MGB Pages

5/16/2002: I was driving along, enjoying a beautiful top-down day, when I stepped on the brakes and the pedal went to the floor.  I saw some steam (I thought) coming from under the hood, and soon after I saw the paint on the hood starting to bubble.  I pulled as far to the side of the road as I could, grabbed my briefcase and my niece's birthday present (I was on my way to send it to her), and tried the little fire extinguisher in my car, but it didn't help (I didn't open the hood).  I called 911, and the police and firefighters responded pretty quickly.  They were pretty gentle with the car, using the hood release rather than the axe they were carrying to get into the engine compartment.  After a very liberal dousing, the fire was out (the police officer asked me if there was a drain plug for the car's interior).  I had the car towed home and I took some pictures:


Poor little car:

fire1.jpg (79198 bytes)

Those were HIF-4 carbs with K&N air filters:

fire2.jpg (73013 bytes)

See those copper colored things - they're what's usually covered by insulation:

fire3.jpg (75161 bytes)

The remnants of the windshield washer fluid tank and the charcoal canisters:

fire4.jpg (80738 bytes)

The spark plug wires might need to be replaced:

fire5.jpg (74299 bytes)

I think I need a new alternator, but the distributor cap looks OK:

fire6.jpg (75408 bytes)

I can't figure out what was burning on this side of the engine bay - the fuel is on the other side:

fire7.jpg (57816 bytes)

I've been told that replacing the fuse box can make a car more reliable - I'll have to try it (again):

fire8.jpg (75993 bytes)

Some of the hoses look OK, and the alternator belt is still in place:

fire9.jpg (78534 bytes)

I think it might be time for a new hood:

fire10.jpg (72863 bytes)

Doesn't look too good behind the dash:

Interior fire damage (5/02)

A view behind the center console:

Interior fire damage (5/02)

Yes, this is where my feet were - I'm guessing that the fire spread through the ventilation door:

Interior fire damage (5/02)


Skipping ahead a bit...


About six months later (11/7/2002), the car is just about back on the road.  I bought two parts cars and used them for the hood and most of the plastic parts, and bought new parts to replace the ones that either I couldn't salvage or that were safety items (brake parts, wiring harness, distributor,...).  I was able to start the car in September, but the car still wouldn't stop.  While looking into the brakes, I think I found how the fire started.  The brake pipes to the front left wheel had a small pinhole that was spraying brake fluid into the engine compartment.  My guess is that when the pipe broke, it sprayed a mist of brake fluid onto the carbs and exhaust manifold (and everything else in the engine compartment), and something ignited it.  This eventually spread to the plastic coating on the wiring harness and the plastic parts, melting them and making a big mess.


After fixing the brakes, I drove around the block and noticed that the oil looked quite milky, and there was white smoke coming from the exhaust.  I was told that this was a sign of coolant in the oil, probably a blown head gasket.  I'm in the process of replacing it, and then the car should be back on the road.  I hope.


The repair cost is so far still less than the insurance settlement, but it'll probably be close once I do the interior and fix some paint.  It's been fun (except for replacing the heater).

Copyright © Steve Shoyer