Gas Can Follies

 

I have a little can for gasoline. I use it to fuel my lawnmower. Recently the spout broke. I fixed it with duct tape, of course. And, of course, the duct tape only held up for a few months. The can itself is over 30 years old, and I have the idea that, since plastic deteriorates over time, it probably will need replacing within the next decade or two. I also thought that a cheap plastic gas can with a nice pouring spout would not cost very much more than a purchase of a replacement spout. So while I was out on Saturday morning I stopped by Autozone to pick up a new gas can. And, modern American life being what it is, I now have a story to post at Ricochet.

First, while my old can holds 2.5 gallons, the cans on the shelf all came only in two or five gallon size, so if I keep a little can it will mean more trips to refill the can. I don’t want to fool with the larger can, so I picked up one of the two-gallon cans and carried it to the counter. While waiting for the cashier to fire up his cash register (he had been in the back and so had to log in), I took a look at the new can. I unscrewed the cap and pulled out the pour spout, and started to install it for immediate use. The pour spout looked funny, and the cashier saw me giving it a close inspection. He said “You haven’t seen one of those before.”

“Nope.” Said I. “It looks like a new and improved safety pour.”

“Yeah, let me show you how it works. You have to press this release thing and then this catch slides back.” He tried it but couldn’t get it to work at first. He fiddled with the release and finally could get the catch to slide. He showed me the end of the spout, and said this opens the spout. It had a grooved stem that held the little cap out in front of the end of the spout.

“Oh, great; it’s a dribble-pour,” I whined.

“Right, but it should all splash into the tank if the end of the spout is below the top of the filler tube.” He handed the spout back to me.

So I pressed the release and tried to slide the catch. I couldn’t get it to move because the spring was really stiff. So I screwed it onto the can to get a better purchase on it. Then I aimed the can like I was about to pour, and pressed the release with the thumb of my left hand. I pulled the catch back with my right forefinger. The spring was really stiff.

He said, “what you do is push the catch by pushing it against the edge of the filler tube.”

“Oh, boy. I am going to pour gas all over my mower.”

“You’ll get used to it.”

I figured out quick that I would be better off to keep my old can.

“Do you sell replacement spouts?”

“Yes, but they all look like this. Or, the spout on the five-gallon cans looks a little different.” We went and looked at the five-gallon cans. They had two styles. One was worse than the two-gallon model. The other was really nice, easy to use, and I was considering whether it was worth the effort of fooling with the bigger can.

He said, “It’s good to get back in this aisle where the security camera can’t see me show you this.” He held up a spout. “See, what you do is cut off the end of the spout right here. Then, the whole apparatus slides off the end of the spout.”

“Cool. But then I need to remove the spout in order to cap the can. Do you sell replacement caps?”

“Gee, I don’t think so.” He looked around but came up empty.

“Or,” said he, “just take it off and use a funnel.”

“Great. That will release a whole lot more vapor and still be more likely to drench the mower with gas.”

“Right. Try not to set it on fire.”

Then he said “Only problem with this one (pointing to the nicer five-gallon can) is, this one costs fifty bucks.”

Fifty bucks?!” Sure enough, this was confirmed by a glance at the shelf tag.

“Say, is this a national thing or a local thing?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Remember when the gas stations all had those vapor-recovery nozzles? Those were only required within the metropolitan area on account of air quality, and if you were out in the countryside they weren’t required.”

“I dunno.” I was disappointed by that response, because I had been thinking he was being really helpful up ‘til then.

“Or maybe farmers don’t have to live with this foolishness? If I drove out to Somerville could I buy a can at the Farmer’s Co-op that had a regular old spout?”

“Maybe; I don’t know.”

“Alright, some internet research is in order.”

“Great; I just talked you out of a sale.”

“But you win style points for being real helpful,” I offered. He grinned.

After several minutes of banter that involved the other store employee and two other customers (this is the South), I headed home to look this up.

The internet is awesome.

Sure enough, this is unescapable by legal means. It came from California, of course, like many other vile elements of American society. Team Obama at the EPA made it national.

Even Big-Statist Progressives hate it. I found a hilarious complaint at DailyKos.

I also found a worthwhile blog post at Laissez Faire with this helpful remark:

It’s striking to me that the websites and institutions that complain about government involvement in our lives never mentioned this, at least not so far as I can tell. The only sites that seem to have discussed this are the boating forums and the lawn forums. These are the people who use these cans more than most. The level of anger and vitriol is amazing to read, and every bit of it is justified.

There is no possible rationale for these kinds of regulations. It can’t be about emissions really, since the new cans are more likely to result in spills. It’s as if some bureaucrat were sitting around thinking of ways to make life worse for everyone, and hit upon this new, cockamamie rule.

Yeah, so now I am laughing at some of the gas can hacks that are out there on the internet. Please send in your own suggestions while I plan my next move. First, I think I will just replace the duct tape on the old broken spout.

I think also I will write to my congressman.

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  1. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Our air quality improved to an EPA-required threshold, and all the gas stations were allowed to get rid of those vapor-recovery nozzles.

     

    • #1
  2. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Here is the laugh at the DailyKos:

    https://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/6/1342736/-Has-anyone-purchased-a-new-gas-can-lately

    Here is the story from Laissez Faire Books:

    https://lfb.org/how-government-wrecked-the-gas-can/

     

    • #2
  3. St. Salieri / Eric Cook Member
    St. Salieri / Eric Cook
    @

    Yes, our political elites of both parties allowed this – lightbulbs, gas cans, and anything else to make our lives miserable and poorer so some politician can say “He did something” or to buy off some special interest group or industry lobby. God rot the lot of ’em.

    • #3
  4. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Yep. I tried to use our new gas can to put gas in the mower. Impossible. I just took the stupid thing off and poured it straight from the can without the spout. Riding mower, big mouth gas tank, no spillage. Cussing the EPA and big gov the whole time.

    • #4
  5. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    I have a garage full of nozzles that don’t work.  So I use the tightest one to close the plastic can, then remove it and pour the gas into the mower with an old broken funnel.  I spill a good bit, but I do it on the blue stone driveway and if kills the unwanted grass so much the better.  There is nothing these people do that adds anything to anybody, but it seems it’s easier to live with their insane interference and corrupt meddling than try to end any of it.

    • #5
  6. H. Noggin Inactive
    H. Noggin
    @HNoggin

    We live part-time in Mexico.  The guys here use large old heavy plastic laundry detergent containers to fill with gas for golf carts.  You could find one that held 2-3 gals.  Then they use a battery siphon pump to transfer the gas.  My husband is crazy about that thing, no muss no fuss.  $20. at Northern Tool.

    http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200407825_200407825

    • #6
  7. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    H.Noggin,  thanks for the link.  I will probably go that way after my latest duct tape repair fails.

    For now I am content to live with a little spillage and a solution that used four cents’ worth of duct tape.

    • #7
  8. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    MJBubba (View Comment):
    Our air quality improved to an EPA-required threshold, and all the gas stations were allowed to get rid of those vapor-recovery nozzles.

    Of the various environmental things, those I don’t mind, as they don’t interfere whatsoever with normal operation.  A pox on the rest of them though.

    • #8
  9. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Isnt there also a lot of problems with gas can manufactures being sued out of business for the stupidity of the operator?

    I seem to recall that during hurricane Sandy, gas cans where so rare, that people tried to fill up coolers and other containers with gas.

    • #9
  10. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    MJBubba:Then he said “Only problem with this one (pointing to the nicer five-gallon can) is, this one costs fifty bucks.”

    Fifty bucks?!” Sure enough, this was confirmed by a glance at the shelf tag.

    If you look on Ebay, the old-style gas cans are going for even more then that. If you can find them at all.

    • #10
  11. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    St. Salieri / Eric Cook (View Comment):
    Sure enough, this is unescapable by legal means. It came from California, of course, like many other vile elements of American society. Team Obama at the EPA made it national.

    It’s a standard question, but I’d still be interested to know how many of the people behind this regulation have anything to do with gas cans on a regular basis.

    • #11
  12. Randal H Member
    Randal H
    @RandalH

    You have hit on one of my pet peeves, one that causes me to curse every time I fill my lawnmower. There are so many problems with the new design, but the three big ones are: 1) you can’t control the flow because you have to hold the can nearly vertically as well as pour blindly because you can’t see the level as the spout occludes the tank opening resulting in 1/2 cup (at least) of spilled gasoline, 2) the mandated lack of a vent adds to the first problem because the gasoline does not flow out smoothly but rather chugs out uncontrollably, and 3) you invariably wind up having to touch the spout to disengage the lock or to reengage it after filling, so you wind up with gasoline on your hands unless you put on disposable gloves. I can’t see how the EPA can believe this is an improvement over the old design (a simple spout, whose flow can be regulated by the angle of the can). I never spilled gasoline or got it on my hands or had to use nitrile gloves to send to the landfill with the old design.

    There are remedies (here and here, often sold as water can spouts because specifically selling for gas cans may be skirting the law), but that adds to the cost of an already more expensive gas can. And, one other thing is installing the vent to cause the gasoline to flow smoothly. I’ve read that you can easily ruin a can drilling and installing the vent, potentially adding even more expense.

    Edit:

    After thinking about this for a couple of minutes, it occurred to me that the frustration with this design may be intentional. The EPA would probably love to force everyone out of simple frustration to switch to electric mowers.

    • #12
  13. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Not intentionally, but this is one of the funniest threads I have read on Ricochet lately, and is a great illustration of why to limit guv’mint regulations.

    • #13
  14. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Government ruins everything.

    • #14
  15. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Not intentionally, but this is one of the funniest threads I have read on Ricochet lately, and is a great illustration of why to limit guv’mint regulations.

    Yep. I sent a text to a new member/lurker saying where else but on Ricochet can you have a discussion about gas cans! Love it!

    • #15
  16. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    One thing about Gas. Can we call it Petrol?

    Gas isnt a gas, its a liquid, and even when its not a liquid, its still not a gas – its a vapor.

    So can we be scientifically and grammatically correct (I know – its me – correcting the spelling/grammar of others) and start calling gas, petrol?

    ((This is how you get lurkers to post))

     

    • #16
  17. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    One thing about Gas. Can we call it Petrol?

    Gas isnt a gas, its a liquid, and even when its not a liquid, its still not a gas – its a vapor.

    So can we be scientifically and grammatically correct (I know – its me – correcting the spelling/grammar of others) and start calling gas, petrol?

    ((This is how you get lurkers to post))

    Gas is short for gasoline and so I will continue to use the term “gas.”

    • #17
  18. JcTPatriot Inactive
    JcTPatriot
    @JcTPatriot

    I gave up with the whole gasoline thing when I bought a new house; I spent some money and bought a Ryobi electric which can do the whole yard on one charge. I then got  a weed-eater that uses the same battery.

    I’m never going back to gas and oil. My Ryobi is simple to use, cuts very nicely, and it is as quiet as a fan. Charging takes about 90 minutes. Pull the battery out of the charger and stick it in the mower, then mow. When finished, remove the battery and stick it in the weed-eater. I then recharge it and do the backyard (5,000 square feet) that evening or the next morning. If I don’t need to weed-whack, I can do the front and back on one charge.

    • #18
  19. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    I don’t mind the new nozzles for filling my tractor. I have 2 five gallon diesel cans and have to step up onto my tractor to pour. So the safety pour keeps me from spilling diesel all over the hood. I’m more ticked off that the tank fill can’t be done while standing on the ground – but the new tractors are designed like that (mine is a ’99).

    I used to use a big funnel with my old cans but would still spill a bit and it required trying to keep that funnel clean.

    But I understand your frustration. There ought to be a choice on what you can buy.

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    One thing about Gas. Can we call it Petrol?

    Gas isnt a gas, its a liquid, and even when its not a liquid, its still not a gas – its a vapor.

    So can we be scientifically and grammatically correct (I know – its me – correcting the spelling/grammar of others) and start calling gas, petrol?

    ((This is how you get lurkers to post))

    Canadians and Brits. Sheesh!

    • #20
  21. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Arahant (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    One thing about Gas. Can we call it Petrol?

    Gas isnt a gas, its a liquid, and even when its not a liquid, its still not a gas – its a vapor.

    So can we be scientifically and grammatically correct (I know – its me – correcting the spelling/grammar of others) and start calling gas, petrol?

    ((This is how you get lurkers to post))

    Canadians and Brits. Sheesh!

    Most Canadians call petrol, gas too.

    • #21
  22. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    I had a plastic can with a spout like that for diesel for my Kubota.  About the third time I used it, the fiddly end fell into the Kubota tank never to be seen again

    • #22
  23. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    One thing about Gas. Can we call it Petrol?

    Gas isnt a gas, its a liquid, and even when its not a liquid, its still not a gas – its a vapor.

    So can we be scientifically and grammatically correct (I know – its me – correcting the spelling/grammar of others) and start calling gas, petrol?

     

    Nope. Not gonna happen.

    • #23
  24. Paul Erickson Inactive
    Paul Erickson
    @PaulErickson

    I just ripped off all the cheap plastic tabs and levers and springs in total frustration. It kind of works as a regular nozzle. Yes, I spill a little gas every time.

    Fortunately, gas is fairly cheap these days.

    • #24
  25. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    One thing about Gas. Can we call it Petrol?

    Gas isnt a gas, its a liquid, and even when its not a liquid, its still not a gas – its a vapor.

    So can we be scientifically and grammatically correct (I know – its me – correcting the spelling/grammar of others) and start calling gas, petrol?

    Nope. Not gonna happen.

    Well I said soccer would never catch on here.

    • #25
  26. Randal H Member
    Randal H
    @RandalH

    Paul Erickson (View Comment):
    I just ripped off all the cheap plastic tabs and levers and springs in total frustration. It kind of works as a regular nozzle. Yes, I spill a little gas every time.

    Fortunately, gas is fairly cheap these days.

    From what I’ve seen online, you can go to Lowe’s/Home Depot and get a foot or so of clear plastic hose of the appropriate diameter to slip over the spout to cover the remaining slot and solve the leaking problem after removing the innards.

    • #26
  27. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Aha! This explains the trouble I had when my daughter ran out of gas and called me to rescue her. I drove to a gas station and bought a gas can, which I hadn’t done in years, and drove to the street where she was waiting. I had no idea about these new spouts, had never even heard of them, and I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. We stood there fiddling with it for I don’t know how long.

    Thank goodness a man saw our distress and came out of his house and helped us. He knew right away what to do, and I was mystifed as to how he did it. It’s a good thing I didn’t know at the time that Obama was behind it. I was already irritated enough as it was.

    • #27
  28. Matt White Member
    Matt White
    @

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    One thing about Gas. Can we call it Petrol?

    Gas isnt a gas, its a liquid, and even when its not a liquid, its still not a gas – its a vapor.

    So can we be scientifically and grammatically correct (I know – its me – correcting the spelling/grammar of others) and start calling gas, petrol?

    ((This is how you get lurkers to post))

    This is an American website, foreigner.

    • #28
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Matt White (View Comment):
    This is an American website, foreigner.

    Ah, it was started by @roblong, foreigners and aliens welcome.

     

    • #29
  30. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Just don’t expect us to say petrol.

    • #30
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