Wrenchin’ Wednesday: Perfecting the almost-perfect giant drain pan

spill containment
Phillip Thomas

One of my favorite tools around the shop is a pair of Eagle spill containment platforms, each measuring roughly 2.5 by 4.5 feet. They’re made for keeping oil drum drippings contained, but for doing messy jobs like radiators and transmissions, they catch those trickier fluid messes and can hold practically the entire vehicle’s fluid capacity in just one platform with its 30-gallon limit. They’re also sturdy enough to stand on, making work on taller trucks a bit less killer to the back, but because they’re not really meant to be used as intentional drain pans, and more as accidental spill containment, there’s no drain plug.

This meant cleaning them out is an awkward chore of trying to lift a bathtub’s worth of liquid hell high enough so that a bucket could sit under one corner while it was tilted aggressively. More often than not, the wave of garbage fluids would crash over the edge, creating a spill.

As everyone is used to by now, a quick trip to the hardware store is what creates the ultimate spill containment setup today; and while I used plumbing valves, these basic fitting exist in many formats from other industries.

Phillip Thomas

I was able to dig up a 1.5-inch bulkhead fitting to a 3/4-inch garden valve for under $10 for this quick mod. The valve was set as close to the floor of the containment platform as possible without hitting the ground, though if not for the sake of convenience, I could’ve used a typical screw-in plug here to make it low clearance. While a ball valve with a lever would also work fine here, it could easily be bumped open too, making the traditional petcock a secure way to seal the drain.

Phillip Thomas

With the bulkhead sealed with RTV for extra insurance and the valve’s threads sealed with Teflon tape, it should have no problem with seepage. Now the platform just has to sit tilted with some blocks for a few minutes to drain it down into containers for safe disposal or recycling. Of course, if you don’t have an Eagle spill containment platform laying around, take a look around the house for anything that you could use as a mega drain pan, and now you’ve got the ideas in mind on how to modify it for the ultimate convenience.


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