Using tire valves as jerry can vents, illustrated

Okay: For the benefit of anybody wandering in for the first time, I drive a Jeep but never into town, and I live way the HELL back in the high desert. I have to haul gasoline to the Jeep from town on weekly trips in a neighbor’s truck. Having worn out my plastic gas cans some years ago, I acquired some cheap Chinese jerry cans in hope that they would be an improvement.

We’ve already established that my cheap Chinese jerry cans are complete shit in so many ways. The biggest problem is that they take forever to empty into the Jeep’s tank because they’re unvented. So I drilled scary holes in them and installed plastic vents.

These were better than nothing but only just. They absolutely wouldn’t seal the holes I’d drilled in the cans, which meant I slathered them with Seal-All which only works temporarily. Seal-All is impervious to gasoline but not, it turns out, to UV. Of which I have lots.

A commenter suggested replacing the plastic vents with tire valve stems. This was an interesting suggestion, which as the problem progressed I became determined to try.

Big Brother sent me a set of fancy metal truck tire valves…

…and the adventure began.

(Many pix below the fold)

The first problem, already documented, was that the seals that came with the tire valves were not designed for use with gasoline. So I tested their compatibility – and they proved to have none whatsoever.

FIRST LESSON: I had planned to just buy some auto tire valve stems at the local auto parts store, and in light of the incompatibility issue that would have proven a very bad idea. I thought the fancy stems Big Brother sent me were expensive overkill but in fact they proved essential.

So I cast around for a better material for the seals. Found a big hose in a pile of dump-bound junk…

…tested a sample of that material in a cup of gasoline, and it remained unaffected. Progress!

So I did something dumb. I cut out a few pieces of roughly the right size…

…and then realized I had no safe way to drill them for the vents. I tried taping them to a wood block and drilling through the tape…

…and that worked about as well as you’d expect. Bother.

So I decided to drill the holes first, and that made for better progress.

Drill, then cut, is a better plan.

Then I took the Schrader valve right out of the tire vent and discarded it.
And I screwed the first seal all the way down to the base of the vent.

Now! How to get the vent into the can and out through the vent hole from the inside? Another commenter had offered a suggestion for that, which made sense to me. So I earlier acquired a length of clear tube…

…of the right diameter to screw on to the smaller vent threads.

This showed promise. It really looked like it was going to work.

Naturally, this being a Joel project, disaster struck immediately. The can’s drain hole has a tube spot-welded to it, supposedly some sort of vent except that it does absolutely nothing useful since it doesn’t mate to any corresponding vent in the spout. All it does is make the can difficult to fill without making a mess, since in 2 out of my 3 cans it prevents me from inserting the pump spout properly into the can. I have always hated that tube.

Now it turned out that the tube also prevented me from inserting the tire vent into the can. GRAAAAWWRRR!

At that moment, I did something I have always wanted to do

Yeah. It’s just one little spot weld.

I always hesitated to do that, because with my luck the break would occur in the material of the can rather than the tube or welding rod material. But I had finally reached f*ck it. Fortunately the tube came right off without material damage.

From there, things went fairly smoothly.

The tube held the vent in place quite securely. I slipped the outer seal over the tube (with some difficulty) and pressed it down over the threads…

…until I could start the nut on the threads. I used the nut to press the seals together enough that I could install the curved washer, removed the nut, installed the washer, and then tightened the whole thing down.

And there we are, the first of the Jerry cans with the new and improved vent tube. The plan is that the metal cap will seal the tube shut enough to prevent sloshing waste, mess and stink.

For testing purposes I put the cap on, poured maybe a quart of gas into the can and turned it upside-down so it was all right on the cap. Nothing leaks at all.

I’m taking it to town this morning, but see no reason to anticipate problems.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to Using tire valves as jerry can vents, illustrated

  1. EricS says:

    Great play by play Joel, hope the vents remain leak proof! Quite an ingenious fix.

  2. Paul Joat says:

    I wonder if this would be worthwhile. about 3 minutes to empty a 5 gallon can without holding it up to pour.

  3. Norman says:

    As long as the sealing material doesn’t decompose, I think you’ve got a winner. A smart manufacturer (for various values of “smart) would incorporate a knockout at a strategically convenient spot on the can. Which is obviously too much to hope for.

    As for the suggested battery operated pump, I have one word: battery. I’m confident gravity will consistently prove infinitely more reliable than any portable electron source. I have a few of the “good” cans – official integrally-vented NATO ones, at mucho dinero each – and while the spouts are too short (1/2″ steel nipples from Lowe’s plumbing dept and 16″ of 5/8″ ID / 3/4″ OD tubing solves that problem; FYI, it’s the perfect size for unleaded filler neck restrictors) I can empty 20 liters in about 65 seconds. I’m sure that creeping infirmity (read:age) will eventually force me into putting only 4 gallons in each can, but, first, see “battery” above, and, second, there may be times speed matters.

  4. Phssthpok says:

    Not exactly what I had in mind when I suggested using fuel hose to cut gaskets from*, but I suppose ‘free and WORKS’ beats ‘pretty’ in this case. 😉

    *I had in mind shaving little ‘donuts’ off the end of a proper diameter hose, but you works with whats ya gots!

  5. terrapod says:

    This is a bit pricey but it got my attention as I have a 14 gallon wheeled boat refueler that I set up on a bench and allow gravity to feed, but it is bloody slow. Sad part is this pump is also pricey.

To the stake with the heretic!