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TexasJohn55

air filter fire on '88 3800

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     I wanted to start here as it seems to be the best place for 3800 questions.

 

Daughter just had her '88 Olds 3800 quit running and called her brother who lived closer than me. She said that guages were normal, only thing she noticed was the volt meter bouncing when it died and wouldn't restart. My son sent me pictures of the air cleaner partially burned and the honey-comb melted on the intake. He did finally get it cranked up and to the house. I will try to upload pics.

 

Anyone ever heard of this happening?.

Edited by TexasJohn55 (see edit history)

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Update: Son said the fire started on the dirty air intake side at the snorkel, no foreign material found, air cleaner was clean. Melted plastic air box and damaged AIT sensor. Honeycomb melted and ingested. Wouldn't start because of bad connection on ground post of side terminal. He cleaned out what was left of the honeycomb and cleaned the MAF. It ran at 2000 when cranked up so he had to disconnect the MAF. He thinks it may run ok with a new honeycomb. Can't get pics to upload.

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Wow, that is strange! You mentioned the fire started at the inlet to the airbox. If that is the case, did it also burn the filter element? I can only think of two possibilities for a fire in that location: one would be ingesting a hot ember (unlikely) or second, an electrical overheat condition in that area if the harness routing is similar to the Reatta? I would think an electrical overheat/fire would be evident also. Photos would be helpful. Is the charcoal canister located below the airbox as in the Reatta?

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The fire started in the air filter pleats and burned appx 1/3 of surface area. No electrical or external signs. He couldn't see anything wrong, sis told him it had been smoking at the air filter box after it died, when he opened it up he found the damage. Son said maybe a hot ember also...? The snorkel was not damaged. She drove it 75 mi home and is still driving it with the MAF unplugged and I am rounding up parts to fix it.

Edited by TexasJohn55 (see edit history)

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Well, that is a head scratcher. I know in the fire truck industry many have a screen somewhere in the air cleaner inlet but that is a more likely scenario where  that might be needed. I imagine it acted like a blowtorch from the inlet airflow to melt the screen. Not sure what its made of? Maybe zinc or some soft metal?

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Di the engine back-fire?

Don't think so, backfire could not get thru honeycomb and to the air filter anyway, it is a good 14" to air cleaner. Fire appeared to start on "dirty air" side of filter. In the years I drove it, it never backfired, only miss under load with bad wires or coil which is not happening now.

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T. John,

 

What Type/Brand of filter?

 

John F.

Don't know John, probably bought it at A.Z.. It calls for an A974C AC Delco. Just a rectangular pleated element, appx 7 5/8 x 6" with wire mesh support screen on clean air side.

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Update: Replaced the air filter housing and honeycomb screen on intake. Plugged in the MAF and cranked it up. Runs sweet again, MAF apparently not damaged. Moral of the story: Engine will not run right and MAF CANNOT READ CORRECTLY IF THE HONEYCOMB SCREEN IS MISSING OR DAMAGED OR UPSETS THE LAMINAR AIR FLOW ACROSS THE SENSOR.

Cause of air filter fire not determined.

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Strange things DO happen.  I replaced the radiator in my vette over the weekend and when I pulled the fan assembly out, laying on top of one of the fan motors was what looked like a charred tangle of heavy knotted twine.  When I went to removed it, it disintegrated into ash.  It had obviously been extremely hot, but I could not find ANY melted plastic in the fan housing or the fan blades or anywhere else for that matter.  There is no way it came from the front as that is totally closed in and I don't see how it could travel thru the fan blades without getting tangled up anyway.  It had to come from below and behind, but how it managed to land where it did, let alone how it came to be a charred ghost of whatever has no straightforward explanation.  I was just lucky that it did not land somewhere easily damaged by the heat. 

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