Set Myself on Fire... Thin Plastic Fuel Lines Anyone???

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EDIT Please Read First EDIT
I want to make the purposes of this post clear. Itís partly for fun, thatís the part where I tell you about how stupid I was by setting
myself/car on fire with poor judgement when using my torch. Itís mostly for information about GM fuel lines...
1) I set myself, my car, and everything within 4 feet of the driverís rear fenderwell on fire completely because I was in a hurry and didnít take time to look carefully at everything nearby when I was using the torch. Thatís the funny part! (Being on fire is only funny LATER, after youíre no longer on fire!!! )
2) Mostly though, what I really want to know is, why does my car (í95 Z28 M6) have plastic fuel lines that light up like bottle rockets??? I never had any problems with my TPI setup that used a steel/rubber high pressure line combination... The plastic lines seem to be incredibly weak, and you could problably twist or pinch one in half if you tried... (Which I will try after I get new ones installed...)
If you donít enjoy reading about othersí self-confessed stupidity, and/or you donít know why GM uses plastic fuel lines, please move on if you only want to condescend or argue with your reply.
Itís a really good story, heck, when is a dude being on fire ever NOT a good story???
EDIT Please Read First EDIT
The whole story is below... I certainly should have been more careful, yada yada yada...
But hereís what worries me... My TPI had steel lines everywhere, and only a few places where flex was necessary did it have heavy rubber high pressure line. This seemed to be a great plan, and it worked great in not only 3rd Gens, but in the 4x4 I swapped the TPI into and abused for 7 years on the trails.
I learned yesterday that GM decided that 4th Gens should have paper-thin, highly flammable plastic fuel lines in the most vulnerable locations possible, like under the hood where they cross the gap above the exhaust manifold and in the rear where the main feed line runs from the tank to the fuel filter...
What in all that is Holy??? The majority of the lines are metal, but the most vulnerable areas are made out of straws???
Iím tempted to replace everything with steel and high pressure braided rubber, or even braided stainless steel. Now that Iíve had reason to inspect the plastic lines carefully, I canít see them holding up to even a minor pinch or a nick from a sharp tool, an accidental poorly placed knee or foot, etc.
Whatís up with this? Anybody want to share a similar opinion or explain to me what kind of exotic and space age technology has been created in these paper thin plastic lines that somehow makes them better than steel?
There has to be some reason (not necessarily a good one...) that one of the three lines coming out of the tank is plastic while the other two are metal... The vapor line is metal!!!
The local dealership wanted $101 for the íassemblyí of lines, whatever that includes. Jason Cromer has them on the way for $55 plus shipping.
After I test the old lines, Iíll be selling large bendy straws with rubber bands to use as clamps, all at a greatly reduced price from what the local dealership will want. Iíll even clear coat the assembly in order to give it some sort of vague flame retardance.
Paul íXí
Story Follows:
This Damned Immortality is Going to get Me Killed Someday...
Started the day off with a real bang. Had high hopes of getting the Camaro running today.
Had a couple of exhaust studs that I needed to heat with the torch, as well as a couple of brake fittings before I could make any more progress. Fired up the torch, and got busy on that first big brake fitting inside the driverís side rear fender well. Car up on jacks and wheels off. Boy standing safely nearby for ítorchingí.
So Iím almost ready to pull the heat on the fitting and a nearby wire loom starts to melt and smoke. I figure it can take one or two more seconds, after all it has one of those corrugated plastic tubes over it.
Then, all hell broke loose! The next thing I know, the entire inner fender well, my arm, and the ground under the car were all on fire. Being on fire really sucks. I quickly realized that there was fuel spraying out of the íwire loomí about 4 feet and wasnít showing any signs of stopping soon.
Now, I have to break from the story to tell you a little about myself. Iíve been around a while, pretty much seen and done it all, and I canít remember the last time that something frightened, startled, excited, or in any other way got my heart pumping faster than it pumps when Iím asleep. Being on fire is no exception.
Any person with any amount of sense at all would have grabbed the Boy and ran for dear life. The car is insured, itís replaceable, and at this point Iíd be in pretty good shape if it got hauled off and insurance had to buy me another one anyway... But like I said, that would be a person with any real sense, or a person with a ífight or flightí instinct. I have neither.
I did have the sense to turn the torch off and toss it in the shrubs nearby, and as I wrapped my arm in my shirt to put it out, I told the Boy to run. I then sat there and watched the fire to determine the best way put it out. Still spraying fuel which was still creating a larger fire.
I quickly saw that the fuel line was very close to the tank, and if/when it ran out of fuel it might very well allow a flame backdraft into the tank and íshaboom!í, weíd once again test my immortality. I looked the other way down the fuel line and realized that this was the very same line that I had tried to siphon fuel out of last weekend, and couldnít get a drop from. So there wasnít much fuel in there. So I pulled my shirt off and wrapped it around the fuel line, tucking it in tightly between the car and the line. This stopped the gusher, but the inner fender well and the ground under the tank and line were still on fire. And I now was naked from the waste up.
I ran to the other side of the car and grabbed all the rags I had laying around, and returned to find that I had to use them to wrap around my now gas-soaked shirt, since it was now on fire although it was stopping the fuel from spraying everywhere. I put the ground fire out by kicking the gravel away, and most of the fender well had burned itself out by now with no more gusher to feed it.
I then sat there surveying the mess, realizing that I could very well have blown the whole thing to smitherines, and wondered yet again why I hadnít just let the thing burn. Iím not THAT sentimental about vehicles. Normally I have several fire extinguishers at-the-ready in the garage, but unfortunately this is a driveway project, so I was ill-prepared.
Damage appeared to be limited to the one PLASTIC fuel line that had burned, the plastic corrugated tubing that was hiding it, the pelt on my arm, and my t-shirt. Also some cardboard that I was laying on.
About then the Boy came running out of the house with Mom, yelling, "Dadís on Fire, Dadís on Fire!", and Mom could still see the lingering smoke, although I was clearly no longer on fire. Pissed off and waiting to make sure no new fires sprung up, but no longer on fire.
The Wife saw the look of disgust on my face, looked at the mess of burnt cardboard and rags on the ground, and said, "Set it back on fire and come in for lunch." Then walked back in the house. The Boy stayed outside to work with me, but asked, "Are you done burning things now Dad?"
Ahhh... Fatherís Day. What a better way to spend the day...
Lessons Learned...
Keep a fire extinguisher strapped to your torch. Immortality doesnít make it any less painful to be on fire. If the entire underside of your fenderwell is on fire, and is being fed by a steady streaming spray of fuel, have the damn good sense to run for your freakiní life! At least í95 and newer GM vehicles donít use high pressure rubber fuel line anymore. They use very thin-walled and highly flammable plastic fuel line!!! It looks exactly like a really big plastic vacuum line. (You know the kind of plastic line that always got brittle under your hood and you had to replace it with rubber...)
Paul íXí
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Very entertaining.. At least you had enough sense to tell the boy to run.. =o)
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I didn't even read your whole post:
American automakers have been using plastic fuel lines since 1990.
All American automakers, for first and most importantly: "blended fuels" like Gasohol.
Secondly: for weight concerns.
Never go under a car with a torch unless you've first looked under the car, come up with a specific plan of how you are going to crawl under the car. Then light the torch away from the car, towards the floor. turn the torch slowly, then look carefully where you intend to cut. Look twice or three times before applying heat. Otherwise it's "Tostitos Fernando!"
Refinish King

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I snipped out the entire message. A lot of people here may know how to use a Torch to heat or cut metal. Yet not many know about keeping safe while doing so.
Here is a list of items needed before firing the Torch: #1 A Class 3 Fire Extinguisher #2 A Class 1 Fire Extinguisher #3 Leather Gloves or Welding Gauntlets #4 Tinted Safety Glasses, or Torch Goggles #5 Any sort of fluid absorber, such as Oil Dry. #6 A metal or Fire Retardant shield to use over items like fuel lines.
#1 will put out fuel & liquid fires. Including Anti-Freeze which will burn when heated via a torch. Once used it must be sent out to be recharged.
#2 Will put out most other burning items on a car, Plus can be recharged at home with a Air Compressor, a tire chuck & the correct amount of water.
#3 Leather Gloves will protect your hands from burns. Hot Slag, drips from burning plastics and rubber items can send you to the hospital. Welding Gauntlets give fore- arm protection that regular gloves do not.
#4 Tinted Safety Glasses will allow you to see around the flame, and look for items that are starting to catch fire.
#5 Fluid Absorbents can smother fires, and absorb fluids from before they spread. Sure a pile of soaked oil dry will burn, but the fire will be localized. You can either smother it by covering it with more, or with your Class 3 Extinguisher.
#6 Will keep the flame off fuel lines, brake lines, wiring harnesses, and Undercoating. Some undercoating will burn rather well.
I'm not posting this to be an ass. I have seen too many people hurt while using a torch around cars. I have seen a few cars burn before from it. I have even had to call the Paramedics to patch people up from using a torch. Charles
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Charles, that's some great info to take seriously when using a torch. I am though unfamiliar with class1 or class 2 fires/extinguishers. My training (both locally and federally/military) has always referred to them as class A, B, C, or D. I guess your class 1 & 2 correspond to my A & B.
A - material combustibles. Wood, paper, fabric etc. B - flammable liquid. Gasoline being one example. C - electrical. D - metal. An example being certain types of magnesium phosphate etc.
Try throwing water on some class D fires once! Look out!
On Fri, 25 Jun 2004 06:25:04 GMT, "Charles Bendig"

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I beleave so. Class 1 is water, Class 3 is dry chemical. I have seen fire bottles labeled both ways in the past.
I know around here, if you do Auto Repair, Auto Salvage, Oil Changes, ect.. The local laws require you to have Class 3 extinguishers mounted in clear sight, with signs pointing to them.
Class 3/C extinguishers can not be refilled by the consumer. Class 1/A's can be refilled by the consumer with water and compressed air.
Class 3/C's will handel Flamible liquids according to the bottle labels I have read. Charles
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SgtSilicon spilled my beer when they jumped on the table and proclaimed in
<snip>

Chemistry class in HS. A small pinch....BOOM!
No water in the sink. :)
NOI
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Thund3rstruck_n0i wrote:

Ooh...Ooh...we had some idiots put a BLOCK of sodium next to a window on a rainy day. (The one time where putting petrol on an explosive compound is a good thing.)
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Good advice:
I just think too many do it yourselfers are taking on projects. Way too advanced for their level!
Refinish King

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here's another story of stupidity.
about 12 years ago when you rented oxygen and acetylene for your cutting torch they were billed to you by the day. (not the amount of contents.)
so people would hook a right hand thread to the fuel hose and fill their empty propane bottles with oxygen to use at a later time. as did the guy 2 blocks from my house.
so the dumb ass is using his cutting torch in the garage one day and the flame travelled up the oxygen line and into the propane tank.... the bang was heard for miles. (wish I still had the news clipping....he could have won the Darwin award)
needless to say tanks are now billed out by the use of it's contents.
-- http://crazyedmonton.no-ip.com
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I wish you did as well, since in all the years of using oxy/acet and being around at least 75 people that own, use, and countless other safety meetings and such... what you describe is impossible Period....impossible.
Besides..a propane tank...assuming you mean the 30lb cans...filled with O2, and even if it did explode...as you state, I have to ask.. How many windows in YOUR home did you replace?
Hint....there is no way that open flame made it past the regulator. an OXYGEN regulator anyway...

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I have seen old disposable style propane & helium tanks (20 pound type) convertered over to be Freon (R-12) tanks. Not that I would use such, or advise any one to do such. Just one of the many things I have seen people do.
I do know this, not all regulators for OXy-Act bottle sets have flame arrestors.
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if you put oxygen in a propane tank as you get lower and lower pressure you can indeed have a flame travel up the hose and into the tank.
if it wasn't possible than why even bother to make flashback arrestors? just a stupid gimmick?
-- http://crazyedmonton.no-ip.com
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First, a propane tank will not hold as much O2 as you expect, since the pressure would cause the tank to rupture... I take it you have never seen a real O2 tank..how many pounds of pressure (not taking into consideration pressure drops due to volume) do you think is in an O2 tank when full? Youhave any idea how many tanks it would take to fill a propane tank using B style O2 tanks? Plus...you are forgetting one other thing.. When the pressure in the propane tank equals the pressure in the O2 tank trying to fill it...transfer stops...
And no...you wont get a flame traveling

Nope...but your story holds no water. None....

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"CBHVAC"

depends on how much is in the 02 tank

i use them all day (welder by trade)
how many pounds of pressure

2200 p.s.i.

b style? here we go by tank volume in cubic litres.
Plus...you are forgetting one other thing..

no shit.

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"Thund3rstruck_n0i"

the problem is that just because it feels empty doesn't mean it is. there must have been a small amount of propane left in the guys propane tank when he put the 02 in it.
so cbhvac why won't a flame go past an oxygen regulator?
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With no fuel it won't (unless you posit propane left in the tank), gotta complete the fuel triangle, quadrangle or whatever they call it these days. I have been present when an acetylene line went up though. It ran off a tank farm, very scary but no big boom or flaming bodies since someone had the sense to trip the block valves as they ran out of the building.
Dave(used to work with hydrogen, lots o flame arrestors)
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poncho462 wrote:

gas. Only in the last six months has OHSA made us install flashback restrictors. Even without the flashback restrictor valves I've seen torches flashback and burn inside the torch valve and get so hot the the torch melts off and the flames will shoot out the end of the line but well not travel back into the line.
Jerry Springer
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Jerry,
I can see what you describe above happening but I'd never want to see it in person. ;^)
I've never messed with hydrogen welding but deal with hydrogen used for cooling and anti-corrosion processes. Most of the sampling and monitoring stations I dealt with had flashback restrictors (this was back in the 80s). They were probably installed from an engineering point of view instead of an OSHA standard but I don't know for sure. These days I only deal with handling procedures and safety guidelines for hydrogen storage and distribution systems.
Hydrogen is very stable at the right concentrations but when used on large electric power generators with oil seals you have to keep an eye on purity and leakage to prevent explosive conditions from occurring. Couple years ago a generator went up in Tampa during routine maintenance. The explosion blew the all the siding off the building on one end of the turbine deck and killed several people.
Dave
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With no fuel it won't (unless you posit propane left in the tank), gotta complete the fuel triangle, quadrangle or whatever they call it these days. I have been present when an acetylene line went up though. It ran off a tank farm, very scary but no big boom or flaming bodies since someone had the sense to trip the block valves as they ran out of the building.
Dave(used to work with hydrogen, lots o flame arrestors)
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