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  Why are above deck plastic fuel tanks so expensive?

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Author Topic:   Why are above deck plastic fuel tanks so expensive?
CFCAJUN posted 05-05-2005 12:02 PM ET (US)   Profile for CFCAJUN   Send Email to CFCAJUN  
Are fuel tanks like ladders, where the greatest percent of the cost is for product liability?

I cannot figure out why a 27 gallon plastic container for gas costs $130. I have searched the Internet and the average price for a removable 27 gallon tank is between $120 and $200. 18-19 gallons run $80-130.

If I was buying a 27 gallon plastic water container, it might be $20. I figure it should be $20 for the gas container, $10 for the fuel fitting and I have a 27 gallon gas tank for $30. I don't need any electronics for a fuel gas, just a container with a fitting. Why are these things so outrageously expensive?

Jamie

CFCAJUN posted 05-05-2005 02:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
I was able to find a partial solution:

quote:
Plastic tanks are formed by blowing a thick continuous tube of HDPE within a mold that determines the final shape of the virtually seamless part, which could include the filler neck. The blowing molds are cast from aluminum and cost considerably less than machined steel dies used to stamp steel tanks. In general, four or more molds are integrated into one rotary style blow-molding machine to achieve the desired productivity (i.e., one station blows while the other one cools). Typically, the OEMs outsource the plastic tanks to various suppliers who bid for the business. The plastic tank manufacturer also has to either chlorinate or fluorinate the plastic to retard permeation, and both processes can be highly toxic if mishandled. This represents additional OSHA requirements, which add to the cost of the tank.

This article is for automobile tanks, steel vs. plastic, but I believe may be part of what I was looking for.

http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9607/Alvarado-9607.html

Robob2003 posted 05-05-2005 03:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Robob2003  Send Email to Robob2003     
<Why are these things so outrageously expensive?>

Because the word "marine" prefaces gas tank:-(


Bob on Tampa Bay

LHG posted 05-05-2005 09:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
I think the 27 gallon Tempo is $105 at Bass Pro and Shoreway Marine?
dnh posted 05-05-2005 10:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for dnh  Send Email to dnh     
If you think those are bad, a 15 gallon Pate fiberglass tank for a 15 Whaler is over $400
CFCAJUN posted 05-05-2005 11:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
Wowzers,
That Mr. Pate guy must be making a fortune. I hope with all the $$$$ he buys a new Whaler.

As for me, I reconfigured my boat and now have 12 + 6 gallons under the console. Using the rule of 1/3s I can go out on 6, come back on 6 and have 12 in reserve.

Kidding! I am from the south, but I can cipher!

AYEEEE!

(Those tanks are still too expensive!)

allen723 posted 05-06-2005 12:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for allen723  Send Email to allen723     
I bought a 27 tempo but you better not top that off or it will spill a gallon going down the ramp or getting to it. Is a 71/2 made the same way .. then why does it cost a hudred more?
bigjohn1 posted 05-06-2005 09:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
With questions like this, it is sometimes useful to recall the basic Economics 101 model of:

Supply vs demand = price

There are other factors which will collectively determine pricing but this basic model is generally true. No, I am not an economics professor - but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night:-)

On an international note, one other thing that will get you hot under the collar every time is U.S. auto pricing. Many of the same cars and trucks you pay 20, 30, and $40K for can be had in the third world for roughly half on many occasions. As an example, the 2004 Toyota Tacoma Pre-Runner I paid $20K for last year (new) goes for about $11K in Thailand. I was there in 2003 and almost dropped dead when I saw this. It is marketed as a Hilux Tiger and has real 4-wheel drive (unlike my 2WD Pre-Runner). Yes, there are still subtle differences in appearance and they don't meet U.S. DOT specs but still - half the price? All things considered, I think those Tempo tanks are a bargain even though they are not the best quality tank on the market.

pglein posted 05-06-2005 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
I was noticing the same thing and did a bit of a double take. It doesn't really make sense.
Jerry Townsend posted 05-06-2005 02:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
In my mind - the problem is old-fashioned gouging and the word 'marine'. Frankly, the costs are not there to support the high costs - material, fabrication, labor or DOT certification. Could be wrong - but I don't see anything justifying those prices. --- Jerry/Idaho
pglein posted 05-06-2005 04:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
Is there any difference in the composition of the plastic that makes them suitable for holding gasoline? Would it be possible to retrofit a cheap water tank or below deck tank to hold gasoline? I'd like to locate my fuel tank below my rear seat, but the Tempo ones are just too darn expensive.
John O posted 05-06-2005 08:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for John O    
When concerning fuel I would not try to retrofit anything. Bass Pro is the lowest price around for the Tempo 27/28 Gal tank. I think it cost $109.00 as lhg quoted and an additional $10.00 to ship via UPS.
JOHN W MAYO posted 05-06-2005 11:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for JOHN W MAYO  Send Email to JOHN W MAYO     
I bought the 27/28 at Boaters World, deffinately the best price I could find,....about $150 less than W.Marine.
JOHN W MAYO posted 05-07-2005 12:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for JOHN W MAYO  Send Email to JOHN W MAYO     
bigjohn1,
You are right about Thailand,been there several times. But go to Tahiti and that same truck you talk about would be about $30k or maybe 40k.

In the USA that Tempo tank sells for:

#1 West Marine
TEMPO Fuel Tank - 27Ga, Above Deck 14"H Only $209.99 USD

#2 BoatersWorld.com
Tempo - Portable Fuel Tank $189.99

#3 basspro.com
$104.99
27 GALLON

Out of the 3 choice I pick # 3..........a $105 savings over #1
or I could say I would buy 2 tanks for the the same price as I would pay for 1 tank at #1, plus have a $1 extra in my pocket.
(all those prices I just got off the internet all found by seaching tempo 27).
I did buy mine at #3.

Maximus posted 05-07-2005 07:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Maximus  Send Email to Maximus     
PRICEMATCH!

West Marine will price match any competitor. Bring in the BassPro Catalog to your local West Marine and they add ~$8 for shipping. You get the tank today.

JOHN W MAYO posted 05-07-2005 08:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for JOHN W MAYO  Send Email to JOHN W MAYO     
Maximus,
Good point, and thanks, you are correct. I forgot about that as I have only done that once with them and they did match the price + shipping shipping charges where I would have to order the item also I had it the same day.
This was after someone told me they would price match. They do have one good point as they will match internet prices , up to there cost for the product. Most retail stores seem not to want to match any price except local stores.
Since the other stores are pretty much local for me, I usually just go to them.
bigjohn1 posted 05-07-2005 08:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
pglein, I take it you are asking about the difference in plastic composition between dedicated marine plastic fuel tanks (like Tempo) and water tanks, lawn mower gas cans, etc. Please do not consider what I think you are considering. Marine fuel tanks (Tempo and Merc are the only ones I have experience with) are quite a bit thicker than those other containers. Tempos are budget tanks but they are still thicker and much better able to handle this task than any retro-fitted fuel or water can/jug or whatever. Call me over cautious but I think your idea may be asking for trouble, not to mention a potential fire hazard in your boat. I have recently carried in my boat two of the new generation plastic gas cans like you use for lawn mower gas. They are the new kind with no vents. I did this as we were heading far off-shore and I wanted an extra margin of fuel safety just in case we needed it. The hot sun caused them to flex quite a bit and I was worried all day they would either rupture, explode, or leak and that is the last time I will do that.

Save your money and play it safe...buy a real fuel tank and be safe.

pglein posted 05-07-2005 02:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
quote:
pglein, I take it you are asking about the difference in plastic composition between dedicated marine plastic fuel tanks (like Tempo) and water tanks, lawn mower gas cans, etc. Please do not consider what I think you are considering. Marine fuel tanks (Tempo and Merc are the only ones I have experience with) are quite a bit thicker than those other containers. Tempos are budget tanks but they are still thicker and much better able to handle this task than any retro-fitted fuel or water can/jug or whatever. Call me over cautious but I think your idea may be asking for trouble, not to mention a potential fire hazard in your boat. I have recently carried in my boat two of the new generation plastic gas cans like you use for lawn mower gas. They are the new kind with no vents. I did this as we were heading far off-shore and I wanted an extra margin of fuel safety just in case we needed it. The hot sun caused them to flex quite a bit and I was worried all day they would either rupture, explode, or leak and that is the last time I will do that.
Save your money and play it safe...buy a real fuel tank and be safe.

I'm not talking about using a jerry can or something, I'm talking about using a marine fuel or water tank usualy placed below decks as an above deck tank. They're considerably cheaper. The typical 6 gallong above deck tanks aren't very expensive, it's when you try to go up in volume that they start charging an arm and a leg.

Not that I would do this, but why are you saying that a lawnmower gas can is any different from a regular plastic above deck tank? Heck, they're the same thing other than the fact that one has fittings for a fuel line.

JOHN W MAYO posted 05-07-2005 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for JOHN W MAYO  Send Email to JOHN W MAYO     
I think bigjohn1 is right. The marine tanks are thicker.
Speedo66 posted 05-07-2005 05:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Speedo66  Send Email to Speedo66     
As far as using a permanent mount tank as an above decks tank, there could very well be a different composition to the plastic. The normal above deck tanks may be formulated for UV resistance while the below deck tanks are not.

You can always trust industry to save 5 cents if it's cheaper to make them without the UV protection.

Using tanks not certified for a certain use could also result in your insurance company backing away in the event of a problem.

$40-$200+ for some molded plastic does seem absurd. Although your solution may appear attractive, in the long run it's probably not worth it.

whalerajm posted 05-08-2005 12:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for whalerajm  Send Email to whalerajm     
Why support the PRICE MATCH Vendor???? Buy from the guy who sells at the lowest price everyday...The PRICE MATCH vendor will take top dollar from you unless you do the research to show better price from another vendor.

I consider this price gouging...If West Marine really was a "better" vendor, why do they make you find the best price that they will match...they should offer best price on the market...when it comes to Temp Tanks, it's BASS PRO....hands down...

Even the ULtra BBW 12-13 is cheapest on Bass Pro...$44 with the low profile cap (if you ask for it)...

John O posted 05-08-2005 01:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for John O    
West.Price match is BS. Then they have the nerve to charge a freight fee. So basically if a customer does not do some leg work they will screw them. Why give West the last look? Go to the supplier that came in low the first time.

The Tempo or Pate 27/28 gal is the best set up for a Montauk hands down. Tempo is short money from Bass Pro Shop.

JOHN W MAYO posted 05-08-2005 08:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for JOHN W MAYO  Send Email to JOHN W MAYO     
West is the last place I do spend my money for just the reasons mentioned above.I think almost every time I have wanted to purchase an item form them, I found the price much cheaper at other stores.
It has cost them virtually all my business. Just like the fuel tank I purchased at Bass Pro.
Freeport Alan posted 05-08-2005 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Freeport Alan    
If you consider the tank must hold corrosive ethanol gasoline , not leak & fall apart or blow up when you hit a wake , vent properly so the motor runs right, be water tight & not allow rainwater to get in & last many years then these prices are a bargain !
David Livingstone posted 05-08-2005 08:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Livingstone  Send Email to David Livingstone     
Unsinkable? Yes. Fire proof? No. Stay with a marine tank rated for above deck use. To change the subject completely, I needed and extra fender (penguin style) in a bad way when I was in Marathon last spring. The closest Marine store was one that was one a block "West" of where I was staying. The fender was $24! I had bought two the week before at Bass Pro's "Outdoor World" for $19. When I did a price comparison between this marine store and a number of boating and fishing items I had purchased at Boaters World and Outdoor World, they were all 10 to 20% more. I guess it pays to shop around.

David

bigjohn1 posted 05-08-2005 10:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
lawnmower gas tanks and portable marine fuel tanks are NOT the same thickness...do a side-by-side on them. I did and there is a difference.
Perry posted 05-08-2005 11:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
Not all West Marine stores price match. The only one here does not. I asked them and they said NO! That is why I buy from them on a last resort.
Speedo66 posted 05-09-2005 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Speedo66  Send Email to Speedo66     
Re: West Marine. I would rather wait for an item purchased over the internet than go to West Marine. A recent 40 mile trip to their store in Stamford CT resulted in near terminal sticker shock. Forget gas tank prices!

Items I'd seen on the internet at www.surplusunlimited.com were OVER twice the price at West Marine. I recommend that vendor by the way. Good prices and fast shipping.

If I need anything immediately I'll go to a local marina shop. I know I'm getting hosed, but they are a single outlet, not a huge chain that should be passing on economy of scale buying power in the way of lower prices.

pglein posted 05-11-2005 06:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
The main difference between West Marine and other marine retailers here is that West Marine is the only one around.

Boater's world recently opened a small (understocked) store here, but other than that, your only other option in this area is to order over the internet. And when you need something right now, that really doesn't help you.

Royboy posted 05-13-2005 03:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
An open bucket of gasoline on the deck would be just about as safe as any other makeshift fuel tank.

The biggest component of consumer price (next to product liability) is annual volume produced. Mass production is only feasible to tool for if the market will bear it. The number of these highly specialized plastic vessels produced is miniscule compared to water jugs and other such comodities. Tempo likely makes thousands of tanks of a given design, whereas a company that makes water jugs (or lawn mower tanks) will tool up to produce millions of them. It's not the thickness that drives the price (a five gallon bucket is a good example). The amount of time the product remains in the tool is at least equal to the amount of material used in its manufacture. The other big hitter is the number of mold cavities, or how many can be shot at once. But this isn't really the issue (used it correctly there I think, Jimh).

Don't even consider using anything other than an above deck fuel tank in place of a genuine above deck fuel tank, unless prison sounds like an attractive prospect. Actually, prison is likely prefereable to you and your friends being horribly burned when your makeshift fuel tank goes South on you. Let me put it this way: it isn't a matter of IF the fake fuel tank will fail, it's WHEN.

Real fuel tanks are tested exhaustively before being marketed to the public (this is where the "product liability" dollars enter the picture). This way, through testing for all kinds of things you and I might never even consider, they have brought the risks down to a reasonable level, where they are in fact, insurable. If they weren't tested and proven in this way, their manufacturers would be liable for all kinds of civil and criminal prosecution when their products failed.

The bottom line on safety items (like a real fuel tank) is that there is no acceptable substitute, and if you can't afford to outfit your boat with the genuine article, then you should not consider owning a boat. You wouldn't rely on a plastic bag as a PFD, although they will certainly hold air and keep you afloat.

Not a good place to pinch pennies.

Roy

Andre C posted 05-14-2005 08:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for Andre C  Send Email to Andre C     
It would cost $600 if it had a Yamaha emblem on it.

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