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Project water tank shuffle - How to move a water tank

We finally decided it was time to replace our old water tanks.  We've known we would need to do this since we moved in about four years ago.  The first week we owned the house, Pete was whipper snipping around the tanks and they sprung several leaks!  Since then we have regularly dealt with leaks by drilling in a tek screw.  They were gradually getting worse, and we recently had a hail storm that resulted in multiple leaks and one of our roosters had realised that he could just peck the tank when he got thirsty and make a giant chicken nipple.  Time to get some new ones!

The reason the tanks were so leaky is that they were old metal tanks and must have been quite cheap at the time.  They were very very rusty.  The tanks store the rainwater that runs off our house and shed roofs.  They are our only source of drinking and household water.  Luckily we had one good tank that must have been installed later, so we knew we could just replace the two rusty ones, and we would always have the one other tank full of water while we were working on the replacement.  Pete ordered new tanks and found out that they were 400 kg each, so then he started thinking about how we were going to move these tanks and get them into position....

The old tanks after we started digging up the plumbing
I'm going to show you some photos of how we moved the tanks, but I'm not going to tell you how to do it. I don't want any responsibility for anyone who tries to move tanks this way and hurts themselves or wrecks their tanks. Everyone told Pete that it wouldn't work, and they were wrong, it did work perfectly because Pete is good at his trade and careful in his work. If you look at these photos and still don't know how to move tanks, then you should pay a professional. But if these photos can help you to try something similar, using your own skills and tools, then that's great.

preparing the pad for the tanks

Pete built a clever trailer

Here's the first tank on the trailer ready to put in place on the pad

The new tanks in place

Cutting up the old tanks - they were too rust to use for anything
Pete did an amazing job of emptying one old tank into a new tank and then moving the old tank.  He hoped to empty the second old tank into the first old tank after it was moved, but it was too leaky as even the bottom was rusty, so he had to put that water in our dam.  He then moved the second tank.  He did all of this while I was away!  Then in the weekend we smoothed out the pad and moved the first new tank.  We pumped the water from the other new tank into the first new tank.  When it was empty, we moved the second new tank into place.  Pete connected up all the plumbing and opened the valves to equalise the water in the new tanks and then connected all three tanks to the house supply and to the downpipes.  Phew!

Now we just need some rain to test it all!  We have about 2 full tanks of water, which is heaps really.  I'm so proud of Pete for figuring out how to move the tanks.  Have you moved anything ridiculously large and heavy lately?


  1. I take it Pete enjoys challenges. That looks like it was a really rough job. I hope he didn't do it alone.

  2. Those are nice tanks, we used in-ground cisterns when I was growing up. The were either concrete poured into forms or blocks and then coated with waterproof cement glaze. I think the idea was to keep the water cool and fresh longer. In the old days, they were located on top of a hill and covered with a roof that caught the rain and then the water gravity fed to the house. In my time the top of the cistern was a concrete floor and then used as a porch since it was right beside the house and the house roof caught the water. Too bad you couldn't save the old tanks though I am sure they were done for after holding water for years.

  3. Hi Liz,
    This article is close to home for us, as we will in the near future be sorting out a new rain water tank. We have replaced two since we have owned the place, but want to invest in a really large one, so that we don't lose a single drop of that precious water. .
    Pete did well, full marks for ingenuity.sounds like my other half, can always solve a problem or find an easier solution one way of the other.
    I enjoyed your article in Grass Roots also.

  4. We've moved a driveway, does that count? Only ours was block by block, and shovel-full by shovel-full, so not the same as moving the whole thing at once. We have moved big rocks in the past though, and our strategy was to have a plan, then a back-up plan for when things went wrong.

    Those back-up plans can mean the difference between, "oops, I dropped it", and, "there goes the retirement fund!"

    Nice little rig for moving rainwater tanks though, and I'm sure success is all down to the skill of the inventor knowing the mechanical limitations. :)

  5. that IS amazing! and i love little Taz in the pix

  6. Goodness what a big job. I hope he didn't hurt himself!

  7. We've moved quite a few tanks, they are heavier than you would think! We usually use the have everything ready then roll it into place and tip it up on to the pad method. Depending on the size of the tank we either use person power to tip it up or strong ropes and the Landcruiser. Our latest tank was so big it was built in place, much easier for us as the contractor did the lot!

  8. Metal water tanks are definitely old-fashioned. Form what I've read, water cached from these tanks aren't safe for consumption, and may no be suitable for other uses as well, like irrigation of certain produce. The common materials that make up water reservoirs these days would be plastic and ceramics/stone/brick tanks. They are a lot safer and offers more durability and sustainability in the long run. As for moblity and placement, the brick tanks are exclusively for undergound installment, while plastic tanks can be placed above and below ground. And they weigh a lot lighter than either metal or brick tanks, I think so transporting them wouldn't be as hard. Leaks are of course a constant threat, but plastic/brick tanks are more resistant to corrosion, thus more leak resistant as well. I've carried and moved a lot of plastic tanks, but I had some help so that was pretty easy I guess. And I can't imagine anyone bothering to move a brick tank. Those are my thoughts. More power to you both and your farm!

    Sharon Strock @


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