EDITORIAL

All in the cause of saving a few drops of gas ... for naught?

Posted 5/6/21

Suddenly, the leaves popped. Trees bloomed. "It just happened, like in a couple of days," said Carol. She was right - the house next door was obscured from view by a veil of vermilion maple leaves. Not as quickly, the forsythia shed their yellow petals

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EDITORIAL

All in the cause of saving a few drops of gas ... for naught?

Posted

Suddenly, the leaves popped. Trees bloomed.

“It just happened, like in a couple of days,” said Carol. She was right – the house next door was obscured from view by a veil of vermilion maple leaves. Not as quickly, the forsythia shed their yellow petals and the bushes filled in. The chain link fence separating our yards is now hidden, as is the path Ollie takes on his patrols of the property. That can lead to trouble, although he’s slowing down and hasn’t attempted digging under the fence lately. We’ve identified the soft spots and hardened them with cinder blocks and stones.

With the arrival of leaves, I figured it was safe to put away the snow blower and get out the lawn mower. The ritual involves draining the blower of fuel and filling the tank of the mower – hardly a time-consuming procedure, unless the snow blower has a full tank of gas. The blower was set to cope with a storm, but I wasn’t prepared to start the motor and let it run for a half hour before coughing to a stop. Couldn’t I save the gas?

There’s no drain to the tank and the pump I have is designed to suck water from a bilge, not pump gas, even if I could rig a hose to fit into the tank. I needed something with finesse. I found it next to the kitchen sink, a near empty plastic dispenser of Ajax dish detergent. It looked perfect for the job. Squeeze it and instead of squirting out detergent, it could be used to suck in gasoline. Obviously, the container required some modifications before the concept was transformed into reality. That is frequently the challenge with ideas.

But in this instance, it didn’t seem especially difficult – clean out the Ajax container, as you didn’t want the gas saved to be bubbling, and outfit the mouth of the container with a tube or straw that could be fed into the gas tank. That was the hard part. A straw was too big in diameter and I couldn’t find a tube, although I remember seeing one in the basement clutter. And then came another revelation – the shaft of a ballpoint pen looked to be perfect with a few modifications to the Ajax cap.

Now what had started off to save a few ounces of gasoline was a search for a “dead” ballpoint pen. We have lots of pens, bunches in a cups next to the phone downstairs and upstairs. Finding one that works is frequently the issue and instead of tossing them out we put them back and try another. Now that the role was reversed, I scratched vigorously on a scrap of paper in search of a dead pen.

“That one works,” Carol said, bewildered, when I placed it back in the cup. She watched. I kept trying pens until finally I found one with no ink.

Should I try explaining?

“It’s to get the gas out of the snow blower.”

She looked at me like I was nuts. Why was I talking about the snow blower now – it was almost 70 outside – and what did it all have to do with the nearly empty Ajax container in the kitchen and a pen?

“You’ll see,” I said, although I suspect she didn’t want to know.

I disappeared in the cellar with the Ajax bottle and the pen. I removed the thin tube of depleted ink, cut the cap to the Ajax, and bingo – what was left of the pen was a perfect fit. Now with some duct tape – there’s always a use for duct tape – I triumphantly held up my “save the gas” tool.

Put to the test, what once held yellow Ajax now contained a couple of tablespoons of similarly colored gas. Success.

I repeated the process until the tank was almost empty. Meanwhile, the mower tank was half full.

To clean out the snow blower carburetor, I started her up.

Carol who was enjoying the spring day, poking about the garden, looked up.

“You never know, it could snow,” I said.

She knows better than to question.

“The trees are popping leaves,” she said.

P.S. I related this story to Richard Fleischer in the office yesterday, who said he similarly drained gas from his snow blower at the end of the season only to learn from Precision Saw and Mower Service that to avoid problems, it’s best to fill the tank and add fuel stabilizer. Guess Carol will get her Ajax container back.

gas, saving

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