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Driving at 80 on the freeway while you’re towing might conserve fuel, but a larger fuel tank will boost your range between stops and probably still save you money

As more people hit the road to some of this country’s most remote and amazing destinations, a major topic of discussion is the dreaded cost of fuel. Current prices can vary anywhere from minor cents per litre in towns to as much as a buck or two in far-flung locations.

As a part of the company’s 30-year celebrations, we caught up with Roger Beimers, from tank maker Long Range Automotive (LRA), for a candid chat about tanks and touring. By way of illustration, Roger advised that on his most recent trip, price variations were substantial; diesel was $1.47 in Port Augusta and $2.09 Erldunda.

These prices are wildly varied and inflated thanks to our tax system but it’s not stopping people from touring. They are just doing it with more careful planning and consideration to van sizes and weights, and how to achieve the best economy while on the road.


LONG-RANGE FUEL TANKS

aren’t just for the desert

BUYER’S GUIDE Long-Range Fuel Tanks

WORDS AND IMAGES ANTHONY KILNER

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MODEL
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WHY FIT A LONG-RANGE TANK – 4WD
In traditional 4WD circles, long-range tanks are used to get in and out of remote country without the need to carry jerry cans on the vehicle.

In 1995, I travelled the Madigan line in a press fleet vehicle when it was one of the most remote destinations in Australia. I made up a frame to carry all the diesel and water I needed the trip inside the car plus a large fridge. I strapped 19 jerry cans into the back of that GQ wagon with the seats removed and made it from Birdsville to Alice Springs with just a couple of litres left in the tank. After that experience, I’ve had a long-range tank fitted to every four-wheel drive I’ve owned to avoid the need to carry jerry cans of fuel at all.

BELOW All LRA tanks are fully welded from aluminised steel

WHY FIT A LONG-RANGE TANK – TOWING
The first reason is obvious: towing increases the fuel use of your vehicle dramatically, and it’s easy to come up short especially when you are new to the art. If you’re one of those people that like to drive with the fuel light on … well, you’ll possibly become acquainted with a fuel pump. So the main reason for those people towing and requiring greater fuel range via a tank is two-fold: one) to head off the beaten track and two) is to be able to go from outback town to town, even if it’s on the blacktop, secure in the knowledge that they won’t run out of fuel in between. Plus no jerry cans will be required to go the distance and take up precious cargo space.

Despite the weight of the trailer sapping your fuel supply, weather conditions such as wind and off-road terrain and steep country will also increase your fuel use.

BELOW Nothing you do will get close to brochure-led fuel consumption figures from a car maker

SINGLE WHEEL CONVERSIONS

PARABOLIC SPRING SUSPENSION UPGRADES

ATB DIFF UPGRADE

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SCROLL TO CONTINUE

RULES AND REGS REGARDING JERRY CANS
Firstly, jerry cans must comply with Australian Standards AS/NZS 2906:2001.

The containers must be approved for use with the specific fuel. Our inconsistent states have varying laws of course –- on how fuel can be carried in and around the vehicle, although the limit is a seemingly uniform 250 litres. Check with your insurer before you embark on any trip to see if carrying fuel in this way affects your policy.

BELOW Not just run-of-the-mill units at LRA as this O/S tank for a Ford Tacoma shows

STEEL VS POLYETHYLENE /PLASTIC
Essentially, there are two types of tanks on the market: traditional steel, which can carry diesel and petrol and the more modern polyethylene/plastic tanks. It’s important to note polyethylene/plastic tanks are suitable for diesel fuel and not rated to carry petrol.

Petrol is an explosive risk and deemed dangerous whereas diesel is not, and rules govern the carriage of petrol inside a vehicle, especially considering the potential for vapour build up.

Steel is heavier, too, how much depends on the size of the tank. On the other hand, steel potentially will take more punishment before a problem occurs. Moulded tanks are vehicle specific, so if other modifications are required on that vehicle polyethylene/plastic tanks can’t be adapted to fit. Steel provides room for custom work to suit if needs be.

Some polyethylene/plastic tanks don’t have a drain plug whereas all steel tanks do. This is important if the wrong fuel or a dodgy batch of fuel is put in the tank.

Another point to note as a difference between tanks is that some polyethylene/plastic tanks don’t have baffles whereas steel ones do. The baffles stop the fuel sloshing from side to side which can potentially create problems with weight transference and upset the handling of the vehicle.

ABOVE A polyethylene tank from ARB can't carry petrol

AUXILIARY VS REPLACEMENT TANKS
Simply put, a replacement tank is where the factory tank is removed and a new bigger tank fitted whereas an auxiliary tank is an extra tank that can be added to a vehicle to complement the factory tank. In some cases, a replacement and an auxiliary tank can be fitted to offer a massive gain in fuel capacity.

Remember, the more common a vehicle model, the more choice you will have in terms of what’s available to buy off the shelf. And custom costs more.

ABOVE With off-road vehicles maintaining angles is important // BELOW 160-litre replacement for an Isuzu NP300 from the Long Ranger 

WEIGHTY MATTERS
Installing a long-range tank to a vehicle adds weight, which means the payload of that vehicle will be diminished. Understanding the GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of the vehicle is critical here because it won’t change, although in some cases a GVM upgrade could help. 

Fast Fact:
1 litre of petrol weighs in at 0.78 kilograms
1 litre of diesel weighs in at 0.86 kilograms

For example, when changing the 45-litre sub-tank on a 200 Series diesel LandCruiser for the LRA 170-litre replacement sub-tank, you are removing 23kg of OE equipment and adding 48kg of new; a net increase of 25kg. This means the 170-litre replacement tank would weigh an extra 132.5kg when full compared to the filled 45-litre factory sub-tank at 61.7kg. 

If a person then also adds a bullbar, roof rack, storage system and more there’s the real possibility of taking the car over its GVM, rendering it illegal and the insurance null and void. And of course the heavier your tow vehicle, the remainder allowed for your van within the Gross Combination Mass (GCM) is reduced too.

ABOVE An LC profile cutter is used to minimise steel wastage, providing accurately steel to be made into tanks

FITTING
The main point to consider when a tank is being fitted is whether it will just bolt in where the factory tank did and if so is there enough support to hold the tank in place over thousands of kilometres on rough roads, or will you need to rearrange the space and or mounts.

Pretty much all tanks on the market are vehicle specific and come supplied with a proper mounting kit, but it pays to ask the supplier the question regarding mounting to ensure it will work for you.

ABOVE Wherever there's space there's opportunity for a tank

Watch a full-tank chat with LRA's Roger Beimers here

BUYER’S GUIDE Long-Range Fuel Tanks

As more people hit the road to some of this country’s most remote and amazing destinations, a major topic of discussion is the dreaded cost of fuel. Current prices can vary anywhere from minor cents per litre in towns to as much as a buck or two in far-flung locations.

As a part of the company’s 30-year celebrations, we caught up with Roger Beimers, from tank maker Long Range Automotive (LRA), for a candid chat about tanks and touring. By way of illustration, Roger advised that on his most recent trip, price variations were substantial; diesel was $1.47 in Port Augusta and $2.09 Erldunda.

These prices are wildly varied and inflated thanks to our tax system but it’s not stopping people from touring. They are just doing it with more careful planning and consideration to van sizes and weights, and how to achieve the best economy while on the road.


Driving at 80 on the freeway while you’re towing might conserve fuel, but a larger fuel tank will boost your range between stops and probably still save you money

WORDS AND IMAGES ANTHONY KILNER

LONG-RANGE FUEL TANKS

aren’t just for the desert
NEW
MODEL
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

WHY FIT A LONG-RANGE TANK – 4WD
In traditional 4WD circles, long-range tanks are used to get in and out of remote country without the need to carry jerry cans on the vehicle.

In 1995, I travelled the Madigan line in a press fleet vehicle when it was one of the most remote destinations in Australia. I made up a frame to carry all the diesel and water I needed the trip inside the car plus a large fridge. I strapped 19 jerry cans into the back of that GQ wagon with the seats removed and made it from Birdsville to Alice Springs with just a couple of litres left in the tank. After that experience, I’ve had a long-range tank fitted to every four-wheel drive I’ve owned to avoid the need to carry jerry cans of fuel at all.

BELOW All LRA tanks are fully welded from aluminised steel

WHY FIT A LONG-RANGE TANK – TOWING
The first reason is obvious: towing increases the fuel use of your vehicle dramatically, and it’s easy to come up short especially when you are new to the art. If you’re one of those people that like to drive with the fuel light on … well, you’ll possibly become acquainted with a fuel pump. So the main reason for those people towing and requiring greater fuel range via a tank is two-fold: one) to head off the beaten track and two) is to be able to go from outback town to town, even if it’s on the blacktop, secure in the knowledge that they won’t run out of fuel in between. Plus no jerry cans will be required to go the distance and take up precious cargo space.

Despite the weight of the trailer sapping your fuel supply, weather conditions such as wind and off-road terrain and steep country will also increase your fuel use.

BELOW Nothing you do will get close to brochure-led fuel consumption figures from a car maker

SINGLE WHEEL CONVERSIONS

PARABOLIC SPRING SUSPENSION UPGRADES

ATB DIFF UPGRADE

ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

RULES AND REGS REGARDING JERRY CANS
Firstly, jerry cans must comply with Australian Standards AS/NZS 2906:2001.

The containers must be approved for use with the specific fuel. Our inconsistent states have varying laws of course –- on how fuel can be carried in and around the vehicle, although the limit is a seemingly uniform 250 litres. Check with your insurer before you embark on any trip to see if carrying fuel in this way affects your policy.

STEEL VS POLYETHYLENE /PLASTIC
Essentially, there are two types of tanks on the market: traditional steel, which can carry diesel and petrol and the more modern polyethylene/plastic tanks. It’s important to note polyethylene/plastic tanks are suitable for diesel fuel and not rated to carry petrol.

Petrol is an explosive risk and deemed dangerous whereas diesel is not, and rules govern the carriage of petrol inside a vehicle, especially considering the potential for vapour build up.

Steel is heavier, too, how much depends on the size of the tank. On the other hand, steel potentially will take more punishment before a problem occurs. Moulded tanks are vehicle specific, so if other modifications are required on that vehicle polyethylene/plastic tanks can’t be adapted to fit. Steel provides room for custom work to suit if needs be.

Some polyethylene/plastic tanks don’t have a drain plug whereas all steel tanks do. This is important if the wrong fuel or a dodgy batch of fuel is put in the tank.

Another point to note as a difference between tanks is that some polyethylene/plastic tanks don’t have baffles whereas steel ones do. The baffles stop the fuel sloshing from side to side which can potentially create problems with weight transference and upset the handling of the vehicle.

BELOW Not just run-of-the-mill units at LRA as this O/S tank for a Ford Tacoma shows

ABOVE A polyethylene tank from ARB can't carry petrol

AUXILIARY VS REPLACEMENT TANKS
Simply put, a replacement tank is where the factory tank is removed and a new bigger tank fitted whereas an auxiliary tank is an extra tank that can be added to a vehicle to complement the factory tank. In some cases, a replacement and an auxiliary tank can be fitted to offer a massive gain in fuel capacity.

Remember, the more common a vehicle model, the more choice you will have in terms of what’s available to buy off the shelf. And custom costs more.

WEIGHTY MATTERS
Installing a long-range tank to a vehicle adds weight, which means the payload of that vehicle will be diminished. Understanding the GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of the vehicle is critical here because it won’t change, although in some cases a GVM upgrade could help. 

Fast Fact:
1 litre of petrol weighs in at 0.78 kilograms
1 litre of diesel weighs in at 0.86 kilograms

For example, when changing the 45-litre sub-tank on a 200 Series diesel LandCruiser for the LRA 170-litre replacement sub-tank, you are removing 23kg of OE equipment and adding 48kg of new; a net increase of 25kg. This means the 170-litre replacement tank would weigh an extra 132.5kg when full compared to the filled 45-litre factory sub-tank at 61.7kg. 

If a person then also adds a bullbar, roof rack, storage system and more there’s the real possibility of taking the car over its GVM, rendering it illegal and the insurance null and void. And of course the heavier your tow vehicle, the remainder allowed for your van within the Gross Combination Mass (GCM) is reduced too.

ABOVE With off-road vehicles maintaining angles is important // BELOW 160-litre replacement for an Isuzu NP300 from the Long Ranger 

ABOVE An LC profile cutter is used to minimise steel wastage, providing accurately steel to be made into tanks

FITTING
The main point to consider when a tank is being fitted is whether it will just bolt in where the factory tank did and if so is there enough support to hold the tank in place over thousands of kilometres on rough roads, or will you need to rearrange the space and or mounts.

Pretty much all tanks on the market are vehicle specific and come supplied with a proper mounting kit, but it pays to ask the supplier the question regarding mounting to ensure it will work for you.

ABOVE Wherever there's space there's opportunity for a tank

More info

Watch a full-tank chat with LRA's Roger Beimers here