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Old 07-05-2015, 09:16 PM   #1
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Another Toad Front End Fire - Mine This Time :-(

In some ways this thread might better belong on the towing forum ... but because a recent thread (similar topic) got a lot of attention on this forum I am posting here to get the coverage - and in the hopes it will help the max number of people.

A recent thread focused on a fire in the front end of a towed vehicle that severely damaged the toad (though the owner was able to disengage the RV and get it out of danger). The story went that "there was some confusion when leaving ... and within several miles of traveling another motorist alerted the RV driver to a problem ... and the RV driver then found that the front end of the toad was on fire. This forum had several thoughts on what might have happened....

WELL ... I think I have a good guess (now). Today, pulling out of our campground to head home from the long weekend, all seemed fine. My toad (a Mini Cooper) hooked up well, the braking system (a Patriot electrical system) got placed and did its set up as expected. I verified that the emergency brake was off, and the gear lever in neutral (manual transmission). Pulling out, I ran SLOW, and detected no drag on the coach, AND did two wide turns to observe the wheels were freewheeling fine.

No problem ... right??

About 4 miles in to my run, my TPMS started alarming with high temperatures on both the front wheels of my toad (hot ..l like 180F at the valve stems). Pulled over thinking that things were "warm" and I needed to debug. Crouched down to look a the front right wheel ... and saw nice little flames (yes ... fire) rising from the inside of the brake caliper.

"oh &%$!"

went back to the coach, grabbed the fire extinguisher at inside of door, told my wife we needed water ... FAST ... wend back to the toad, used the fire extinguisher on the front right wheel ... checked the left front and found the same lively little flames, and used the extinguisher on them.

After things cooled off a little bit, AND after removing the Patriot aux. brake from the front drivers seat, verified that the brakes are shot, but the bearings and U joint covers seem ok ... bottom line is the wheels seemed "ok" enough to try towing the rest of the way home (WITHOUT the patriot aux brake active) ... and in fact things went ok on the way home, with the temperatures monitored by TPMS being "just fine".

Pictures attached show how the rotors were heated and discolored.... (I tried to attach two files ... not sure if they came through ok??)

Anyway ... after looking over the situation, I am something like 90% sure what happened is that when I attached the auxiliary braking system, I had "snugged" the drivers seat forward too far, and caused the brake pedal to be depressed an inch or so even with the braking system not "braking". STUPID ... I was thinking that I wanted to counter-act the fact that when the brake activates the seat compresses somewhat, decreasing the ability of the system to depress the brake pedal. I was NOT thinking about the effect on the other end of the armature..... :-(

A couple lessons (that I will NEVER forget).
1) a VERY LITTLE pressure on the brakes will result in a LOT of heat (and not be noticeable in terms of drag on the coach or free-wheeling of the toad's wheels)
2) SO ... be VERY sure the brake pedal is NOT depressed AT ALL with the braking system in a state of "not braking" (this would, I think, apply to electric as well as pneumatic or other systems.
3) continue to do the visual and "looking for drag" test when leaving in the morning
4) IN ADDITION TO THAT, keep a CLOSE eye on the temperatures reported by the TPMS in the toad wheels (I am pretty sure that had I been looking and known what to look for I would have caught that something was amiss before things got critical
5)Oh, #4 means ... USE A TPMS!!!!! If I had not had one, I have absolutely no doubt that things would have been MUCH worse.
6) if you have not done so, take fire extinguisher training :-)


I am having the Mini towed to the dealership tomorrow morning ... keeping in mind that the brake pedal activates the front brakes AND the rear brakes. The rears were definitely HOT, but not as hot as the fronts. The rears are actually due for a full brake job in 3,000 miles anyway :-) If I am lucky, the fronts will need new pads, rotors, and maybe calipers. We will see if the flames damaged anything else.

Hopefully this little experience of mine helps explain what was reported in that earlier thread with the toad fire ... and helps someone on this forum avert this "failure mode" in the future.

Be safe out there
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Old 07-05-2015, 09:23 PM   #2
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Thanks for the reminder. We use the Patriot braking system, too. Not had any troubles with it, but the rule-of-thumb to keep things "loose" is a great reminder.

Sorry for your mishap, but I do appreciate you sharing it so the rest of us can learn, too.

\ken
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Old 07-06-2015, 05:40 AM   #3
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Buy a lottery ticket today! You are one lucky hombre.

One of the things I always check is to see if my toad's brake lights are on after my EZ Brake runs through its test cycle. That has happened to me before when I had the seat improperly adjusted.
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:00 AM   #4
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Buy a lottery ticket today! You are one lucky hombre.

One of the things I always check is to see if my toad's brake lights are on after my EZ Brake runs through its test cycle. That has happened to me before when I had the seat improperly adjusted.

I agree. Always do a walk around before pulling out. Brake lights on? = problem.


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Old 07-06-2015, 06:45 AM   #5
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I would guess pads, calipers,and rotors are shot.
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Old 07-06-2015, 02:17 PM   #6
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I would also check that the hubs are good; basically, you should be able to get the front off the ground and then confirm the wheels don't wobble and spin freely.

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Old 07-07-2015, 01:04 PM   #7
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I would also check that the hubs are good; basically, you should be able to get the front off the ground and then confirm the wheels don't wobble and spin freely.

Steve
I did do that before I even continued to tow home. the tow (about 100 miles) from there went ok. the only thing I noticed while the wheels were off the ground was a periodic grinding of the pads against the rotors.

car is in the shop now - should know more by the end of the day what the extent of damage is......
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:47 PM   #8
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Well, the answer is: front rotors, pads , and calipers shot, rears are all ok. Not cheap, but could have been MUCH worse . Maybe I should go and buy that lottery ticket ... :-)
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:54 PM   #9
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I would also replace both front brake hoses,and flush\replace the brake fluid.180 degrees is rather hot for the fluid and hoses.
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:08 AM   #10
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I did the same thing when I first got my brake buddy 14 years ago. Lucky we were camping about one hour from home. When we arrived home could smell the brakes. I now push the seat all the way back to give it plenty of travel.
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:16 AM   #11
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What did you have the TPMS alarm set for? I have mine at 120 degrees. I have never seen more than 100, but I haven't travelled anywhere hotter than 95 ambient. I keep my alarms close so that I get plenty of warning.
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:44 AM   #12
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ONE of the reasons I like "Installed" brake systems like the US-Gear Decelerator over "Box in the driver's seat" like the patriot is this.

Though they say "NO installation required" that is a lie.. You have to install them EVERY time you tow.. and EVERY time you install. it is a chance to screw it up like the dealer did my US-Gear system.

And you just proved it.
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Old 07-08-2015, 03:02 PM   #13
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I have a RVI brake system. Although I've never had a problem I do have concerns about the potential brake drag issues.
My solution is a super bright LED wired to the brake switch in the toad. When illuminated I can see it in my rear camera. It plugs in and can easily be removed for normal driving.
I don't like the hassle of setting it up when we tow, but I've got it down to a pretty quick process. The brake has been very useful in a panic stop, although the coffee pot didn't fair so well.
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Old 07-08-2015, 03:41 PM   #14
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That mini is so light I am surprised u even bothered with a braking system.

Glad there was not anymore damage
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