Widow and Idiots
WIDOWS AND IDIOTS Or, the Great Jaguar Engine Bay Fire By Steve Houtari Editor, Central Okla. Jaguar Association Theres an old saying that says, more or less, that the Lord looks out for widows and idiots. I can vouch for the part about the idiots. A month or so back, in late summer, I had James and Katie Vaughn at Euro Tech order me a new underhood insulation pad for the XKR. The original one was starting to look a bit scruffy due to some pretty aggressive wear from rubbing against the tops of the intercoolers. I wanted to protect my handiwork, since I had James remove the intercoolers from the engine so I could paint them. I took the parts home and painted them with high temperature aluminum paint to make them look nicer than stock. I used GM Victory Red touchup paint to paint the letters and make em look sharp. Plus, everyone knows that red letters will add a good 4 to 5 mph on the top end! Changing out the pad was an easy task. James even let me have some sealant to use as glue to secure the pad to the underside of the hood; perhaps it wouldnt sag and end up scruffy looking. I also applied some good, sound engineering practice to the problem. Ysee, I had some t-shirt scraps that would make a fine sacrificial element to the problem, put the scraps on the intercoolers and let them wear out instead of the pad. When the scraps get too dirty or start to wear, just replace them. Fine idea, at least in theory. Donna said not to put flammable things under the hood of the car. Poo-poo sez I, the intercoolers just dont get that hot, they are water cooled. Well, all is well for a couple weeks. The scraps are just fine thank you. They do their job and all is well. All is well until a Saturday evening just before sundown. I asked Donna to go for a ride with me; wed drop the top and enjoy a quick run up to Wal Mart so I can get some cough drops. My allergies were acting up and giving me coughing fits at night when I wanted to sleep. As we pulled off the freeway, Donna hollered out that she smelled smoke and saw a puff of smoke coming out from under the hood of the car. I couldnt confirm one way or the other since my ability to smell things is pretty weak. The odors have to be pretty strong to get through my allergy weakened sniffer. I stopped the car, hit the flashers, and got out to check the engine bay. As soon as I opened up the hood, two things occurred right away. The first is that the smoldering bit of t-shirt scrap became smoldering no more. It began to flame up rather nicely. Oh crap! The second thing is that with the sudden air movement, the scrap of material fell down into the nether regions of the engine bay along the left side of the engine. I tried to blow out the fire, but that just fanned the flames! I had Donna look in the car for anything that could reach down there to move the scrap onto the ground. The good thing is that when the scrap fell down, it landed on a suspension cross member. There it was, burning away, and Im frantically trying to figger out how to stop the fire, and hoping I dont ruin my underwear! After about 6 or 7 years, actually about 2 minutes, the scrap of material burned itself out. The Great Jaguar Engine Bay Fire was over. I looked over everything and all seemed to be OK. We went on to Wal Mart, and then to the house. At home, I got a good light and checked over everything, and I could not see any damage. No sweat, Ill look again in daylight. After church on Sunday, I looked over the car pretty closely with good lighting, and there was no apparent damage! The pad was OK. The rubber hose lines on the left side of the engine were OK. The exhaust manifold had some t-shirt material ash on the doughnut fitting, but it was OK. From the looks of things, it seems that the original plan of using the t-shirt material to absorb the rubbing was a fairly good idea. The bad idea part was that there was no provision for the possibility of the t-shirt scrap shifting its position into a dangerous place! Uh, just like Donna warned me. Like dangling down or falling down and touching the exhaust manifold! Cotton material on the intercoolers: fine. Cotton material on manifold: FIRE! I no longer put material under the hood of the car. Duh. Tell ya what, its a good thing that Donna came with me. I probably would not have noticed the smoke, and wouldve come out of the store to find my nice red convertible just a smoking hulk! As I said, I can vouch for the Lord being gracious and looking out for certain folks, in this case an idiot!