August 21, 2017

Safety Requires Effort

• By John Chisholm •

Safety requires effort.

I have an example.  It’s convoluted, but accurate.  More importantly, it’s true.  Please bear with me.

My Land Rover has a 19-gallon fuel tank.  Assuming 18 miles per gallon (equipped with the Solex carburetor, that’s about right), that gives an effective range of around 340 miles.

By way of comparison, my Dodge pickup has a 28-gallon fuel tank.  Of course it’s equipped with electronic fuel injection, computerized timing advance and several other fuel saving innovations not yet invented when my Land Rover was designed.  But, assuming that it, too, delivers about 18 miles per gallon (actually fairly close, depending on driving conditions) its range is 500 miles, give or take.

That’s a great deal more flexibility.  Being specific, about 160 miles worth.

It’s at least worth noting that utilizing four-wheel drive ― in either of these vehicles ― increases fuel consumption while decreasing range.  That’s especially true in my Land Rover.

In short, no matter how you look at it, this vehicle runs out of fuel early.

Now recall that Maine has a great many fabulous spots ― The Allagash Wilderness Waterway, naming just one example ― within the reach of a 340-mile range ― provided you don’t mind walking at least part-way back.

Alas!  If I’m carrying my truck, I mind.

All of which is a long way of explaining why I spent this last weekend equipping my Land Rover with a couple of five-gallon auxiliary fuel cans.  I mounted their storage brackets on the vehicle’s back door.  A factory-mounted spare tire rack already reinforces the spot.  I simply altered the part to carry fuel.

In my thinking, the arrangement placed fuel out of the way, out of the interior and out of nose-shot.  That’s right, nose-shot.  Who wants to smell gasoline the whole way out on a fishing trip?  (Presumably, you wouldn’t smell it on the way back, having added it to the fuel tank when you got there.)

Unfortunately, this set up does have a serious drawback.  Safety.

My friend Tony pointed it out.  “That’s dangerous!  Don’t do it.  Those cans could explode in a rear-end collision.”

Being honest, that hadn’t even occurred to me.

I’ve thought about it a great deal since.  He’s right.  Of course you like to imagine that you’ll avoid rear-end collisions.  Barring that, should you be involved in one, the colliding vehicle could be a car too low to crush the fuel cans.  Furthermore, what are the odds?

But ― and this is the clause you just can’t get around ― Tony’s right.  Realistically, it could happen.

I’m back at the drawing board.

In lieu of fuel cans, I’m contemplating adding an additional fuel tank.  The short-wheel-base Land Rovers came equipped with an even smaller fuel supply.  Twelve gallons.  (That’s a really short range, 200 miles.)  But, as a second fuel supply, that tank would extend my Land Rover’s range further than those two auxiliary cans could.  Together, the two would give me a 560-mile range.

The short-wheel-base tank fits under the front passenger’s seat.  That same area is simply empty on my station wagon.

Regardless, difficulties remain.  First, I’ll have to find the parts.  (I imagine I can do that.  We’ll see.)  Next, I’ll have to change the fill arrangement.  (The right side backseat door on my station wagon is in the way of the short-wheel-base filler pipe.)  I’ll have to do some extra plumbing, too, fuel lines and so on.  The second tank will also require another sending unit and an electrical hook-up so that the gauge reads the reserves from the tank in use.  There will be holding brackets to consider as well.  That’s before we get to the fasteners; nuts, bolts, washers and so on.

In truth, there’s no doubt but it will be a lot of extra work.

Never mind.  I’ll do it.

Then I’ll take Tony fishing in my Land Rover.

That’ll teach him.

Seriously, there’s a lesson here that we all have to learn:

Safety requires effort.

None of us should doubt that it’s worth it.