Destroyed in Minutes
"Yesterday, in just a matter of minutes, I lost in excess of $30,000 in a 20
foot X 32 foot building, processor , lumber milling head and tools, wood working
planers, saws .
Although my propcessor was not a pre manufactured one, it was
built reasonab;le well. There was one thing that saved a huge explosion from a
barrel of methanol, and I know the exact reason, it all happened . I will put it
here and maby it will save someone else some misery down the road.
The capaciator, on the harbor freight pumps seemed to malfunction on the 3 I
had hooked up early in life. I would simply take the cooling blade cover off and
give it a touch with the finger tip. I went out, turned on a heating element,
started the pump, on my dryer tank, and came back in the houise,
considerable time, my wife and grand daughter came in talking about the
electricity going off twice. One of those outages that last only a few seconds.
It must have happened while I was walking from the processor room to the house,
a distance of about 300 feet, and in snow, avoiding mud puddles frozen over.
I went out a bit dis grumpled, not wanting to loose a motor, other wise
reasonable confident the circuit breaker would do its job. By this I mean, I
full well know the capicator, whose job is to store energy for an extra boost on
pump start up, was not working. That meaning the motor was trying to start,
burning upo brushes, wires etc, but confident the circuit breaker would do its
job, heat up andd trip off.
When I opened the door, the wiring insullator was on fire about two ffet up,
and and the pump itself was in flames, the capicator box on top, and at the pump
imlet area, I had use a two foot section of the clear hose from thebottom of the
tank, to the pump. I killed the electricity, thinking I could smoother the fire
out, with some rags that where handy. That proved a failure, as fuel was now
comming out of the dryer barrel, on fire, spilling onto the floor.
My thought at this point was to take water, not toput the flame out, but to
wash it out the door away from the opposit door where a barrel of methanol was
sitting. I ran , got my grand daught to go into another building for me, to turn
on the water, while I git the hose. The hose failed as it had water frozzen in
it. The flame had now moved into an area where 25 oil gugs sat containing
gylicin, with the methanole in them, and they where only about 6 feet from the
barrel of methanol. I abandoned that , getting clear, as I expected the methanol
to literaly blow up.It didd not blow up with an explosion, as I expected it to.
It was in a plastic drum, and I am thinking the flames burned enought of the
barrel, letting it flow out to burn . Instead of being confined in a metal
barrel, building presure and exploding.
While taking cover, I was thinking as quick as it explodes, I could get into
the other half of the building, salavage , especialy my saw head for cutting
lumber. There are two door 32 feet apart, so you can get a picture of the power
involved here. I looked and flame was shooting out these doors ten feet or so,
and prehaps fifteen high at this point. There is a 30 plus inch pine 124 feet
from the building . the flame hit it with enought force and heat to set it on
fire 25 feet up its trunk. This did not occur in ten minutes or so, it was a
matter of a couple of minutes. Once it started, you might say it was lighting
-sorry to here of your loss! I have read lots of horror storries about the blue pumps, Is there a way to make them safe?
" I don't know what I don't know until I know"
1994 GMC 6.5 Tubo 2005 Dodge ram 3500, 3 VW's 2000, 2002, 2005.
You have the same misunderstanding about home circuit breakers as the poor fellow who lost the building.
Home circuit breakers are there to prevent the wiring in the home from catching fire. They are not there to protect the equipment plugged into it.
The link you provided to the improved Harbor Freight pump says the Harbor Freight pump will draw 12- 13 Amps if it stalls. The person says he had a 15 or 20 amp circuit breaker installed. A stalled motor drawing 12- 13 amps will not trip a 15 or 20 Amp circuit breaker.
Yes, unplug it and cut the electric cord off as close as possible to where it enters the pump.
Really sorry for your loss Gator.
Motors should be fitted with a thermal fuse, but I guess that would make them a dollar or two more expensive.
Thank you for posting your nightmare for others to learn!
No motor should ever be operated without an overload device, ever!
It is also the law!
JG is also correct that ambient temperature has a large impact on circuit breaker performance however a breaker is not designed to protect a motor circuit from a motor overload situation (like when the cap fails, motor jams, partial winding failure, etc), only a short circuit, that's why an overload must be used. If not just wait for the flames, and that's on any motor from the dirt cheap to the top of the line...
On another note I have seen FPE 15 amp breakers that you could arc weld with...
Sorry for the misunderstanding. This did not occur to me, it is a cross post from the Yahoo Biodiesel group.
I am still trying to figure out what I want to do for a reactor.
There is a very informative discussion about this fire going on at the Yahoo site. It turns out that the reactor involved was an Appleseed reactor and this is not the first time an Appleseed reactor has burned down a workshop causing a big property loss. Apparently it is common for Appleseed reactors to have fires and explosions.
It is certainly a learning experience for me.
like most here I started making bio with the little blue pump, over the course of my bio journey these last several years I have come to believe whole heartedly they have no place in anything involved in making bio, these things are called blue WATER pumps for a reason.
This has all been brought up 100 times already.
People will argue black and blue that these pumps and Appleseed reactors are safe yet the incidents with them will continue.
The only time I see anything real will change with the way people insist and defend using these things is when someone loses their life in one of these incidences and they and possibly the whole practice of Homebrew Bio making is legislated out of use.
Maybe Tilly was right!!!
" I don't know what I don't know until I know"
1994 GMC 6.5 Tubo 2005 Dodge ram 3500, 3 VW's 2000, 2002, 2005.
Tilly was basically right, but he took it to a psychotic extreme.
The problem with "alternative" energy, resources, etc... is multi-fold
Well, I was going to say that one can't find "good" products rated for the tasks that people are doing... so people improvise. (Plus DIY "alternative" types of people tend to improvise).
And in many cases this is true.
For example, it can be hard to find good DC parts and equipement for solar applications, so many people fudge with AC equipment, or using inverters and other equipment designed for intermittent use in full-time applications.
I.E. Look at circuit breakers at Home Depot. How many are rated for high amp 12V DC applications?
Just for kicks, I thought I'd look up pumps at Grainger:
It turns out the Grainger sells 9 different pumps, all rated for HOT COOKING OIL.
Of course, the big problem is that they are all $500 to $1000 EACH.
The Harbor Freight (blue) pump is only $34.
Many people find it is more economical to buy 3 or 4 $35 pumps than purchasing one $500 pump.
But they are rated for WATER (which is difficult to burn). I suppose you get what you pay for.
And, of course, the Chinese don't care. The market can be brutal... often the difference of 1 cent on E-Bay can make the difference between a sale, and no sale.
John, you can't have it both ways... bash, and recommend the same pumps.
If you want quality, then buy quality.
Unfortunately it will cost you.
But... $500 pump vs your shed, tools, cars, house, etc... it is a hard decision.
The price of the pump has little to do with the built in safety features of the motor driving it.
Most commercial or industrial pumps will not necessarily have an overload built in. No industrial motor applications have motors with built in overloads, you always add them yourself when you install the controls.
Also, always remember brewing biodiesel is an inherently hazardous process, many things could go wrong besides the motor burning up.
I firmly believe this is not a hobby for people not familiar with the required methods of building a setup like, plumbing, electrical, flammable chemical handling, etc...
This is not for your average DIY guy who drives a desk all day and has never been exposed to industrial installation and safety measures, in my opinion...
In the interest of full disclosure, I think everyone on this thread ought to know that Bill Cowart is the person who suffered from this fire. Gator is not the victim, he is reporting Bill's accident, which is why he posted in quotes and provided a link.
FYI Rick has published on make-biodiesel.org the following information on how to enhance the safety of a Harbor Freight or Northern Tool clear water pump.
"The Clearwater Pump"
I intend to give this a try.
The good news is that by having publicly presented an accurate accounting of what caused his fire, Bill is helping many of us assess our personal situations and make decisions about how to process more safely.
In my case, for example, in addition to modifying my pump I plan either to move my entire processing operation to an industrial building or to build a shed outside of my garage for my processor and methanol recovery unit. I already store my oil outside of my garage, and limit my methanol to no more than ten gallons at a time stored along with my biodiesel in a steel Flammables cabinet. With an updated pump and my equipment no longer in my garage, I feel that my level of safety will be greatly improved.
That doesn't make any sense JG, only one overload device is used, never two. In what industrial application are you regularly using motors with built in OL's?
The vast majority of motor overload devices work on amperage, including the thermal type. You never use 2 overload devices for a motor, you require overload (thermal) and short circuit (magnetic) protection sized for the motor or group of motors and that's it (in general).
A standard "thermal" overload is just a heater that heats a bi-metallic strip up. When the current through the heater rises beyond the thermal overloads current rating the bi-metallic strip opens the contact.
There are actual thermal temperature probes used in large industrial motors as well as service critical motors and thermistors may be used in small fractional hp motors but all that is beyond the scope of what we are talking about here...
I should have stated "in general industrial motors do not have an overload device included".
Boy oh boy, someone is wound up tighter than a two dollar watch. Calm down John, take a Valium and try to be civil. Just because people point out your mistakes does not mean everyone is out to get you.
Wow John Galt, how many messages did you post and then delete in this thread?
This behavior does not tend to produce good thread content, and therefore should be avoided.
Reminds me a bit of a guy who used to post here who was always touting the benefits of "canoe paddle" mixing.
Got Renewable Fuel?
That is what happens when you get caught spouting BS by a pro.
And who do you think Gator is???? Hmmmmm??? 80% of his posts are fire, specifically Appleseed and Chinese Blue related.
Yet ironically, whoever it is, the warnings they Tilly and so many others have made are still basically ignored despite the overwhelming evidence what they are saying in these things being dangerous is right. For some reason people still dismiss the evidence and dangers and make excuses to justify the continued use of these dangerous practices and equipment.
For an interest group with such an overall pedantic way of thinking with so many safety zealots, I'm at a loss to work out why these things are not denounced and earn the universal disapproval they deserve.
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