55 gallon drum buffer tank

This gets mentioned occasionaly… here is how i set one up a while back (I use a 275 tote now).

Obviously this isnt as pretty as a tank you can buy from TSC, but it gets the job done, and is a lot cheaper, if money is tight.

A buffer tank and the plumbing, can sometimes seem intimidating to a new person, but remember we aren’t trying to keep harsh fumes enclosed, or protect against corrosion, or keep chemicals from getting weaker from UV rays or anything… we’re just holding plain old water, and draining it… a milk jug can be a buffer tank if you poke a hole in the bottom.

Get a drum off craigslist for $25 or less… or free if you know someone who has one. Get a white one, if possible, so you can see the water level.

Cut a hole big enough to get your arm in on top. When everything is hooked up, put duct tape over it to keep trash out.

Need to install a Hudson Float Valve on top. Get those at TSC or online. You can buy a bulkhead fitting from an ag store, or online… generally around $10 for a 1"… or you can go to Home Depot and get electrical conduit fittings like these for about $1.

Put an o-ring on it, if you want, but it isn’t really necessary except for at the bottom.

Only drawback to doing a bulkhead with these fittings, is that you will need to glue in PVC pipe to make the threaded connections for the hudson float valve to screw into. I had all that laying around, so i did it this way. You might want to just spend the $10 for a bulkhead fitting, as it has the threads already on it.

To make the hole for the 1" fitting, i used a 1 1/4" wood bit.

Screw the two pieces together through the hole.

Put a 3/4" barb on top, and the Hudson Float Valve on bottom. That’s all there is to it for that connection.

At the bottom drill another hole and put another bulkhead (or electrical fitting) just like you did up top. Here you will probably want to use an o-ring. I also put some silicone caulk around it, just to be sure. I had zero leakage.

That’s it, you now have a buffer tank.

You might want to put a T on it with a ball valve, so you can drain it if you want. Just have the straight portion of the T going to your PW, and the 90 for the drain.

Also, you will want to run your bypass hose from your pressure washer to the top of the buffer tank. Just use 3/8" air hose (or whatever size yours is) to the top, and use a 1/2" bulkhead, and plumb a 3/8" barb into it… or sometimes you can just get two 3/8" threaded fittings and sandwich them together on the hole.

A filter before and after the buffer tank is recommended.

The lids on most 55 gallon drums have knockouts and are threaded… you can use them for connections, but i just used these fittings. Doesn’t really matter how you do it, just as long as the HFV is connected at the top.

Any other little tips people have, or input on how i did the drum, is welcome.


@Donut, here you go… i made a separate thread for it.

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Appreciate it man. I reckon i am trying to make it more difficult than it is with the drum.

Thanks for taking the time.

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No worries, i did too. Building one from scratch made me see how simple it was, relatively speaking.

That happens with lots of stuff, though… it’s just the learning process. I was completely mystified by small engines for many years, until i finally tore one completely down and rebuilt it. Doing that made all the components make sense, and made me realize it was way less complicated and magical than i had thought.

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Thanks man. I’ve been thing about stringing a few of these together for my buffer tank. I have a box truck and one large tank really makes it hard to work inside and I don’t have the money for a door-way tank. I only have a 4gpm machine right now so I don’t need more than 55gal buffer, but I want to upgrade to a 8gpm eventually so I was thinking of connecting 4 of these together to make a 220gal buffer. Do you have any experience with that?

I dont think i’ve heard of anyone doing that, but it seems like it would work.

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Many folks who harvest rainwater from their roof have joined several 55 gallon drums together to increase storage. A few Google images on the subject might give you valuable ideas.


@tireshark bringing this one back up to the top.

I have got my Hudson float valve and water flowing in fine. I installed bulkhead with 1” pvc pipe coming out. I can’t seem to figure out how to connect the bulkhead pvc coming out to the 1” ID non collapsible hose. I also need to get the filter as well. I will add pictures here in a second.

Wish i would have seen this sooner. Very good idea. If only some one could spoon feed me info on how to hook my TSC tank up with the plumbing kit i bought not 100% what goes where. Will find out tomorrow i guess

I think I was having such a hard time being that I went to Home Depot on a Sunday. Couldn’t focus and also since I’m not the best at plumbing no HD employee was in sight. Last time I was there I was explaining to a worker what I was doing he looked at me like i had 4 heads.

I did do research on an offshore fishing forum and they swear by these uniseals. They are the BOMB!

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You can facetime me tomorrow morning if you want. I can try and walk you through what goes where. PM me if that sounds like it would help.

That diagram you posted in the other thread is all you need…KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Bulkhead, fitting, 1” suction hose, fitting/filter, fitting, 1”suction hose, new hose barb on machine… done.

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I basically got the same kit you did. Only I talked to Rex and told him what I had and what I was doing and he sold me a custom kit he put together for me. It was exactly what I needed and I ended up with no extra parts. It still goes pretty much by that diagram you posted though. Fairly simple set up. Like Alex, I will be glad to walk you through how mine is set up if needed.

How do you guys mount one of these to the trailer?

If you could fabricate, something like these may work really good.

If you haven’t got the means to purchase a proper buffer tank, you aren’t ready for business. Keep saving until you look at least semi professional It’s in your own interest. Some of this hackery is just too much to bare.

A cross eyed monkey has a fair chance at beating me in a welding competition, has anyone put 3 or 4 eye bolts around the top and strapped it down to transport empty? Just trying to keep it from bouncing around and breaking fittings

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