Rally Fire Suppression

by Berck

My fire suppression system finally arrived! I went with a Stroud 10lb F-36 (halogen replacement) system. Pricey at $800 shipped. I could have gone cheaper with one of the foam systems, but I didn’t want to for several reasons.

(1) The foam systems have a minimum temperature limit. They can freeze, and I live in Colorado at 9,200ft. The car lives outside when I’m not working on it, and for instance, it was -12F a few nights ago. I don’t want to have to deal with taking the bottle in and out of the car.

(2) Foam makes a mess. I accidentally discharged the fire system in my Vee once. It was an unfortunate $500 accident, but at least I didn’t have a giant mess to clean up. I’m not actually sure what happened–I’m not sure it was correctly installed. I noticed that the fire handle looked like it was about 1/8 an inch out from where it should be. With the pin in the bottle, I pushed the handle back in. To make sure it was fine, I pulled the pin on the bottle. It wasn’t fine.

(3) Gas systems require fewer nozzles. My 10lb system only has 3 nozzles. Easier install.

I also could have legally gotten away with a 5lb system. But I think that something the size of a rally car is probably more properly equipped with a 10lb system.

Thankfully, the fire bottle (barely!) fits behind a seat. Unfortunately, Stroud sent the wrong bracket/clamps. I’m pretty sure they sent me the bracket/clamps for a 5lb bottle, which means that they won’t secure my 10lb bottle. I assume this is an easy thing for them to make right, so I sent them an email.

So, I got the system about halfway installed. This system requires bending and flaring 1/4″ steel tubing, which does take a little time. It also has 2 outputs from the bottle. This works great for, say, my Formula Vee where you want one tube to go to the engine bay and another to go to the cockpit, but less good for a rally car where I’m just running both of them forward.

ARA rules say to install according to the instructions. The instructions are vague. Dragsters should install one nozzle on the driver, and one each over each exhaust header. Circle track racers should “blanket the driver”. I’m going to to install one nozzle from the driver, one for the codriver, and one for the engine compartment.

Thus far I’ve managed the co-driver and engine compartment nozzles.

The fuel comes in on the intake side and that seemed the more likely place for a fire, so I put the nozzle on that side. Presumably with a gas system the location isn’t super critical. A little annoyed that while they supplied steel lines, they went with aluminum fittings. But I guess if the aluminum fittings have melted, I’m dead anyway.

On the wheel hunt. Facebook marketplace only has 3 15″ MINI wheels in the Denver area. They are phone dials, but they’re painted black, which isn’t the right color for a rally car and look pretty rough. $75/each is a more reasonable price than ebay, at least. Of course, getting them requires driving 1.5 hours each way. I’ll see if they’re available next time I drive to Denver.

I went ahead and bought a Stilo Trophy DES. The yellow one, because it’s cheaper. I was initially just going to buy coms for my full face helmet, but I realized that even with the visor up, I’m never going to be able to keep my glasses from fogging with that thing in a closed car, and I’d just be much happier with an open faced helmet if I could wear one. Annoyed that there are no FIA/SA2020 Stilo rally helmets, but whatever.

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