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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am voicing a very public concern for the upcoming Wild West rally and other rallies held in dry conditions. After the first stage (a 1 minute jaunt through the farm field) at Ojibwe, we pulled into our service area for our quick first service. When I left, we noticed that the thick double layer tarp had a 1 sq. foot hole melted through and the grass underneath it was burned away by my catalytic converter. I do NOT want to be responsible for starting a forest fire. Unfortunately, I think it is only a matter of time until we do. If I can start a fire after being on the gas for a minute, I know things get a lot hotter after a 20 miler.

For the record, I am using a Car Sound/Magnaflow 93500 series cat with 2.5" inlet/outlet in good condition.

By rally rules insisting I run the cat, can I be held liable and imprisoned if my car starts a forest fire? Would SCCA be liable? Car Sound/Magnaflow?

I am being serious here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
>But yes it is true that the convertors get
>hotter than without, removing them will not eliminate the
>danger.

Richard,

I think I can say this without insulting you or anyone from the state of Texas, but I do feel similar to JV in they way you are reasoning this.

It is as if I said:
"A one-year old child should not ride a bike without training wheels as they will likely hurt themselves."

To which you reply:
"Yes, but my child hurt himself even WITH training wheels at one-year of age."

So? Does that mean that I might as well remove the training wheels because, either way, he still might get hurt? Might as well make good and sure he takes a tumble, eh?

No, not having cats will not REMOVE the danger. But since they are several times hotter than the exhaust pipe would be normally, and given the air space between the average rally car and the ground, I would reason that they are MANY times more likely to start a fire than without.

Just as a one year old child is much more likely to get hurt without training wheels on his bike.

By the way, I didn't have time to buy a new tarp. If you see me at Wild West, come and check it out. Its pretty impressive for just running hard for a minute and parking for 5 minutes.

Cheers,
Lurch
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here we go again :)

You brought up FIA. Here is the "list."

http://www.fia.com/regle/Reg_tec/listesTech/Liste-8-Cata.pdf

Here is one from the list available at Ralliart.
http://www.ralliart.de/en/shop/seareadzub.jsp?min=0&carid=63&zsuchen=catalyser

The price has come down...to a cool $690.00 US + shipping and applicable tariffs and taxes from Germany for this GN model. This seems to be the norm for price on these things, though some run well over $1,000.00. Haven't found the price on a WRCar homologated unit, yet, but I'm guessing it is more than these GN models.

Yes, a few of the guys in the US run these. The rest of us are running regular cats until something better becomes available (I have been working on a company to produce a special rallycat, and they have tested, but no product until next year at earliest...we will see).

I cannot speak to how restrictive the HJS and other homologated cats are, nor how hot they get in a rally car. I don't know how much they "clean the air" if any at all. I will not be buying one (or two...gotta have a spare, y'know). I know that there are cats available in this country that are not as durable, are not TOO restrictive, and get freakin' hot...hot enough certainly to start fires from 8" above the ground.

That is what I know. Fact is, European (true FIA) and American rallying are apples and oranges (still). We (US) feel the need to put cost controls in for the big teams to keep them from running away from each other with gearboxes and diffs. Cats aren't a big deal cuz they are "only" seven hundred or a thousand dollars. I think this is another case where a "deviation" is in order...at least until a reasonable economic/technological balance is achieved...which MAY be as soon as next year...or may not.

I feel better about releasing a rally's worth of hydrocarbons to the atmosphere than burning down a couple thousand acres. But that's just me.

Edit--I want to quell rumors that this is a horsepower issue for me. I am getting nearly the same dyno numbers after extensive tuning with my cat as I can get without. I would gladly sacrifice a small percentage of HP if the greater public, US rallying, or the environment were getting a reasonable benefit. However, I think all of these parties are seeing very little benefit at a SUBSTANTIAL risk...the risk of forest fire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
RE: Answered my own question...

> AHHH couldn't you just add a heat shield under the car with
>about a 3/4 inch air gap between it and the convertor???
>
Not without extensive tunnel modification. You see, I need an airgap between the cat and my car so IT doesn't burn down, either.

Don't think GN allows tunnel mods, eh?

Edit--sorry, I just re-read your post and my response really doesn't address it well. I already have an airgap, then a heat shield, then another air gap then the cat. The issue at hand is the proximity of the converter to the ground, not just the car. Is this clearer?

Apologies,
Eric
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
RE: Answered my own question...

>What about ceramic coating?

On the car or the cat? The cat needs to bleed off that heat. You'll meltdown if you hold it in. Never thought of ceramic coating the car. That's an interesting idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
RE: Here we go again :)

Brad, the same statute also states that it is ILLEGAL to remove a properly functioning catalytic converter from a vehicle. We already broke the law. Throw us all in jail. I am certain that EVERY late-nineties-to-present rally car had a properly functioning cat on it when it was removed.

Also, you said it yourself:
"...the Federal government mandates that the entire emissions system be intact..."

How many cars have the original charcoal cannister and fuel tank vent system. Everything with a fuel cell I would say does not. It is all part of the "entire emissions system."

No. Given the choice of looking the other way on whether the car has a cat, and burning down a portion of the United States, I choose option one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Anyways...

Look, I didn't mean to reignite (pun) an argument about cats. There are some folks that think that if we are quiet, there must not be any issue. I just put up the original post to say I STARTED A FIRE WITH MY CAR AT OJIBWE. I only ran hard for one minute, and my engine was OFF when I started said fire. Therefore I feel there is still an issue.

My question is how liable am I if I start a wildfire? I will continue to research this question to see if it is worth my own liability risk to continue rallying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
>instead of fretting over having to have a cat. on your car
>and the likelyhood of it starting a fire vs. not having one
>and the likelyhood of that starting a fire.... why don't you
>ensure that you service crew members are aware of the
>potential danger and have extra extinguishers? a little
>common sense and precaution may save a few stages. with all
>the other problems this year this seems to be a no-brainer.
>

Yes. Of course. Why didn't I think of that? Tell me, should I carry these extinguisher-ready crew in a trailer behind the rally car? Or should I dig up those plans for the sidecar concept I have been working on. I suppose as long as they don't actually discharge the extinguisher it cannot be considered illegal servicing.

Obviously, my concern isn't for burning down service areas. Yes, we have 3 service fire extinguishers and the guys know how to use them. My concern is for burning down FORESTS.

Thanks for bringing this "no-brainer" to my attention. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Allright. I'm signing off on this one, now. Gotta sleep to catch a morning flight to the Great Northwest. I didn't aim to change the world with this one. Just wanted to bring it to surface that:

A) my catalytic converter started a fire after a very short stint at WOT in a not real dry area with the engine turned off and after melting through a thick plastic tarp.

B) this has me deeply concerned about my responsibilies as a land user and my liability as a business owner/individual.

Just as the SCCA has a risk management department to assess liability and risk, I also put that hat on for myself and my business at times. This one don't look good.

I'll let you know what I find out about racer's liability wrt forest fires.

Cheers,
Lurch
 
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