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Old 01-01-2006, 03:02 PM
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explosion!

What a way to start off the new year! I am trying to get my car, a 49 shoebox with a chevy 350, running and my ratchet falls between the positive battery terminal and the valve cover. it starts sparking so as I look for a piece of wood to knock it away, it is now glowing bright red and then... BOOM! The valve covers are almost blown off! Pieces of gasket are every where, smoke, oh man. Question: besides needing new valve covers and gaskets (and a new ratchet) did I do any other damage to the engine? It did crank over afterward, but did I blow anything else up?
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:06 PM
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Usually, its the battery that blows up, it's the battery acid that is explosive..................never heard of the valve covers blowing apart.
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:10 PM
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ummmm i'm gonna call BS on this one till I see pics......

If your wrench falls on the battery and starts making sparks PULL IT OFF! your hand will suffice.
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:17 PM
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it was stuck

the ratchet was stuck. I don't like being electrocuted. I just want to know if there is anything that I should check that could have gotten screwed-up, I have no reason to "BS".
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:33 PM
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So the ratchet was stuck on the battery, and valve cover blew up?
Ive heard old wives tales of heads blowing off, but never just the valve cover, and I don't really see how the battery would cause the valve cover to blow up like that.



Brad
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:39 PM
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i dont see how that could of caused the valve cover to blow off..
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Old 01-01-2006, 03:40 PM
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explosion

It's probably your battery that suffered the most from this little episode. Shorting the battery to ground for a prolonged period could cause some damage to the plates but if it still cranks the engine over it's more than likely OK. Never heard of anything exploding in a situation like this other than the battery itself. Don't imagine the ratchet was guaranteed for that kind of abuse.
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Old 01-01-2006, 04:10 PM
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Probably just the valve covers. When I worked in the garage one day the boss was working on a 65 ford van. Those type of vans had an engine cover inside and you could sit in the drivers seat and work on the engine. He was going to crank it over but didnt want it to start. He pulled the coil wire and laid it on the battery. Just as he reached for the key I screamed NO. It was too late he hit the starter and the battery blew up splashing acid in his eyes. I had to lead him to the bath room and wash his eyes out. No permant damage to him but could have lost an eye on that one. I have had great respect for batteries since then.
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Old 01-01-2006, 04:16 PM
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First, you won't get electrocuted with 12 volts. I know it is the amps that kill you, but 12 volts just doesn't have enough pressure to force the amps through human flesh. That being said, grabbing any metal item that is shorted out on a car battery is a bad idea. It won't electrocute you, it will cook you. That is why you ALWAYS remove rings and watches when working on a battery. Get the circuit of positive terminal, wrench, ring, and negative terminal hooked up and you will no longer have a ring finger. It will burn the flesh to the bone under the ring.

Second, what usually blows up is the battery. The chemical process associated with turning chemical energy into electrical energy gives of hydrogen gas. It is the hydrogen gas which burns, and in the enclosed battery, the rapid burning of the hydrogen, once ignited, expands faster than it can be vented. It then "vents" itself.

Third, if by "trying to get my car running" you mean you had been cranking (and probably priming) the engine without success of having the engine fire, you could have built up enough raw gasoline in the crankcase to blow the valve covers, particularly if a heated to the autoignition temperature, or if there was a spark. Either of these could have occurred from your short.

Fourth, while all of this is possible, it has a high improbability factor. Post some photos. Everyone else, be careful out there.
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Old 01-01-2006, 04:24 PM
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[QUOTE=redsdad]Third, if by "trying to get my car running" you mean you had been cranking (and probably priming) the engine without success of having the engine fire, you could have built up enough raw gasoline in the crankcase to blow the valve covers, particularly if a heated to the autoignition temperature, or if there was a spark. Either of these could have occurred from your short.
QUOTE]

Bingo, that is what the problem was, gasoline saturated oil in the crankcase.

Talking about the ring, brings up a memory. When I was in the Air Force a hometown buddy of mine was stationed at my last assignment with me. he was a B52 environmental specialist. On the wall of their shop they had a poster sized picture of a hapless mechanics ring finger who had his wedding ring on when he reached behind a panel inside of a B52 air conditioning system. It was not a pretty sight.

Vince
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Old 01-01-2006, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 302/Z28
On the wall of their shop they had a poster sized picture of a hapless mechanics ring finger who had his wedding ring on when he reached behind a panel inside of a B52 air conditioning system.
I think I've seen that same poster on the bulkhead of the jet shop on one of the aircraft carriers I was working on. It looked like the whole finger was peeled right off the bone. Not a pretty sight.
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Old 01-01-2006, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blazin72
I think I've seen that same poster on the bulkhead of the jet shop on one of the aircraft carriers I was working on. It looked like the whole finger was peeled right off the bone. Not a pretty sight.
That was it, it was really gruesome.

Vince
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Old 01-01-2006, 04:53 PM
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Sorry to hear about your luck. Sounds like you were lucky . It could of been a lot worse. It would be interesting to see pictures if you did take them.
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Old 01-01-2006, 05:17 PM
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Valve covers will blow off if the engine oil is full of fuel from being SEVERELY flooded. And a nice spark or flame is introduced in the right place.
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Old 01-01-2006, 05:27 PM
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Reminds me of high school auto shop long ago, same truck 2 times, 2 times a new battery. Seemed to be a good place to set a wrench, just that the wrench always seemed to end up against the terminals on this top terminal battery Luckly it wasn't me, and luckly no one was ever hurt...
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