash. However, you don't need a lawyer to appeal; use your state Insurance Commission. Demand a hearing and they may come up some more just to avoid the considerable expense (to them -- costs you nothing). Courts & state tax agencies frequently use Old Car Price Guide. Get a national antique car judge -- any AACA member can find you one in his club -- to "class the car per OCPG." Probably for free or a cool brew. I'd hesitate to hiring a commercial appraisor who may be on so many insurace company contracts he'd gladly screw you rather than risk his bread & butter work.

    One final trick that helps in NC -- their appraisor MUST be state licensed. Check your state and if so, demand to see it; many haven't bothered with all the paperwork and that puts them in an immediate hole. I did that once and because the state will file charges, they didn't want to be accused of illegal acts & fraud. The appraisor (& contract company) were fired and the next one bent over backwards because the company didn't want to get a citation or criminal investigation.

    You might also be able to get an appraisal from dealers that specialize in VWs or older "classics" & special interest autos. I did that once against Mercedes Benz and although that one went to court, that's exactly what the judge awarded. Having independent documented values is important.

    Nobody can guess rebuild costs sight unseen. A lot depends on the nature of your damage and how much you can do. Expect to have to fabricate wiring harnesses as many that old are no longer available. Expensive at dealer mechanic rates, but can be done yourself with minimal tools & expense.

    But I'd guess it can be done, even first class, at less than a $25K new car. My rule of thumb is what will it cost compared to what it's worth TO YOU for the period you'll keep the car. Don't look at past investment -- that's lost money. Just look forward.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Oak Creek, CO
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    Howdy: Well here is another story for the dangers of fuel line failure. I had started my 84/1.9 to warm a bit before taking my wife to work. Ran in grabbed a cup of joe and came back (2 min). a saw liquid gushing out near the tranny! Thinking I had blown a head gasket I turned off the engine and my wife had to walk. In the spring (01' ) I had taken the precaution of replacing the main fuel ring after the stories of Vanagons going up in flames. What had blown that I did not replace was the fuel supply line connection above the axle cavity. If you look over the r-rear wheel you can see where a short 7mm HP hose is attached to a connector bolted on the engine compartment. On the other of this same hose a black plastic hose is also inserted and in both cases the connections are clamped. On mine the plastic hose had backed out entirely! No fire but this is very serious folks and that little fuel pump can put out volume! So, my question is how do I now rid myself of the smell of petrol?
    Thanks , Steve

    [ 03-03-2002: Message edited by: Steve Williams ]

  9. #8
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    Nov 2002
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    Quetico Ontario, Bellingham, Wa
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    I had an interesting experiance. I had just picked up my '86 syncro, driving it from Charlotte to Puget sound. The second morning out I tried to get started early. I went out from the motel room. (It was -11f in Paducha Ky at 6:00 am so I wasn't camping. I tried to start the car and the solinoid stuck!,, just went click. I began to crawl under the car in the snow to tap it, and was greeted by a continual drip of gasoline, dripping right on the exhaust. I had visions of finding a mechanic in a stange town after a major blizzard to check out my injectors. I spent some time looking and found that the fuel lines to all the injectors were leaking quite badly. I was traveling with few tools, but with my leatherman knife I was able to tighten all the clamps and that solved the problem. I think that because the car had sat for most of several years, the hoses got tired. I made the rest of the trip without mishap, stopping ocasionaly to check for leaks. After I got home I changed all the hoses and clamps. ( By the time I got the hoses tight the starter magicly worked fine, and has not stuck since. I consider it some sort of Carma (Sic) Some how the sticking starter saved me a potential disaster)

    Icarus

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Woodside, CA, USA
    Posts
    55

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    Another Dangerous Fuelleak.
    Hi everybody,
    this is a warning for all you westy drivers.
    I've got a '79 westy with FI
    I took my engine out the other day and when i put it back in I wanted to start it and I smell gas.
    It turns out that the metal fuelrail got cut. on the left side of the engine where the fuelrail goes through the sheetmetal/tinware, the rubber protector had worn out, and the tin had cut through the metal pipe. This had probably been going on for a long while, I was just lucky that it actually broke through after putting the engine back in.
    So check those rubber protectors, apparently they're not just there to stop airflow. Also check the ones where electrical goes through. All of my rubber seals were worn and ended up stripping the hot wire of the alternator....not good in combo with a fuel leak....

    Type 2 T2b driver
    Type 2 T2b driver

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