Sometimes, when doing a project on a racecar, it is best to press the “easy button.” There is no need to reinvent the wheel, especially when the wheel has been rolling along just fine for centuries. That is why this month’s Toolshed Engineer isn’t about some random money-saving concept where we did something ingenious with a painter’s bucket from Home Depot. Instead, it is about using a product that has already been dreamed up by someone else and engineered to work, something we could put it into place with little effort or cost to us.
Every racecar must have a fire extinguisher. And every racecar driver hopes he or she never has to use it. We all want this heavy clunky fire extinguisher to ride along inside the car and do nothing more than collect dust and pass tech inspection. What we don’t want is the fire extinguisher to fall out of its mount and land somewhere unpleasant like under the brake pedal or hit you on the side of the head.
Unfortunately you can’t just forgo the heavy metal object. NASA Club Codes and Regulations section 15.1 says you must have one: “All cars without a fire system should have at least a fire extinguisher securely mounted inside within driver’s reach while normally seated, belts fastened and steering wheel in place. The bracket should be metal and of the quick-release type. The mounting hardware should be nuts and bolts and not just sheet metal screws. Fire bottles made of plastic or aerosol-type cans are prohibited. All fire bottles should have a gauge indicating their charge status. Any bottle without a gauge should be weighed to determine content. Once a bottle has been even slightly discharged, it should be replaced or refilled.”
The rub with NASA’s fire extinguisher rule, compared with other sanctioning bodies, is that it has to be mounted within the driver’s reach while seated with the belts on. Other sanctioning bodies only require that one be in the car somewhere and be accessible by responding emergency personnel. NASA’s rule, while it makes sense to be accessible to the driver, limits the mounting possibilities inside the car because it requires that the extinguisher be near the driver. This is where Allstar Performance’s quick-release fire extinguisher bracket comes to the rescue. The system is made of metal, doesn’t use sheet metal screws, and is quick release, meeting all of the NASA requirements. Instead of dreaming up a new, more complicated, and expensive way to mount an extinguisher, we just clicked “Buy Now.”
We chose to mount our extinguisher to a harness bar directly between the seats near the driver’s right shoulder. This harness bar already holds our radio box from Sampson Racing Communications, a GoPro camera mount, and a TVC15 radio-camera interface from I/O Port Racing Supplies. It seemed like the perfect place to mount our extinguisher and have it easily accessible to the driver. This also avoided drilling more holes into our floor pan, which could allow carbon monoxide into the vehicle.
The mount works perfectly with the diameter of an Amerex 2.5-pound ABC fire extinguisher and standard roll-cage tubing sizes. One side of the mount is clamped to the extinguisher while the other side of the mount is clamped to the roll cage. The male end of the mount on the extinguisher fits into the female end of the mount attached to the roll cage. Once the two pieces are fitted together, a quick-release pin holds things in place. The pin has a cable tether, which can be attached to the cage to make the release of the pin easy to grab with gloves on and also ensures you don’t lose the pin.
The entire installation took 15 minutes and the project set us back around $65. I told you this thing was the “easy button.” So next time you’re in the shop and you are getting the welder and grinder out to come up with a “better” way of doing something, first check to see if someone else already did. That is what we did on the extinguisher mount. We just hope we never use it.