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Old 06-22-2015, 02:33 PM   #1
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fire and downhill braking safety

I I have two dreads fire in the engine bay and fire from overheated brakes.
Now before you all get pedantic, about what type of fire and the differences, let me say that I am posing a question.
"what fire suppression systems would the forum members recommend for rear engine bays and how to control downhill overheating on brakes. I have seen terrible accidents and fires on RVs to take this issue seriously.
David
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Old 06-22-2015, 02:51 PM   #2
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I would suggest visiting Mac the Fire Guy web page. Mac provides education, information, and products geared towards RV fire safety. Click here.

As well he has some products that are geared directly for RV engine bays. Click here.

Regarding brake fires - rule of thumb for down hill braking on large RVs - use the engine/exhaust/jacobs braking and not the brake pedal. Go slow.

Hope this helps,
Brian
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Old 06-22-2015, 03:10 PM   #3
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I have three 5lb fire extinguishers in my coach. One in front by the passenger seat, one at the foot of the bed and one in one of the rear storage bays that are easily accessible.

Now, brakes overheating.
Rule of thumb for me, DONT GO DOWN THE HILL ANY FASTER THAN YOU WENT UP.
Meaning, if you topped the grade at 35-40 MPH, then start your decent at the same speed with the exhaust brake engaged. At this point, if you feel you are going too fast, use the service brake to slow your speed and allow the transmission shift to a lower gear. My exhaust brake selects 2nd gear by default but the transmission will not select a lower gear than speed will allow to prevent engine over speed.
This is where using the service brake comes into play to lower your speed.
I have gone down 9% grades for miles and only used my service brake once or twice. No reason for the brakes to become overheated. Key is to start out at the top at the right speed so you are not trying to recover from too much momentum once you are into the grade.
One more thing, when applying the service brakes, apply with a firm pressure. Do Not Pump the Pedal like you might with a car.
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Old 06-22-2015, 04:19 PM   #4
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Downhill I select my target speed and when I hit that speed I brake hard 'til I'm 10 under, release brake. Repeat.


Trans in appropriate gear for target speed selected.
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Old 06-22-2015, 07:55 PM   #5
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Look up "Snub Braking" on the web and once you are familiar with the general principals, you will need to practice putting them in operation for your particular rig.

One think that does help going up and down hills is get ahead of the game by manually downshifting to keep the revs high. Keeps the engine temperature under control by incresed cooling and less heat generation on the way up, and on the way down the auxiliary braking does a much better job at high revs than low revs.
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Old 06-22-2015, 09:47 PM   #6
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I am not sure about what to recomend on fire suppression in the engine bay. A guy i know very well had a total loss of his coach from an engine fire. He has drove big trucks all his working career and is very vigilant about being aware of things while driving down the road. The fire started from a leaky injector line and was not noticeable till he stopped. The thing just burst into flames and was gone in less than fifteen minutes.
My point is I think you would need a pretty good system to put out a fire like that.

On overheating brakes, like others have said slowing down before you start down the hill is key to being safe. The hill you just pulled up on may be steeper than or less steep thean the other side that you are starting down.
I always slow right down at the top of a hill and let the transmission shift down and the exhaust brake engage. If I am holding back to much then I will let it shift up one gear or until it holds by itself with the exhaust brake. I only snub the brake peddle to slow it once the revs come up too high about every half mile or so. Any more than that you will be starting to heat your brakes, and if it is a several mile long downhill grade you can get very hot brakes before you get to the bottom.

It is much easier and safer to slow down before you start down than it is after you start down as it will take a lot of braking power to slow it down and then you will already have started to heat up your brakes.
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Old 06-22-2015, 09:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slickest1 View Post
I am not sure about what to recomend on fire suppression in the engine bay......
My point is I think you would need a pretty good system to put out a fire like that.
Mac the Fire Guy Engine Bay Fire Extinguisher systems.

Hope this helps,
Brian
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Old 06-27-2015, 12:48 AM   #8
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RV fire and downhill braking

I appreciate the responses to this important issue. The advice on control of descending braking was useful. Large gas engines have next to no braking capability. Of all the engine brakes, the compression system as found on Foretravel are the best as they use transmission viscosity to hold gear speed and has built in cooling ability.
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Old 06-27-2015, 01:22 AM   #9
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Plan on going downhill 1 gear lower than you used to climb the hill
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Old 06-27-2015, 08:15 AM   #10
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If you are really serious about fire you should investigate a fire suppression system similar to this.

Vehicle Fire Suppression Systems | AFEX Fire Suppression Systems

I am very familiar with this type of system as it is used in the mining industry, I worked in underground mining for ~30 years. By law we had to have fire extinguishers on all equipment but most large equipment was equipped with a fire suppression system that would discharge automatically.

Since the engine, transmission, and most hydraulic components are located in one enclosed area this type of system would work well. There is usually 1 large tank with a dry chemical in it with distribution hoses and nozzles located around the engine compartment. Essentially what happens is that once the fire is detected the system will automatically discharge and flood the compartment with enough dry chemical to void it of oxygen.

Prior to using these types of systems a fire on a piece of equipment usually resulted in a total loss. These systems work if you are willing to invest in them, my guess ~$3500 installed. Most large cities have companies that do this type of work.
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Old 06-27-2015, 08:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beverly643 View Post
I appreciate the responses to this important issue. The advice on control of descending braking was useful. Large gas engines have next to no braking capability. Of all the engine brakes, the compression system as found on Foretravel are the best as they use transmission viscosity to hold gear speed and has built in cooling ability.
If you do not have enough compression braking you are starting down hill too fast.

FWIW on a steep down hill I start at a crawl just like the semi's. It works with a big C so ought to work with an A gas. Get slow at the top and stay slow going down. As much as possible brake on the straight parts as needed to keep slow using the engine and transmission.
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Old 06-27-2015, 08:31 AM   #12
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Are you driving a Foretravel?
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Old 06-30-2015, 08:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Large gas engines have next to no braking capability.
Gas engines (assuming you mean gasoline engines) have pretty much the same braking system built in as diesel engines have with an add-on. Just that the valve is on the intake rather than the exhaust. Without the exhaust brake, a diesel engine has no engine braking apart from windage and friction losses. Not so the gas engine.
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Old 06-30-2015, 09:40 PM   #14
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After some research and talking to Mac the Fire Guy I installed a 3 Liter AFFF fire suppression system. AFFF is particularly good at snuffing out ful fires.
If you store your coach in the winter you will need the Freez protected AFFF. I'm not sure to what temp it is protected.
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