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Fire In The Foundry

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awemawson:
Early this afternoon I melted a bit of aluminium alloy - just pouring to ingot - less than a kilogram.

For some (very fortunate) reason I decided this evening to weigh it - and unlocking the workshop was greeted by a pungent smell. Got stronger as I went through the fire doors into the foundry - somethings burning.

Now admittedly there was a bit of a splash as I poured the ingot, but nothing exceptional - but here we are  with the floor channel Acco drain totally burnt out, the timber of a stout castered dolly that was in the foundry still gently crackling with red hot embers, and charring round the fire extinguiher and up towards the only bit of timber wall cladding.

This could have been bad - and I mean REALLY bad - if that bit of timber clad wall had gone up in flames the whole back wall of my workshop could have burnt  :bugeye:

Oddly there was a floor mop and bucket totally melted and burnt out that I'd used to mop up antifreeze spills from recently replacing all the furnace coolant - had it dried and spontaneously combusted ? I don't think so but have no proof - I THINK what happened was a splash of molten aluminium had got into the (dry) floor drain channel which probably had quite a bit of fluff in it, and  as it burnt along it's length took the rest with it.

But heck - this is a rude awakening.

I've moved the still glowing bits of the dolly outside and doused it with a few buckets of water, and sprayed every where that there has been charring with a hand pump water spray, and will come back in an hour and re-check everything.

vintageandclassicrepairs:
Hi Andrew,
A close encounter indeed  :jaw: Luckily you went back to the foundry before it got a real hold

Where I worked there was a "Hot Work"  safety procedure, where the site had to be inspected several times in the first hour after the work had been completed,
I still follow these guidelines at my home workshop after welding and the likes

We had a field fire next to our house last August, where the barley stubble and big round bales went up due to spark from a tractor exhaust (we think).. It burned to within 6-10 ft from the house taking most of the boundary hedge with it. Without the Fire Brigade crews arriving I believe we would have lost the house
It frightened the sh*t out of me

John

awemawson:
John, Iíve always done the Ďcheck after half a hourí thing after welding, grinding and especially casting, and did so this time. I suspect something was smouldering in the Acco  drain channel but I didnít smell it as the foundry ventilation is very good, some would say excessive! The Big Six fibre cement cladding just overlay the dwarf walls with big gaps at each corrugation

awemawson:
So - morning after the night before - clean up time  :bugeye:

Oh boy the place STINKS of fire. So a quick survey of the damage tells me:

A/ The Dolly has lost three out of four castor and it's surface - i have spare of the castors & wood

B/ The Fire Extinguisher still works and has cleaned up well but will be relegated to being a source of CO2 for Sodium Silicate setting

C/ The Steel fire door has cleaned up remarkably well apart from burnt paint where the seat of the fire was.

D/ The poor old Kiln is hopping on three out of four castors, one having been lost to fire but it's control panel cleaned up OK

E/ The floor drain duct must have been the plastic variety with ribs set in the concrete, as there is only the vestigial traces of the ribs left - I will fill the channel with concrete as it was redundant anyway dating from before the foundry building was erected

It could have been so much worse - I need to plan how to replace the small area of feather board cladding that dates from when it was the outside of the building - it's only five foot by six foot - so either steel sheets that I may already have - or fibre cement board to replace it.

Then I need to have a good think about smoke alarms with a remote siren that can reach the house - there are some that WiFi to your phone but it's adds another level of complexity to go wrong.

. . . I stink of fire and need a shower  :bugeye:

awemawson:
Well that unused drain channel isn't going to cause more problems - I filled it with cement this morning !

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