It’s official: I’m too out of touch to be allowed out alone.

My Jerry cans for gasoline are still all working, but all in all they’ve been a disappointment. I found myself in an auto parts store this morning on an unrelated matter and decided to at least see what plastic jugs are going for these days ($20 a pop! I’m doomed.)

And I couldn’t quite see what was going on with the spout at a glance, so I took a moment to remove the spout from the can to see how it worked…

…and I literally can not figure it out. There is a sort of plastic mechanism present, but as far as I can tell there actually is no way to make liquid flow from the jug through that spout into a vehicle or anything else. For your protection.

Oh, I’m sure there is a way. Probably not a very good way, but there’s a way.

Once I was a master mechanic. I’m used to figuring gadgets out. If I can’t tell at a glance how a gas can spout works, there’s something wrong with me or the spout. I took this one apart and fiddled with it, and couldn’t figure it out.

I’ve officially been in the desert too long to be of any use to man or beast. Also, somebody’s selling a gas can with a pouring spout that doesn’t actually do anything.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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28 Responses to It’s official: I’m too out of touch to be allowed out alone.

  1. jabrwok says:

    I’d guess that that red trigger thing is a pressure-release valve that vents the can so that the fuel will flow out smoothly (though I doubt it works). The lip at the front end of it would hook over the rim of the gas aperture on the gas tank of a lawn mower.

    But yeah, stupidly complex design.

  2. Ken Hagler says:

    As it happens, I recently came across an old article on this very subject:

    The upshot is that the government made gas cans that pour properly illegal.

  3. Phssthpok says:

    Hard to tell for sure as there are variations on a theme out there, but if it’s like the ones I’ve become acquainted with, the black ‘trigger’ is attached via the red ‘transfer bar’ to the internal ‘release valve’ (firing pin), which causes the ‘splody stuff to come out the end.

    The theory of operation is for the trigger to hook the lip of the opening on the tank you are filling, and be pressed back by the weight of the can to release fuel…which will stop the moment you lift the spout away from the lip, thus making it ‘spill proof’ (or so they say…in reality it’s more spill PRONE, but it’s the ‘good intentions’ that matter…not the actual effect!).

  4. czechsix says:

    That red piece is pushed in by the fuel tank port edge, releasing a valve to allow the fuel to flow. I’ve been told they work ok once you break all that crap out of the spout, but I sure don’t have any personal knowledge of that. Then again, funnels work, hold the can upside down so the spout is at the top, fuel flows best that way.

    You can all thank California Air Resource Board for that one, amid hundreds other pieces of crap legislation.

  5. Kentucky says:

    It’s a BUMP-FIRE fully-automatic high-capacity fuel dispenser!

  6. Phil says:

    I hate every one of those new fangled “safety” nozzles with the heat of a thousand suns.

  7. Mike says:

    I have five old plastic cans. They work and they hold up well if kept out of the sun. I still have three old metal cans but no good spouts for them. Don’t know what I’ll do when they fail.

  8. Wolfman says:

    I suspect that the next round of ‘Improved for Safety’ gas cans will be sealed, single use jugs with no outlet. You just tear open a corner of the thing with your teeth (since folks don’t carry knives anymore, right?) and hold it up in the air, hoping some of the fuel makes its way into your tank. This will be an improvement on the current designs, because there will be no obvious way to use it, meaning nobody has to feel silly when it doesn’t work.

  9. Claire says:

    I recently scored one of those old metal cans with precisely the type of spout terrapod linked to on eBay. I paid $7 for both can and spout at a local thrift store. Only thing Is, I can’t figure out how the spout comes off for filling. Looks as if it requires a special wrench. Anybody know?

  10. I think jabrwok has found a possible solution. I liked the top review:

    “This is definitely NOT a gas can. There is no way you could put gas in this and use it to fill your lawnmower or other gasoline powered yard equipment. I mean, it doesn’t have the safety valve on the neck. Where would the gasoline come out? Out of the spigot like back in the day when gas cans weren’t regulated by stupid laws? Yea right. Totally just for water.

    This is, however, built exactly like gas cans back in the day. It has a cap at the base of the filler spout to prevent spills when not in use. It has a breather on the back (only partially visible in one of the product pictures). The only difference between this and the gas cans of old is the color. This one is blue. Old gas cans are red. And I have it on good authority that if you were to put some solvent in it like, I don’t know, a certain kind of petroleum distillate, that it would not dissolve.”

  11. i gave up on them and finally found a usable funnel. just leave off the spout and pour straight in.
    i think ‘the vulgar curmudgeon’ had a video on how to install a kit available from amazon to make the jugs pour.
    i’ll see if i can find it.
    i saved it because i have about 200$ in today’s prices in gas cans that are hard to use.
    even if you master the spout provided they often leak.
    i rasp off some of the teeth on the safety cap because trying to hold that down in frozen weather is difficult. also i am old and weak.

  12. p.s.– go to ‘’ and see what future is being planned for us by literal devil spawn.

  13. Tennessee Budd says:

    Joel, I have a gas can with an attachment just like that. I never figured it out, largely because my give-a-shit locker was probably empty that day; for such nonsense as that “spout”, it’s never very full anyhow.
    I ust use a funnel. As they used to say in sci-fi movies when I was a lot younger, “There are some things man wasn’t meant to know”. For all I know, Kenticky had it right.

  14. Tennessee Budd says:

    Damn! The “j” in what should have been “just” managed to fall right off the screen. Must have done so.

  15. Claire says:

    Thank you, Kentucky. That wrench is just the thing! I knew there had to be some speciall tool for that job, but I couldn’t picture it. Now to find a version a little less pricey than that one. But it’s good to know the thing still exists and that it’s getable.

  16. Lance o Lot says:

    Tractor Supply has a very nice kit for about $10. It’s a flexible spout and a 1/2 inch vent. I bought a few for my kerosene cans and have been quite pleased with them

  17. Arthur M says:

    @Claire – If you’re gong to spend $24 ($21.95+$1.98 shipping), next time you’re near a Home Depot look for their house brand (Husky) of large arc-joint pliers (Channelock is the original brand name, but their patent has long ago expired, and but even the Channelock branded ones are only about $28). IIRC, the Husky brand is about $23, and will do everything the sooper speshial single-purpose bung wrench will plus whatever else you may need a really big gripping tool for.

  18. Claire says:

    Arthur M. — I’ve got a couple channel lock pliers (never even knew that was a brand name; thought it was just a description of the mechanism). I’ve always found them awkward to use and don’t get them out except for special purposes. Guess I’ll give them a try for this special purpose. Thanks for the tip!

  19. Claire says:

    A generous blast of WD40. A couple of bangs on the cap with the side of the pliers, and the channel-locks worked just fine. Not elegantly, but fine. Saved substantial bux, too.

    The jerry can (which appears to be an authentic old military model, having no brand marking except “US”) contains about a half a gallon of some liquid that smells vaguely gasoline-oily. I’m not touching that stuff and not using the can until whatever it is is thorougly cleaned out. So the disposal issue is next. But looks like I’ll end up with a good old gas can for $7. Can’t beat that.

  20. Matt says:

    In my adult life, pouring gasoline from a shitty modern mess that wants the spout to be inserted into the gas at the station for transport, hence exposing me to CALIFORNIA KNOWN CARCINOGEN, here is what I do…. at my own risk, as should any reader….
    I fill my gas can, attach the “pour spout” as if using it to pour. Cover spout and spout assembly with plastic bag and secure with. rubber band. Safe as I can tell….
    I keep a a clear vinyl tube, 8 feet long, handy. I have a useless, or duplicate size socket suspended on the end of that tube with a safety pin through the tube. This weight holds the tube at the bottom of the gas can. Position gas can ABOVE receiving tank, draw MINIMUM siphon to start flow while holding a bit of the hose below gascan to pinch/fold, as you see fuel flow.
    Try this with water….then it is safe to learn, it is too easy. No more wet spouts.
    Focus your time and energy on something meaningful.

  21. Matt says:


    Posts any longer than mine above erode the the post comment button, if you are unaware.

    My post shortened to get the button back… Kenny @ KDMLA had this issue in the past…


  22. Matt – happened to me before, too. Reminded me of a saying from my software days –
    “It’s not a ‘bug,’ it’s a ‘feature.'”


  23. Joel says:

    Yeah, sorry, it’s a long-standing “feature” of the software and I’m unable to do anything about it. This isn’t the only blog with the problem; we were just having the exact same discussion over at Claire’s place.

  24. Mark Matis says:

    I believe that if you hit “tab” 6 times once you’re through writing, it will get to the “Post Comment” button even though you can’t see it. Then hit “Enter” and all is right with the world.

  25. Matt says:

    great advice, I’ll give it a try!


To the stake with the heretic!