Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summertime, and the gas fumes are reeking.

I was beset with Honey-Do's for this Saturday before going to the fire station for a shift. My wife was to run some errands while I did the plumbing work, and she was taking the kids with her to avoid them hearing the inevitable cussing that accompanies plumbing work in this house. She left and a few minutes later walked back inside. Her car had managed to get 20 yards down the street before dying.

I checked it. The gas gauge, which had shown 3/4 full when I pulled in last night from seeing the (most excellent Marvel's The Avengers movie), now showed bone dry, with the light on. Aha! Someone had siphoned our gas out in the dark of night! Cheeky buggers. Easy fix, though. I got the gas can from the shed and put in a gallon. Crank-crank-crank. Nothing. Crank-crank-crank. Nothing. "Maybe I flooded it," I said, before face-palming loudly. My wife asked me to repeat what I had just said, but I demurred to say. Her impression of me is already compromised enough. 

So I figured that a gallon wasn't enough. I sent my wife to get another 6 gallons of premium at the store. She brought it back, and I put some more in the tank before -- hello? what's this? It was now overflowing, with only 1 gallon more added. I checked. Yep. Full. Brim-full. 

Uh oh. This is going to get into a bit of money and trouble. I really wish that it had been some jerk siphoning the gas from my tank, now. 

I texted my shade-tree mechanic. He texted back that he was working. Why on Memorial Day weekend, I asked. 2.5 times pay is good money, he responded. I couldn't argue. He's a single-income family with a house, two cars, and a pair of kids. I asked if he wanted to make some more. As I have mentioned previously, this guy's got the SAE certs, and his prices can't be beaten. I really like giving him the money, as opposed to some big shop. He told me he would have his wife move the mini-van so that I could have the tow truck put it into the driveway. He told me that the problem was probably a sending unit for the pump and the gauge, and may or may not require the pulling of the tank. 

The tank that is full of gas. 

Now, it's just 13 gallons of gasoline, but at $3.67/gallon, that's nearly $48 worth of petrol. 

I decided to siphon out half the tank. I pulled out a small hose used to test diesel on patrol to see if the driver is using untaxed agricultural diesel. It's like a capillary tube. While I did get a flow going, it was a trickle, and the stiff poly hose flicked gas onto my shirt, my wife's shirt, and my face. Yay. Soon the bend that I put into the hose began to leak air, and I lost my suction. So I used a 4-foot length of clear poly fish tank hose. The problem here is that the interior diameter is half an inch or better, and that is a about 18.8 cubic inches of airspace to pull, or 0.309 liters. While it's true that the average capacity of a human male's lungs is about 6 liters (18 times the volume needed to pull here), it is also true that it's a FOOL who pulls gasoline with the lungs when suck-starting a siphon. See here what kind of reaction you end up with. Pulling from the diaphragm ensures that you will (not maybe) get vaporized petrol into your lungs, which is a handy way of causing serious chemical burns and even death, which I try to avoid as a general principle. 

I just didn't have the volume in my cheeks and mouth to pull the gas up over the hump at the lip of the tank. 

So it was that, covered in sweat from the hot sun and covered in a fog of gasoline fumes, I resigned myself to defeat, figuring that I would just give the gas to my mechanic as a tip. I went to the hose and made the appropriate noises while cleaning the gas off my face and lips and rinsed my mouth. That pistol sprayer can be a bit much on that hose, y'know? 

My wife went into town to pick up some items, including a bulb siphon pump hose. I thought of suggesting that she get some fried chicken to go with it. 

I put my clothes into the washer and ran it on Heavy Soil with a squirt of lemon-scented Dawn in it. "Having the smell of gasoline about me is one of my biggest pet peeves," I grumbled, coming out of the laundry room. 

"One of many," my bride of 14 years said. 

I opened my mouth to protest. "I don't have that many.... Say, this conversation isn't really going to work out for me, is it?"

"Smart man," she replied, grumpy as I was. Dismissed, I called the wrecker driver. 

Now to shower. I never will get that damned toilet done today before pulling my shift at the FD. 

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At Sunday, May 27, 2012 7:12:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Oh man, when it rains, it pours! Hope it's a simple fix!

At Sunday, May 27, 2012 6:53:00 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

We are no strangers to automotive issues (If you're at PhlegmFest, you'll hear the newly rebuilt tactical assault sedan.) We feel ya.

At Sunday, May 27, 2012 9:58:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Hey, I saw that beast in your driveway last month.

At Monday, May 28, 2012 12:32:00 PM, Anonymous Evyl Robot Michael said...

And that beast now has a new engine. Today she'll get her first post-overhaul oil change. It's not quite 500-miles, but I don't want to screw with it mid-week.

At Friday, June 08, 2012 9:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the trick, Insert siphon tube into tank. Stuff a rag around the tube to hold pressure in tank. Then BLOW for all you are worth, and then verryy rapidly stick the end into your receiving container. The resulting back pressure release should bring the flow down the tube. Of course, the siphon and receptacle should be below the level of the tank(to drain) to make use of the gravity. May take a couple blows to get er to go. YMMV, but I have had good luck with this when no squeeze bulb was available. As you said, NEVER suck to start flow. ~JohnO:)

At Saturday, June 09, 2012 10:33:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

@JohnO: I'm confused as to how I'm to block the tank vent?


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