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ALT Petro-Flex Bladder Tank

Posted By: Muniac

ALT Petro-Flex Bladder Tank - 10/27/12 06:56 AM


If you find yourself staying in remote areas and/or climates that aren't conducive to easily moving your bus, it may help to be able to transport diesel fuel and water to your vehicle. Having access to these commodities is a requirement and remote filling is yet another practical means of procurement. Diesel fuel provides heat, hot water and electricity. Water keeps the shower, toilet and laundry working which aren't essential to life but certainly makes it more pleasant. For potable water, we use the bottled stuff.

In this review I'll be covering the remote fueling setup we use. We have portable tanks, pumps and hoses for both diesel fuel and water. Conceptually both systems work the same way but require their own tank, pump, hoses and connections. Mixing diesel fuel and water would quickly lead to unacceptable levels of contamination making both liquids unusable for their purpose. So make sure all the components used for diesel aren't used for water and all the components used for water aren't used for diesel. This would seem obvious. That said, there are lots of folks out there that find unique ways to save money by doubling up on functions. Please don't do that with this application.

Taking the bus down to the filling station isn't a good idea.

The Components:

The heart of any remote filling system is a good quality tank. I use Aero Tec Laboratories 100 gallon Petro-Flex bladder tanks. These are rugged, well designed and properly reinforced products that will provide trouble free operation over the long haul. And there is a lot of junk out there so buyer beware. The last thing you want to deal with is a fuel leak during transport. Especially if it happens on the public road system.

The case makes this bladder tank easy to haul around.

The transfer pump I use is Grainger part # 3DTC8 which is a small 120 VAC general purpose pump. I put this pump into usage back in the fall of 2007 and have transferred thousands of gallons of fuel with it. This pump has a rubber impeller and will self prime within reason. The rubber used in the impeller hasn't broken down pumping diesel. A rebuild kit is available if you wanted to keep that in stock just in case. As transfer applications go, the one presented here is light duty. Lots of pump options exist, however, so purchase what you think will work best.

All the components required to do remote filling.

You'll need to plumb the tank with an exit valve and hose. The pictures show what I've used and it has worked well over the years. Again, lots of options exist.

For filling I simply use a 25 foot good quality rubber garden hose. When I'm done filling I make sure to drain all the diesel fuel out of the hose. Initially I had concerns about doing this as diesel can attack certain types of rubber. I've carefully monitored my hose over the last 5 years and it's in perfect condition. Three things have contributed to this. One, the hose sees fuel only during filling then it's drained. Two, no appreciable pressure is applied to the fuel inside the hose. Three, there is no excessive heat involved. If you so desire, you can make a custom hose from rubber specifically designed to handle petroleum fuels.

Bladder tank ready for filling. A flat open space really helps. Avoid sharp edges!

Back with 10 gallons of fuel. Plug and play filling.

Diesel, unlike gasoline, is a low volatility fuel. You could throw a match into a bucket of diesel fuel and it would extinguish. This makes transporting and pumping it much safer. I wouldn't even think about doing this with gasoline and I suggest you don't either.

The end result and what we've all been waiting for.

As for bladder tanks, they require a proper space to setup. Usually this is something flat which accommodates the entire footprint of the tank. My van's cargo area is perfect. It's very important to avoid any sharp edges which could puncture the tank. The weight of diesel fuel varies slightly based on formulations. But 7 Lbs per gallon is a good nominal weight to use. So a 70 gallon load is 490 pounds.

Be very respectful of the forces involved when that fuel begins sloshing around. Turning, curves, acceleration and deceleration will create considerable forces on the fuel (and tank) when transporting it. If severe enough, the tank can actually fold over. That's why you should cross strap a bladder tank to its support surface. So exercise extreme caution when moving fuel. I think a vehicle with a more containing cargo area would actually be better. In other words, something that braced the tank on all four sides. Whatever you decide on, just give careful thought to it and transport small amounts of fuel first as a test.

My diesel and water tanks store easily in the large storage bay.


This has been a look at my remote filling system and a thumbs up for ATL bladder tanks. It's one approach of many possibilities available to you. Stays for us usually range from 3-8 months at a time. Remote fueling saves time, aggravation and money. It's far easier to bring the fuel to the bus than breaking everything down, clamming up and driving to the filling station. Only to return and put everything back the way it was. Some stations are really tight to maneuver a large vehicle around in which is another hassle worth avoiding.

Transporting fuel in a bladder tank isn't without risks. Make sure you understand all the hazards and safety implications and are comfortable with the process. In other words, know before you go.

In winter climates a drive to the filling station isn't even an option. In some locations we arrive in late fall with a 1/2 tank of summer blend fuel. Winter blend isn't usually available until November at which time road conditions are bad either with snow and/or salt. Remote fueling really is helpful in this case. When the winter blend arrives we generally transport 70-80 gallons which works out fine. In winters past, when we ran the Hydro-Hot more for heating we'd need to do a mid-winter fill up.

If you're moving about frequently remote filling doesn't make much sense as you'll always be able to access a filling station. Extended stays in warm climates place far less demands on fuel consumption. If you topped off before parking, I would imagine your fuel would last many months.

If you were boondocking in a remote place, being able to transport fuel and water might have some advantages. For us the remote filling has been a HUGE help and we continue to use this capability season after season. I hope this article has been helpful and informative. Be careful out there and safe travels.

Complete slide show HERE. (6 frames w/captions)
Posted By: Gil B

Re: ALT Petro-Flex Bladder Tank - 10/27/12 04:17 PM

Hi Scott:

Can you tell us a little more about the initial filling procedure? OK, I see the fill located in the middle of the bladder. I understand that. Now, you are bending over the bladder, filling with diesel, as you're filling, the bladder is rising. So far, so good. Are you kneeling on the bag, as your filling? and then moving off of /away from the bag. I'm a little concerned about fuel backing up the fill nozzle? It looks like there is a safety fill/ball valve? Have you ever had an overflow? I maybe over thinking this! Great job! How many trips to the hardware store? :-)
Posted By: Muniac

Re: ALT Petro-Flex Bladder Tank - 10/27/12 07:48 PM

Gil - The vent (yellow cap) is reenforced and fairly stable. You can put the fill nozzle in there just like on a vehicle. I lock the handle and let the diesel flow into the tank at the maximum rate. Usually I know in advance that I'm going to transport 50, 60, 70 or more gallons. So I watch that on the pump and stop when I reach my goal.

It's easy to reach into the center and insert the nozzle. Wide angle lens on camera makes this distance appear much longer than it is. Bladder rises as it takes on fuel.

Never had any fuel back up problems, spills, overflow or mess. The tank will hold 100 gallons and I never have had a need to transport that much. Done this with water many times, however.

On the tank's exit you need a ball valve to shut this off during filling. That valve stays off until you connect the exit hose to the pump's inlet and run your filling hose. Once everything is connected and your fill hose is in place, you open the valve and start the pump. It's all pretty simple.