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A fire story, to warm you all up.

Discussion in 'Agricultural Operations' started by RocksnRoses, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    G'day Squizzy, you must be busy, haven't seen you around much, lately.

    Not exactly my favourite tucker, either.

    It looks like we might get some rain from the cyclone in the north west.

    It's fairly common these days, good for the manufacturers, keeps them in work.

    Now that should make 'Funniest Home Videos'.:lmao

    RnR.
     
  2. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    That is a very interesting post, EdB and the first time I have actually heard of anyone trying measure the conductivity to the ground, of static electricity. I was a bit surprised that the tyres actually conducted a small amount of electricity, I thought they would have insulated the machine from the ground. The problems here started soon after the introduction of rotary machines, which now, is quite a few years ago. Case IH and New Holland were the first ones and I know farmers with both makes that had problems with finding smouldering material on the machines and fires that have started, where there is nothing on the machine to indicate where the fire has come from. Bearing failure, slipping belts and chaff build up around the engine and manifold are obvious causes of header fires, but in these instances, they could find nothing at all. That is when they started dragging chains and I don't think there would be a rotary machine in this area, that doesn't drag a chain.
    As I said earlier, the bulk of the problems occur when reaping lentils, but not all of them. A mate of mine has a John Deere STS and he started a fire while reaping lentils. Fourtunately it was a calm evening and didn't go far. They searched that machine high and low and the only place they could find where material may have been burning, was on the step. Later on a member of the local CFS (Country Fire Service) picked up the chain and the shock from it, nearly threw him backwards. My mate then went back reaping after dark, with the fire fighter following him and he said to me, he could not believe the amount of sparks coming off the reel, while picking up the lentils.
    This year I have heard of unexplained fires with John Deere machines and earlier on, I mentioned the problems of the new Case IH 9120. I know the owners of that machine quite well and they were just about beside themselves with it. As I said before, a couple of Case IH technicians came out from the US to see what was going on.

    I am no expert, Ed, but if static electricity is not the cause of these unexplained fires, a lot of people here, would like to know what is.

    RnR.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
  3. EdB

    EdB Active Member

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    It's a pretty common misconception that a tire is a good insulator. Nothing could be further from the truth. What the manufacturers put in them to make them black is a substance called carbon black. Carbon is a pretty darned good conductor.
    Friend poked the aerial for his 2-way into a 7200V power line. Big fireball in the cab as the juice flowed through the radio and to the chassis of his combine (header to you folks). Once at the chassis, it found its way through the wheel bearings, axles, rubber tires and to the ground. Current flowing through the tires made big holes as it exited, let the air from the tires, and the machine settled enough to disentangle the aerial from the line and the fireworks stopped. Pretty well totaled the machine though. Power company made good because their line was too low.
    Along these lines, some tires on things like wheelchairs in hospitals will not have any carbon black in them, to keep from marring floors. Those tires will have tiny copper fibers blended into the rubber so they don't create static sparks.
    As for what does cause these fires, we're trying to make sense of it too. The guy that tangled the wire fence under his machine runs two CIH rotary machines. One is a self propelled and the other is its twin, only it's a pull-type, powered by the PTO from the towing tractor. The pull type has never had a fire, the self-propelled has had several incidents where a pile of pea dust will be found smoldering. He figures it is due to a small fleck of dust or chaff falling off a hot manifold or maybe even a small flake of hot soot coming from the exhaust. His experience indicates to me that the most likely cause is a swirling ember landing on fuel and starting things ablaze. In your case, where there was a pile of smoldering material on a step, a stray spark from the exhause would be a lot more likely cause than a static spark. If it's a metal step, the whole thing will be at the same electrical potential so there would be no way a spark could jump from one part of the step to another.
     
  4. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    Up to my ears in box jellyfish


    Thats where your going wrong....they are not edible

    Bloody well hope so, its pickin up again at last report.

    Up where the olds are at the northern tip of the wheatbelt you can get yourself a load of buckshot in your backside if you move a catalytic vehicle in the middle of the day. I still blame the Lentils though...no good can come from them.


    Saves me waterin the lawn:rolleyes:
     
  5. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    The only problem with that Ed, is that I do know of a couple of instances where smouldering material was found inside the machine. At the same time, I do not disagree with you either. I had a bit of a look on the Combine Forum to see if I could find any discussion on this and a chap there was saying the same thing, as your mate. Something that he pointed out, that I had not thought of, is the fact that headers have precleaners with venturies to the exhaust, so that if chaff was sucked into the precleaner, it was then blown into the exhaust stream, where it could be ignited. He and a few neighbours were having problems with header fires, so he modified the exhaust pipes and extended them out over the rear of the machines. He said they had no more problems after that. Food for thought.

    RnR.
     
  6. nextdoor

    nextdoor Well-Known Member

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    Gday All, Im not sure what causes it but headers certainly make a lot of static electricity, I have a 7010 Case and just climbing up the back to fuel up is not too different to copping one from the spark plug of the donkey on a D4! As for brands and conventional vs a rotary well the Case gives you more shocks but we lit more unexplained fires with a Johny conventional so it sure beats me.
    Good pics Rnr but I hope you dont have to take anymore and I hope all is quiet over the silly season for you.
     
  7. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    G,day RnR...its hot and blowin its guts out here...I'd say things are going from Bad to worse over your way?
     
  8. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    It's all over the place, nextdoor, everyone has a different story, but I heard of another instance today of a chap getting a boot from the rear ladder on a Case IH.

    Thanks, I hope I don't get to take anymore, either. We are supposed to be getting a little bit of rain tomorrow and cool for Christmas.


    It was an absolute shocker today, Squizzy. Although the temperature only got to 36C, the wind was gale force up until lunch time and then it eased off a bit. I am looking forward to tomorrow and hoping it will be damp. It looks like you will miss out on any rain from the cyclone and they are only forecasting about 5mm for us.
    I don't know if you heard, but a fire started on the north western side of Port Lincoln about 1pm and ran right into the edge of the town. According to the news, they lost ten houses. They have had a really bad run there, in the last few years.
    You have had a couple of big ones running over there as well.

    RnR.
     
  9. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    Just read about the Port Lincoln fires. I don't think it will be too long before I have to pull on the orange overalls....little #@*!!*@^! s around here will set fire to the same bush every year.

    Laurence is officially a tropical low and its gunna dump a shirtload of rain somewhere out around Sandy Blight Junction....and then generally head in your direction but I don't think you will get bugger all mate.

    Hope Santa looks after you, and keeps a heat shield on his Catalytic Converter.
     
  10. nextdoor

    nextdoor Well-Known Member

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    I just got our forecast for Tuesday, 43c northerly winds starting at 25km rising to up to 50km. I hope that everyone obeys the Harvest bans in their area under such shocking conditions. The fire danger rating is catastrophic- I think that says it all.
    Hey you blokes on the other side of the globe send us down some cool weather can you!
     
  11. bill onthehill

    bill onthehill Senior Member

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    We are getting snow and winds today. Wish I could send it your way!
     
  12. EdB

    EdB Active Member

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    That sounds wicked. Harvest ban or not, my machine would be parked.
    Folks that have never seen a prairie wildfire don't seem to understand how dangerous they are. We had one here about 10 years ago. Freight train started it. A wall of flames 200 feet high, approaching at 35 MPH will change your outlook -- guaranteed!
    Sorry we seem to be running out of real cold weather as the temps today are near 0°F. A relief from the -40s chill factor we had around Christmas Day. If you get to feeling too warm, you can see what's happening at my farm here: Weather at EdB's
     
  13. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    I'm thinking of you, nextdoor, we had a day like that last week. Fortunately harvest is nearly finished here, but there are some that just don't get it, I will be quite happy if they tighten the harvesting restrictions a little.
    I am not sure about the "Catastrophic" rating. That is the new national rating scheme, but they could have perhaps chosen a better name, it is creating a lot of confusion around the country.
    For the benefit of our Northern Hemisphere freinds, the Australian fire authorities use what they call an FDI Index. They consider that if the Index reaches 35, beyond that a fire becomes uncontrollable.
    For instance, if the temperature is 35C and the humidity is 14%, once the wind speed goes over 26Kph, the FDI reaches 35 and it is recomended that all harvesting operations cease. Unfortunately, there is no legislation to enforce it.

    The chart is here: http://www.cfs.sa.gov.au/site/community_information/farmers/harvesting_codes_of_practice.jsp
    Click on "Grain Harvsting Operation Weather Restrictions".

    When they forecast the "Catastrophic" rating, it means that the FDI rating will go over 100, which means if a fire starts, you have a problem and of course that depends on the terrain and fuel loads. At the height of the fire I mentioned earlier in this thread, I believe the FDI reached about 125.

    RnR.
     
  14. nextdoor

    nextdoor Well-Known Member

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    I checked the weather 44c, 8% humidity and the wind was 51kmh.....YUK! However no fires here, thank god. I just got word of one 250kmh northwest and I wish them all the best.
     
  15. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    All the north crews available have shot through to Dandaragan, Toodyay or Badgingarra. Its still out of control but if the wind will ease up they might be able to backburn it out in the early hours tomorrow. The good news is the bureau has forecast a cool day...it all depends on the wind though.

    http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/homes-lost-as-flames-threaten-toodyay-20091229-lhok.html

    Floods in New South...fires in the West:pointhead
     
  16. bill onthehill

    bill onthehill Senior Member

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    I saw reports on the flooding in NSW. Dang shame they can't send some of that your way. We are down to 4F with 30-40mph winds. At least most of the snow is blowing off the hilltops. Hope the fire danger drops for you fellas.
     
  17. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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  18. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    40 houses gone now
     
  19. RocksnRoses

    RocksnRoses Senior Member

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    That's not good, Squizzy. I went to Google maps and had a bit of a look around the Toodyay area. It looks like there are a lot of lifestyle blocks out there and the terrain is a bit hilly.
    39.9C here at the moment, but hardly any wind.

    That's a pretty fancy weather station with all the readouts, EdB. I wouldn't mind getting something like that, they are around, I just haven't done anything about it.

    RnR.
     
  20. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    Its hilly and rough as guts, lots of areas not so accessible...even though we have had a cool change here it will be hot and the winds still a problem.

    The hobby farmers can be a real problem not being professional land managers. They generally have little or no equipment and poor firebreaks. They don't have the equipment to clean up and maintain the fuel load and they don't burn off in autumn because they don't have the knowledge, equipment or experience. Then they will blame everybody else when it all goes up in smoke. At the end of the day you can't really blame them because we just let them own rural land without a care, rule or responsibility.

    On the other hand I'm reminded of the guy over in Victoria who copped the fines for lopping trees close to his house...but after the fires went through his house was the only one still standing in the area.

    Anyway, hope the poor buggers get out of it Ok.