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Thread: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, firsthand account)

  1. #61

    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Whow, what a horrific accident. I'm very glad you got out of this without any major injuries. That might easily have been much, much worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunarmodule
    I want to give a nod of thanks to Newbie and SilverFox and all those who contribute to the lithium ion battery safety threads. Maybe some of you can help me figure out what the cause of this may have been. Time for the budding forensics folks out there to contribute their hypotheses.
    I'd love to see a thorough analysis of this accident as well. However, this isn't the first accident of this kind since I started reading CPF, and I'm sure it won't be the last one. I think it would be a great idea to have a sticky in this forum outlining the current knowledge on lithium ion battery safety, in simple, non-technical language. The do's and don'ts of using lithium ino batteries *and* rechargeables. Much of the valuable information is spread over many different threads at the moment and can be pretty hard to find.

    I'd love the battery experts like Newbie, Silverfox and all the others get together and write such a post. In the light of accidents like this such a post would be invaluable for people who're not experts in this field, and if only *one* accident could be prevented it would have saved its purpose.

    Hans

  2. #62
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Glad to hear that you are ok. Hope nobody gets hurt again through these cells.
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  3. #63
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Lunarmodule, I'm really glad you're relatively OK!

    BatteryStation, : and thanks to those people reporting other technical info.

    I see the logic behind the unmatched cells, and it seems to me like the most parsimonius explanation. However, I also find it interesting that it seems to be the Peli M6 involved in all these instances (at least the reported ones).

    Navck, Kevin has already been contacted and posted a couple of times in this thread.

  4. #64
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    think it would be a great idea to have a sticky in this forum outlining the current knowledge on lithium ion battery safety, in simple, non-technical language. The do's and don'ts of using lithium ino batteries *and* rechargeables.
    The event described in this thread was with Li/MnO2 primary cells, not rechargeable cells, not Li-Ion cells.

    Li-Ion cells _are_ rechargeable cells.

  5. #65

    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Oh Oh Oh, Idea!!

    New tailcap that has a boot that is a pressure equalization valve. That would let the batteries vent and keep out the water, yes/no.
    Gage a.k.a SRacer2000: SF E2e, SF L4, KX2 (Gen1) w/ McR-19 XR and UCL Lens, KL1 (Gen1), KL1 (Gen4) w/ McR-20 and Flat Lens, McE2S (22 Ohms) in Z52

  6. #66
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Wow, glad you are ok Steve! Did you use hydrogen peroxide to help clean out the glass wounds? There might be particles of glassd dust in the cuts, or chemicals making it burn.

    I don't own any lithium batteries, just NiMH, which are a lot safer when they "vent". If I ever do though and one is hissing, I'll hold the ends away from me with my head turned if I can't chuck it in time. Tail cap could become a bullet like the other PM6 that went off. I think the lens shattered from the shear pressure/shock wave, and the gases blew it out while the bulb just went along for the ride. It's amazing what only a few PSI can do when pressing against a large surface. The glass lens could have had a ton of force on it, and then just shattered. Take for example pneumatic potato guns, with the same air tank/psi, if you go to a larger barrel, say from 1/2" to 2", the potato flys out a lot faster, because there is more surface area pressing on it.

    I take it single cell lights are way less likely (esp primaries) to do this, since there is no reverse charging. If I ever got lithium-ions it would be for single cells apps anyways.

    Once again, glad you are ok Steve!!

  7. #67
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Well, you can't search it anymore, but 2-3 years ago there were reports of Surefires, Streamlights, and Pelicans all having this problem in use by soldiers in Iraq.

    The incidents were fairly isolated, but the reports were frequent enough that it made it back to CPF, even though no CPF members were involved.

    Cutting edge tech means cutting edge tech. Sometimes the fecal matter hits the rotary oscillator in a manner that is not consistent with good distribution of fertilizer!

    Regardless of what WE here on CPF think, 123 cell lights ARE cutting edge. If you don't think so, ask a dozen of your coworkers how many 123 cells THEY have ever bought! We are taking a cell designed for low draw and making it push WAY more than intended. Even though some of the manufacturers like Surefire, Amondotech, and BatteryStation have done everything in their power to redesign that cell and make sure that the cells are as safe as possible, sometimes bad stuff happens under strange circumstances.

    I think the Pelican issue is a moot point, it's not an electronic light, its a basic circuit.

    DC powered 2 cells, positive contact, light bulb, negative contact, circuit completed with on/off switch. No voodoo, no magic, no electronics programmed to cause maximum damage, no nothing. Just a basic current path, interrupted by a simple on/off contact switch.

    These lights have been modded, torn apart, put together, rebuilt to death. The design is solid. The problem is in the cells, not the light. The light is not designed to withstand those kinds of pressures, nor could it be expected to, and so the switch boot failed. That may even be the intended effect in case of catastrophic failure.

    But as I said initially, other lights HAVE had similar failures in the past, unfortunately, even then, we couldn't get the info to track what had REALLY happened, and since we don't know for sure what state these cells were in, this evaluation will be conjecture, educated conjecture, but still conjecture!

    Bill
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  8. #68
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    just woke up a few minuts ago and read through this whole thread...

    wow Lunarmodule! I'm glad to hear that you are relativally *ok* after this frightening experience...

    The "deer into headlights" is exactly what I would probably do if this ever happened to me. I've never been good at thinking fast on my feet in bizzare situations like this...

    I really appreciate your warnings, and will take them seriously- I am hoping through your experience (and others) we can be more prepared for what to do when these things start to vent...

    I have a hard time believing- that it is mere coincidence that many of the lights experiencing these violent happen to be the PM6... I think it's plausable, and logical, to assume that the flashlight is parcially at fault here- especially when you consider the number of lithium primaries that all the Surefire fans around here are running through those lights on a very regular basis- I'm unaware of any similar experience with any other common brand of tactical light... [edit in] I have just been informed by a previous post (made while posting by Bwaites) that there have been similar expereinces with other lights in the past, none with CPFers however(that we know about) so perhaps my comment without merrit.


    The last time one of these blew up- I was telling a friend who uses cr123s in his camera to be carefull.. He didn't believe what I was telling him- so he tried to prove me wrong by taking a handfull of them out back and hooking them up individually to a 12V bench supply for many hours... He was unable to get any of the cells to "vent-with-flame".. I think it requires specific senarios to reproduce the effect however...
    Last edited by mdocod; 06-07-2006 at 03:56 PM.

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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Quote Originally Posted by bwaites
    Sometimes the fecal matter hits the rotary oscillator in a manner that is not consistent with good distribution of fertilizer!


    Quote Originally Posted by bwaites
    ...other lights HAVE had similar failures in the past, unfortunately, even then, we couldn't get the info to track what had REALLY happened, and since we don't know for sure what state these cells were in, this evaluation will be conjecture, educated conjecture, but still conjecture!
    I wonder if we could encourage Pelican and other light manufacturer's to try to (destructively) replicate these events. You know, the standard blind test with reps and the whole thing. Not sure a lot of people on CPF would like to volunteer their lights for this, but a manufacturer should be able to do this (if they haven't yet).

    Like I said, unmatched batts seems the most parsimonious explanation to me. When in doubt... destructive sampling, anyone?

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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Wow, just wow! Sorry to hear about your injuries and your light LunarModule. But I'm glad to hear that for the most part you're OK. Cheers to BatteryStation for their response to this unfortunate incident.
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    I'm sure we're all aware of the danger of mixing new and part used cells, but one thing I've noticed on the Surefire M6 I recently bought is that out of a battery mag of 6 brand new cells, all same brand, they heat up to different degrees... Those of you with SF M6 lights will know that the cells get warm/hot with extended usage, but you would expect all 6 cells to get equally hot? I have found this not to be the case, and I wonder if a different internal resistance is to blame for this.
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    That's an older PM6, as it has a lamp that's seperate from the reflector. Due to a lawsuit, Pelican had to redesign the lamp assembly to elimintae the focusing feature. New PM6's have an integrated lamp/reflector assembly (which is compatible with the older lights).

    I'm also guessing that it did not have a clickie switch?

    This is the fourth event that I know of involving the venting of 123-type cells, as they were used in a flashlight. Two were Pelican PM6 incans (as documented at CPF) one was a Streamlight Scorpion, and one was a Surefire 9P.

    Has Pelican been contacted, yet?

    This issue is known to the various manufacturers, and Streamlight has a disclaimer that they are packing with their lithium lights. It's on bright red paper and says:

    Warning: Fire, Explosion, Burn Hazard:
    Streamlight recommends the use of Streamlight Battery No. CR123A, Panasonic Battery No. CR123A or Duracell Battery No.123 with this product. Use of other batteries or mixing of used and new or different brand batteries may present a risk of leakage, fire, explosion and serious personal injury. Do not recharge, misuse, short circuit, improperly store or discard, disassemble or heat above 212° (100°c). Keep away from children.



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  13. #73
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Hey Brah....... take it slow..... hope you heal up quick. If I was there I'd pick you up a Zip Pack from Zippys and a Guava Chiffon cake from DeeLite Bakery !!!!!

    frisco

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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    I've just rushed to take the cells out of my gladius, am i being paranoid?, they are panasonics with about 1 hours full brightness use on them.
    Help!
    Glad it wasn't more serious, get well soon.


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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Wowzers! Glad you're ok with only minor injuries Lunar! You should get your foot looked at in case there is embedded glass particles or chemicals from the batteries.

    My only really high drain lights are my SL TL-2 and TL-3 incans...now I'm a bit worried. My only other multi-cell light is a Scorpion LED, but the current draw isn't very high, only about 500mA. I was thinking about modding it to push 1A...hmm, maybe I'll rethink that. Scary stuff. I've got the heeby geebies now.
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Lunar,
    Glad you are OK.
    A few years back I bought a pint of beer in my local pub. As I held it in front of me the glass exploded like a rifle shot. Shards of glass shot past my ears and they were HOT. Some stuck in the window frame behind me.
    Point being: Your painful foot injuries may be due to heat as well as chemcal/mechanical factors.

  17. #77

    Cool Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Quote Originally Posted by metalhed
    I know this is a strong statement, but whatever...


    If these events are limited to a specific brand or make of light, the manufacturer should test said lights until failures are reproduced, and then implement design changes to prevent future occurances. Mind you I said if...but, at this point I believe the evidence suggests a problem with the PM6. Unless of course other examples of this kind of catastrophic failure has been seen in other lights.
    Well, i was told that Pelican has created a "vent hole" as a result of these occurances.

    -david

  18. #78
    Flashaholic* AlexGT's Avatar
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    So is someone going to do a post mortem analysis of the light / batteries? I would love to see what comes up, I don't think it's only a battery issue.

    AlexGT

  19. #79

    Cool Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    i think it all has to do with the combination of the batteries and the Pelican m6s bulb.

    -David

  20. #80

    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Wow.... Well thank God that you are alright.
    It's not a primary concern, but this gas that was jetting out. And all of the pressure behind the explosion... I can't imagine that any of it is good for you...
    Any headache/nasuesa disoriented, stuff like that, you may want to see some one immediately. I doubt that it's still a concern since it's been so long since it happened; just for future reference though. For the same reason, make sure that that horrible pain in your foot is from the glass and not from chemical(s) that may have gotten in it.

    I think I'll be putting my first mod projects off for a while...

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    Ooo Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    lunarmodule,

    I guess this explains why you were up so early, glad you are [mostly] OK. Maybe something in the mail later this week or early next week will cheer you up.


    Kevin of BS,

    Cheers to you [again], an example of responsibility and integrity that seems almost unheard of in todays world.

    It would seem that PM6 Hot wire running for 20 minutes would put a good strain on the batteries and if they were mismatched ... boom? I do not think the blame can be placed on the seller, he might very well have put brand new batteries in, that still would not rule out a [battery] manufacturer defect. I've had SF batteries suffer sudden death syndrome, but had I used the light longer on the previous usage they might have went kabloom too.

    Kevin's approach of doing a quick test on every battery seems the safest.

    Thanks for the warning's and advice from everyone.
    It's not really OCD if you call it a hobby.

  22. #82
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Hey Steve, thanks for sacrificing your foot for the education of the rest of us

    I didn't really think it could happen ...

    I'm meditating as we speak to train my brain - hear hiss->throw light, hear hiss->throw light ...

    Glad you're sort of okay, but get to a doctor if you haven't I should think. You could have some nasty stuff in there and not know it.
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  23. #83
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox
    Hello SRacer,

    I don't think the open circuit matching will tell you what you need to know. What we need is a load test that subjects the cells to a variety of loads and reports the voltage at those loads.

    The ZTS tester loads the cells and reports the voltage as a % of full capacity. It can be very useful, but I think it could be improved by subjecting the cell to a higher load. The problem is that it would no longer be useful for its intended purpose. A high load would reduce the voltage and indicate that it does not have much life left in it.

    I have had several discussions with ZTS and it is possible to get a custom program developed for the ZTS. It is expensive, but it may be possible to get a group buy together to offset the cost. I am not sure what loads would work best, but it should be possible to come up with something.

    Tom
    Hi Tom,

    In the past I've checked flash amps for my primary 123s on a Fluke 77III DMM, on the premise that flash amps give an indication of a cell's remaining "oomph," and that pairing cells with similar flash amp readings would result in well-matched cells. Would be interested in your thoughts on this...
    --Scott

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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Lunarmodule, I'm very sorry this happened to you! Actually, it's not something I'd wish on anyone. Hope you're well soon.

    FWIW, I find it curious that there seems to be some correlation between the PM6 and these types of incidents, at least around here on CPF. I can't vouch for the incan version, but Luxlover and I both noticed that the hard anodized LED version of this light ships with a tailspring so stiff as to be almost immovable... in fact, Lux crunched the bottoms of TWO DIFFERENT R123 cells by tightening the tail... probably due to that overly stiff spring! Note that an R123 cell typically has a heavier steel casing since it's designed for repeated use... that doesn't bode well for the cell integrity of primaries!

    Me, I Dremel'd my spring literally in half, and it was still plenty to keep sufficient tension on the cells... but not deform them.

    I am definitely NOT a battery expert, nor explosion, nor forensic, nor flashlight manufacture! But it seems to me that a light with a tendency to deform the cells physically is putting those cells at a markedly higher risk of failure, sometimes catastrophic. This might explain the PM6 connection.
    --Scott

  25. #85

    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    WOW, this is some scary stuff. Because of the threads that i have read about this so far, i will be 1: NEVER purchasing a Pelican M6, 2: only purchasing my cr123's from battery station in the future. i just got out of a statistics class and realize that even with the most stringent precautions shit does occasionally happen. HOWEVER the fact that this keeps happening to PM6's freaks me out. There are PLENTY of good lights out there, and i dont really plan on buying one that keeps having batteries go BOOM inside of it. It could have nothing to do with it but im just going to err on the side of safety.
    "you carry an umbrella if there is a 50% chance of rain, right? Well, there's a 100% chance of darkness tonight." -saunterer

  26. #86

    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Come on guys, "keeps happening to PM's"! It's happened twice!!

    Since my PM6's, (I've had 4) didn't have the super-stiff springs some have mentioned, I now wonder if that does play a part, but this, so far, is a total test sample of exactly 2!!

    As mentioned above, we also know it has happened with Streamlights and Surefires, and I highly doubt that Streamlight would put that kind of a warning, on RED paper no less, if it hadn't happened more than once!!

    Bill

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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Steve, I am very sorry to hear you were hurt. I am VERY glad it was not worse. I think if you have not seen a Doc you really need to as the possibility of very small fragments (or Powdered glass) might be a problem. I know you
    understand if there is anything I can do then PLEASE let me know and I will try my best.
    Topper

    P.S. Cheers for Kevin

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    Thinking Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Quote Originally Posted by Knight Lights
    Come on guys, "keeps happening to PM's"! It's happened twice!!

    Since my PM6's, (I've had 4) didn't have the super-stiff springs some have mentioned, I now wonder if that does play a part, but this, so far, is a total test sample of exactly 2!!

    As mentioned above, we also know it has happened with Streamlights and Surefires, and I highly doubt that Streamlight would put that kind of a warning, on RED paper no less, if it hadn't happened more than once!!

    Bill
    I do remember a "Spider?" recall a few years back due to "Catastrophic" failure
    and the cells being blamed (the cells sold with the light) I do not recall the Brand of cell for sure but I think it may have been Sanyo??? Not sure.
    I do have 2 PM6's I do not use them I may attempt to explode one outside with "mix matched cells" still thinking not sure.
    Topper
    Topper

  29. #89
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    Lunar ... the Lucky Star's light was shining on you! WOW !!! Glad you're (relatively) unscarred.


    In case it was a reverse-charging incident ... shouldn't the light have been significantly dimmer just prior to the explosion?

    And btw ... I recall a similar thread where a light (IIRC a PM6) exploded and blew of the tailcap in the process like a projectile.
    And an incident at an airport that involved a big D-Cell light that exploded like a pipe bomb.

    Considering the fact that we do see DOA CR123 batteries from various brands makes me worry though ... especially for lights like the SF M6 ...

    Another stupid hypothesis: what would happen if two normal (fully functional non-defective equally full) CR123 batteries would be shorted in series ... like for example ... by a short in the lamp module tha thappened during operation, or a short at the spring level of the lamp module? Would this result in an incident like this?

    Hans ... we *do have* a Li-Ion safety sticky ... ... but we're talking primary cells here.

    bernie
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  30. #90
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    Default Re: ROAR of the Pelican (CR123 Explosion during use, underwear change required)

    I'd agree with Flakey, among others. The Urge to buy a Peli M6 is considerably diminished!


    Really glad you're alright, this is a hobby, not worth a trip to A&E!!! Or losing bits of one's body.

    Cr123's are expensive so we run the risk of keeping a used battery 'just in case it comes in handy' , I think a new cell every time is obviously the way to go unless we want to run the risk of damaging at least our prized possessions or at most our health.

    We may be able to train ourselves to throw a hissing torch but I don't think I'll let my wife and kids play around with high output multi-celled lights in future.

    The urge to drill venting holes in all my multi cells and then plug with silicon or even wax (as has been suggested in the past on CPF) is worth serious consideration.

    Get well soon and take it easy...maybe they'll replace your Pelican with something that takes only one cell??

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