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FUEL is al­ways an is­sue when trav­el­ling in re­mote ar­eas. Whether you’re pay­ing plenty for it or work­ing out how to carry more, mak­ing sure you have enough can turn into an Uluru-sized headache.

This is where we found our­selves on a re­cent trip along the Can­ning Stock Route. Un­less you’re in a Toy­ota Prado – with its 150-litre tank – or you’ve in­stalled a long range tank, you’ll ei­ther need to or­gan­ise a fuel drop or carry your own.

A fuel drop in­volves 200-litre drums, and you’ve got to or­gan­ise a way to get it from the drum to your fuel tank – think hand pumps or a por­ta­ble elec­tric pump. If you’re car­ry­ing your own it’s prob­a­bly jerry cans, which have a knack of leak­ing and can be cum­ber­some to wres­tle from the can to the car. Fil­tra­tion’s of­ten an is­sue too.

We had five cars in our con­voy, one of which was a ute. So we de­cided to fill its tray with one of the sup­ple­men­tary diesel tanks cur­rently on the mar­ket. There are var­i­ous brands, but we chose Rapid Spray, which has a vast range: from 100-litre por­ta­ble tanks to 10,000-litre stand­ing tanks.

We chose the big­gest one we could fit in the back of a Hilux, which was a 400-litre unit from the Ge­nius range. That’s the equiv­a­lent of 20 jerry cans, which for our five-car con­voy on the CSR, turned out to be more than enough.

Get­ting the empty tank onto the back of the ute was easy, as the 45kg poly­eth­yl­ene unit has han­dles that make it easy to ma­noeu­vre. There are no ob­vi­ous tie-down points, but we lashed some straps over the top to keep it in place. Along with the other gear in the back of the car it wasn’t go­ing any­where, es­pe­cially once 400 litres (340kg) of diesel was added.

The tank coped with plenty of bumps and cor­ru­ga­tions with­out com­plaint. The elec­tric pump sits on top, near the bowser and its as­so­ci­ated pip­ing. Each is vaguely pro­tected by the fold­ing plas­tic flap above, although dust eas­ily fil­ters in.

Damp dust is the first sign of some mild drib­bling from the han­dle. There’s also some around the flue to­wards the back of the unit. It’s not bad and is a re­sult of the ball seal bounc­ing around and oc­ca­sion­ally let­ting a drop or two out. Still, after 7000km of driv­ing – about half of it with the tank full or nearly full – we es­ti­mate we lost a litre or two of diesel. That’s far less than you can lose trans­fer­ring fuel from jerry cans.

When it came time to re­fuel, the Rapid Spray was a win­ner. Con­nect the earth lead to the car you’re fill­ing, con­nect the power ca­ble to an­other car’s bat­tery, and switch on the pump. The pump re­lies on cool­ing from the fuel run­ning through it, so it’s im­por­tant not to run it for too long with­out pump­ing fuel; the tog­gle switch is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, so it’s an easy process.

From there it’s just like fu­elling at a servo, with the same sort of bowser han­dle and sim­i­lar flow rate. Ours was pump­ing at about 40L/minute, slightly be­low the rated 45L/minute rate – some­thing at­trib­ut­able to the op­tional flow me­ter. Still, it only took a minute or two and the cars were full. Re­fu­elling the unit it­self was just as easy. Re­move the cap and pump the fuel di­rectly in via a strainer-style fil­ter.

This sort of con­ve­nience comes at a price though. The RRP is $2009 with the flow me­ter, although pro­mo­tions of­ten mean the price runs closer to $1600. We’d also splash out the $108 for the fuel level gauge so you know how much is left in the tank.

The over­all price isn’t cheap, but for any­one trav­el­ling in a group it’s a rel­a­tively small out­lay. Be­sides, even when you don’t nec­es­sar­ily need fuel, hav­ing that big re­serve tank al­lows you to re­fuel where and when fuel is cheaper.

For any­one trav­el­ling with two or more cars the Rapid Spray is a win­ner, es­pe­cially if you don’t want the cost and com­pro­mises that come with a larger fuel tank.

1 Main: 4000km of re­mote desert peace-of-mind sit­ting in the tub. 1: Earthing the re­ceiv­ing ve­hi­cle pre­vents ac­ci­den­tal spark­ing. 2: The Rapid Spray comes fully equipped for max­i­mum safety. 3: Flow me­ter and level gauge are use­ful fea­tures. 2 3

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