Big Bertha caught on fire! - Star Motorcycle Forums: Star Raider, V-Max, V-Star, Road-Star Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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Big Bertha caught on fire!

So I was getting a couple groceries on my way home from work. Got on her & went to start her & she caught fire. I had lay her down. Luckily the was a guy near by with some water bottles. And we put out the fire.
I had the wife come pick me up. We ate dinner. And I trailered B.B. home.

I am ok. Nothing happen to me. No real damage that I can see. I'll be able to tell more when I look at her more closely this weekend.

Fire was on the right side around carb & air filter.
Fire was maybe 20 seconds. If that. Time is funny when stuff like that is happening.

SILVER LININGS
1- B.B. has a great spark!
2- I have laid the bike down. Got that "stigma" off my back.
3- I know I can pick up the bike from the laid down position.

From you knowledgeable folks...
1- what could have started the fire?
2- what should I look for when I look at her this weekend?

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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 08:31 PM
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What did the smoke smell like? Burning plastic? If so, it was an electrical fire. Wires will have burned back insulation. When a shorted wire heats up it will bubble the insulation off the copper. It's being burned from inside out. An electrical fire leaves a black smoke residue. From the pictures I'm not seeing black residue, so I don't think it's electrical. I see a whitish residue. Whitish residue is normally from heat. Possibly a fuel leak onto hot engine was the flames. Until you investigate that's the best I can observe. First I would look for fuel leak, then look at wiring. By the way, glad you had pants on when you took the pic, look at the reflection.

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Last edited by lesblank; 11-01-2018 at 08:34 PM.
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Smelled more like a gas fire.

Les... I normally wear clothes when walking between my house & my neighbor's garage to work on BB.

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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 09:48 PM
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dont know where the fuel filter is on a road star. Maybe loose hose clamp, split fuel hose, pin hole leak in the gas tank.

If the float bowl was stuck high the fuel would flow out between the cylinders on the over flow tube, but maybe the carb could flood back into the air filter box?

Good deal on the guy with water bottles. A 2 liter bottle of soda works great too, you can shake it up and spray it out with a foaming mist. Root beer is the best - foams like crazy.

Ive always kept fire extinguishers in my cars going back 40 years. I have put out 4 car fires, none of them were my cars.

twenty seconds in a gas fire can damage wires and gaskets. You will have to pull the tank off and see what got cooked and melted under there. The carb intake air box may be melted.

Maybe the engine backfired into the carb and set it on fire from the inside.

Last edited by KCW; 11-01-2018 at 09:56 PM.
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Tank is most definitely coming off.

I'll take pictures along the way. Maybe even video is I can figure out what account I want to use.

Thanks in advance to all the help & input.

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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCW View Post
Maybe the engine backfired into the carb and set it on fire from the inside.
That is the consensus of the peeps I've chatted with. But without looking at the area under the tank. We are just speculating.

Which is ok, because it gives us (me) many different view points & possibilities to look at & fix.

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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-02-2018, 08:32 AM
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If this happens to anyone, the first thing to do after you put out a motor vehicle fire is to disconnect the ground wire from the battery.

If the wire insulation is compromised between the battery and the fuse box, or the fusible link on a car, it can start an electrical fire when you move the vehicle.
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-02-2018, 09:50 AM
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Would also be a good time to inspect all the hoses before you take it apart too much also.
Make sure all the hoses are there and connected, don't have cracks.

Might be the carb overflowed, if the drain hose wasn't attached, could have spilled gas onto the engine and ignited.

I want to say it was unlikely electrical fire, cause you managed to put it out pretty easily with water, but not sure how much actual fact is in this statement
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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-02-2018, 09:54 AM
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I also want to say, it is unlikely to be a single problem that caused it. Most cases it takes multible failures to cause an issue. Fuel itself won't burn, it needs something to light it. A sparking, loose electrical connector that you haven't noticed yet, then gas getting added to it, both would need to be fixed, not just the gas.

Not sure how hot the engine was, but it normally has to be pretty warm to set gas off by temp alone. But it will help vaporize it quickly, letting it find any electrical relays near by that will set it off when you turn the bike on.
Normally the electrical relays are seperated from the egine enough so fumes won't get to them.
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 11-02-2018, 10:20 AM
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^ thats another reason why your air intake, air box.. needs to be intact, in place and secure.

if you run a carb with no intake airbox or air filter, if the engine backfires it blows flames out of the carb intake. Usually the next stroke will suck the flames back into the cylinder and put it out, but if you have a gas leak in the area around the carbs it will catch.

another thing that can cause an engine fire is oil leaking onto the hot exhaust manifolds - doubt that is the case here.

One of the car fires I put out was a neighbor when I was in college. The kid had his mustang in the parking lot, took the carb off the engine to have it rebuilt, then tried to start the car up with no carb to pull the car back in his garage. I dont know what he was thinking but WOOOOOF! Fuel pump was spraying gas all over the engine when he cranked it.

Maybe he had the fuel line pushed in the intake manifold and thought that would give the engine enough gas to start it up?! I did not ask.

Last edited by KCW; 11-02-2018 at 10:26 AM.
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