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Old 21 September 2007, 08:32   #21
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Combustion triangle

Remember to get a good bang you need fuel, oxygen and an ignition source.

Fuel - Plenty of that
Ignition source - Static spark
Oxygen - If you are filling a tank (plasticv or metal) with the nozzle fully inside, the atmosphere in there will be nearly 100% fuel vapour, therefore no oxygen (or not enough to sustain combustion) and hence vastly reduced risk.

The problem occurs if it sparks by the filler neck, as the fuel vapour is ejected as the tank fills and mixes with the surrounding air........ If there's a breeze the fuel vapour will didsperse very quickly.

So take heed of Thomas's words - and fill up on a windy day
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Old 21 September 2007, 09:20   #22
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Originally Posted by Tomas View Post
There's a ton of different data on the subject but the most reliable sources indicate the following:

1. There are over 150 instances of static electricity igniting fuel while filling portable containers, in the vehicle, not on the ground.

2. Metal cans were involved in more incidents, but plastic has been involved
as well.

3. Risk can be reduced by doing the following;
a) Touching the nozzle to the container before opening the fill cap.
b) Reducing fuel flow at the start of the fueling process.

4. In spite of these steps, actual fuel flow can create it's own charge so
it is recommended that the nozzle be kept in contact with the tank at
all times during a fueling.

Personally, I'm going to observe 3 & 4 more carefully than I have in the past and continue to fill my portables, in the boat.

It could be that the filling hoses weren't conductive like they should be. But I suspect the static came from the person filling the tank - the worse kind of weather for people getting static shocks is when it's cold and dry. Clothing also makes a big difference. rather than earthing plastic cans etc which you can't do earth YOU before filling up - just grab something metal by the pump.

Static IS a major risk - when aircraft etc are refuelled the earthing straps always go on. I did think about connecting a set of jump leads to the trailer and to an earth but it is pointless - how do you earth a fibreglass boat?
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Old 21 September 2007, 10:11   #23
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Errr..yes but, assume the boat is sitting on the trailer ok, is connected to a vehicle is not the whole system now at a potential voltage of some sort either positive or negative charge? You then get out any "earthing" would occur, you might feel it, if there is a difference when you touch the can, boat or fuel filler same thing.

As previously said putting then vessel on the ground and touching it before filling would then put everything at ground potential.
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Old 21 September 2007, 13:24   #24
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Errr..yes but, assume the boat is sitting on the trailer ok, is connected to a vehicle is not the whole system now at a potential voltage of some sort either positive or negative charge? You then get out any "earthing" would occur, you might feel it, if there is a difference when you touch the can, boat or fuel filler same thing.

As previously said putting then vessel on the ground and touching it before filling would then put everything at ground potential.
Not if it's not conductive where it touches the ground!!!
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Old 21 September 2007, 13:35   #25
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Surely its not the static in the boat/car,but that built up by the fuel flow into the tank ( if from the top ) - thats why the tankers fill from bottom - less splashing etc). During the fuel blockade a few years ago the army tankers would not / were not allowed to be used for this purpose - static build up as they were top fill. OK for the forces to risk but not us civilains due H&S !. ( I think )
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Old 21 September 2007, 14:13   #26
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No static from fuel flow is caused by friction in the pipes - the same from top or bottom filling.

The main advantage of bottom filling is to reduce vapour spill - on the older tankers you could see the vapour billowing out of the top like a great cloud. Not only is it safer but it has less health risks - tanker drivers used to be at risk from the benzine - especially in unleaded which is higher than the old 4 star. Quite a few tanker drivers have died from liver cancer.

Despite all the health and safety stuff you can still see vapour pouring out of rail tankers on a hot day. I often see the trains coming from Texaco as they pass through Burry port on the main line - each must hold about 100,000 litres - and often there will be about 100 of them - imagine that lot going up!!!
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Old 21 September 2007, 14:15   #27
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Actually I cant see the differance between the can being in the car or the floor if its plastic then neither would be earthed ( ?) - possible bang either way. Always did my tanks in the boot until I spilt petrol everywhere & it took weeks to get the smell out !

Always filled jetski no problem at all sorts of stations. Anyone ever head of a boat going ' bang' when being filled either on trailor / tanks on boot / on the floor ? I never have ........................ its rare for cars to burn nowadays ( on thier own I mean - not when set on fire deliberately )
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Old 21 September 2007, 14:34   #28
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Oh it does happen - here is an absolute classic.



Notice she sits back in the car - and pulls her clothing around a bit - then as soon as she touches the nozzle again up it goes.

Notice all she needed to do was put the fuel cap back on!!!
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Old 22 September 2007, 06:47   #29
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oil on muddy waters

Some years back I for my sins briefly owned and operated a service station. As such it may help if I attempt to explain life as it may be viewed from the other side of the pumps. I may throw some light on our understanding but I fear more likely just muddy the waters. I would, right from the outset, say I have not looked anything up and am writing this purely from my memory of those times and would be quite happy for anybody who cares to do the research to correct me. Indeed what I say may have already been covered in other older threads.

I think the issue of filling portable fuel containers at a service station can be looked at from three different perspectives. Regulation, Criminality and Training.

Regulation. Services stations in the UK are licenced and this licences broadly covers amongst other things the delivery, storage and dispensing of the fuel. The licence is administered and enforced by the Petroleum Officer who is often a member of the Fire Brigade but could be a Trading Standard officer or I understand a Police Officer.

The licence allows the operator to dispense fuel into Road Vehicles and suitable portable containers. This is where it may get a bit vague as I am not sure that the relevant legislation which I think goes back to the mid or late 1930s clearly defines a suitable portable container. I suspect that this is left to the interpretation of the individual Petroleum Officer.

In my time it was clearly understood that a portable container must be marked as to what it contained and if plastic should be no more than 5L. Steel or other metal containers had a larger limit which I think might have been 10 or 20L.

If you stop in a service station or other motorist supplies shop have a look at fuel cans. I think you will notice they are colour coded and have writing of their designed contents moulded into them but you will struggle to find one that is plastic and over 5L. You may find in agricultural or other suppliers with 20 or 25L plastic containers but are they for Petrol? You can buy a 10 or 20l plastic remote tank from your local chandler for use with your outboard but does this mean you can fill this at a roadside service station?

Certainly if somebody had attempted to fill a 20l plastic fuel container I would at the time had viewed it as breaking the terms of our licence. Fortunately to the best of my knowledge the situation never arose so I donít think my staff ever had to make a decision as to whether they turned a blind eye or not. We did have a few boats on trailers pull in and we never had any issues when these were filled with petrol or diesel. I donít think we ever considered that some may have had removable containers in the boat or that this may contravene the licence.

Now it may be that with more boats about that the legislation has been changed but I some how doubt it. It may be that the Petroleum Officers are taking a different stance on removable tanks or it may be that nobody has noticed or cares enough to look into the issue. Perhaps the best way to find out is contact your local Petroleum Officer but this may swap these muddied waters for a seething can of worms.

Criminality. In my time there was an ever present problem of petty crime and I see no reason for this to no longer be the case. The most common thing was for people to drive of without paying: Drive offs or Bilking as it is known and not strictly always a criminal offence.

Some of those who attempted to avail themselves of free fuel would see fit to take as much as possible at a time. They would attempt to fill all manner of containers stored in back of their vehicle as well as the main tank.

Some of you may have experienced what you may think are difficult or stroppy attendants when you have been lurking around the back of your cars attempting to conceal containers or keeping them in the boot. Itís probably that they are reasonably alert and want to make sure you are going to pay the £70 or £80 that is clocking up. In my time it was common for contracts of employment to have a clause entitling the employer to deduct shortages if the employee could not prove they had followed set guidelines however with current legislation this may not now be possible. Either way if they do loose £80 nobody is going to be happy with them.

To try and minimise potential losses I was able set the software to cut of any nozzle at any pre determined amount. I see that some have had problems with this and pumps cutting after being idle for a few seconds. I am not familiar current software but it should be very easy for the attendant to stop or restart the pump and I am sure that most will be only too happy to get the fuel flowing again if they feel reassured that you are going to come in and pay for what you have taken.

Training. A forecourt attendant is not the most glamorous or well paid of jobs and can at time be quite stressful. Some no doubt are excellent whilst sadly others are poorly managed are not motivated and have had insufficient training. (I used to thoroughly enjoy the Lenny Henry sketches of the of the nigh time attendant) Add this to their fear of drive offs and possible uncertainty over what the ďLawĒ is and the end result maybe you not having an entirely enjoyable and stress less purchasing experience!

So clarity or muddy waters?
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Old 22 September 2007, 08:37   #30
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Things haven't changed much - a very good friend of mine owns 5 petrol stations and occasionally I have helped run them when he's been away etc.

Drive offs are getting more and more common. Usually the police don't give a damn - they just give you a crime number and that's it. The biggest problem now is shoplifting by kids. They walk in - broad daylight - pick up some cans of booze or whatever - and just walk out. Their typical response is "what are you going to do about it". One of the chashiers decided enough was enough and locked the door to stop them leaving and called the Police. She was threatened with false inprisonment but the charges were eventually dropped.

The law actually says that you can only dispense 10L into a portable container which means that you need to fill a 20L jerry can twice - crazy!!! In practice I have never had a problem. Speak nicely to the staff and a bit of charm does wonders. Most supermarket pumps these days have a time limit or a litres limit - either way it works out at about 100L before you have to get them to restart. I fiond if you chose a quiet time and explain to them first you are ok.
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