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Old 08-24-2020, 08:08 PM
Kerry Pinkerton's Avatar
Kerry Pinkerton Kerry Pinkerton is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Near Huntsville, Alabama. Just south of the Tennessee line off I65
Posts: 7,994
Default Shop fire

The very first customer of Imperial Wheeling Machines called me. Steve Mercurio or Steve Prostreet is in central Pennsylvania. His shop burned to the ground last week. He said his early Crown Imperial was still standing but the aluminum quill and uhmw gibs had melted. Obviously, the bearings in the rollers are toast.

I spoke with Pat Brubaker the new owner of Imperial and even though we haven't sold that style adjuster in 15 years, Pat will be able to put together a repair kit.

Joe Andrew's said he would be able to recut the rollers and put in new bearings. I encouraged Steve to have them heat treated while Joe has them.

The fire started in a box of rags that had solvent on them apparently. Spontaneous combustion.

Steve had just retired but his large shop was FULL of tools. All gone now. Hopefully his insurance is going to pay off.

There is a lesson here for all of us.
Kerry Pinkerton
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Old 08-24-2020, 08:46 PM
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Tom Fritz Tom Fritz is offline
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: E.R. MN.
Posts: 164

Sad news. Never trust your rag pile and never trust the battery charger.
Tom Fritz
Customs Classics and Rods
Your 49-51 Ford/Mercury woodie expert
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Old 08-25-2020, 05:25 AM
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Gojeep Gojeep is offline
MetalShaper of the Month March 2015, March 2020
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Eastern Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 2,350

Such a shame when that happens.
aka. Gojeep
Victoria, Australia

Invention is a combination of brains and materials.
The more brains you use, the less materials you need.
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Old 08-25-2020, 07:21 AM
cliffrod cliffrod is offline
MetalShaper of the Month January 2020
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Spartanburg, SC
Posts: 2,581

Sad to hear news like this. An old friend near me lost his decades-old motorcycle shop earlier this month. Total loss. Not Metalshaping related, but a another good lesson. A bike he was trying to start backfired through carbs with no air filter installed, caught fire and multiple fire extinguishers then failed to operate properly. Btdt myself with different friend same scenario at another shop years ago when 2 of 4 properly tagged & inspected fire extinguishers I used failed to operate. Check your gear and keep it current, but think about the "what ifs". It can go very badly very quickly.
AC Button II Carolina Sculpture Studio Channel
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Old 08-25-2020, 07:43 AM
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Pokie Pokie is offline
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Posts: 146
Default Fire

He may well have had insurance, but I have never seen or heard of insurance covering everything. What a sad waste. I wish him luck in rebuilding but it's going to be a long, hard climb.
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Old 08-25-2020, 09:51 AM
metaldahlberg88 metaldahlberg88 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Arizona
Posts: 187

Wow, tough loss. Sorry to hear this happened. I'll make sure to be more careful. It's easy to think of this stuff only happening to "someone else." But you never know to whom or when. Stay safe out there.
- Tommy D
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Old 08-25-2020, 12:05 PM
Kerry Pinkerton's Avatar
Kerry Pinkerton Kerry Pinkerton is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Near Huntsville, Alabama. Just south of the Tennessee line off I65
Posts: 7,994

I talked to some of the guys at the roundup about a smoke alarm system that was turned on when the lights were off of when there was no motion in the room for X minutes. That is, when no one is in the shop. It would need to be on when the shop is not in use because welding and grinding would probably set it off. Lights out would be a good way to 'arm' the alarm...unless you forgot to turn the lights off.

I thought that a great product would be such a sensor that would then call a cell phone or otherwise alert the owner. My shop is 100' from my house. I'd never know there was a problem until I heard the fire engines that a neighbor had called.

James Bowler said that any alarm company can install a system just like that.

Worth thinking about.

A few years back Ben VanBerlo (Pedalcar Ben) in Holland had a spark from welding get on a rag. It smoldered all night and the next day, his shop neighbor smelled the smoke and called the fire department before it ignited. Ben was very lucky.
Kerry Pinkerton
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Old 08-25-2020, 12:06 PM
ojh ojh is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Shenandoah Valley, VA
Posts: 612

Sobering, that could have happened to any of us. I had rags combust like that, I had a display at the Steam & Tractor Show & used linseed oil on the hardwood floors of a 1918 Nash Quad truck, I had oiled everything down and dried it off, tossed the rags in a milk crate and placed it in the bed of the truck out of sight, I went off to register for the Promanade and when I came made there was smoke rolling from the bed! I was gone 1/2hr and the rags were smoldering, no flames.
oj higgins
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Old 08-25-2020, 01:14 PM
John Buchtenkirch John Buchtenkirch is offline
MetalShaper of the Month October 2012
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Glen Cove, Long Island
Posts: 1,600

The worst thing is when real low life types rob you they may burn down your shop just to try and cover up the robbery . Bars on certain windows isnít a bad idea. Did the fellow that had his equipment stolen about 2 years ago ever get any of it back ? At least the scum didn't burn him out. ~ John Buchtenkirch
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Old 08-27-2020, 03:00 AM
metal manny metal manny is offline
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Posts: 418

As previously stated, grinding sparks and welding spatter are particularly lethal as they get projected away from one's immediate location, setting fire inconspiciously to materials stored even at a safe distance. We use "cotton waste" plentifully for cleaning all sorts and this stuff, due to its bird nest-like properties, ignites and smoulders for ages just like tinder - extremely dangerous if not properly managed!

Twice I have had cotton waste ignite from shop activity, luckily both being noticed before a potential disaster.
IMO, a workshop without fire extinguishers is a certain disaster waiting to happen!

Remember that the best of men, are only men at best.
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