best advice for mounting jerry cans

Submitted: Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:31
ThreadID: 77080 Views:11877 Replies:9 FollowUps:12
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Hi everyone,

Never carried spare fuel before but aiming to go that little bit further out next time and so for safety we're going to carry spare fuel on the roof rack. (not all the time, just when we know we're going to be heading off into 'never never')

Anyway, this might seem like a daft question but can we mount the jerry cans safely on their spine, with filler cap top side or do we really have to have them standing upright? In both cases they'll be secured in jerry can holder frames. My preference is to reduce overall vehicle height, hence the desire to have them on their side.


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Reply By: Member - Troll 81 (QLD) - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:35

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:35
I have never carried mine standing up they are either lying flat or on their side
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Follow Up By: Baz&Pud (Tassie) - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:38

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:38
Agree with above comment, but have seen them standing up but contained in milk crates.
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Reply By: Tenpounder (SA) - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:39

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:39
Hi there. I think the 'official answer' is to carry them upright, but I have carried jerry cans on their spine to lower their height, but also make them more stable. I use pieces of rubber flooring mat between them, and lash them together into a unit. This has worked perfectly, with no loose loads, BUT: several times I have found a locking pin that has worked loose, relying only on the main mechanism to keep the cap closed. I now use cable ties or soft wire to stop this happening.
Incidentally, I use an aviation grade funnel with a fine filter that is supposed to trap water as well as particulate material. Overkill, perhaps, but injectors are fussy things!!
Hope this helps.
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 19:41

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 19:41

I don't think there is really an "official answer"

The metal jerry cans at least seal very well and it is very common to see them mounted on their backs with the spout uppermost.
One of the roof rack suppliers even have a jerry can rack that takes jerry's mounted in this fashion.

As far as safety goes, providing they are not "filled to the brim", that is have an air gap above the liquid's surface this method is the most practical when mounting on a roof rack.


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Reply By: Rangiephil - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:52

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:52
The only addition I would make is to ask do you realize how heavy they are?

40+Kgs will be up to 40% or so of your roof rack capacity, and have you thought about getting them up and down.

I saw a Pajero at El Questro with 3x20 l water cans and 2x 20 l fuel on the roof. Didn't think it was too smart.

I have had black fuel jerries laid on their side for thousands of dirt kilos with no problems, but be sure to only fill them to the 20l mark, and i would think the same for steel. If you have not bought the jerries yet I would buy black plastic ones "Visy" .
Regards Philip A

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Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:56

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:56
Hi Zigdog

There is no info on what sort of car or fuel type - but either way , never carry them on the roof , 4wds are unstable enough without rasing the C of G.

Its safter to carry even petrol inside the car than on the roof.

Mind you I did have someone immediately behind me once and when he rolled we discovered that thankfully his roof jerries carried diesel.

I have a Patrol and it can carry 3 jerries (empty) across its back doors.
We put them inside the car for first day and as they empty they go to the back doors - think there is picture in my pics showing 2 on rear door.
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Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:18

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:18
Robin is a bit of a purist about rollover stability. To make matters worse, I own a petrol Prado, and a Prado with petrol in jerry cans on the roof would truly give Robin nightmares! The problem is you must never carry fuel on the roof, but also you must never carry petrol inside the vehicle either. So, if you are really going bush, you cannot use a petrol vehicle on this basis unless you add sufficient 'proper' long range tanks. As far as I know, there's no safe way to carry 4 jerry cans of petrol, other than in a trailer, and let's not start on that!!
If you are already well loaded, including enough water to be safe in remote country, it will be quite hard to keep the vehicle mass down to what's legal, let alone worry about distribution. But it's true most specs rule out 200kg of stuff on virtually any roof rack.
Most people compromise, others take a chance now and again. Then there's Robin!! (No offence intended, Robin)
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:31

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:31
Hardly any offence Chris, we agree central point of no fuel on roof - but inside the car , I think its safer (relatively of course).

Interested in why you consider it unsafe , assuming you have known good containers that don't leak and they are tied down.

Recently added a jerry can holder to my patrols small rear door.
The door isn't strong enough to carry a loaded can, but I had the choice to make the door stronger or carry fuel inside the car and the empty on the rear.

In studying the various saftey aspects, carrying inside the car came up safter because in the event of even a midsized accident the can is unlikely to be damaged compared to being mounted on the rear door, or even in a trailer.

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Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:52

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:52
Robin. I have various electrical circuits active inside the vehicle, as well as the factory loom. The potential for a spark (including perhaps from the fridge and/or its wiring has to be faced. Whilst jerry cans are reasonable good storage containers, I also accept that there's a potential risk of fuel or vapour being released. While we can differ in our risk assessments, that's two separate risk sources that don't sit well together. When you say "containers that do not leak" it sounds a bit like "luxury liners than cannot sink".
Also,every 'expert' I have read seems to agree that it is unsafe and even illegal to transport petrol this way. So, even though I agree it is not a good idea to carry jerry cans of petrol on the roof rack, I'll do it every time rather than carry them inside.
Please bear in mind I am talking about circumstances where I am also carrying lots of water, so the choice is basically what (water or fuel) to put on the roof rack, so the rack loading is probably excessive either way, and the rollover implications equally bad either way.
Hence my mention of compromise. No right answers, but that's my response.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 11:39

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 11:39
Hi Chris

I didn't read into your first response that you carried fuel of top of a high C of G car - well your a brave person indeed !

As a note fuel only weighs 70% of water.

A couple of times I have had to design electronics for fuel depots etc and its quite a risk assesment process.
From this come a couple of points - when fuel leaks it can be smelt long before
the amount of the leak, even vaporized, becomes a risk, so there is an opportunity to do something about it.

Your cars loom should be behind something like a plastic fasia at least.

With home done wiring and accessories there certainly is an increased risk espically if done by someone without experience or the knowledge to do it, and fuse it adequately.

As you say choices need to be made - for me the risk of being rear ended and splitting a container rate well above the other issues, hence my choice to carry inside car protected by its shell.
I also carry multiple small gas cannisters inside the car as the best of the available choices there.

As a saftey tip for those who do what I do, an easy suggestion is to put each fuel container inside a plastic garbage bag.
I also only use plastic containers with only 1 screw on cap.
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Follow Up By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 13:37

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 13:37
Had 3 jerries on top of my lifted Troopy when we did the Hay River trip leaving from Birdsville side. Had to carry ulp for a number of bikes and a petrol Nissan. Had them secured in a frame bolted to the rack and lying flat. The black plastic jerries I had did expand a bit and some fuel, albeit minor, escaped.
No I didn't roll-over but I do drive to the conditions and empty these as we go. Note...carrying fuel for a Nissan!!
Happy to carry diesel inside the vehicle but not ULP, too easily ignited!

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Follow Up By: Member - Salt grinder - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 13:59

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 13:59
There are the odd occasions when we need the extra & it always involves a degree of risk. There is enough debatable info posted already on the doo's and donts for you to choose your sensible options that suit your needs.
But on all trips there is one very important rule ie. drive to the prevaliing conditions at all times . . . you know, a little slower on the corners etc if you are a bit more top heavy.
Also as has been said, only fill them when you need them and empty each one as the fuel levels drop . . . you don't have to wait until the fuel tank warning light flicks on.
Good luck with it and safe driving.
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Reply By: OREJAP - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:39

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:39
I scourced some feedback sometime ago from Toyota,Nissan & Mitsubishi in relation to their three main 4WD that is; L/Cruiser,Patrol & Pajero. The information to hand was L/cruiser & patrol can carry up to 100KG on roof rack. Pajero 80KG. These figures are the recommendation of the Manufacturers. Recently saw a Patrol GU with 10 Gerry cans on the roof & all kitted up for a trip. Had a very respectable 4WD company name all over it & was obviously a fully optioned company vehicle!! I carry two or three on the roof spline down with either rubber or old carpet between them to stop obvious problems & also use cable ties rather than pins. I use diesel so have no petrol problems but if I was petrol powered I most certainly would not carry Petrol in the vehicle under any circumstances.
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Follow Up By: DIO - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 19:19

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 19:19
Are you absoutely sure that the carrying capacity of the roof rack is 100 kg or is that the maximum capacity on the roof. If so then the carrying capacity would be 100 kg less the weight of the rack. Now if it's steel then it's very heavy.
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 23, 2010 at 09:52

Tuesday, Mar 23, 2010 at 09:52
A 100 ser can have 200kg including the rack

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Reply By: Steve63 - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:59

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 10:59
Not a big fan of fuel or any other heavy load on a roof rack. Four jerries would be 80kg. If you are going to do that keep the jerries empty as much as possible ie fill them close to where your long run is and empty them as soon as practical. Remote travel has enough hazards without adding to them.

AnswerID: 409884

Reply By: ob - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 12:10

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 12:10
you don't say wether you own petrol or diesel powered. As far as I know it is ilegal (as well as down right dangerous) to carry petrol and maybe diesel inside the passenger cabin of any vehicle. Very early Cruisers (early 70's) had the petrol tanks under the seats, later models had the floorpan modified to keep the tank outside. Personally I carry diesel, 80 litres max on roofrack, water down low inside. Jerry cans sitting on carpet/rubber matting spines down with soft wire securing cap locking mechanism. Maybe just common sense but as has been said use fuel on roof as soon as possible.

Cheers ob
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 13:33

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 13:33
Hi Ob

Not illegal (at least in Vic )

I have had my say so I include a little note from 4wd world website instead.


Carrying fuel in jerry cans

The safest is way to carry fuel in an approved jerry can is inside the station wagon behind the cargo barrier. Use a ratchet tie down (webbing strap) to tension the can up against the cargo barrier. This stops them moving and rattling on rough roads and is there is a leaking cap you will soon smell it. It also aids stability as the heavy weight of the fuel is carried low and directly above the rear axle and suspension.
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Follow Up By: ob - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 15:01

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 15:01
I think you may be right about the legalities currently in affect. It would appear ADR 17 is no longer current.
A read of an old thread number 9027 is quite informative.

Cheers ob
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Reply By: zigdog - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 16:23

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 16:23
Thanks for the replies everyone.

I was looking for some info about lying them flat, which seems to be considered OK so thanks for that.

I have a petrol Jeep JK wrangler with Kargo master congo cage capable of 500lbs. I've just mounted two jerry holders either side at the rear, flat. I'm fairly confident the vehicle and rack are capable of this, however, if I think we're going to be in some rolling country then I'll take peoples advice and when they're filled rachet strap them onto the boat carrier of the KK. They should be nice and safe, low for access and not unstabling the jeep.
AnswerID: 409920

Reply By: jomahk - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 20:29

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 20:29
Get them bleep ed first, I find that works every time!
AnswerID: 409956

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