Cracked up to be
ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 30, 2015 – Owners with outboard powered boats have lived with portable fuel tanks for years, but recent well-intentioned efforts to stop smog-causing gas fumes from escaping by eliminating the familiar two-way vent is causing new concerns. Without a vent – typically a small screw type fixture on the tank’s cap or top – a portable tank can swell up like a balloon in the hot sun with the internal pressure forcing gas into the outboard where it can spew inside the cowling, eventually dribbling out. It’s a wise move to install an inexpensive fuel-demand valve in the fuel line that will prevent any gas from reaching the motor unless the motor calls for it, and BoatUS has a video and easy to follow instructions to show you how.
“Our members are telling us that the new tanks aren’t all they are cracked up to be,” said BoatUS Magazine Executive Editor Mike Vatalaro. “These new EPA compliant portable tanks and jerry jugs have special fittings that greatly reduce evaporative emissions from gasoline. But where traditional tanks simply vent to the atmosphere, the new tanks won’t vent until the internal pressure reaches five pounds per square inch. In the meantime, fuel could be forced up the fuel line into the outboard, many of which have no means to hold it back.”
“Leaving the tank disconnected just results in the same gush of gas once you do hook it up, either from the tank end or through the engine,” added Vatalaro. “Installing an inexpensive fuel-demand valve in the fuel line will prevent any gas from reaching the motor unless the motor calls for it.” The video and instructions can be found at:
The video was done in partnership with the American Boat & Yacht Council (abycinc.com) and is part of BoatUS Magazine’s Practical Boater series that offers skills building, techniques and best practices to get the most out of boating.
About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):
BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with over a half million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We help ensure a roadside breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins, and on the water, we bring boaters safely back to the launch ramp or dock when their boat won’t, day or night. The BoatUS Insurance Program gives boat owners the specialized coverage and superior service they need, and we help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the non-profit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.
What's that line about the road paved with good intentions? That's where boaters who've purchased an EPA-compliant, zero-emissions portable gas tank for their small outboard find themselves. In order to prevent volatile, smog-causing gas fumes from escaping into the air, all portable tanks sold today are designed without a two-way vent. But without a vent, there's no way to release the pressure that builds up in the tank when it gets heated by the sun. Instead, as the tank quickly bulges and the pressure rises, gas is forced through the hose and into the outboard, many of which have no means to hold it back.
The result — entirely predictable to boaters, but apparently unforeseen by regulators — is gas pouring out of the outboard and into the water, driveway, or backyard. And before you ask — leaving the tank disconnected just results in the same gush of gas once you do hook it up, either from the tank end or through the engine. So you can either choose to get sprayed in the face with gas, cause a fine-worthy spill, or vent the tank manually before connecting it, defeating the whole purpose of it's misguided design. I'd recommend the last option.