Letter Re: Advice on Fuel Drums and Fuel Transfer Pumps?

Do you have any idea where I can get a 50 gallon fuel drum with a manual pump like the one that your previous writer discussed? – SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: You should first consult your local fire code, for capacity limits. This is generally not a problem outside of city limits, but laws vary widely. Needless to say, you should store any fuel cans or drums in a detached storage shed that is away from your house, not in an attached garage!

In North America, the fuel drums that the reader mentioned are usually made in 55 gallon capacity. Your local fuel distributor should have new ones, or you can scrounge used clean ones locally if you post a query on Craig’s List. The fuel-rated pumps are often D-handle design, like these. Again, used ones are less expensive.

Or, of course you could also use a 12 VDC electric fuel transfer pump, like the ones that I make. (OBTW, every family should keep one of these pumps handy.)

Unless you are certain that you will be using the fuel within a few weeks, be sure to se stabilizer, such as Pri-G.

It is best to buy winter-formulated gas, and rotate it annually. (Also in winter.) This is because winter gas has extra butane added, o aid cold weather starting. This formulation extends the storage life of gasoline.

Drums that are 20 gallons or smaller can be moved with a standard dolly and lifted off a pickup tailgate by two men. But moving anything larger requires special handling equipment, and is a back ache waiting to happen. Filling (or re-filling) a large drum that is kept at home can best be accomplished discreetly by using your vehicle’s fuel tank and a 12 VDC fuel transfer pump. Just make several trips over the period of a week, and it won’t be noticeable.

Buy the materials for camouflaging your fuel drum(s) in advance. I generally recommend scrounging an appliance box (such as a small refrigerator box) so that the drum won’t be noticed by visiting workmen or meter readers. Or you could build a false wall at the end of a long shed. One other alternative is to use a “hide in plain sight” (HIPS) approach. This might be to re-paint the drum white, with herbicide markings. This won’t look too out of place for drum up to 30 gallon capacity stored in the corner of a gardening shed. You can also leave a full two-gallon lawnmower gas can in the same shed, as “bait” for burglars, to distract their attention. Re-painting a fuel drum is a fun and creative family stencil cutting and painting project.