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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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Old 22 Jun 2016
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Tips for handling gasoline

Hi all,

I'm not sure if this is really the right forum section for my question, but I'll ask it here anyway.

I have made some bad experience with transporting extra gas canisters on a motorbike. A few years ago I was crossing Mongolia with a friend. In Northern China we bought some cheap metal canisters for fuel, IIRC we paid something like 30 RMB (~5USD) for each of them. My friend filled it half, tied it on his bike, and then we started riding through the desert.
A day later he saw that the canister has expanded, so he slowly unscrewed it until at some point the cap just got blown off by the pressure in the canister. At that point we both realized that this could have ended badly if the friction between the cap and the metal canister would have created a spark, because obviously the canister must be then have been full of fumes which created high pressure and made the canister expand.

In the mean time I've read that it is generally a bad idea to fill such canisters half, they should always be empty or full, because otherwise the fuel evaporates and the result will be that the air in the canister gets saturated with ignitable fumes.
On top of that we should probably not have bought the cheapest canister available in China.

For my next trip I'm going to get Rotopax fuel canisters, which I assume are generally better than the ones we had back then.

Besides making sure that they're always either full or empty, is there anything else that I need to pay attention to in order to not blow myself up by accident?

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Old 22 Jun 2016
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Or use empty Cola bottles when needed. The hole is the same size as a fuel pump nozzle (I've been told they're all the same imperial measurement).

Important: put 2 in a plastic bag and knot the top and put under a bungee.

I've done this several times (including Baja California on a dirt bike and transiting France from Spain to Switzerland on a road bike during a French fuel strike).

Then when you're back where there's lots of open fuel stations, bin the bottles.

However you will (think you) look much more rugged and roughty toughty if you carry rotopax or similar on the bike.

But I take no liability if you blow yourself up doing what I did
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Old 25 Dec 2016
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Originally Posted by chris View Post
Or use empty Cola bottles when needed. The hole is the same size as a fuel pump nozzle (I've been told they're all the same imperial measurement).

Important: put 2 in a plastic bag and knot the top and put under a bungee.
^^^ Exactly I've done that a number of times, never a problem. I would only add -- use several plastic bags. And, among 2 liter soda / water bottles, genuine Coca-Cola bottles are the toughest out there. I've done my comparison shopping

IMHO so long as your fuel tank has decent capacity, like maybe 5.5 gals / 20 liters, plastic bottles are an ideal solution to the extra fuel issue that avoids the weight, volume and cost of Rotopax like containers that might get used once or a couple of times.

Of course it depends on where you're riding, but there aren't that many places left in the world where fuel can't be found within like 300 km. I crossed Mongolia this year and didn't need extra fuel and nor did my riding buddy.

I did carry two 2L Coke bottles with fuel last year on the remote Lake Turkana route from northern Kenya into Ethiopia where it used to be 500 km between fuel availability. But, I found black market fuel on the way and didn't need the extra 4L... but still a good idea to carry themas black market fuel availability is never guaranteed.
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Old 25 Dec 2016
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[QUOTE=r3pl4y;542075. .... is there anything else that I need to pay attention to in order to not blow myself up by accident?[/QUOTE]

Yes... absolutely... very. & probably the most important tip...
Under NO circumstances ever check the level with a naked flame.
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Old 18 Apr 2017
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Actually petrol (gasoline) only ignites under certain circumstances, and not as easily as some people think. It has a very high vapour pressure (meaning it vapourises very well and has a low boiling point) but it also has a high spontaneous ignition temperature. That's why you can spill it on a hot exhaust and it will just boil off. Not that I'm recommending you should try of course, but I'll bet many of us have done it accidentally.

Oil conversely is the opposite. It is a longer molecule which give it a lower vapour pressure but also a lower spontaneous ignition temperature. If you drop oil on a hot exhaust there is a far greater chance it will ignite.

Still, that advice is good. Only carry empty or full petrol containers, to minimise the generation of vapour. Although you need a spark or naked flame to ignite petrol when it goes it really goes...
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Old 18 Apr 2017
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Actually the pressure in a gasoline tank is exactly the same whether the can is almost full or almost empty or half full, in exactly the same way as the pressure inside a propane tank stays constant right up until the last drop has evaporated. Pressure varies only with temperature.

Worst thing you can do is to leave the lid a little loose because you get a constant flow of vapour out of the top - where it can be ignited - until the can is completely empty.

The wisdom of buying cheap gas cans is for you to decide, but if it is truly meeting the specs, it is designed to hold the pressure up to a certain content temperature without leaking. If you can't stand the sight of a bulging can then either don't ever look at it in the hot part of the day, of else put it in the shade with a wet cloth over it.

My clear preference is to buy a quality plastic gas container - Rheem or similar - because it is totally immune to the flexing and crinkling that results in minute pinholes and cracks that make metal cans so dangerous. However, on a stinking hot day they end up looking like footballs, but the factor of safety is more than adequate. But yes, coke bottles are pretty strong but the opening is surely too small to take a standard fuel nozzle? and it is usually illegal to fill them.

As for static - not as likely as you think provided you are not doing the quickstep wearing nylon underwear while undoing the can - and even then .... A metal can will cause any charge to collect on the outside and just placing it on the ground will immediately dissipate all charge. Decent plastic cans will also have compounds to leak away any static.

What is a big no no is to fill a can or the vehicle fuel taank when it is insulated from the ground by being in a vehicle, or you holding the bike upright in insulating shoes, opening the tank and then your mate bring the earthed fuel nozzle to the tank opening. TCan should be sitting on the ground, or bike on the stand and even then touch the fuel nozzle away from the opening before filling and hold the nozzle against the side of the filler neck while fuel is flowing. Can't get a spark across a short circuit.
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