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ON BOARD FIRE..!! Cost me a new ESM Spitfire,,what happened?

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ON BOARD FIRE..!! Cost me a new ESM Spitfire,,what happened?

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Old 06-02-2014, 05:03 AM
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captainron
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Default ON BOARD FIRE..!! Cost me a new ESM Spitfire,,what happened?

HI guys,
Need your help here. Put the first and last flight on my new to me GS ESM Spitfire 89". 2500 mah 6.6v Life on the Rx.......1600 7.4v Lipo on the electric retracts, recommended by Robart......4.8 nh metal on the ignition. All on separate switches. Lipo was balanced yesterday morning, no problems. Made the takeoff, ok, made a right turn out, ok, made another right turn to the down wind, ok. about half way down the downwind leg, the guys and myself noticed the airplane made a very strange hissing noise and the nose pitched up very noticeably.......smoke smoke smoke....danger danger danger.....immediately I noticed I had no control and had lost control of the Giant Spitty........She was headed for the ground. I bought the airgframe from a friend and threw a 1000 bucks at over a period of a month. But now, it was headed for the ground in that sickening death spiral wide open throttle with my brand new 4.2 Fox gasser just howling. When we got to the crash site, it was evident there had been an on board fire....The Lipo was a piece of toast. No burn on the ground and the fire was completely out. No fuel left in the fuel tank, it had buster open in the crash and was empty. We really don't know why there wasn't an explosion with 32 oz of fuel spilling out. This is killing me...........The retracts where working great, no hang ups or binds......trust me, I checked for all that. Even if there was, The Robarts will amp out (quit running) if they get in a BOUND or hung up. All was good there. The only thing me and my guys can think of is, that morning when I balanced, the battery must have puffed and I didn't realize or see it. Once the retracts came up, the Lipo must have over heated some how.

Any thoughts will help............Now we know what happened to Fight 370 carrying all those Lipo's Gessssshhhhhh.

thanks, CAPTAIN RON
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:08 AM
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OH BOY, that is gut wrenching!! Hate to hear that sort of thing!!!
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:29 AM
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Sorry Capt,that is louzy.Stay away from LIPO.Tom
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:40 AM
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"very strange hissing noise and the nose pitched up very noticeably.......smoke smoke smoke"

Sounds like a LIPO issue. They can get very hot in a hurry and turn into a road flare. Makes me ill to hear about the plane.


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Old 06-02-2014, 09:13 AM
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Man what a bummer!! I thought Life was supposed to be the safe lipo. Nothing is completely safe.I had a NIMH explode while charging and it blew a hole in my P47 fuse.

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Old 06-02-2014, 10:09 AM
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So the only burned pack was the LiFe pack for the Rx? Do the others still work/survived?

It takes a lot to get a lithium battery pack to fail in this manner. It sounds to me like you had a short or high load condition at the pack or inside the pack because 22-24AWG wire will only handle low amps before it melts and unsolders itself. Once that happens the pack will not typically go on to total failure.
Since this was a failure under load/use that tells me the pack was discharged beyond its safe limits so again that suggests a dead short ( not likely) or the pack was not charged fully and then discharged below safe limits causing overheating and then fire. If the pack balance was way out then one cell failed and the pack cascaded afterwards.
Normally in a dead short condition the tabs or wires blow off instantly so I dont think that happened here, there wouldnt have been a fire.
Also if the wires from the pack to the on/off switch to the Rx all look ok then they didnt see high amp loads either witch further supports the battery pack was pushed below safe limits.

Post some pics lets see the components...
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:19 AM
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Guys.........

IT WAS THE LIPO THAT BURNED...... I will never use another one in my airplanes. The only reason I had one in the Spitfire was because I was trying to speed up the electric retracts. Robart says, the more voltage, the faster the speed of the retracts. they were taking 9 seconds from the retracted position to fully extended on a 6.6 v Life. Only 7 seconds on the 7.4 v Lipo............oh well, I take the dam 9 seconds. It was a beautiful airplane, what a waste.
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:39 AM
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Sounds to me the Lipo had an internal fault and over time (and being eventually being put under load when the gear was put up) that it finally said enough was enough and decided to turn itself into the eternal flames of hell, taking your precious spitty along with it..

I've seen Lipo's take Hours to finally "pop", so i'd say it was the lipo's fault since that is the only battery that is "toast".
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:47 AM
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Based on your description of the hissing sound the battery could have been punctured somehow. I say this because I accidently *****ed one on the bench with an exacto blade tip and it proceeded to hiss and vent and catch fire exactly as you described. Perhaps the battery was up against something that either puctured or wore a hole in the casing.

Sorry about your loss, it sucks to lose one like that.

Ok, apparently the word used to describe what you do with a needle against your fingertip to draw blood is VERBOTEN (German for forbidden). You gotta be kidding me...

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Old 06-02-2014, 11:23 AM
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That REALLY sucks Ron. At least it didn't spiral in for no apparent reason. Are you sure that trailing FW190 didn't put a burst into your tail? See you guys in a few days!!
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:54 AM
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Captainron,

It may not have been the charging of the battery that caused the fire. I had a 7.4V Lipo in a P-38. A buddy said lets go fly and I was going to take my F-16 and needed a battery for it. My P-38 has been sitting for a few months and I thought I would take its pack for the day. I opened the battery compartment, unplugged the battery and as I was lifting it out of the plane it literally went CHINA SYNDROM NUCLEAR MELTDOWN in my hand. I threw it out on the driveway and it was amazing how hot and spectacular display of fire!! I have 3 personal friends that lost homes & vehicles due to LIPO fires. LIPO'S CAN NOT BE TRUSTED PERIOD in my opinion. I'm sure you will get a lot of guys defending lipo's because they never experienced the lipo fire but their days are #'d as well. I would rather use a NMH or NICD battery before I ever trusted a LIPO again. I was fortunate to be home when that thing melted down or I would have lost a house as well I'm sure. I have not heard of LIFE issues and all my planes are ran with LIFE batteries until I hear they go into melt down mode.

Sorry for your loss,

Dirk
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Old 06-02-2014, 12:02 PM
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Thanks for posting your story. Yours is not the first or last to have a battery fail but you did report it. These types of batteries were never intended for model aircraft and they appeared on the market with the advent of electric cars. Electric vehicles at one time were powered by nicads and were replaced by these types of batteries to save weight and provide a higher operating voltage. They also cut down the recharge time. I was introduced to them when I decided to switch from glow to electric helicopters and I was quickly disappointed on the flight time using these batteries. Bottom line is that technology is lagging behind use. Reminds me of what Obama is doing to the coal industry and believing green energy can replace it.
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Old 06-02-2014, 12:52 PM
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Sorry, Sorry for your loss. I am OLD, very Old. Air Force Fighter Pilot and modeler for over 60 years. I live with the KISS philosophy -- "Keep it Simple STUPID"". This last Memorial Day weekend I flew my F7F Tigercat and T-28. My F7F has been flying for 5 years and now has a Smoke system in it. You can see it on Youtube and RC Universe. The POINT I would like to make is "I have 17 servos in my F7F and ALL POWERED BY ONE 5 cell 6 volt Sub-C 2500 mah Ni-Cad battery". You still can't beat a Ni-Cad battery for reliability and RUGGEDNESS. I have a 5 cell 6 volt AA Ni-Cad 1000 mah. for my Sullivan Smoke system. DON'T overlook Ni-Cad batteries for the FAD in NEW STUFF. Col. Chuck Winter
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Old 06-02-2014, 01:56 PM
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Doug, I was filming the flight but had just turned off the camera when it caught fire and crashed. I told Ron that he got caught down sun and you know what they say "beware the Hun in the sun"! He didn't see that FW190 that got him.! Was the most realistic crash you ever saw. Smoke came out the trailing edge of the wing, the plane banked and went in out by our power lines.
It was one of those planes that seemed to be cursed! Trouble for every owner. It looked like Ron was going to get it flying good but as the Brits say it was a bloody rotter! See you Friday.
Larry
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Old 06-02-2014, 03:44 PM
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Lipo fires are pretty common and should be expected. A bunch of examples here on you tube http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...fire+in+flight
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Old 06-02-2014, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by CHARLES WINTER View Post
Sorry, Sorry for your loss. I am OLD, very Old. Air Force Fighter Pilot and modeler for over 60 years. I live with the KISS philosophy -- "Keep it Simple STUPID"". This last Memorial Day weekend I flew my F7F Tigercat and T-28. My F7F has been flying for 5 years and now has a Smoke system in it. You can see it on Youtube and RC Universe. The POINT I would like to make is "I have 17 servos in my F7F and ALL POWERED BY ONE 5 cell 6 volt Sub-C 2500 mah Ni-Cad battery". You still can't beat a Ni-Cad battery for reliability and RUGGEDNESS. I have a 5 cell 6 volt AA Ni-Cad 1000 mah. for my Sullivan Smoke system. DON'T overlook Ni-Cad batteries for the FAD in NEW STUFF. Col. Chuck Winter
yea you can! Its Called A123! All the benefits of Nicad/Nimh without the pitfalls (false peak, thermal runaway, "memories", etc).
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:02 PM
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That sucks Ron ! Sorry to hear about that.
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Old 06-03-2014, 04:31 AM
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Captainron,

Sorry to hear about the loss. After having a 5000 mAh 4S LiPo burst into flames in my trunk, I have come to be very respectful and cautious of LiPos. They are incredibly volatile and dangerous if damaged in even the slightest manner. I agree with the others that something happened to that LiPo that you might not have seen or been aware of and it eventually shorted and caught fire. You're correct in sticking with LiFes for flight packs. I use them exclusively.
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Old 06-03-2014, 04:47 AM
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same exact issue happened to a fellow flier 2 weeks ago. Put in fully charged lipo into his foamie and took off. After about 30 seconds it started to lose power and then nothing. picked up the pieces and noticed the Lipo was VERY hot so he put everything away and left the lipo on our concrete work tables. 5 minutes later the battery went up in flames.
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Old 06-03-2014, 05:52 AM
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Thanks for the great feedback guys.............I think we can all conclude it was the Lipo that brought down the mighty Spitfire............Or, was it the Focke Wulf 190 that nobody saw coming out of the sun. In any case Here she is in all her glory before the fateful flight..... She's in a better place now................
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Old 06-03-2014, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Muttdog View Post
same exact issue happened to a fellow flier 2 weeks ago.
I totally don't understand this. In over 6 years of using Lipo's I've never had a fire ( I'm knocking on wood right now).

6 years ago I converted my entire fleet of glow planes to electric. They're .60-sized, 1.20-sized, and 1.60-sized. I've had the following Lipo's:
- Thunderpower 6S 22.2 volt 5000 mah
- 3 Gens Ace 6S 22.2 volt 5300 mah
- two Zippy 6S 22.2 volt 3300mah
- two Blue Lipo 5S 18.5 volt 5000 mah.

In the 5 years I've had them none of them has ever caught fire. I try to keep my flight times to 7 minutes and monitor the cells post-flight .... like to seem them greater than 3.7 volts. At first I used an AstroFlight charger then I bought a Hyperion EOS720i Super Duo 3.

The following batteries have swollen:
- Thunderpower 6S: this was my first battery and it took a lot of abuse. Was involved in 1 crash. I charged it at a 1C rate even when my fellow flyer's kept yelling....."C'mon! Charge it faster!" I gave this battery away because it was making me nervous. But it NEVER EVER caught fire and continued to function after it became swollen.
- only 1 of my Gen's Ace 6s 5300 mah has swollen and it hasn't swollen much. It was involved in a mishap so....I guess that's forgiveable. It recharges just fine. I have charged this battery at 2C but will go back to 1C. This battery is over 2 years old.
- both Blue Lipos 5s 18.5 volt 5000 mah have swollen but there don't appear to be any damaged cells. I fly my ESM Bearcat with an EFlite Power 160 using the two Blue Lipos in series to make 10S. I charge these at a 1C rate.


The following batteries have not swollen:
- My oldest Gen's Ace 6S has a bad cell. After a recent flight 5 of the cells were 3.68 volts after the flight but the bad cell was 2.7 volts. I can recharge this pack and I re-balance it a lot. I've re-charged at 2C a couple of times but I'm going back to recharging at 1C. I've not yet used my newest Gen's Ace 6S 22.2 volt 5300 mah Lipo. I plan on charging it at 1C.
- two Zippy 6S 22.2 volt 3300 mah. These are sorta new so I'll monitor them to see how they perform. After 7 flights on one of them and 2 flights on the other - there's no swelling. We'll see how it goes. Gonna charge at a 1C rate.

For my planes that use a battery to power the radio receiver I always use a 6-volt NimH. I re-charge it the night before flying and have never ever had an issue.

All these reports of Lipo fires are making me nervous. I currently have them stored in a metal box and a Lipo sack but will invest in some ammo cans. Will try to figure out how to store them in a cool dry place in the back yard. All of this bru-ha-ha about Lipo's makes me want to try gas power and jet turbines which I intend to do.

Here's some suggestions:
- always use a charger designed for charging Lipo's.
- consider charging at a lower rate such as 1C.
- don't over-discharge your Lipo's. Limit your flight times. Don't fly around full-throttle all the time.
- monitor Lipo cells after each flight to determine what you're doing that could be sucking the life out of your cells.

Last edited by oliveDrab; 06-03-2014 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 06-03-2014, 08:01 AM
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Hi Ron, when I read this I was sickened by what happened to your Spit, As you know I have had many years experience with Lipo's and I have never seen or experienced what you did, small consolation I know. Couple of things, when you balanced the Lipo prior to the flight, is it possible it somehow got overcharged? Another thing, as you know Paul and I both have E-flight retracts in our Spits, I had an unusual problem with the E-Flite control box, it provides a similar function to the Robart, mine shorted out and started to smoke, it was on the workbench, and quickly unplugged. no damage done outside of the E-Flite controller. If it was the lipo that went up how did it take out the receiver? Robarts and E-flite both provide separate power inputs from the receiver, so my guess is all were in close proximity. Again I am very sorry to hear about this and wish it had not happened.

As an aside a call to Horizon had a new controller at the house in a week. Paul loaned me his for the maiden of my Spit!

Cheers
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:52 AM
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Sorry to hear about your Spitfire. It definitely sounds like the Lipo shorted out. Have you considered the balance plug may have been the cause of the short? Some guys don't realize those plugs are direct lines to the cells. Just a thought. I wonder why the radio link quit?
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:58 AM
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Thanks Rick, appreciate your compassion, didn't know you had it in you ......really...........LOL
During the balancing process that morning, I'm assuming my X-4 Hitec (very smart) charger wouldn't over charge it. I'm also assuming I would have got an error screen if I had lost a cell. that all being said, It certainly could have puffed during the process and I didn't see it. In any case, It picked the electric gear up and tucked them into the wing.............about 5 to 10 seconds later all hell broke loose. BTW....It didn't take out the rx, it's fine and so are the retracts. They work fine. I;ve got them up for sell on RCU. Take care, I'll be at Warbirds Over Denver this weekend with the old standby TF P-47 and my new TF Focke Wulf, elec rtracts but there On a LIfe battery......whew.

later, thanks for your feedback. CAPTAIN RON
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:03 PM
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Thanks for your condolences...........I lost the radio link because what I'm understanding, once the lipo went the Rx shut down once it sensed the surge on voltage from the lipo which was hooked up to the rx thourgh the switch on the retracts control box. ONce it didn't sense the extra voltage anymore, it came bck on line. By time I got back to the pits, and turned everything back on, obviously not the lipo, it was like a pc of toast (burnt) everything worked fine. got home and checked the gear on another Life and they worked fine also. GREAT STORY THO, SHOULD KEEP US GOING FOR AWHILE...........

CHEERS, CAPTAIN RON
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