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Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:07 pm
by BobShirleyAtlantaTx
This about 1955 in rural Texas. My grandparents lived in a community they called Five In One, a cotton gin and a small general store that doubled as a domino hall, was all that made up the business district. On one of our many visits my dad realized we didn’t have enough gas to make the 20+ mile trip back to Crowell. He was very leery of buying gas from the old faded pump in front of the store but had no choice. At 6 or 7 years old I was put in charge of pumping the gas up to the 5 gallon mark, an honor I hold to this day. I remember grabbing the leaver at the base and moving it back and forth, watching the gas level slowly rise in the pump all the time thinking this is a lot work. Dad put the gas nozzle in the car and like magic the gas drained from the glass cylinder. Dad told me to get 2 bottles from under the seat, we went in paid $1.10 for the fuel pops and left with a memory that has lasted a lifetime.

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:29 pm
by Henry K. Lee
Now thats a fine memory for sure Bob!


Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 1:03 am
by Burger in Spokane
What was the relevance of getting the two bottles from under the seat ???

I don't remember visible pumps still in service in any "real" gas stations when I
was a kid, but they lingered on in service at many backwater country stores and
many were relegated to use on farms after being obsoleted by more modern pumps.
I was always fascinated by the glass, and hourglass shape of the body. The color of
the gasoline in the sun was beautiful. Like old signs, the collector market has made
having them around for ambiance something substantially deeper than a whimsical

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 6:26 am
by Loftfield
It is said that Harry Sinclair required his stations to pre-fill the glass globe at the top of the pump so that the sunlight would heat the gasoline, expand it, thus giving the purchaser a little less gasoline than would be the case is the gas had come from the cooler tank. I don't know if this story is true, or just apocryphal. Harry Ford Sinclair was implicated in the Teapot Dome scandal, spent some short time in prison, then returned to his empire to enjoy his wealth. It is also said that he would enter a new market area, sell gasoline well below the previous vendors until he drove them out of business, then raise prices accordingly. Oh for the days of rapacious capitalists!

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 6:52 pm
by Scott_Conger
Visibles came as "wet hose" or "dry hose". The difference is whether or not the fuel regulator was still adjustable whereby you adjusted the center overflow pipe to the gallons, or "level" you wanted and you pulled a lever at the base of the font and the fuel you previously pumped to the pre-set level drained out the "dry hose" into your tank. The hose was "dry" as there was no valve/handle at the end of the hose...just a brass/bronze fitting on the end of the hose that draped into the fuel tank and you could walk away from (Yikes!). The Gallon Numbers started at "1" on the bottom and reached "10" at the top of the glass font. With the regulator set to the number "5" finger, for example, the overflow pipe rose to the "5" level in the font and no matter how much you pumped, the excess of 5 gallons would simply drain back to the holding tank through the overflow pipe. This was when you said "give me 5 gallons" and you got what you asked for...whether your tank could take it or not! These tended to eventually leak like seives and were constantly a problem (and danger) to the operator. Later, they changed the pumps to a "wet hose" where the overflow pipe was permanently set to the top setting, allowing a full 10 gallons to be pumped into the font at all times...the packing material was socked down hard and leakage was minimal. Then the guy simply squeezed the handle and drained out some portion of the 10 gallons into your tank and what you bought was measured from the top down, meaning the "1" was near the top, while "10" was at the bottom. Wherever the level was at was the gallonage you bought.

All this aside, I think the story about Sinclair is likely a myth. If not a myth, it could only have occured at the end of use of visibles as this was the only time that the font would have ever been filled with fuel, waiting for a sale...and by their construction would have been quite hazardous in that state, as we tend to consider hazardous these days...

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:28 am
by Grady Puryear
Doesn't seem all that long ago, but it was. Both sets of my Grandparents had very small Country Stores, and they were in even smaller communities. Both had the gas pumps described, and I pumped many a gallon of gasoline through one of them. Sometimes we would pump it full to the 10 gallon mark, and let it sit, this was more for the benefit of my Grandmothers so that they did not have to do it. I never heard anyone complain or say they had been cheated when selling gas this way. As a young man, I would sometimes, late at night (about 9 or 10) go by all the stations in a nearby town and drain whatever residual gas was still in the hose, into my Model A tank, sometimes you would get lucky. There was a way to prevent this, and you could also lock the pump handle and the hose so you couldn't do what I did. Only problem was that the Town Boys also did this, and they usually would beat me to it. Gas back then would sometimes be as cheap as .09, and at times the locals would ask for a nickels worth, and it was hard to see where the half way mark would be on a gallon. Long time ago, and I miss it.

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:00 am
by Scott_Conger

you made me smile. My dad once or twice told me he would go "shopping" for gas the exact same way.

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:58 am
by Burger in Spokane
These are the kind of anecdotal stories that people don't think much of, and if not
passed on like this, are lost to time. Thanks for sharing !

It is probably nothing unusual for a T owner to find this kind of story interesting, ...
what ever that *spark* is that draws us to things of old, also piques our interest in
stories of times gone by, and how things were done. I often marvel at the seemingly
brain dead way most people go through life, ... unaware and not having the slightest
interest in stuff like this. An old car friend from years ago said to me, as we were
kicking this subject around, most people only care about two things, ... copulation
and inebriation, .... usually in that order. It takes a deeper mind to ponder things
outside that scope.

We never could decide which was worse, ... the people who just don't care, and let
it rot, while they pursue the aforementioned. Or the people who just see dollars signs,
so they can use the money to pursue the aforementioned. It is the odd duck that just
wants it all to remain in suspended animation and be appreciated for being old and cool.

Again, thanks for sharing. Stories like these put the "life" story behind the old photos
and surviving artifacts. 👍

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:06 pm
by Herb Iffrig
I remember say fifty years ago messing around town. I was following a boy who was a year older than me. He had a minibike and needed some gas.
He went over to the gas station in town that was closed at that time and did the exact same thing. The pumps were off at that time, but he got some gas to dribble out of the hose that someone else hadn't waited for when they were finished. There has been a few times over the years that I have remembered this and after the pump has gone off and stopped I have drained the hose just to see what came out. It has never been very much., but maybe modern pumps reclaim that gas?

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:50 am
by Ron Horton
During WW2 we would drive from the farm in the family car, a Model A with a rumble seat and get gas from a visual gas pump in South Phoenix. I can still remember the old man getting up out of a very tired chair and ambling over to the car, ask how much my dad wanted and go through the procedures described above. In my mind to this day, the Model A and the visual are connected. I ended up with a Model A coupe, with a rumble seat, that my son and restored. My son presently has it and came down to the house with his family in it just a couple of days ago. I acquired a visual many years ago that had served a small town in central Utah for most of it’s life and now resides in my shop, restored. I happened to come across a second pump in southern Utah that has been used on a farm and which I ended up with. Both pumps are the same brand and model and have been restored in the same colors and decals. Since I have twin boys and each has spoken for one of the pumps to put in their shops, the memories will live on, even if second hand.

It was interesting to have the paint shop that did the second one scratch their heads and ask about each detail of the pump since they had never seen one before or know what it was for.s



The old days and visible gas pump's

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:38 pm
by Novice
My Grandfather was a Mechanic and had a small garage near His house. He worked on model Ts and what ever the local farmers needed repaired. He farmed. had a orchard and experimented with new strains of fruit tree's by grafting them to a hardy wild citrus plan'st with long thorns. Had a small feed store and sold chewing tobacco without the health warning. Had two visual gas pumps one for Coal Oil( kerosene) other gas. I remember as a child helping Him make special mix livestock feed's by pouring two different bags in a wash tub and stirring it with a stick. watching the feed truck make delivers and watching Grandma call in feed and fuel orders on the old hand crank wall phone and then anxiously awaiting the gas truck. I remember the gas trucks used to drag a chain under the trucks to prevent static build up but looking back I wonder if the sparks from the chain might have been a greater hazard then the static ? He sold Delco dry charge battery's with the acid in a plastic bag inside a tall skinny rectangular container that He poured into new batteries after they were sold. I could be wrong but think the battery developed a charge just from pouring the acid in ? But I know He had battery charger's I remember rides to the grocery store to buy supplies and of course ICE CREAM. and I remember the rides in His 36 Buick 3 on the floor. He used 1st gear to get the tires to just start rolling then 2nd for a few more revolution then bogged in into 3rd but the Straight eight didn't seem to mind.I still live down the road from His old place on part of the old farm and the broken cement base from one of the old gas pumps is still there as I imagine the two under 500 gallon underground tanks are as well. Grandma used Butane gas for cooking. the tank was buried because the boiling point is 30.2 and when it got real cold the gas wouldn't flow from a above ground tank. I also remember Dad taking us to a Dairy that had the milking stalls and equipment behind a hugh glass wall and a ice cream and soda fountain shop in front So You could eat Your ice cream and see where it came from if You were there at 4 am when they starting milking never saw them milking but it was COOL. So Much for the ramblings from yesteryear fond memories and a lot more I spared You from. It was a fun time to be a kid and the only electronics was the old tube radio Grandpaw listened to the weather reports on every morning.

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:06 pm
by Burger in Spokane
Thanks for your post too, Jim. I could listen to this kind of thing all day !
My life and location allowed me to see this kind of life vanish toward the horizon
as I grew up. Yes, it was a great time to be a kid, and I feel bad for those who
never got to know and experience this sort of stuff.

Fred Lott had a 1900 vintage 2-story store, where he and his wife lived upstairs,
about a mile from our farm and a few blocks short of where our grade school was.
We walked by it twice a day for years. I narrow slot of a driveway separated the
store from a large auto repair shop where Fred worked, while his wife minded the
store. It was a single story affair, with accordian type doors across six bays, the
doors made of visible frames with the angled beadboard, a double-tall bank of 8x11
inch windows ran across the entire series of doors, and were painted white, with
dark green trim. Out front stood a single island of visible pumps. Fred sold Red
Crown/Standard Oil products, and the place was well appointed with old porcelain
signs for the same. Down that driveway and out back was a wrecking yard of early
cars that Fred specialized in the repair and parts supply of. The store was called
Lottsville Cash & Carry. The gasoline and vehicle parts/repair business was called
"Cars of Yesteryear"

Fred passed away in 1969. His wife was blind in later years, and in 1970 she closed
the place, unable to really run it without sight. As kids, we went there to buy candy.
I think she had to put a lot of trust in us kids that we weren't stuffing our pockets and
only declaring a little. The place sat pretty much as it was the day they closed for 10
years, with things like the signs and gas pumps getting taken down to avoid vandalism.

There was always talk around our area about "the old Packard". As a kid, I don't pay
much attention to the talk. So what ? There were still lots of old Packards around.
After college, and being more committed to old cars, Widdo Bwudder and I decided
one day to go talk some oldtimers up and get to the bottom of this story of "the old
Packard". It took a few stops, but we found it, and what we found was that Fred Lott
had stashed away his 1923 Twin Six limousine in his basement in 1947, with a huge cache
of parts, and there it sat, ready to go, like a nice used car, some 35 years later. The
car could be bought. The price was $10,000 for everything. Might as well have been
10 million to a broke college kid. Boy, would I like to have that car today !

Re: Buying gas from a visible gas pump

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:48 pm
by HornsRus
thanks for old pumps, i started making sheet metal for old gas pumps in 1984.otherwise i could not have kept all my car junk.charley