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PT-1845 Fire in the Engine Room


Mowing along in roughly 50 degree, breezy, sunny weather I made the turn at the end of a lap and I guess because the wind was now at my back I smelled smoke, stopped, turned my head, didn't see anything, but smell intensified and I turned again and thought I saw smoke against the blue sky.

Then I got off the tractor and saw immediately it was coming from the engine compartment. I shut the engine off, opened the hood, and saw flames that seemed to be heavier on the right side than the left but were generally spread throughout bottom of the engine compartment "tub".

Then, and I don't know quite what I intended to accomplish, I tried restarting the tractor - nothing happened when I turned the key.

Then I ran to the studio for a fire extinguisher (about 500 feet away) and returned and easily extinguished the fire.

By the time I got back of course the flames were bigger but as luck would have it no fuel or hydraulic lines had ruptured.

About this time a neighbor arrived with the extinguisher from his kitchen to offer what help he could.

I stayed with the tractor until I felt certain it had cooled enough not to re-ignite, perhaps a half hour, then I went to the studio and got a wrench and disconnected the battery negative terminal.

Visual damage assessment (see pictures)

Saturday April 19, 2003

Added Monday 4/21/03

Added Thursday 5/8/03

Added Saturday 510/03


April 19, 2003 - the morning after the fire

May 5, 2003 - after fire investigator's inspection

May 6, 2003 - pictures of Charlie's PT1845 he so generously sent for before and after comparison

May 7, 2003

June 28, 2003

July 12, 2003

During rebuild

July 31. 2003

August 2, 2003

August 22, 2003

September 8, 2003

(back to Visual Assessment)

A brief synopsis of the long journey to settlement

Monday 4/21/03 Telcon Terry Estep, Power Trac. Described damage - he says it sounds like a complete refurbishment needed, wants tractor shipped back to factory, says we won't know if anything is warped (engine head etc, hydraulic pumps etc) until it is started up and tested.

Thursday 4/24/03 Meet with adjuster, at tractor. He will have an investigator come out to try and determine cause of fire ("A one year old tractor shouldn't burn"). Don't move or touch tractor until then. Says transportation to and from Power Trac may not be covered.

Thursday 4/24/03 Telcon Terry Estep, Power Trac. Told him adjuster wants to have an investigator look tractor over before I touch it. Call him when tractor is ready to go and he will send up a trucker.

Monday 5/5/03 Meet at tractor with fire investigator. Found positive battery cable burned through and wire from junction box to starter solenoid burned through with a copper bead on junction box end of the severed wire (evidence of current flowing when it separated). In junction box, found cable connector nut separated from connector and lying atop terminal 12. I [jhc] can't tell without further disassembly whether it caused a short but it seems likely. [Note: A later look at the circuit diagram makes me question whether a short to ground at terminal 12 would cause any harm - the diagram is hard to follow - jhc]

Wednesday 5/7/03 Telcon with adjuster. Will cover transportation to factory. Hasn't heard from investigator yet - will try him now and get back to me if there is any problem - otherwise go ahead and ship.

Wednesday 5/7/03 Telcon Terry Estep at Power Trac. Have claims adjuster call him.

Thursday 5/8/03 Fax in hand from adjuster authorizing me to get the repairs done, shipping included, but to get him an estimate first as well as exact replacement cost including delivery.

Thursday 5/8/03 Telcon Terry Estep at Power Trac. Adjuster called him yesterday as planned and said the insurance company would subrogate the claim against Power Trac to recover their costs. Terry says PT won't/can't touch the tractor in that case. I then asked him what it would take from insurance company for PT to agree to fix it, my presumption being that some kind of telephoned assurances not to subrogate would not be sufficient.

Friday 5/9/03 Telcon Terry Estep at Power Trac. PT won't touch the tractor if the insurance company is going to sue. If they will agree not to hold them liable PT will fix the tractor.

Monday 5/12/03 Telcon adjuster. Insurance pays to get tractor fixed - including transportation - its up to me to arrange for repairs. If the fire investigator's report doesn't point to PT maybe insurance company can agree not to subrogate the claim.

Wednesday 5/14/03 Telcon adjuster. Fire investigator feels a one year old tractor should not burn and manufacturer has some liability here. Adjuster concurs and will recommend subrogation to insurance company. I then suggested a cash settlement. Adjuster suggests I get him a parts and labor (my labor) estimate asap and he will work with me.

Thursday 5/15/03 Telcon Terry Estep. Terry will estimate my parts list. Terry's estimate is here.

Tuesday 5/27/03 Faxed my estimate ($15,607.79) to adjuster.

Thursday 5/29/03 Telcon with adjuster. Wants an independent appraisal - will arrange for one.

Thursday 5/29/03 Telcon Terry Estep. PT won't fix tractor on my nickel either, as long as subrogation suit might be pending.

Wednesday 6/11/03 Telcon adjuster. Independent appraisal came in at $16,000+ to repair, $12,000 Actual Cash Value, and one salvage offer at $750. Adjuster understood my policy to be ACV (but it's actually R/C) - I faxed him my Declarations Pages [it took a week to get this straightened out! - jhc]

Thursday 6/19/03 Telcon Terry Estep. I requested that he fax me a price quote for a replacement PT1845, including transportation (at the request of the adjuster - to be used to establish replacement cost to settle claim).

Friday 6/20/03 Telcon Terry Estep. Power Trac will not quote a price nor sell me a replacement tractor unless insurance company agrees to not subrogate the claim.

Friday 6/20/03 Telcon insurance company claims dept decisionmaker (I was referred to him by my agent).

Thursday 6/26/03 Insurance settlement check received.

Parts quoted by Power-Trac on 5/23/03 for my fire damage estimate

E504x38Red Power Cable 38"13.32
E402x1Black Ground Cable 17"6.18
F415Deutz Fuel Filter27.60
F416Deutz Oil Filter34.16
F050-1Hydraulic Filter28.00
V250Draft Control Valve Cartridge109.80
V242Draft Control Electric Solenoid126.64
V233x1Cooler Bypass Valve96.40
M15087Cooler Fan Thermal Relay11.34
M15140Tram Pump Push/Pull Cable110.60
M15185x1Throttle Cable25.95
E499Junction Compartment Box98.22
E470x14Terminal Block26.98
E186x41-1/4" Neer Connector (3 pieces)4.64
E186x41-1/4" Neer Connector (3 pieces)4.64
E186x41-1/4" Neer Connector (3 pieces)4.64
E50920 amp Fuse Block and fuse25.20
E50850 amp Fuse Block and fuse25.20
E514x4Complete wiring harness(es)97.28
NOTE: Many of the following hydraulic hoses are incorrect on the drawings and incorrect here - see Fire Damage Repairs for a more accurate list
H0752JP030Hose 3/4 dia x 30" (ref 13 dwg H075x4)35.63
H0371JJ106Hose 3/8 dia x 106"(ref 14 dwg H075x4)41.90
H0501JJ018Hose 1/2 dia x 18" (ref 16 dwg H075x4)20.90
H02514J6J088Hose 1/4 dia x 88" (ref 20 dwg H075x4)28.50
H0251JJ054Hose 1/4 dia x 54" (ref 7 dwg H075x5)22.28
H0251JJ054Hose 1/4 dia x 54" (ref 7 dwg H075x5)22.28
H0251JJ018Hose 1/4 dia x 18" (ref 8 dwg H075x5)15.44
H0251JJ056Hose 1/4 dia x 16" (ref 9 dwg H075x5)22.66
H0371JJ108Hose 3/8 dia x 108" (ref 14 dwg H076x2)42.47
H0752JJ116Hose 3/4 dia x 116" (ref 24 dwg H077x2)81.58
H0752JJ110Hose 3/4 dia x 110" (ref 25 dwg H077x2)78.46
H0501JJ088Hose 1/2 dia x 88" (ref 26 dwg H077x2)41.54
H0501JJ059Hose 1/2 dia x 59" (ref 27 dwg H077x2)33.02
H0501JJ048Hose 1/2 dia x 48" (ref 28 dwg H077x2)29.72
H0501JJ042Hose 1/2 dia x 42" (ref 29 dwg H077x2)27.98
H1002JP030Hose 1 dia x 30" (ref 17 dwg H078x4)63.17
H0752JJ077Hose 3/4 dia x 77" (ref 18 dwg H078x4)61.30
H0752JJ056Hose 3/4 dia x 56" (ref 19 dwg H078x4)50.38
H0502JJ040Hose 1/2 dia x 40" (ref 20 dwg H078x4)32.45
H0502JJ040Hose 1/2 dia x 40" (ref 20 dwg H078x4)32.45
H0502JJ028Hose 1/2 dia x 28" (ref 21 dwg H078x4)27.38
H0502JJ020Hose 1/2 dia x 20" (ref 23 dwg H078x4)23.99
H1002JJ035Hose 1 dia x 35" (ref 24 dwg H078x4)71.47
H0251JJ093Hose 1/4 dia x 93" (ref 6 dwg H078x5)29.69
H0251JJ060Hose 1/4 dia x 60" (ref 7 dwg H078x5)23.42
H0251JJ021Hose 1/4 dia x 21" (ref 9 dwg H078x5)16.01
H0251JJ016Hose 1/4 dia x 16" (ref 10 dwg H078x5)15.06
H0752JJ027Hose 3/4 dia x 27" (ref 27 dwg H079x2)35.30
H0251JJ096Hose 1/4 dia x 96" (ref 28 dwg H079x2)30.26
H0251JJ092Hose 1/4 dia x 92" (ref 29 dwg H079x2)29.50
H0251JJ078Hose 1/4 dia x 78" (ref 30 dwg H079x2)26.84
H0251JJ075Hose 1/4 dia x 75" (ref 31 dwg H079x2)26.27
H02514J6J021Hose 1/4 dia x 21" (ref 34 dwg H079x2)15.77
H02514J6J021Hose 1/4 dia x 21" (ref 34 dwg H079x2)15.77
H01814J4J018Hose 3/16 dia x 18" (ref 36 dwg H079x2)15.48
H01814J4J018Hose 3/16 dia x 18" (ref 36 dwg H079x2)15.48
M15203x1Deutz engine Series F3L 1011F Model YDZX Serial# 0562077$7,141.20
20/5Fuel pump and strainer572.99
21/2Fuel line per ft 20.5520.55
21/3Fuel line per ft 20.5520.55
21/66Fuel line per ft 20.5520.55
22/89Air cleaner assembly M15203-7417.87
39/20Fan belt M15203-1021.51
40/2Forward engine shroud303.30
44/41Starter assembly M15203-1960.62
44/12Motor mount rubber bushings (8 pieces) 22.32ea178.56