Category Archives: Vehicle Preparedness

How Can I Store Fuel Long Term?

If you have been following my blog for some time now, you know that I try to focus on real life issues as much as possible and leave the apocalyptical prepping ideas to the doomsday guys. Such is the case with fuel storage. When the world goes Mad Max over a tanker full of gasoline, chances are what we can store as individuals will be long since used up. Now that we’ve cleared up that unless we have our own oil well and refinery, we can only do so much, lets take a look at fuel storage.

If you are interested in some of the reasons we face fuel shortages, read my blog post HERE.

How Can I Store Emergency Fuel?

The key word in internal combustion engine is “combustion.” In other words, most of the equipment we use requires the burning of fuel to create heat, or small controlled explosions in an engine’s cylinders. That means all of the fuels we generally use will burn, and most of them easily, so we have to take precautions on how we store them. Not only do we need to consider the fire hazard but the environmental issues as well. Even 5 gallons of gasoline or diesel fuel spilled can destroy plant life and leave a pretty large area of ground barren for a good while. If that same spill gets into a drainage of some sort and makes it to a creek, it can be hazardous to the fish and wildlife down stream for no telling how far. Now, I don’t consider having five extra gallons on hand to be a stockpile of fuel. That just what we normally purchase the day we have to mow grass. I would prefer to have a few hundred gallons of gasoline and/or diesel fuel if I could safely store it. Imagine the spill or fire that could create!

Fuel Containers

Safety, legality, and common sense should tell us to choose containers for flammable or combustible materials carefully. We can pretty much kiss any trace of discretion goodbye if we have to call the fire department of hazardous materials unit out to our homes or our vehicles if we have an accident while transporting or storing our liquid fuels, especially larger quantities.

Plastic Fuel Containers: Probably the best tank for transporting any fuels from the pump to our storage site at home are plastic fuel containers. These Containers are relatively inexpensive and can be had in multiple sizes. They do not rust and corrode like steel containers do and offer a simple means to rotate our fuel supply out on a regular basis. An added benefit to using the normal, everyday type gas can is that no one raises an eyebrow to see anyone filling them up. If we want to be more discrete about it, we might chose to fill a few at one station then more at another station, but unless there’s a shortage, I doubt that we would garner any concern by filling several fuel cans up at one stop. Click the pictures below to get some smaller and larger plastic fuel containers.

5 Gallon

14 Gallon

Steel and Aluminum Tanks: For larger capacities, we can look to either steel or aluminum tanks. Some versions are made to be mounted in truck beds and others are intended for permanent installation, but either will probably work for us based on the size requirements we have. One thing we have to consider when purchasing larger steel or aluminum tanks is the need for a pump. We obviously can’t lift and pour fuel out of a huge metal tank by hand, and gravity feeding can lead to spills if a valve fails. This leaves us with the choice of a manual or electric pump. A word of caution: electrical sparks can cause an explosion with fuel vapors present! If we choose an electric pump, we need to make sure that the wiring and power source are sealed and the pump is explosion proof. Another thing to remember with large storage tanks is that they have more room for air as we use the fuel in them. This can allow for more condensation in humid climates and affect the fuel quality. Along with our pump system, we should also use a filter and occasionally use a separate pump to pull any condensed water from the bottom of the tank. Here are two tank options and a pump kit. Just click on the pictures below.

Spill Containment

Unless we visit construction or industrial sites where fuel is stored in large volumes, it’s easy for us to overlook what I call containment. For the purpose of this article “containment” means what stops fuel from spreading if the main container spills. Most gas stations have buried tanks so we don’t realize that they often have double lined tanks giving a dual layer of protections. On sites where there are large storage tanks above ground, we usually find a berm or bank that surrounds the tank with a liner in it. Based on the laws and environmental regulations, the containment should be capable of containing the entire contents of the tank.

Since we aren’t opening a gas station or a heavy industrial site, our needs and abilities are a little different. There are some prepping efforts in which we must be more subversive than others and storing more than a few five gallon cans of fuel on our property is one preparation that we have to make the decision to either jump through the hoops to stay legal, or keep it on the down low. Neither decision relieves us of our duty to safety and environmental responsibility.

If resources permit, my personal choice for containment would be a concrete floor with concrete block walls that extend high enough to contain all of the fuel that is stored in the containers that we place in it. By multiplying the internal length, with, and height of our containment, we can figure out how much liquid it will hold. One cubic foot will hold just under 7.5 gallons of liquid. A little bit of math can get us to the size we need based on the gallons of fuel we plan to store. Now that our containment is figured up, we need to consider covering the storage area, however we don’t want it to be closed off completely. Should a storage container leak or rupture, the fumes will need to vent to keep the storage area from being a time bomb. Placing a Covering over the containment will keep direct sunlight off of the stored fuel, which can damage containers over time, as well as keep the rain water out. A containment full of rain water will no hold any spilled fuel because the fuel will float on top and begin spilling out before the water. If concrete is not an option, look for a liner material that is rated for petroleum resistance.

The final consideration of containment disguise is OPSEC (operational security). The more others know we have stored, the more of a target we become if disaster leads people to become scavengers and marauders when supplies run out. Placing our fuel storage areas out of prying eyes is important to keep things safe and avoid drawing attention to ourselves. The closer we live to others, the harder this will be, however we should never put ourselves or others at risk of a fire or explosion by putting bulk fuel storage in and area that is inside or connected to our home. The picture below would be nearly ideal as far as containment, discretion, and coverage if it was kept up to date.

Diesel tank for tractor fuel under cover of an abandoned farm.

What Is The Shelf Life Of My Stored Fuel?

The best way to keep fuel fresh and ready to use is to rotate our supply. Think of the way that we should be rotating our food stock, first in-first out. This applies to fuel as well. The use of plastic cans makes this job much easier than large storage tanks unless we use a large amount of fuel regularly. By numbering the storage tanks and keeping a roster of when they are filled, we can make sure we use the oldest fuel on hand first. No one wants to face a disaster with food in the pantry that is stale from being put up and left for years. The same is true with fuel. If we use and replace it, we are constantly renewing our supply with fresh fuel and reducing the chances of bad or contaminated fuel.

What Happens To Fuel As It Ages?

Whether it is gasoline, diesel fuel, or a heating fuel like kerosene, age can cause the quality to deteriorate. Taking some regular precautions can help prevent this.

Water: One of the biggest contributors to poor fuel quality is water. Excess air space in tanks and containers can trap moist air that cools and allows the water to condense in the tanks leading to a layer of water on the bottom of the tank or can. When the pump begins to draw fuel, or the container is tilted to pour it into our vehicle, the water particles are distributed temporarily in the fuel and get transferred along with it. Once in the tanks of our vehicles, it again starts to settle out and quickly clogs filters and causes poor engine performance.

Ethanol: Most of the gasoline sold in the united states is actually a blend of gasoline and up to 10 percent ethanol. Ethanol is a grain alcohol made primarily from corn. It’s pretty much industrial moonshine. Because alcohol will combust, blending it with gasoline makes a slightly more sustainable resource than straight fossil fuel, but it has a cost. Not only does the blending usually have a marginal impact on power and fuel mileage, it also can damage older fuel systems by breaking down the rubber and plastics of the lines and gaskets in the fuel system. While most late model cars and trucks have upgraded components to mitigate this, there is one thing that happens as ethanol blended gas ages that can have even worse effects on our engines. Phase separation is the process of the alcohol and gasoline separating or stratifying in the tank or container. Once this happens, we cannot blend them back and will have to remove the fuel from the system and replace it. There are a few ways to avoid this potentially costly problem with stored fuel. The first is to rotate our stock and use it in a short amount of time, however this may mean that we aren’t able to keep enough on hand if we don’t use it quickly. The second option, if we have it where we live, is to purchase ethanol free gas. The website, www.pure-gas.org, is a user-updated listing of stores that sell ethanol free or “pure” gas. In addition to purchasing ethanol free gas, I use a treatment for all my stored gasoline. This keeps fuel fresher longer and extends the length of time before phase separation begins in ethanol blends. You can get the brand I use by clicking the picture below.

One final option for gasoline storage that isn’t practical in large quantities, but can be perfect for our seldom used equipment is a product called TrueFuel. This fuel is sold in sealed cans in regular 4 stroke blend or different ratios of 2 stroke gas/oil blends for equipment like chainsaws that we may not use as often, but need to be ready at a moment’s notice in a disaster. I have found this to be one of the best ways to keep a small engine running strong with almost no issues year after year. Click the picture below for the 40:1 -2 stroke mix and look at the other options while you are there.

Biological Growth: While I have never experienced an issue with biological growth in gasoline, algae in a diesel tank gave me fits one time. It’s hard to believe that something can live in a fuel like diesel, but it can. Bio growth can start on the walls of fuel tanks and be sloshed off and picked up where it immediately clogs strainer and filters. If we choose a large tank to store our diesel fuel in, we need to make sure to use an additive that prevents algae or other biologicals from forming. Click the picture below for a good diesel fuel biocide.

Gelling: Again, this is mostly an issue in diesel fuel and mostly in consistently cold climates. Because diesel is a slightly thicker petroleum distillate, it begins to turn into a gel at temperatures just below freezing. Imagine your fuel pump and filter trying to suck Jello from your fuel tank and run off of it. Along with gelling, freezing temperatures can also freeze water trapped in filter housings as well, so keeping clean fuel and filters is a must in cold weather. Click the picture below for an anti-gelling additive.

Final Thoughts on Fuel Storage

Much like our other preps, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to storing extra fuel and consideration should be given to situations where fuel may become scarce for a longer time than the reserves we can store will last. The best we can do is to be observant of the causes surrounding fuel shortages and consider early on if we need to go into long term rationing with our supply or simply use it as needed to keep things comfortable until the stations are back open and their tanks are full again.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and may make money from qualified purchases.

How Do I Weld Metal? A Valuable Prepper Skill

Sometimes we find ourselves in need of something specific to our situation that no ready made source seems to offer. Other times we need to repair something that is inconvenient or impossible to move. Often times we simply enjoy the satisfaction of building something for ourselves. Learning how to make basic welds on metal is a great way to reach many of these goals, and often with less expense than purchasing or hiring the work out to be done. There are initial costs when purchasing a welder and there are consumables such as rods, wire, and gasses, but it usually doesn’t take but a few projects to absorb all of that cost and leave you ahead of the game financially

What Is Welding?

In its most basic form, welding is heating two pieces of metal, often with a filler material included, to a temperature where all of the two or three melt and bond into one fused metal. This task was originally done by blacksmiths who heated metals in a forge and would get them to a near liquid state and beat them together on an anvil to fuse them. Those who watch some of the reality shows such as Forged In Fire will see a form of welding done when the blacksmiths forge and hammer wire into solid steel to for a Damascus metal blade. Modern welding is more often done with either an oxy/acetylene torch or with electricity to melt the metals together. When welded properly, the weld seam is even stronger than the metals that it joins which leaves no doubt as to why its handy for building and repairs.

Why Do Preppers Need To Learn To Weld?

There is almost no end to the skill sets that we could benefit from as preparedness minded individuals and by no means do any of us have time to learn, much less master, all of them. If at all possible, we should seek out a network of like minded individuals with which to barter both supplies and skills. Just as one nurse can benefit a large number of people in a group, so can one skilled welder, mechanic, gunsmith, carpenter, butcher, etc. Now that we have covered that no everyone is going to be a welder, we can get into the importance of having at least one in our midst as a prepper group.

Repairs: Based on the situations we find ourselves in, we may not be able to get to a repair facility. Our implement that is broken may not be easily transported. Shops may be closed or unavailable due to disaster or unrest. We may also have projects that we don’t necessarily want anyone to know about besides our group. Consider a steel vault opening or a set of metal stairs leading into a bunker we have dug into the ground. If I took the time to plan and build such a place, I would be very concerned about my operational security (OPSEC) when it comes to having work done on the site. You may have a vehicle that you have modified for special defense or security purposes and you don’t want it sitting in a repair shop drawing suspicion. For less secretive purposes, having some type of welder, especially a portable one will allow us to repair gardening and homesteading equipment whenever and wherever we need to. A broken trailer axle or tongue three miles up a logging road, full of fire wood is no place to be without a way to make a repair. If you want to read more about OPSEC, check out my post on going undetected Here.

Fabrication: The world is now full of products that fit our needs as preppers and survivalists. I try my best to review and post the ones that I believe we can benefit from both here and on my YouTube channel, however not all of them fit our exact needs and, again, good OPSEC may dictate that we chose not to order or purchase some items on the market. I began working with and around welders and torches in high school while working for a trucking company. After starting college I went to work for a wrecker service that built equipment which offered me an opportunity to do more fabrication work. Creating a usable piece of equipment out of nothing more than tubing, angle iron, and flat steel is an incredible feeling and it is not as hard as you would think. Often times it is possible to repurpose and salvage unused metal on hand to build something new and useful to us. In the future, I’ll try to add some posts and videos of projects as I do them, but for now, just consider anything that you see made out of metal, especially steel to be something you can use, repair, or replace with welding skills.

What Types Of Welding Should We Learn As Preppers?

I am going to limit this post to just a few types of welding that are pretty easy to become proficient enough in to handle around the house or farm type repairs and projects. There are many more and they produce amazing results, however, the equipment cost and techniques needed are more reserved for the career welders. If you have one in your group, they can produce amazing work. If you want to learn on your own, click on the picture for a welding manual.

Oxy/Acetylene Welding: Next to the ovens in the blacksmith’s forge, this is likely one of the most elementary welding methods, based on equipment. Using a torch fueled by a mixture of oxygen and acetylene or propane, the flame is focused on a narrow point on the metals and as they melt, a filler rod is added to the joint. One note to add to this is that almost all welding methods produce or render out impurities in the metal. The addition of some sort of flux or shielding gas is needed to remove the impurities and is often a coating on the filler material rod. For lower stress joints and sealing up certain types of metal fittings, lower heat options such as soldering or brazing also make use of a torch.

An added benefit of having a welding torch is that the system usually includes a cutting attachment which is a very handy tool to cut metal with. You can get a handy portable torch set by clicking the picture below.

Stick Welding: Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) is informally known as “stick welding” due to the electrodes that are used. The electrode, or rod, is a metal rod about 12 inches long that has a diameter ranging from 1/16 of an inch to 3/16 of an inch or larger which is covered in a hard coating that melts off and helps remove impurities in the weld as it burns. Because of the variety of rod types and sizes available, and the portability of some of the machines, stick welding is one of the best choices for use on the farm and around the home. Depending on the amperage your welding machine is capable of, it’s possible to weld up to 3/8 of an inch thick steel or more with a machine that can be powered by single phase current found in homes. While preparing the welding surface is crucial to getting the best results, several rod varieties are also known to perform well in less than ideal environments such as rusty or dirty metals. Other methods don’t readily offer this luxury. One of the staples found in many workshops, garages, and barns is the reliable Lincoln Electric “Buzz Box.” You can check it out by clicking the picture below.

Flux Cored Wire Welding: Bridging the gap from stick to solid wire welding is flux cored wire. The machine is used like the GMAW welding I will discuss in the next paragraph, however it requires no shielding gas. It does, however leave a coating of slag that must be chipped away like stick welds produce. The convenience and ease of use make these handy for a home workshop since some of them can be run on common 120v A/C power circuits in a home. Click on the picture below to take a closer look.

Wire Welding: Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) or Metal Inert Gas welding (MIG) is the process of welding with a roll of wire that is fed through the lead. This wire acts as the electrode and filler metal, just like the rod does in stick welding. The difference in this wire is that there is no flux present. The impurities are shielded from forming by the use of compressed gas. Usually a mix of argon and carbon dioxide is used for mild steel welding. This method when paired with properly cleaned and prepped material is one of the fastest and smoothest welds to perform and with a little practice a novice welder can make strong and attractive welds. The few downsides of wire welding both involve the gasses needed to shield the weld. If you run out of gas, you are done welding, so you must have a supply on hand or be able to get more from a welding gas supplier. When using the welder, you must be shielded from wind or fans blowing across the surface or the the shielding gas will not serve its function and the weld will be extremely poor in quality and appearance. For a quality M.I.G. welder, click below on the picture.

Welding Accessories

I will start this section assuming that the welder any of us purchase has the leads and shielding gas tanks with it and they are ready to use.

Protective Gear: Since welding creates substantial heat and is damaging to the eyes, we need some basic protective gear to be safe. Below is a basic welding hood and some gloves to get started with.

Rods/Electrodes/Wire: Depending on the machine we chose and the material we are welding, we may need any of a variety of these accessories. remember they are all burned into the weld as filler material so they are consumed at a steady pace.

Grinders/Sanders: Cleaning metal can be done with a wire brush and file if needed, but a much more expedient method is the use of an electric grinder. Most grinders will have the attachments necessary to use a variety of wheels, from a grinding stone to a wire brush or sanding pad. having an assortment of these on hand will help you prep and clean up a job in a hurry. Click on the picture below for a great grinder for all the purposes.

Consumables: Depending on the style of welder you chose, you will likely have some more parts that have to be replaced regularly, especially when you are learning to weld. Nozzles, welding tips, and other small parts that are easily affected by being close to the heat of the weld should be kept on hand in case they are needed.

Welding Safety Concerns

There are multiple health and safety concerns when welding is involved, no matter what method is used.

Heat: To make a weld, we are using either electricity or concentrated flame to heat metal into its liquid state. Not only are we susceptible to severe burns when touching the welded metals, there are also sparks and weld splatter that flies off in all directions. The best way to combat these issues is to wear heavy welding gloves and 100% cotton shirts and pants with the sleeves tucked in the gloves, but the cuff of the pants outside the top of the boots.

Fire: Directly related to the heat mentioned above is the fire hazard. Anything that is remotely flammable will ignite after getting molten metal sparks dropped on it repeatedly. Whenever possible, it’s recommended to have a “fire watch” or person who’s job it is to watch the welder and area to make sure nothing catches on fire and to stope the welder and put it out quickly if it does.

Ultra Violet Rays: The intense light produced by electric arc welding is both damaging to the human eye and the skin. wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants to prevent severe sunburns from the welding is recommended. Welding hoods or shields are a necessity to be able to see the weld as you make it. They have various levels of tint in the lens that lessens the intensity of the light that you see through it. Even short glances at a weld can leave you with eye damage and a feeling of having sand or dirt in your eyes afterwards.

Fumes: At the temperatures required to melt metal when welding, the combination of the metals, flux and gasses in the air create numerous harmful gasses. Welding should always be done in a well ventilated area with some sort of fan if possible. Special must be taken when welding certain alloys and anything that has been coated such as galvanized metal. These metals and coatings can produce a very toxic fume that can cause serious poisoning and respiratory problems.

Final Thoughts On Welding For Preppers

Remember that welding is a skill that takes some time to learn, therefore in the middle of a disaster isn’t a good time to start. As you build your prepper community, look for someone who is skilled in many areas. We should all look to learn something from each other whenever possible and at least reach awareness level of what is needed to perform a task. That has been my goal all along with this blog. Not to teach everyone the finite details of every task, but to offer an awareness and some options to reach a level of preparedness themselves.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and may make money on qualifying purchases