Engine Fire - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 8 Old Sep 7th, 2008, 6:48 pm Thread Starter
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Location: Amarillo, TX, USA
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Engine Fire

I've owned a silver 03 LT since March of 2005. It was slightly used, not even broke in, (7,300 miles). I've been in the H-D world for about 13 years and was ready for something different. I've been very pleased with the LT, since most of my riding is commuting to work on an interstate. I put 350 miles/week on the bike whenever it's above 35 degrees. Since I've owned the LT, I've put 27K miles on it. No problems since I bought the LT, just maintenance.

Last May, while driving to work, I stopped at a gas station to fill the tank. I stuck the pump handle into the tank, set the latch, and started to fill the tank with premium. I must have started daydreaming or something...

The gas pumps have always shut off when there is room for about a gallon more -- except today. Gasoline was overflowing from the fill port, which of course, got my attention. I shut off the pump manually and quickly. I waited a few minutes for any spilled gas to evaporate. What I didn't know was that a fair sized pool of gasoline had accumulated on top of my engine.

Probably what ignited the gas was a spark from the brushes in the starter motor or the generator. This was no vapor flash, though; flames were coming out of the front of the fairing and the two ports on the sides. I obtained a fire extinguisher from the stunned attendant inside the gas station. As I was pulling the pin on the fire extinguisher, I remember hoping that this was a CO2 rather than a dry chemical type.

Well, it was a dry chemical fire extinguisher, and yes, it did put out the fire. Before I go on, let me say that I have enough time in the aircraft world to know that a dry fire extinguisher ruins whatever it touches. I returned the slightly used extinguisher to the attendant, slammed it down hard on the counter, and told him what I thought of his pump maintenance program.

Now what? Call the boss; "I'll be a little late today - a slight problem with the bike". Snag another co-worker who happened to be driving by, and we both drove to mooch a motorcycle trailer so as to get the burn victim to my garage. Now to add injury to insult, I tore a ligament in my elbow getting the LT up on the trailer.

The burn victim is at my house now. By some miracle, there is no exterior damage from the fire, but the smell of burnt plastic was pretty strong. Upon pulling the fairing; well, the attached pictures tell the story.

The insulation on the engine wiring (both sides) was melted away. The fuel injection connectors, vacuum hoses, throttle cables, cruise control cable, fuel line, and clutch hose were melted. The fuel injection rail was also scorched and partially melted. I wouldn't be sitting here typing if it had melted through to the pressurized gasoline.

First, I had to wait for my arm to heal. Then, the disassembly began. The cursed ammonium phosphate/ground mica powder was EVERYWHERE. I labeled everything and bagged all parts. It pays off, as you all know. I knew at the outset that this was going to take all summer.

The next order of business was to deal with this mess that used to be my wiring harness. My 1988 Ford pickup uses a Bosch injector also. Same connector, too - $9 each at Autozone. I cut out burnt wiring segments and spliced in new wire, did the throttle cable upgrade, replaced leaking fork seals, did the speedometer mod, and did LOTS of cleaning with a toothbrush and Windex. After hooking up the battery, the bike started and idled correctly. I let it get hot enough to turn on the fans. Good - I didn't wire them backwards! It's now mid-July.

[Phase 2] Now there is this little issue of the clutch hose that was melted shut. The manual says what to do to replace the clutch hose and I had a leak from the vicinity of where the tranny mates to the engine. I guess you all know where it goes from here, right?

That's right, pull the FD, drive shaft, swing arm, and tranny. The inevitable puddle of lube was obviously transmission lube, not engine oil. My clutch wasn't slipping, and the disk was dry. The rear main seal was not leaking. I drilled weep holes for the tranny and the clutch slave, changed front and rear seals for the tranny, but not the RMS for the engine. If it starts to leak, then the lube will drain out of the weep hole, so what. I used to own a Cadillac, so its not like my driveway's a virgin. I had a friend cut a slot in a 30mm socket, and followed the manual to the letter for the drive train reassembly.

Last week, the bike started, the clutch works, the tranny shifts, the engine doesn't leak, and the cruise control works! The bike functions just like the day before the fire. I've been riding it to work all week.

I want to thank all contributors to this forum for insight and experience. For brevity, I've left out lots of little details, but would be glad to share my experiences with anyone in the forum that has the need to get into the guts of an LT.

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post #2 of 8 Old Sep 7th, 2008, 8:37 pm
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Re: Engine Fire

Nice! Welcome back!

Dcn Channing

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post #3 of 8 Old Sep 7th, 2008, 8:44 pm
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Re: Engine Fire

Hey, Dave - didja pat yoreself on the back a bunch??? You sure should. That'd happened to me, I'da donated the bike to Goodwill --- during the night!!!

Seriously, great job and a good read, following a ton of hard work on your part.

Ride safe.
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post #4 of 8 Old Sep 7th, 2008, 9:33 pm
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Re: Engine Fire

So the gas station wasn't liable for anything? What about your insurance coverage? Thats a lot of work you did and looks like you did it right, so congrats!

05' LT Dark Grey, "Battle Star"
14' KTM 1190
03' KTM 450 EXC Dually
72' Honda SL 100
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post #5 of 8 Old Sep 7th, 2008, 11:01 pm
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Re: Engine Fire

I think you forgot to post the pictures....

James Brown
Seabrook, Texas

2016 K1600 GTL
1979 Suzuki GS550E (sold)

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post #6 of 8 Old Sep 8th, 2008, 7:08 am
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Re: Engine Fire

Wow - after all that you will never be phased by any job that needs doing on the bike.
That adds up to a whole load of carefree riding in the future for you!

"Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect" Mark Twain

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post #7 of 8 Old Sep 8th, 2008, 8:07 am
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Location: Maypearl, TX, USA
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Re: Engine Fire

Hey Dave, I'm gonna be in Amarillo today on the way to Palo Duro Canyon. I've got this mirror stud I broke off last night....


You said aircraft? Did you mean NASA? Are you the guy that put the space shuttle together? Congratulation on both your quick response to the emergency and a successful major major rework.


2000 Canyon Red LT [I]
2005 Sportster XLCH 1200C
2006 Mongoose XR250
Make sure your Life Assurance is prayed up. Don't leave home without it.
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post #8 of 8 Old Sep 8th, 2008, 9:56 am
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Re: Engine Fire

I think if that was me, I'd have let it burn to the ground and then went out and bought something new Damn, that was a LOT of work - you good mechanic types really bug me!
Great job on getting her all back together and working again!

R1200GSA Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to Alaska I go!
(Down to ONE BIKE - ARGH!)
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