PSA: Oily rag spontaneous combustion

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twizzstyle
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Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:25 pm
Location: Kenmore, Wa USA

PSA: Oily rag spontaneous combustion

Post by twizzstyle » Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:57 pm

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook may have seen my photos from today. I nearly lost my whole shop.

I'm doing a big yard project, and was staining a bunch of wood yesterday. I threw a bunch of oil-soaked shop towels in my garbage can late last night and went to bed, not thinking anything of it.

I got home from work today and went out to my shop, and was horrified to find the ENTIRE shop covered in black soot. The garbage can was gone, a melted blob on the floor. The fire was right next to my fiberglass dune buggy, which somehow didn't catch fire. My Lotus Elise just happened to be parked outside for the night, normally it would be in there right next to the garbage bin. The Lotus would have been a total loss.

Let my dumbass mistake be a lesson for all of you - warnings about oily rags spontaneously combusting are VERY REAL.
Last edited by twizzstyle on Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

twizzstyle
Posts: 2203
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2006 8:25 pm
Location: Kenmore, Wa USA

Post by twizzstyle » Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:58 pm

I can't seem to link my facebook photos to here. Just imagine a nice shop completely covered in black soot and a ruined epoxy floor.

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Dr. Delam
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Post by Dr. Delam » Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:34 pm

Glad you didn't have a major disaster and only minor cleanup. I just happened to be staining my house, fence, decks, shed, right now. I always lay oily rags outside my house but I think I'm going to check the garage right now to make sure none snuck in with me!

chrislandy
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Post by chrislandy » Mon Jul 20, 2015 11:52 pm

I've had pots of leftover rocket fuel resin smoke a few times but not oily rags, which type of oil was it? (so I don't make the same mistake!)

twizzstyle
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Post by twizzstyle » Tue Jul 21, 2015 10:54 am

(moved to apres ski building, oops)

It's more than just minor cleanup. Just had an insurance guy out. At a minimum, sounds like all of my equipment (CNC machine, lathe, mill, ski grinder, band saw, etc) will be taken off-site for cleaning. If things are deemed unsalvagable, they may need replacing (I think my MIG and TIG welders are both toast :( )

Epoxy floor will have to be stripped and re-done. Sheetrock may be ok, at the very least cleaned and repainted. Both computers (main computer, and CNC-computer) are likely toast. Lights are all toast. Tool chest was closed, so everything in there should be fine, maybe a little dusty (when is it not?). It's just the big heavy expensive stuff I'm worried about :(

The biggest emotional rough patch is the idea that my shop may be unusable for a couple of months :( I've got shit to do!

gozaimaas
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Post by gozaimaas » Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:17 pm

Shit dude that's messed up.
An oily rag caused all that?

twizzstyle
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Post by twizzstyle » Wed Jul 22, 2015 3:31 pm

Yep.

Fire restoration/clean-up guy came today to assess the damage. Looks like they will be able to clean/save many of my hand tools, but all of the big stuff is not saveable. Including all powered equipment, and tool chests. Thank god for insurance.

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Dr. Delam
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Post by Dr. Delam » Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:21 pm

Sorry to hear that. I thought it was just just a few ashes about. At least the whole house didn't go. My neighbor's did. Around here the culprit is usually putting wood burning stove ashes on a deck in a garbage can.

twizzstyle
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Post by twizzstyle » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:25 am

When we bought our house, my #1 requirement was that we had a detached garage/shop for me, for just this kind of thing. So even if the shop burnt to the ground, the house would have been fine.

I'm going to spend this weekend going through things to see what I want them to try to save - even a lot of the hand tools look trashed. The smoke somehow cause severe rust/pitting on all exposed metal. Monday some guys are coming to haul away everything that is saveable. Then someone from the insurance company will come later in the week to inventory everything else in the shop, and come up with a total value... that's going to be a big project.

The ski grinder is my biggest unknown. It's pretty hard to assess a fair value on something like that.

MadRussian
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Post by MadRussian » Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:15 am

sorry to hear of what happened.

I think it's not fair value you should be looking at but replacement cost. If you paid hundred dollars for piece of equipment and replacement cost to buy it quickly right now is $2000 that's what it worse.


why you have to replace all equipment? what's wrong with it? Equipment was not in action five.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas A. Edison

twizzstyle
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Post by twizzstyle » Sun Jul 26, 2015 3:06 pm

The smoke caused severe rusting on all exposed metal. So imagine things like a lathe, mill, bandsaw, where you have precision ground bare metal surfaces. That's all toast. Also anything with a motor, or any electronics, the smoke got inside everything and likely ruined all electrical connectors, etc. While everything probably still functions right now, the life has been cut drastically down. It's not fire damage, it's smoke damage. You should see the ballscrews from my CNC router - they look like they've been outside in a salt spray for 10 years.

I think I am going to target a Grindrite ST600 as a replacement grinder, if insurance will agree to that. I have not been able to find a Toko grinder like mine anywhere in the world, it's a rare beast. The ST600 looks a little smaller overall, same hp motor, the belt is slightly shorter, but wider, similar coolant setup, etc.

I've got everything I want them to try to save boxed up and ready for pickup by the cleaning folks tomorrow. It's mostly hand tools and little odds and ends that didn't rust, but is just sooty/stinky. I am going to have them take the ski press, with the firehose and cattrack, to clean - I don't see any major damage to those things, just stinky soot. My molds look fairly clean, just stinky, so I'll see what they can do about that.

gav wa
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Post by gav wa » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:06 pm

Wow that's pretty crazy. Sounds like some pretty toxic smoke, might be that it's better you weren't there, would have run in to save your gear and been breathing that stuff.

If the smoke was toxic enough to do all that damage to steel I reckon I'd be changing the press bladders. Wouldn't want a bladder letting go at pressure.

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