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Long range fuel tank installation – From the archives – March 2004


In the age of the 12-hour work day, there’s something very satisfying about owning a vehicle capable of border-to-border distances between fill-ups; simply knowing you can get away – a long, long way away – is often all it takes to keep you sane.

Of course, given the distances between suitable fuel stops on typical African overland trips, it also makes very good sense to extend the range of your vehicle if you are considering escaping from civilization.

Strapping on a couple of jerrycans is one solution and many would argue that carrying two spare jerrycans is a necessity anyhow. But I’ve yet to meet anyone who enjoys refueling their 4×4 with jerrycans and a funnel. So long range tanks are the sensible solution. And according to Johan Kellerman of Safari Centre who fit about five a week, a very popular one too.

Fitting an auxiliary tank isn’t a job for someone who doesn’t know their vice grips from their bull nose pliers but it is within the reach of anyone who’s reasonably technically-adept.

If you do tackle the job yourself, ensure you have all the necessary tools close at hand. Then block off an afternoon and call in a friend, it’s not a job you want to rush. And remember, you’re working with highly combustible substances so keep the braai a safe distance away…

The Front Runner auxiliary tank for the Land Rover Discovery featured here retails for R1999 VAT incl. and holds an additional 45 litres. If, after reading our guide, it all seems too much bother, Safari Centre will supply and fit for an additional R850 VAT incl.

1. Make it easy on yourself and tackle this job when your tank is close to empty. Start by jacking up the rear RHS of the vehicle and inserting proper vehicle supports. No bricks or wheel jacks please! then remove the right rear wheel.

2. Grind off the rivets securing the mud-flap bracket. Remove the adjacent fillerneck earth cable bolt. Fill all the remaining holes with silicon sealer.

3. Remove the rubber hose connecting the fillerneck and main fuel tank. And then drain the remaining fuel from the main tank. This is when you’ll be happy your tank is nearly empty.

4. Hold the rear bracket in place and mark holes. use a punch and then drill. Begin with a smaller bit and work up to the 8.5mm required.

5. Always rustproof all new holes (drilled in metal) with a suitable rustproofing agent.

6. Drill a 6mm hole on the outer lip of the floor plan and relocate the fillerneck earth cable.

7. Measure and cut the original fillerneck rubberhose so that you’re left with two 70mm pieces.

8. Drill an 8mm hole into the front corner of the main tank. Ideally, you should use a step drill for this.

9. Thread a piece of wire through the correctly orientated balance pipe fitting and then feed this wire into the main tank via the fillerneck. Keep the balance pipe fitting outside the tank; if you drop it through the fillerneck, it’ll slide off the end of the wire and fall into the main tank. Then you’ll have to drop the main tank…

10. Using a second piece of wire with a hooked end, reach into the main tank through the drilled hole and snag the first piece of wire. Then pull the first piece of wire out through the drilled hole.

11. Now you can allow the balance pipe fitting to slip ‘n slide down the wire until it pulls through the drilled hole. Then secure it with the correct washer and nut. Binding a bit of plumber’s tape around the head of the balance pipe fitting before you thread it on the wire is also a good idea. Remove the wires when your done.

12. Remove the masking tape from the pipe fittings on the auxiliary tank. Applying a generous smear of petroleum grease to all pipes and fittings will make plumbing-up a lot easier.

13. Slide one 70mm hose piece onto the main tank inlet and the other over the filler hose inlet.

14. Insert tank into position and install rear bracket with bolts tightened finger-tight.

15. Push rubber breather and filler hoses into position on auxiliary tank “T” pieces and clamp loosely.

16. Position front bracket on tank. Mark hole position on chassis member.

17. Remove front bracket and drill holes. Drill two 10.5mm holes through both surfaces of the chassis member. Remember, the main tank is positioned close to the far side of the chassis member so take car not to drill too far.

18. Put front bracket pack in place and insert all bolts and nuts.

19. Measure and cut balance pipe. Finally, tighten all clamps and bolts.

20. The Front Runner auxiliary tank fits snugly in the cavity behind the rear right wheel without compromising ground clearance or wheel travel.

21. All that is left is to refill the tank and check for leaks. if you followed the instructions carefully, there won’t be any.