Things happen to Honda Bob, Too!
Last week, I was on my way to Saugus, California to check out a customers car, when I had to make a pit stop. Well, I pulled off the freeway and parked in a cafe parking lot. When I came out a few minutes later, I got back into my car, and started it up. That’s when I noticed the smoke and smell from under the hood. I immediately turned off the engine and opened the hood to find that there was a fire burning on the back side of my engine compartment. I grabbed a shop towel and my spray hand cleaner and patted the fire, then sprayed the cleaner all around the back side of the engine until the fire went out. The only damage was a slightly blackened engine compartment and the plastic hose to my air horn. I guess that when the fire started, the hose melted and air from my air horns leaked onto the fire supplying it with air to burn. It seems that the return oil line coming from my Frantz oil filter had come loose from the top to the valve cover where it was attached. The oil from the line was running down onto the exhaust manifold and caught fire.
I carry several containers with spare bolts and things. In one of these, I found a fitting that I could replace in the hole in the valve cover. I took the valve cover off and installed a new fitting for the return oil line, then found another fitting that I could attach to the return line from the oil filter. When I looked around, I noticed one of those Freeway Service Patrol tow trucks about 30 feet across the parking lot. The driver in the tow truck was sound asleep the whole time.
The following day, I cleaned up the oil residue from the engine compartment, and replaced the length of plastic hose for my air horns. Thinking back on the whole episode, I was lucky to make a pit stop when I did. If the fire has started on the freeway at speed, the fire would probably have been fatal for my car. And possibly me too. The following day, I went out and bought a fire extinguisher.