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RotoPax Issue (Read 1762 times)
BruteForce
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RotoPax Issue
08/20/14 at 16:35:30
 
Last weekend, I was camped atop the Tushars next to 3 Creeks Reservoir. Daytime temps were low 70's. The ATV was parked for the afternoon and we were sitting nearby smoking cigars and listening to music.

We thought we heard static coming from the RV, but to our surprise, it was coming from the ATV. The sound was actually fuel being propelled from one half of my 2x 2gal flat pack.

After taking the desert colored cover off the fuel can (carefully, so as not to get a static discharge), the fuel really started to spray..

I managed to get the fuel pack off the rack mount kit, and found both sides seriously swollen.

Turns out one half of the 2gal pack was boiling. It took a few minutes for the fuel to stop boiling, but by that time 1/2 the fuel had already sprayed everywhere. Dumped the remainder into my 5th wheel toy tank.

Scary.. We were pretty close to being lit on fire.

I just phoned RotoPax (based here in Utah), but they close at 4pm. I'm curious to see if they'll warranty this thing.

How in the heck did that fuel boil? Why just one half of the 2 x 2gal kit?

Very odd.. very dangerous. What if that would have happened when I was driving down the trail.  Shocked
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #1 - 08/21/14 at 10:13:25
 
I believe the higher the altitude the lower the boiling point of any liquid, don't know what other factors would be relevant like exhaust flow, engine heat, sun shine directly on the fuel pack, in fact I don't know if any of these points mean anything anyways, just things to think of I guess
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #2 - 08/21/14 at 10:51:23
 
A group of us are just about to make the trip to do the Paiute system. Two of us will be carrying standard gas cans, and the third has the same setup you do - the dual 2-gallon Rotopax.

We are keenly interested in what Rotopax has to say, and anything else you learn about this incident.

We leave on Saturday morning.
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #3 - 08/21/14 at 11:04:27
 
I just did a little looking into atmospheric pressure and boiling points.
At higher elevations, things do boil at lower temperatures.
But I think it's still unlikely that your gas cans reached boiling temperatures.

However, there is another effect which might explain it.
If you seal a container full of liquid at a lower altitude (and higher atmospheric pressure), and then go to a higher elevation which has lower atmospheric pressure, then there is a difference in pressure between the inside of the container and the outside. There will be positive pressure inside.

If there are any weak points it will spring a leak and start spraying.

This is also true of a situation where you fill a container with cold gasoline, and then it warms up. It does not have to reach boiling temperatures before a bubbling effect can occur. I've had that problem with a Yamaha Grizzly that had a defective gas tank vent. It sounded like it was boiling and I smelled gas. Popping the gas cap released the pressure and it was all good. Turns out there was a recall for the vent.

I also have experienced this with standard gas cans, going from sea level to about 1000 feet, from 60 degrees to 85 degrees. The gas can swells.

As long as we left an air pocket in the can for expansion, and stopped once in a while to "burp" the can, we were OK.

Please let me know if you find out anything different, but I think that's what we're looking at here.
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #4 - 08/21/14 at 19:28:15
 
We figured it was the shift from 4400' elevation to 9000' elevation that was at cause. The ATV was sitting at least 2 hours in ~70F temps and was in direct sunlight, but covered with a coyote tan cover.

The fuel was definitely boiling though. I have video that I'm hoping to send to RotoPax.

Sadly, no phone call today, despite an email and voicemail a few days ago.

Will phone again tomorrow.

I expected a faster response from them, considering I'm local.

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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #5 - 08/21/14 at 19:31:47
 
I'd be curious to see that video. Any chance of uploading it to YouTube and sending a link?
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #6 - 08/21/14 at 20:07:05
 
Is there any chance that the gas in there was purchased before May 1? The EPA regulates the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of gasoline sold in Utah to less than 9 psi from May till mid-Sept. I think there's still an exception that if it contains 10% ethanol, which it does at most stations, RVP can be 10 psi. The rest of the year it can be as high as 15 psi. RVP is measured at 100F which is easy to reach in the sun. At 9000', the air pressure is about 10.5 psi.
So, summer gas with ethanol is very close to boiling at 100F and 9000'. Mixed with any winter gas, it's definitely boiling. Straight winter gas even at 70F could easily boil at 9000'.
BTW, it didn't start boiling until AFTER the can ruptured.
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #7 - 08/21/14 at 21:11:07
 
utahcruiser wrote on 08/21/14 at 20:07:05:
Is there any chance that the gas in there was purchased before May 1? The EPA regulates the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of gasoline sold in Utah to less than 9 psi from May till mid-Sept. I think there's still an exception that if it contains 10% ethanol, which it does at most stations, RVP can be 10 psi. The rest of the year it can be as high as 15 psi. RVP is measured at 100F which is easy to reach in the sun. At 9000', the air pressure is about 10.5 psi.
So, summer gas with ethanol is very close to boiling at 100F and 9000'. Mixed with any winter gas, it's definitely boiling. Straight winter gas even at 70F could easily boil at 9000'.
BTW, it didn't start boiling until AFTER the can ruptured.



It is possible, but unlikely that the fuel was that old.  Now, the gas station I sourced it from .. who knows what fuel was in their tank.

Now, I do know the fuel was at least 2 months old, but it unlikely I had it in my RotoPax longer than that.

Thanks, Mr. Math & ScienceCruiser!  Wink
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #8 - 08/22/14 at 08:24:00
 
So, since the folks at RotoPax didn't call me back, I called them again this morning.

They are not offering a 100% warranty on this thing, but instead offered me 50% off on the purchase of a replacement ($35).

What-in-the-crap?? I wonder what Kolpin's position is on warranty. I will phone them.
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #9 - 09/03/14 at 13:35:25
 
I have had my Rotopax swell up to the point that I was worried that they might rupture, but they never leaked. However, if your gas was in fact boiling, there isn't a can made that could have held up to that without a release somewhere. I've never heard of that happening before, at any altitude. I've started out at home, around 5,300' and ridden up to slightly over 13,000' without burping them.
From what I have heard about Kolpin cans, it's a good thing you didn't have one. Don't believe I would take that step backwards if I were you.

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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #10 - 09/03/14 at 13:47:34
 
I have heard that Kolpin cans have a crappy reputation.

On our trip last week, one of us had 4 Rotopax cans - three gas and one water. We left from sea level and ended up in Richfield, at which point I burped the cans.

From there, we went from roughly 6,500 feet on up to as high as 10,500 feet a bunch of times, sometimes more than once per day. We hit 11,200 once in the Tushars. I burped my old school auto-supply-store vent can a lot, but I don't think the guy with the Rotopax cans every burped his. At least I never saw him doing it. And he didn't have a problem.

Of course, the temperatures were never higher than 80 or so at 6,500 feet, and it was pretty chilly at 10,500 feet.
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #11 - 05/05/15 at 10:48:49
 
Bob wrote on 09/03/14 at 13:35:25:
I have had my Rotopax swell up to the point that I was worried that they might rupture, but they never leaked. However, if your gas was in fact boiling, there isn't a can made that could have held up to that without a release somewhere. I've never heard of that happening before, at any altitude. I've started out at home, around 5,300' and ridden up to slightly over 13,000' without burping them.
From what I have heard about Kolpin cans, it's a good thing you didn't have one. Don't believe I would take that step backwards if I were you.

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I second the comments about the Kolpin.  My buddy received a Kolpin from his son-in-law at the same time I gave him a Rotopax (for some damage my grandson did to his machine).
The difference was/is dramatic.  The Kolpin leaks when you pick it up, the Rotopax is always reliable.
Careful in being irritated about something that may have a strange cause.

StGeorge
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Re: RotoPax Issue
Reply #12 - 05/05/15 at 11:32:11
 
Just following up on this thread. After calling Rotopax 3 times, I finally got a woman that agreed to ship me a full replacement. Even though I only needed one side of the 2gal x2 setup, they sent a full set of 2. I happily gave one away to a friend since he had no fuel storage on his bike.

It took effort (much like my first Polaris ATV), but they did come through in the end.
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