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Thread: "Grounding" and transporting fuel containers

  1. #1
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    Default "Grounding" and transporting fuel containers

    I proposed this question on the Hull Truth forum but appartently most people do not understand what we need to do up here to go up river.

    For you folks who go on long range river hunts:

    In the near future I need to fill up ten 30 gallon plastic barrels with gasoline. Since they are so heavy I would like to leave them in the bed of my truck as I am fueling them.
    I know it is a good idea to always place a fuel container on the ground while filling it to prevent static electricity but the weight of these filled makes it a poor choice.
    How can I "ground" these while filling them up?

    Should I leave the rubber mat in my truck bed or haul the drums up resting on the metal?

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    Default Grounding and Bonding

    SNOWWOLF, I have picked up some great tips from your post's. Here is an article that you might want to look at. It would be easier to ground and bond a metal container than a plastic one. It also addresses the truck mat question. Smoke


    http://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/pdfpubs/pdf95512323.pdf

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    Member SuYentna Dave's Avatar
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    Default Fuel drums can be grounded even if plastic.

    Fuel drums can be grounded even if plastic, it is the build up static on the plastic that needs to be discharge away from the fuel source. Some people will probably scoff at the need to ground the drums. Fire cause by static electricity is a very real event that can happen. The easiest way to ground them for me is to take a set of jumper cables (since I carry them for emergencies) and attach to the container and my bumper. This allows for the static to discharge away from the fuel. I also do the same thing when I siphon the drum into the boat, attaching the ground to the boat hull away from the fuel vapors.

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    If it were me I would throw water on the barrows. That would ground the static electricity; or you could put a thin metal plate under the barrows if to wanted something more permanent.

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    A length of small bare cable run thru the handles and then to the truck or boat would make it real easy.

    I fill my 15's and 30's without removing them from the truck. Just make sure they are on the truck bed (not mat or bedliner) Ensure the nozzle stays in contact with the container grounding thru the pump handle back thru their system.

    Come to think of it..... It's really no different then filling your snowmachine. It's a plastic tank on a wooden deck(most times).

    Now on the water fueling is a different story. All the above mentioned ideas are good. Just remember tank first, ground last.

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    Thanks guys.
    I will remove the rubber mat. Then when I add gas to the drums I will connect a jumper cable to anywhere on the drum and connect it to the bumper as well.
    Anything else? Is there anything to be concerned about with having the drums strapped in place in the truck or should a wire be connected to each drum and then to a metal part of the truck bed as they are being transported?

  7. #7

    Default grounding

    If you ground to a truck or trailer you are still sitting on rubber tires, where is the ground? Does setting plastic/steel containers on pavement/concrete create a ground sufficient to dissipate static? The training I received on these thoughts answered nowhere and no.

    Fifteen years of fuel transfers, we created our grounds by connecting the truck/container to the steel stands the bulk tanks were mounted on and or the steel stand pipe coming up out of the underground bulk tank and or the well head. At well heads we were forced to go back to steel buckets with a ground clamp as there was no fool proof way at that time to ground a plastic 5 gallon bucket as static builds on plastic differently than it does on metal. This came about after a grounded 5 gallon plastic bucket lit off. Also seen plastic setting on raw gravel light off. Bottom line was all grounding ended up going to steel driven in the ground and anything else is a false sense of security for a rare situation. We do not see ground straps, only the red shut off button, at stations as we accept the liability of fire potential when we fuel up. Just the opposite of the person hauling the fuel to the station.

    I do not fill my plastic containers in the truck only because I want an escape path to the big red button all stations have. As an aside, in case of fire do not pull the nozzle from the tank.........head for the emergency shut off. Folks that do the natural thing and yank the fueling source out of the item being fueled dramatically increase their chances of being burned badly from the fuel splash. Best your going to do is work to work in the open and know where the shut off button is. At the stations I use, I fuel as close to that button as possible but thats me.

    Have a great hunt.....looking forward to reading about it.

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    Good points. I admit I know nothing about this subject.

    Would it be a better idea to attach one end of the jumper cable to the drum then have my buddy hold the other clamp in contact with the cement?

    Dupont Spinner made an excellent point. How are snow machines or ATV's being grounded if they are on the trailer as they are being refueled?
    For that matter, how about when you are filling up the tanks in your boat? The trailers are sit on syn rubber tires.

  9. #9

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    I've thought about this as well...The bulk farm here in Bethel won't let us fill poly containers unless they are on the ground...not practical @ 30g, downright tough @ 50g.

    So, the static builds when the fuel and plastic "rub" against each other. The only place we got worries is between the surface of the fuel and the area around the bung (beneath the surface of the fuel is probably a bit rich to bun at STP). The plastic doesn't really conduct electricity well, so grounding the drum wouldn't do much, right?...wouldn't it make more sense to drop the bare-end of a wire into the drum and ground the other end of the wire? The wire would need to be long enough, and stripped enough, that the bare section could run from just outside the bung and rest inside the drum, on the bottom. This would allow any static at the surface of the fuel to conduct to ground, and would allow the fuel nozzle to ground on the bare wire as well...right?

    We would ground the poly tanks in storage at the haz-mat facility I worked at in FAI, but the boss said it wasn't really doing much (plastic as a conductor), but rules were rules...we were not transfering fuel though...

    -note-This whole plastic drum thing here in Bethel started 'cause someone was running his fuel through a "mr funnel" directly into his boat tank...funnel caught fire, he threw the funnel from his boat to the ground. I guess a few people got a bit excited over that one...or so the story goes...

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    Default Plastic and Electricity

    It is not the plastic that conducts the static but attracts it like the screen on a TV. By grounding the drum the static is dissipated away from the vapors

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bethell View Post
    I've thought about this as well...The bulk farm here in Bethel won't let us fill poly containers unless they are on the ground...not practical @ 30g, downright tough @ 50g.

    -note-This whole plastic drum thing here in Bethel started 'cause someone was running his fuel through a "mr funnel" directly into his boat tank...funnel caught fire, he threw the funnel from his boat to the ground. I guess a few people got a bit excited over that one...or so the story goes...
    Really? I fill my 30's at Crowley and no-one has batted an eye, and nothing has ever been said about using the grounding wire which they have right there. Fill'em right on the truck. Is this a new policy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Good points. I admit I know nothing about this subject.

    Would it be a better idea to attach one end of the jumper cable to the drum then have my buddy hold the other clamp in contact with the cement? No Just Lay it on the ground.

    Dupont Spinner made an excellent point. How are snow machines or ATV's being grounded if they are on the trailer as they are being refueled?
    For that matter, how about when you are filling up the tanks in your boat? The trailers are sit on syn rubber tires.

    The pumps are grounded very well all the way to the handle. What happens many times is we take the nozzle away from contact with the fill hole to get a view and we lose our ground. Now when we set the nozzle back on the side of the filler we then again disapate the charge building up hopeful/most times without incident.

    The fill hoses and filler ports on inboard boat tanks are ~suppose to be connected for a ground path back to the pump. The reason you need to use marine rated filler hose and not the automotive off the shelf stuff.

    Read the safety postings sometime when you are filling up and then look around and see how many people are violating the rules.

    Here is a good video of static discharge igniting the fuel vapors coming from the tank as they fill.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUf8vc7I6bc

    This one is a FLIR camera's view of fumes when fueling.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_Nsw...eature=related

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    Default fueling

    in the air force when fueling aircraft, they used a 3 point ground. plane to ground, fuel truck to ground and fuel truck to plane.
    when i used to refuel my boat from plastic drums, I'd run a ground from the drum to the boat and a ground from the drum to the fuel tank.
    the fire dept recommends you put the container on the ground to fill it. the problem is when you put the nozzle in the container or take it out you can get a spark between the container and nozzle. the nozzle and hose is grounded. your vehicle is sitting on tires, no ground. if i had to fuel in a pickup bed, I'd hook a ground to the container first an then the nozzle, when done undue the nozzle first.
    i spent 30 years in the fire dept. and when it comes to fuel i have a lot of respect for it. i don't want to be a crispy creator.
    just my 2 cent's.

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    What you are trying to protect your self is from the difference of potential. The boat and the fuel source need to be bonded together and when you pour gasoline it should run down the inside of the filler tube and not air drop straight to the bottom of the tank.

  15. #15

    Default Along these lines...

    I've heard and seen signs at some stations warning against using cell phones while filling up. What's up with that? I see people all the time talking on their cells and filling up their vehicles.
    Jim

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    Default Static bites

    I oversee aircraft fueling operations for the Army here in the interior. With our temps being so cold the air is tremendously dry. Every doorknob you touch bites you. To fuel any running or parked aircraft we ground, bond, connect. It is amazing how much static is out there. You ought to see the static off the spinning blades of a helicopter at night using night vision. A running motor generates quite a field on it's own (alternator, fan, electronics). How many times have you got shocked when you get in your car?
    A classic example is the rubber balloon you blow up. Rub it up your shirt and past your hair. Generated static field. Movement of molecules ie. fuel running along the side of a 50g poly drum in cold weather. That is a static generator. Ya might get lucky a hundred times but that once will be a show to remember. A battery jumper cable running from the drum (metal/plastic) to the pump housing could help dissipate static build-up. You carry them anyway. Grounding to something with an established ground is a simple safeguard.

  17. #17

    Default I am still confused...........

    Never hear anybody talk about grounding their boat or car so that does not seem to be an issue..........

    Regarding the portable plastic tanks: we need to boil this down to simple steps and required equipment. Does it go like this for filling drums or red plastic tanks sitting inside your boat or car:

    1. attach ground cable clamp to lip of plastic tank/drum
    2. attach other end of ground cable clamp to earth ground

    questions on these steps:

    a. who sells and what is the model for an appropriate ground cable?
    b. do gas stations have grounding bars to clamp to?
    c. your boat and car sit on rubber tires and are not acceptable grounds?

    next steps:

    3. attach another ground cable to lip of tank/drum
    4. attach other end this ground cable to fuel nozzle metal

    question on these steps:

    a. this is what the air-force guy in this thread said they do this with planes. never heard of this for people at gas stations filling portable tanks...... Is this really necessary?

    next steps:

    5. insert fuel nozzle into plastic tank or drum and maintain contact while pumping
    6. spray fuel down side of tank/drum rather than splashing down the middle
    7. remove all the previous stuff in reverse order: (a) remove nozzle from tank, (b) remove fuel nozzle cable from nozzle (c) remove fuel nozzle cable from tank (d) remove tank cable from station ground (e) remove tank cable from tank

    we really need to boil this down to a concise list of steps in the right order with recommended cable manufacturer/models. I would do this myself but don't know enough about it. Hopefully this post will lead to such a list for everyone to use. Thanks for everyone's help so far

  18. #18
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    The plastic can or drum should be bonded to the vehicle. The vehicle is then connected to a ground. What you are trying to do is prevent a difference of potential between the fuel can and the vehicle. When you fill a vehicle using a fuel pump the fuel pump and hose is already grounded. When you place the nossel in the filler hole you create a bond between the vehicle fuel tank and the fuel pump. This brings the potential between the vehicle and the fuel pump to zero. When in the back of your truck or boat using a plastic can you want the potential between your fill can and tank to be as close to zero as possible so you put a bonding strap between them. You do not want a spark to take place in the fuel tank.

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    Default Bonding vs grounding

    A few of you seem to understand the difference. But even Big 350 who fuels professionally missed by a bit on his "3 point ground".
    Ground, grounding, or to ground means taking the electricity to mother earth.
    Bonding means connecting two or more items together, and in this discussion of static electricity, that would be with a material that would carry electricity.
    Bonding by itself does no good at all to protect against static discharge. The only way to prevent that completely is by grounding.
    Never never never assume a gas station hose is a grounding type of hose. That is expensive hose and people do cut corners.
    Anything on rubber is not grounded. There must be another means. I am not an engineer, but grounding wires/systems that are built for that are not very heavy. I have seen them as small as 1/8" diameter. It would be easy to make your own out of cable or even electrical wiring. The single conductor wire you use to fix your trailer will work well.

    Try this link. I found it by searching for "truck catching fire"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgAaj3DkA-w
    I have used a wire run down into the drum and onto the ground when fueling on rubber. I have also used jumper cables to attach the drum to a steel post or something driven into the ground. If I am pumping from a metal drum up into a drum on the trailer, I connect the two together. The metal drum by sitting on earth is grounded.
    So:
    1/8" cable x whatever length you need with alligator ends will make a good ground cable.
    Connect the container to ground. If no "ground' is available, run the cable over with the tire. That will push it into ground.
    If I am using a funnel, I bond/ground the funnel back to the fuel source, ground, or the drum, and also ground the drum/fuel. That way if I move the funnel away from the drum I am filling I can not produce a spark.
    You Tube used to have video of a fire started in back of a truck while fueling a plastic jug. Even though people get away without a problem daily does not mean the potential for catastrophe is not there. A simple couple of wires can save you a lot of grief.

  20. #20

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    So do I need to take the 6 gallon plastic tank I use in my boat out of the boat before filling? I never have before, but don't want to blow up either.

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