Fuel tank build - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 26 Old 05-03-2021, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Fuel tank build

I have been looking at fuel cells since I bought my Jeep and just never really found what I wanted. I finally decided to pull the trigger and build a custom tank to replace my slanted/dented stock metal fuel tank. I didn't want to put a fuel cell in the back of my Jeep and the fuel cells readily available just didn't make a lot of sense to me. Dimensionally, the tanks are good enough but they're super thin and kind of force me to either use an external fuel pump which I didn't want to do or plug the existing holes and run an internal pump. Even then, there'd be almost no option for a sump.

So here's my plan and this won't be as fast as my normal projects. I chose to use 1/8" 3003-H14 vs 6061-T6 as it was cheaper and still easy to weld but still way lighter than steel. The tank is 9x9x36 which is about 12 gallons and should tuck up nicely between the frame rails. Got some time and motivation yesterday after the material arrived and started working. The total cost for the aluminum was $110 with shipping.

I've been holding off on the rest of the parts because I didn't want to spend more money if I lacked the ability to weld everything. Aluminum is definitely trickier to weld than steel with the two wire compositions welding totally different. With really thick stuff, I've found 4043 wire to weld a little nicer but for thinner stuff, I seem to like 5356 wire. Machine setup takes me a lot longer too where I can usually just adapt my style a little with a slightly incorrect setting when doing steel. Both wires just seem to weld super violent compared to steel so it takes some getting used to. Either way, I got the main tank built with some welds looking better than others. Filled it up with water and didn't see any leaks so I placed an order for the filler neck, fuel pump, and rollover vent.

Fun fact...look at the haze on the welding helmet after doing those welds. Although I tried not to breath this stuff in or even position myself directly over the welds, I probably need to take better precautions.

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post #2 of 26 Old 05-03-2021, 02:56 PM
shaggyjim
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He’s goin for it!
HE’S GOIN FOR IT!
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post #3 of 26 Old 05-03-2021, 02:57 PM
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What did you decide on for a sump?
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post #4 of 26 Old 05-03-2021, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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What did you decide on for a sump?
I haven't yet. Kind of waiting to see how much clearance I have and how big this fuel pump is.

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post #5 of 26 Old 05-04-2021, 07:42 AM
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I don’t remember if this came up before but have you ever seen the fuel pickup mats that Summit sells. The look cool and supposedly wick fuel from anywhere in the tank.
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post #6 of 26 Old 05-04-2021, 05:37 PM
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Pressurize the tank to 3psi (NO MORE) and see if it holds for three hours. I have an adapter I made and a low pressure water gauge for that purpose- that’s why I flunked my boat gas tank. Harmless looking dark spots in the oxidized aluminum made tiny bubbles after 15mins
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[size=3]Shackles & D-rings are different things.
Cranking IS turning over
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post #7 of 26 Old 05-04-2021, 09:14 PM
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post #8 of 26 Old 05-07-2021, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Well I thought I'd take a few more pictures of what the tank should look like before I put my hideous spoolgun welds on the top. I have a very basic baffle in the middle. The square box that looks like a sump isn't a sump at all and has holes for fuel to flow in and out of. It's really just to make sure the bottom of the pump assembly can't flop around since I can't secure it once installed. One thing I discovered is that most stock pump assemblies effectively create their own sump. The return line pumps fuel into the plastic container at the bottom that then flows fuel into the fuel sock/screen keeping it primed in the event of temporary fuel starvation.

I haven't figured out exactly how I'll hold the fuel pump down but I'll probably attach some kind of ring to the upper panel before welding it down.
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post #9 of 26 Old 05-07-2021, 08:57 PM
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Tanks looking good. Is that a GM style pump and sending unit.
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post #10 of 26 Old 05-07-2021, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by shaggyjim View Post
Tanks looking good. Is that a GM style pump and sending unit.
Yes. It's a Chevy Trailblazer/GMC Envoy pump. I thought it would be deeper but apparently it was only 8" deep and I needed 9". Oh well, it was only $25 and I just modified it to make it work rather than trying something else. The most important part is that it can supply the pressure I need along with the flow.

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post #11 of 26 Old 05-08-2021, 03:59 AM
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Looking good.

Before welding that filler in place, you may want to set it in the Jeep and see how it's going to be filling in that location. Not that it's a bad spot on the tank, just that you may want to opt for a longer neck or whatever to get it to a more convenient location. Because mine is under a storage box/bed cover and behind the slide out toolbox; I made a bracket to hold a TJ filler bezel and welded it to the cage and ran the needed hoses. I only mention it because a buddy mounted his with just the cap etc and every time I see him fill it up it looks like a PITA to get to it, although he says it's not.

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post #12 of 26 Old 05-08-2021, 06:45 AM Thread Starter
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Looking good.

Before welding that filler in place, you may want to set it in the Jeep and see how it's going to be filling in that location. Not that it's a bad spot on the tank, just that you may want to opt for a longer neck or whatever to get it to a more convenient location. Because mine is under a storage box/bed cover and behind the slide out toolbox; I made a bracket to hold a TJ filler bezel and welded it to the cage and ran the needed hoses. I only mention it because a buddy mounted his with just the cap etc and every time I see him fill it up it looks like a PITA to get to it, although he says it's not.
Yeah I laid the top skin inside the bed of the Jeep and the filler is in the back left corner with enough room to get my hand on it. Granted, I'm delaying dropping the original tank a bit because it sucks and also because that forces me to finish before using the Jeep...
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post #13 of 26 Old 05-10-2021, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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Well I got the pump hold down figured out. I tapped the top skin for a 1/4" bolt, added a viton o-ring under the bolt head, then coated the bolts with Loctite for good measure, and then added a nut on top to keep everything together. A full ring would definitely be better but I'm not sure it's necessary.

I did get the top skin and the filler neck welded down. Had to battle 3-4 leaks but I think it's sealed up now. There is still residual water and condensation in the tank though so I plan to just leave it out in the GA sun to help that evaporate. Then I'll try to get it installed in the Jeep.

The dog really appreciated me testing the bottom half of the tank for leaks.... I may have had to clean out some slobber.
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post #14 of 26 Old 05-10-2021, 10:25 AM
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Your dog has a very sad look on his face. I think he thought it was his new water bowl until you sealed and painted it.
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post #15 of 26 Old 05-18-2021, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Well I should've done more measuring and weighing but I forgot. So as of now I'm guessing I picked up a little ground clearance and I think I shaved a few pounds. I did at least get the tank installed and wired up though. Needs a few finishing touches but I think it's ready to roll.

A few things were not as I expected. For one, the filler cap doesn't come up as high as I thought it would so I had to cut a bigger hole to give my fingers some space...and I need to smooth those edges a bit better. Maybe that's a good thing and I can just make a fuel flap but I can't push the tank any higher. I also had to cut the stiffening rib just over the tank for added clearance. On the plus side, I saw the opportunity to cut the cross rib that holds the front side of the tank up.
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