Unexpected Fire!

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2225 North 'F' Street Stockton, California 95205-2701

As collectors of engines and tractors, we all try to practice good safety measures at all our shows and at home. (Of course, most of this means using common sense.)

But recently I found a new way to get hurt and thought I would share it with you.

While in the process of getting a proper trailer hitch installed on my van, I was removing the fuel tank (the reason why is a long story).

I took all the normal precautions to be safe. The switch was off, I unhooked the batteries, I drained the fuel from the tank. I proceeded to remove the tank, like I have done many times before on several other types of vehicles and equipment. I thought I had all the bases covered.

I was wearing a polyester shirt and was on a plastic-type creeper on a cement floor. I was turning the rubber coupling on the neck of the fuel tank. The next thing I knew, my arm and hand were on fire, as well as the van! The reason: static electricity. I got away with only second degree burns to my fingers and all the newly installed wiring under the van was burned out. It turned out a whole lot better than it might have, if it had exploded instead of just catching fire.

When you have all visible means of safety covered, you still need to remember static electricity. You can't see it, but it's still there and will ignite fumes while you are filling your fuel tanks on your engines and tractors. There are other types of combustible fluids, besides fuel, that have fumes too. Remember to have good ventilation.

This accident has cost us a few trips to tractor shows and some degree of pain. But, all in all, I was still lucky that it didn't explode in my face.

Please be careful, my friends, and we'll be on the road again soon. See you at the shows!