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Old 04-18-2016, 10:47 AM   #1
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Can a polished trailer cause a fire???

Today I was working on my trailer, windows open in the bright and sunny 70 degree weather when all of the sudden I heard my air line pop followed by a hiss. Upon investigation I had found that the buffed aluminum exterior reflected the sun through a concave curved shaped window and focused perfectly on the ground where my hose was laying.... My first thought was, I wonder if this has ever caught any leaves on fire when camping? I would assume if it could melt a hole in a air line then it possibly could... Has anyone else experienced this? I know my buffing skills were above-par, but I never saw this happening. I'm afraid to keep my trailer gleaming in the sun now with the windows open... Is that smoke I smell????
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:16 AM   #2
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Come On Baby... Light my Fire.

"Come on Baby, light my Fire"....

Camped at Lake Meade, Nevada with 120F sunny days air temperature and no doubt much higher temperature on the aluminum skin... no fires. Like 'non kink water hoses'... they kink.

I have never had a water hose issue, laying on the black asphalt in the sun. Much like the water hoses in your vehicle, poor quality of the hose. Not uncommon in automobiles in the 1960's and 1970's.

Although today the reflective mirrors concentrated to generate steam to generate electricity in the deserts is a growing industry... maybe you have found a short cut.

You may be the one creating the grass fires in California... a new cause... Airstream Spontaneous Combustion.
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:52 AM   #3
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Defective air hose IMO, no burn marks on hose.

Maybe try to recreate the geometry and leave a thermometer in the so-called melt spot? Bet it reads below the specs. of the hose.

Also, how does the reflected exterior sunlight go through a fixed glass curved window, first of all, and then get back outside to melt the hose? The geometry seems impossible IMO unless I am misreading things.
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Old 04-18-2016, 12:59 PM   #4
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Im puzzled by it also, my windows were open so it did not enter into the trailer. The sun came down, hit the side of the airstream, and then it reflected through the open window onto the ground...
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Old 04-18-2016, 01:43 PM   #5
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It doesn't look like there were any burn marks which would be there if the damage came from the sun. Probably a weak hose that gave out.
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Old 04-18-2016, 02:12 PM   #6
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It didn't burn because it was not hot enough yet... the 90 pounds of pressure my air regulator was set on most likely ruptured the hose softened by the sun. Defective hose? only when you expose them to high heat? I'm positive this would not have happened on a cloudy day. I knew and thought it was funny that I'd find skeptical critics out there, believe it or not I don't care. But dismissing it for a defective hose seems like a hasty answer. Have you ever seen a fire started with the bottom of a soda can? The focal point of the picture was HOT. Scientifically I do not know how hot. But I didn't want to stick my hand in it for very long, I know that. Tomorrow should mimic the same weather that caused this to happen. If I remember I will take a thermometer reading.
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Old 04-18-2016, 03:06 PM   #7
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Sounds like you have already figured out the cause . . . without all the evidence -- in my personal opinion.

Confirmation Bias
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Old 04-18-2016, 04:39 PM   #8
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Fire....for sure

When I initially did the '78 it had a pretty good polish on it.

Picture is of a burn line on a car mat that was drying adjacent to the trailer. The burn was caused by focused solar rays as the sun carried it's arc across the sky.
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Old 04-18-2016, 05:58 PM   #9
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Good idea on the thermometer reading tomorrow. I wonder if this subject has been posted on the Forum before or not. Scary to think that shiny Airstreams could cause a fire...I will be interested to see the outcome.
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Old 04-18-2016, 06:27 PM   #10
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Artisan Air:

You are on the right track. Friends of mine have melted jaggy lines across the plastic "grass blades" on their artificial turf mats during bright sunny days here in Colorado. The sun reflected from, and was focused by, the open polished interior of their curved aluminum "door-within-a-door" on 1964 and earlier Airstreams. I haven't yet seen anything ignite, but the focused sun rays certainly were hot enough to melt plastic into one long linear valley on the mat. Polish that door interior enough and you won't need a separate sun oven.
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Old 04-18-2016, 07:44 PM   #11
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Yes they can set stuff on fire but they can also blind drivers behind you. I was following one of those big buss motor homes the other day and there was a chromed flap under the rear end and the sun would reflect off that thing and blind you. Imagine something like the large flat rear section of an Airstream.

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Old 04-18-2016, 09:32 PM   #12
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I set my wet sock in the reflection from my door on my 60 and burnt it up. Smoke and fire!!
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Old 04-18-2016, 10:35 PM   #13
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You can bet your a$$ that a reflection off of a polished trailer can start a fire.

But for my trailer, my bathroom window that is coated with a highly reflective silver tint is the hottest.

When I got the trailer the window glass had been changed to plexiglass, I never felt the need to change it, but the plexiglass domes inward just enough to make a very effective and quite large concave mirror.....

I noticed its affect where I had tarped a large box to the rear of my trailer. It melted it real good.


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Old 04-19-2016, 03:42 AM   #14
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Our Bambi is not polished. However, a few years ago, summer-sunlight reflected off of a side panel shone on a pair of flip-flops and melted them.
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Old 04-19-2016, 04:26 AM   #15
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I have seen a number of early 60's Door within a Door mirror polished concave doors melt the polypropylene exterior mats, if you park with southern exposure. PP melts at about 350F. Following too close to a highly polished Airstream can be dangerous and painful.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:21 AM   #16
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Reflecting on reflections: the first time we roadtripped after (the first and only time) I mirror-polished my entire '56 AS, I resolved *not* to ever do that again. Nice as it looked when parked, I concluded that I had unintentionally created an actual road hazard. Since then, I still do lightly polish some panels, but never mirror polish any panels any more. Sunlight, especially when low at mornings & evenings, reflected so BRILLIANTLY into my eyes via my TV mirrors that I had to adjust my mirrors into useless positions; I started avoiding driving during those low-sun times of day because of this issue. Angles between the sun and my 'mirror-of-death' Toaster meant that any given panel was capable of blasting sunlight somewhere, certainly bad for other drivers ahead and behind, me too, and annoying, at least, to those to the sides. Not sure why my mirror-polished '56 Airstream is more annoyingly reflective than, say, a polished stainless steel milk tank-trailer. Perhaps a mirror-polished older AS becomes more "mirror-y" than a polished SS milk trailer? Perhaps my AS's angles were 'aimed' more effectively to blast nearby eyes? Anyway, I let the normal road-trip dirt remain on my AS on purpose that trip and, after a couple months, found that my mirror-polish had quickly degraded from "blast-you-blind" to just very shiny, so issue went away soon enough. YMMV. p.s. Yes! Concave curved reflective metal can definitely focus sunlight to heat, even burn; I recall as a boy scout being taught how to cook with a just such a curved sheet of shiny metal --> HOT!
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:03 PM   #17
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The simple answer to the OP's question is, to quote a famous old movie line: "Yes Virginia, & more!"

I have vintage trailer friends who have burned their patio mats, igloo coolers & other items from the concentrated reflection off the polished trailers - & one guy melted the plastic side mirror housing on his car while parked next to the trailer!

That's part of the reason why I've not polished the skin on our 1960 Avion T20 yet, until I have a permanent parking spot with cover worked out. And the PO had it polished initially in his resto, but not by the time we purchased it in 2012 for similar concerns & time to keep it up.

So, Go Shiny with Caution!
Tom
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:38 PM   #18
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Even a non polished Airstream can blind other drivers.
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:43 PM   #19
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If you have plastic siding on your house, beware of bright reflections on it.
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Old 04-19-2016, 01:36 PM   #20
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It's been discussed several times.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f441...ire-69370.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f441...ire-56614.html

Another issue I have seen; when a trailer was parked adjacent to a house with vinyl siding. In the concentrated reflected light the siding was heated to the point it melted and sagged.
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