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Super Tankers

January 27, 2011
jftank1
Replacing a factory-installed 38-gal. fuel tank with a 60-gal. aftermarket tank means about 170 more miles between fill-ups.  
 
 

My truck and trailer travel about 30,000 miles across the country each year. Shopping for lower fuel prices keeps my cost per mile down, but a 38-gal. tank forces me to search for a filling station every 300 miles.

When I’m traveling, fuel prices always seem to jump right before the gauge needle nods empty. When I do fill up, I often end up at a place where diesel is 20¢ a gallon cheaper just a few miles down the road.

It was time to take charge of when and where I refuel, and I did it by replacing the factory-installed fuel tank on my pickup with an aftermarket large-capacity tank. The cool thing is, it bolts into the original location.

There are several replacement tank manufacturers. Transfer Flow Inc. (www.transferflow.com) makes models to fit gas and diesel pickups. After some shopping and comparisons, I purchased a Titan Fuel Tank (www.titanfueltanks.com) from Supertanks LLC, an Idaho Falls, Idaho, company that makes different tank sizes matched to individual truck models. How big you can go depends on the length of the truck frame. I chose a 60-gal. tank for my Ford F250 SuperCab long bed.

This brand tank is available for diesel vehicles only, but it is biodiesel compatible. There are plenty of in-bed auxiliary tanks on the market for both diesel and gas trucks too. However, I keep my truck bed busy and need all the space I can get. I wanted the tank under the bed and out of the way.

The Titan replacement tank is constructed from high-density, cross-linked polyethylene, which is bonded molecularly. It’s the same process and material used in military combat vehicles, so I figure they have to be tough. The tank comes with a five year or 50,000-mile warranty.

The seamless one-piece design is stronger than factory-installed tanks and designed to carry the extra fuel weight. If you do the math, an extra 20 gal. at 8 lb. per gallon is the equivalent of carrying another 160-lb. passenger. The unit itself weighs around 45 lb. (depending on the size installed).

Easy installation. To get started, jack up your truck high enough to slide the old tank out and the new one in. Just a few hand tools and a floor jack are all you’ll need for equipment, but you will need two people for the job.

Disconnect the fill and breather hoses and one electrical connection. The new tank straps are substantially larger than the factory straps in order to hold the extra weight of the tank.

I’m not big on reading instructions, but my son is and that turned out to be a good thing. The big tank installed with new straps needed longer bolts in order to replace the skid plate.

Titan also offers a shield made from the same heavy-duty material. It’s recommended for truckers who go off-road. On most trucks, the replacement tank hangs 1" to 2½" lower than the stock tank.

The hardest part of the retrofit is transferring the sending unit to the new tank. The old factory tank had a screw-on hold-down ring that can easily rip the O-ring. I like the Titan’s design better because the flange and O-ring bolt down for a more secure attachment. The sending unit has a telescoping suction tube that touches the bottom of the tank.

Your analog fuel gauge will still work the same as it did with original equipment. However, your Driver Information Center (DIC) computer will not be accurate after installation. Some independent companies are working on this issue. EFILive (www.efilive.com) can reprogram most of the General Motors products.

I ran the tank empty after checking for leaks and using it a few hundred miles. The most I could get back into the tank was 52 gal. The most I could get into the factory-installed 38-gal. tank was 35 gal. when empty. My net fuel gain from the project is 17 gal., which gives me another 170 miles.

The cost of my 60-gal. tank was $1,068. Prices range from just under $1,000 to $1,300, depending on your truck model and cab configuration. Fuel savings should help me recover my costs over time.

With the new 60-gal. fuel tank, I should be good to go for at least 470 miles without a pit stop. Now if I could only last that long!

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - February 2011
RELATED TOPICS: Machinery, How To

 
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