The biggest limiting factor of any overland adventure is not time or money. The one universal thing that limits all trips is fuel capacity. It doesn’t matter how shiny your titanium spork is. It doesn’t matter how comfy your roof-top-tent is. It doesn’t matter how knobby your tires are or how many LED’s are bolted above your windshield. When you run out of gas your adventure is over.
|Remember that box from a few days ago?
Here’s what was inside it.
All aluminum 31.5 gallon fuel tank with steel skid plate.
Manufactured int he USA by GenRight Off Road
As overlanders we want to make sure we not only have enough fuel to get where we’re going but also have enough to get home. Take a look at any overland adventure vehicle and you’ll usually see some sort of auxiliary external fuel storage. More often than nought they are three to five gallon fuel cans either of an old military style or modern plastic design. For those lucky enough to have a full-size truck or larger SUV it’s usually not to big a deal because you probably have a larger fuel tank, or the ability to add a larger tank. If you’re a Jeep person things aren’t as easy. While there are a lot of Jeep parts on the market there are few options when it comes to fuel tanks. Luckily there is a player in the game: GenRight Off-Road.
If you’re new to the 4×4 scene or your experience is limited to just overlanding you’re probably wondering who GenRight Off Road is. They aren’t a major player in the overland scene yet. They are however a huge player in the more hard-core off-road Jeep scene. They are also big in off-road competitions like WERock and Ultra4 (which, by the way, is where I first heard about them). They make a lot of great products if you’re building a big tire long-travel suspension rock crawler.
|GenRight Off-Road’s founder and owner Tony
Now you’re probably asking, “Okay, that’s great. What do they do they have to do with overlanding?“
When I first start researching fuel tank options for my LJ I had considered installing a racing fuel cell. I could get one larger than the factory 19 gallon tank and increase my range. Not to mention replacing the vulnerable OEM plastic tank with a more robust metal tank. Having seen what some of the JeepSpeed and other off-road racers were doing for their fuel systems I started poking around the GenRight Off-Road site. They had fuel cells, fuel pumps, lines, and even a category for fuel tanks. Now, don’t ask what the difference is between a “fuel cell” and a “fuel tank” is. The only thing I’ve gathered so far is a fuel cell is usually race approved and has some sort of bladder to prevent leaks, and may or may not have some kind of foam core for baffling. A fuel tank is just that, an open tank you can put fuel in. Beyond that, the subtle nuances are lost on me other than fuel cells are for racing. I digress.
When I clicked open the “fuel tank” tab on the GenRight site I was instantly inundated with over two dozen different options for most of the popular Jeeps. At first I was a little worried because I saw factory sized replacement (good, but not great for me), smaller tanks for those doing competition rigs (nope), medium tanks for those needing extra clearance for larger axles and/or wheelbase stretches (again, nice option but not for me), and then I saw it, a larger-than-stock tank for the TJ Wrangler. My heart fluttered at reading it could hold 24.5 gallons. Then something caught my eye. There was one more tank on the list. It had the word “Safari” in its name. “Well,” I thought to myself, “a safari is like overlanding. I wonder what it is and what makes it different than the 25 gallon TJ tank.“
Yeah, I was a little excited when this showed up.
I was also impressed by the weld quality of the tank as well as the heavy duty steel skid plate.
Always nice to have a product which looks as good as it performs.
Yup. You read that right. 31.5 gallons and it is designed specifically for the LJ. Color me ecstatic. Factory TJ/LJ tank is 19 gallons. The 24.5 gallon GenRight tank would mean an additional 6 gallons, but that 31.5 gallon tank would double that to an additional 12.5 gallons of fuel. That equates to an additional 200 miles of range (approximately of course). I just knew I had to have one.
The 25 gallon TJ tank is a direct bolt in. It would also fit my LJ as a direct bolt in. However, the main difference between the TJ and an LJ is the length. There are 10 additional inches of wheelbase and 5 additional inches of “booty” in the back. When they did the wheelbase extension they just stretched the frame. No other major modifications. When they added the additional 5″ out back they literally doubled up the rear crossmember. This was done to retain the mounting locations for the factory TJ fuel tank. However, under close observation one will notice those same mounting holes are on the redundant crossmember.
|Removing the redundant crossmember that the factory 19 gallon plastic tank attached to.
|I felt it was easier to remove the crossmember in a few steps.
First step was cutting the open c-channel part. Next I tackled the fully boxed ends.
|A sawz-all with a good cutting blade for “thick metal” made short work of the crossmember.
It was like a hot knife through butter.
By removing the redundant crossmember it would allow an additional 5 inches of clearance for a larger fuel tank. Thus the 19 gallon factory tank could be removed, along with the redundant crossmember, and the larger 31.5 gallon “Safari” tank bolted in using all OEM hardware and plumbed into the existing OEM fuel system with only minor adjustments to the lines. The GenRight tank also uses the OEM fuel pump assembly making this an all but bolt-in swap.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Dean, that’s great but I don’t have an LJ.” If you’re a Jeeper then GenRight has a tank for you. As mentioned the TJ’s and LJ’s can use the direct bolt in 24.5 gallon tank. The LJ’s can use the 31.5 gallon Safari tank with a few modifications to the frame. JK’s have a few options ranging from 20, 22, to 25 gallons. Those of you with older YJ’s and CJ’s shouldn’t feel left out either since there is a 20 gallon fuel tank options for your Jeeps. And you Cherokee guys, GenRight even makes a 30.5 gallon tank for your XJ’s. There’s a little something for every overland Jeeper.
If you’re made it this far then there is probably only one question you’re left with, “Why?” I won’t deny the fact these fuel tanks aren’t cheap. They are a salty investment. That said, I firmly believe they are worth their weight in gold. For starters, the factory tank in my LJ is 19 gallons. That means I have a max range around 300 miles if I’m lucky, and if I’m in 4low and doing a lot of slower driving off-pavement that can dip down to half that. That’s honestly not much. To compensate for that limited range I opt to carry two surplus military 5 gallon blitz cans. They are heavy, cumbersome, a pain to use, and sometimes downright dangerous (more on that in a second). I therefore found myself only resorting to those can when absolutely necessary. That meant regular fuel stops roughly very 200 miles. On a 5,000 mile trip that’s a LOT of fuel stops.
|Another reason to upgrade is, well, the stock tank isn’t all that great.
Here you can see the OEM tank and skid-plate assymbly in the factory location.
|I think I can blame this dent on Moab…
|… and this one.
|Notice how the entire tank is pushed up?
Yeah, I’m not sure that is a good thing either.
|Increase in size aside, I think I was due for a new tank…
… and a much stronger skid plate.
Now, with a larger tank, my range is roughly 500 miles on pavement and around 300 when in 4low. That’s a huge difference. That’s also not factoring in the additional 10 gallons for the blitz cans. That’s a real game changer. First, it makes highway sprints (like the “Marathon to Maine” in 2015 and the “Marathon to Moab” in 2016) a lot easier giving me nearly double the range before a required fuel stop. It also means the ability to go deeper to the wilderness without fear of running out of gas. Or even the not-so-wilderness when gas stations are few and far between (like the suburbs of Rochester, NY… seriously, that’s the only time I nearly ran out of fuel on the 2015 trip).
|New tank tucked up and buttoned in place.
Oh, by the way, there is a nice layer of foam between the aluminum tank and the steel skidplate.
Making the investment into a larger fuel tank, or a second tank if your truck or SUV allows it, is a very smart upgrade. As I said, being budget minded doesn’t mean being cheap. It just means having priorities. Do you really need that $1,000 50″ LED lightbar you’re not going to use that often, or can that money be better spend on something like a larger fuel tank you will use all the time? Same with a snorkel or lockers, or a host of other mods you may not need. Just comes down to what are your priorities. Also, if you’re buying new fuel cans (NATO, Rotopax, Blitz, etc) total up the additional cost of those, their mounting hardware, and fuel transfer stuff and see how it compares to the investment of a new fuel tank. Something to consider on a high-milage vehicle, especially an older Jeep with a plastic tank.
A note about safety and the use of auxiliary fuel cans. A story I tell a lot in person but haven’t told yet on the blog is the time I took a gasoline shower in the Cayonlands National Park while in Utah for the 2016 No Highways Tour. I had made it to the end of the Elephant Hill Trail and was nearly out of gas. I had also blown out my shocks, it was hot, and I was frustrated so I wasn’t thinking with a clear mind. When I opened one of the 5 gallon cans it hissed because it was over pressurized. I waited till the hissing stopped (smart) and then proceeded to open it the rest of the way (not so smart). The tank rapidly decompressed forcing about a third of the gasoline in the can out into my face. I was covered from the brim of my hat to my knees in mid-grade gas. Not something you want to happen when you’re traveling solo in a remote area of the desert with only minimal provisions (trailer was back at the park office so I didn’t have a whole lot with me).
|My former auxiliary fuel system.
Needless to say that experience had be seriously reconsidering a larger fuel tank. With the GenRight Safari Tank I will no longer need to carry the two 5 gallon cans on the Jeep. In fact the larger tank holds more than the two cans anyway.
Was my gasoline shower a rare isolated incident? Probably. Am I super cautious now because of it? Of course. However risk mitigation is a huge thing for me since I travel solo. A larger tank means not having to worry about auxiliary fuel cans and their risks. Least of which is driving around with a combustable fluid strapped to the ass-end of my Jeep all the time. Just some food for thought.
I’ll admit a modification like this isn’t for the novice, nor is it needed for the average weekend adventurer. However, as you become more experienced and more serious about your trips, a larger fuel tank should definitely be on your list of upgrades. As a Jeeper I hope you’ll consider the GenRight Off Road line of tanks for your JK, TJ/LJ, CJ, YJ, or XJ.
|So far this is a great sign: No Check Engine Light!
With my luck I’m not sure that will last.