Monday, September 4, 2017

Grandpa's Gas Pump

This is my Grandfather's gas pump.  Well, it's actually our gas pump now.  Grandpa passed away in 1969. 

The pump stands beside the driveway that leads to our house.  Spokesmodel Debbie stands a tad over five feet, so I'm guessing the pump is about eight feet tall.

Again I'm guessing, but I'd estimate the pump is 75+ years old.  The farmhouse was built in the 1920s, but I doubt the pump was put in when the house was built.  Grandpa ran the farm on mule-power.  He originally had no need for gasoline.

Here's a close up of the pump nozzle.  It's still  in pretty good shape.

I've removed the nozzle from it's holder on the side of the pump and placed it with the pump handle.

To pump gas from the underground storage tank you pushed the pump handle back and forth and filled the glass container at the top of the pump.

The black rubber-like hose that connects the nozzle to the glass container is also still in good shape.  That has to be some tough-ass hose to have withstood 75 years of weathering.

Because the pump is much older than I am, I'm again guessing the "CONTAINS LEAD" warning was added well after the pump had been installed.  

That's "TETRAETHYL" at the bottom of the warning label.  I have no idea what "TETRAETHYL" is, but I know it was introduced in the 1920s as an aid to engine compression.  

The U.S. government didn't become concerned about lead in gasoline until the 1970s.  I don't remember whether the warning label was on the pump when I was a little boy.

There is another identical warning label on the opposite side of the pump.

I'm going to take another guess with this pipe on the side of the pump.  I believe it was opened to allow air to enter the underground tank as the gasoline was pumped into the glass gas container.  The pipe prevented a vacuum from being created in the underground tank.

I suppose it could have also been used to pump excess gas back into the underground tank.

If you know more than I do about old-fashioned gasoline pumps, please speak up.  I could be wrong.

All I remember is pulling the tractor up to the pump, cranking the handle, filling the glass container, and then draining the gasoline into the tractor.  It was a helluva thrill for a young kid.

Obviously rust has started to attack some parts of the pump.  I'm hoping my son will remove the rust and restore the pump to it's original Pure Oil blue color. 

Some people, who rented the house for a short period of time, painted the pump green.  They also did some really dumb things to the interior of the house.

This is a close-up of the pipe.  That's a lock in my hand to prevent the pipe from being opened to breathe into the underground tank.

This is a view of the glass gas container.  It's numbered from the top down with 1-9, which represents gallons.  I know it filled from the bottom up.  The reverse numbering makes no sense to me.  


Debbie has her foot planted beside the steel fill cap to the underground tank.  You can't see it very well, but the fill cap is on a concrete square near the pump.  I have to be careful not to mow over the cap.

I've been offered several thousand dollars for the pump, but so far I've resisted the money.  It's my heritage that keeps the old pump in my front yard.


  1. Another great story Richaard. The fill cap is just that, to fill the tank. The green pipe top is exastly as you said too. The glass was numbered from the bottom so customers could see how much gas they were getting. The gas filled the cars tank by gravity.Keep up the good stories.