Wiring caught fire

An alchemy of sparks, copper wire and earth

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Camfrank99
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Location: Bath, Somerset

Wiring caught fire

Post by Camfrank99 »

Hi guys I was recently passed down my dads t25 after he passed and he was still messing with it before he left, so today I got a new battery for it as the old one was dead turned the ignition on and all was good I was checking stuff worked ie. horn, ac and then I did the indicators and when I did them there was a loud buzzing coming from them and then a fire started at the battery terminal could this be because the indicators weren’t wired in correctly? Any info would help massively thank you
1989 T25 Panel van 2.0 CU

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Robsey
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Location: East Manchester

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Robsey »

That sounds like a very odd issue to have.

I would have expected a fire at the 'other' end of the wiring - near the fusebox.

I would not expect a fire near the battery, unless there is something touching the top of the battery terminals.

First job - disconnect the battery.!!!

Next job -
Please give us as much detail as possible about your van.

Model Year,
Petrol or Diesel,
As much info as you think is relevant.

Also - do you know why he was working on the van?
Repairs, servicing or a major re-build.

This all makes it easier for us to narrow down the problem.
1983 Tin Top with a poorly DF and 4 speed DT box.
Soon to have a whizzy 1987 DJ.

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Robsey
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Joined: 19 May 2012, 20:45
80-90 Mem No: 11137
Location: East Manchester

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Robsey »

I would be tempted to think that the indicator relay is wired up incorrectly.
Easier to get it wrong on an earlier van - upto 1984 models.
So when activated, it is shorting the 12v supply direct to ground...
but there should be a fuse in place to prevent issues.

Can you see any new, disturbed or burnt wires in or around the fusebox under the dash (behind glove box).

Finally check the wires at the indicators...
Has he connected a black/white or black/green wire directly to the body?

I apologise for simple questions, but I do not know your level of knowledge working with vehicle electrics.

If you have very limited knowledge, then the safest route is to call out an auto electrician or see if there is a club member in your area.
It is good to put a location in your profile so people know roughly where you are.
1983 Tin Top with a poorly DF and 4 speed DT box.
Soon to have a whizzy 1987 DJ.

TONYT25T25
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Location: Hampshire

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by TONYT25T25 »

And some images of the affected areas or other relevant ones.

Image
1984 Campervan 1.9DG Petrol WBX

Camfrank99
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Joined: 05 Jun 2021, 16:12
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Location: Bath, Somerset

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Camfrank99 »

Thank you for the replies, it’s a 1989 formally water cooled but my dad put a 2L cu engine in, I have very little knowledge on wiring. The fire was due to the live wire on the battery getting hot and was touching the seat. He was in the middle of re doing everything so stripped everything out. This is the only photo I have at the moment I can show the wiring when I see it next Image 
1989 T25 Panel van 2.0 CU

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Robsey
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Location: East Manchester

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Robsey »

Okay, so two separate issues.

I think your main issue would be the battery terminal touching the seat, shorting it to earth.

I presume the fire would have been carpetting, plastic sleeve or seat upholstery that got too hot, rather than the battery itself.

It is good practice to :-
1 - ensure you have the correct battery fitted.
Type 063 for standard use and 075 for heavy duty use.
2 - if you have a metal lid on the battery housing, either cover underside of the lid with a rubber / plastic or wooden panel - or remove it completely and fit a plywood panel instead.

I think the indicators thing may have been a bit of a coincidence. Especially if you were sat in the driver's seat at the time.
Your weight may have pushed the seat springs onto the battery terminal, and it took a short while for the shorting of the battery to create enough heat to cause the fire.
1983 Tin Top with a poorly DF and 4 speed DT box.
Soon to have a whizzy 1987 DJ.

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Robsey
Posts: 310
Joined: 19 May 2012, 20:45
80-90 Mem No: 11137
Location: East Manchester

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Robsey »

If it helps,
The wiring looms in the 1985 onwards vehicles are much better.
They are grouped into connectors at the back of the fuse box.

Later Fuse Box.
Image

So if a wire does go faulty, it is possible to swap out one part of the loom.

In your case, the indicators, horn and headlamp loom.

Less trawling through spaghetti that you would find on the early vans.

Image
1983 Tin Top with a poorly DF and 4 speed DT box.
Soon to have a whizzy 1987 DJ.

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Robsey
Posts: 310
Joined: 19 May 2012, 20:45
80-90 Mem No: 11137
Location: East Manchester

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Robsey »

The only 'real' wiring changes that he should have needed would have been from the engine-bay fusebox onwards to the engine and starter motor.

Although....
Having just read another thread.
If he has swapped ALL the electrics from the CU engine, he may have also fitted the old twin red wire cable from the battery to the starter and then onto the alternator.


wow - I have not seen a Fat Willy's Surf Shack window sticker for years. :shock:
1983 Tin Top with a poorly DF and 4 speed DT box.
Soon to have a whizzy 1987 DJ.

Camfrank99
Posts: 5
Joined: 05 Jun 2021, 16:12
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Location: Bath, Somerset

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Camfrank99 »

Thank you guys really appreciate it, I will look at everything you’ve said and try to sort it. Yeah we used to go down Newquay every year with it :D also there is a red wire that comes off the live terminal is that the one you are saying about?
1989 T25 Panel van 2.0 CU

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Robsey
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Location: East Manchester

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Robsey »

There should be two red cables.
One to the dash mounted fuse box,
(Goes down and to the left, before heading forward to the front of the van)

And a very thick one to the starter motor.
(This goes down and straight back towards the engine bay).

Assuming you do not have extra cables for an auxiliary / leisure battery, power steering or head-light upgrade wiring.

Ensure that the top of the positive (+) terminal is well insulated from anything that could short it to ground.
1983 Tin Top with a poorly DF and 4 speed DT box.
Soon to have a whizzy 1987 DJ.

Camfrank99
Posts: 5
Joined: 05 Jun 2021, 16:12
80-90 Mem No: 6
Location: Bath, Somerset

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Camfrank99 »

ImageImage
1989 T25 Panel van 2.0 CU

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Robsey
Posts: 310
Joined: 19 May 2012, 20:45
80-90 Mem No: 11137
Location: East Manchester

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Robsey »

Yep - I think that confirms my theory.

Battery terminal shorting on the metal springs on the underside of the driver's seat.

I presume your dad had alternative seats fitted too, judging by the bolt at the rear of the seat rail.

I suspect main action is to replace that battery cable, and to definitely put an insulation cap over that battery terminal as an absolute minimum.
1983 Tin Top with a poorly DF and 4 speed DT box.
Soon to have a whizzy 1987 DJ.

Camfrank99
Posts: 5
Joined: 05 Jun 2021, 16:12
80-90 Mem No: 6
Location: Bath, Somerset

Re: Wiring caught fire

Post by Camfrank99 »

Yeah it’s a different seat, thank you for your help!
1989 T25 Panel van 2.0 CU

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