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January 2011 Nuts & Bolts

1982 Jeep Cj7
Fred Williams
| Brand Manager, Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off Road
Posted January 1, 2011

Get tanked, overloaded with articulation and more

Get Tanked
Q I've been bitten by the extreme off-roading bug and wish to convert my leaf-sprung '82 CJ-7 into a four-linked assassin. Before even thinking about the four-link setup in the rear, I want to remove the monster 20-gallon fuel tank from the stock location and install a fuel cell behind the rear seat so that I have more options regarding wheelbase and shock placement.

My fuel cell location would be the same as Todd Farrand's '90 YJ, featured on page 46 of the Jan. '10 edition of 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine ("Too Cool YJ: A Mechanically Inclined Builder's Dream").

An RCI fuel cell like Farrand's seems like the perfect fuel cell for me (does he have it secured by a ratchet strap?). I also noticed a Universal Tank by GenRight Offroad made to fit behind the rear seat. However, at the bottom of the description, the company states:

"NOTE: Due to the non-stock location of this tank, this tank is not considered street legal."

Furthermore, Farrand's Jeep looked like it was green-stickered for trail use only. I live in the San Francisco Bay area. I realize the emissions standards here are strict, but I thought the only thing that CARB cares about regarding fuel tanks is whether the fuel cap or tank leaks fumes. Does it actually matter where the fuel tank/cell is located?

I tow my Jeep to the trails via tow bar. I don't have space to store a trailer, so I want to keep it street-legal.
Mike M.

A I approached the fuel tank supplier Transfer Flow ( and found the following on the website.

FMVSS 301 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) states that anyone who alters a vehicle must meet or exceed the structural integrity and performance of the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) fuel system. A fuel system includes anything associated with fuel systems such as the fillneck, tank, gasoline lines, fuel pump, emission canister, and fasteners. In other words, if an alterer adds an auxiliary system to a vehicle thereby reducing the performance of the fuel system, he or she has violated FMVSS 301 standards. An example of performance reduction could be if fuel from the original system leaked because the auxiliary system was gravity feeding into the original tank. This creates a real concern as it not only violates FMVSS 301 regulations, but is also a hazardous waste problem.

I understand this to mean that a proper and safe fuel system of equal size with no leaks is required. This may mean building a firewall around the new tank to ensure that it is not in the passenger compartment. You should double-check with your local smog shop before you drop your tank, as they will be the people telling you if your new fuel system passes the rules.

Overloaded With Articulation
Q I have an '05 Xterra. When I added my PRG 2-inch add-a-leaf to my factory leaf springs, I removed the overload leaf because I was told it would hinder articulation. But recently I have been introduced to Overland adventures and have been loading up my Xterra with quite a bit of gear necessary for these multiday excursions, and it has taken its toll on my factory leaf springs, causing them to sag greatly. Right now I cannot afford the $700+ for a custom full leaf pack replacement, so I am going to have my local spring shop re-arch my factory springs and I will reinstall the overload leaves. Will reinstalling the overload leaves actually hinder the off-road performance?
Will K.

A Overload springs are not as bad as many folks think. I would put them back in. Overloads may hinder articulation slightly, but they will also support additional weight and help reduce axlewrap. I think the tradeoff is worth any reduction in articulation you might have, especially when you are carrying heavy loads.

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