Thursday, July 1, 2021

When Motor Oil Went From Cans To Bottles

 Another "I Remember...." story, sent to me by some friends.....

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Once upon a time, oil came in metal cans you had to pierce with a spout, so it was a surprise when I went to work at the filling station one day and they had motor oil in new plastic containers with a twist off cap. I wondered why no one had thought of it sooner. It was not long until I had a customer that asked me to check the oil. In the "good old days" we pumped gas, washed windshields and checked tire pressure upon request. The customer's car was low on oil and they requested a top up, so I got one of the new bottles of oil, twisted off the cap and put the neck of the container directly into the opening of the valve cover.

When I opened the bottle, I noticed it had a tamper proof cap, and the lower half twisted off while remaining on the bottle. When I pulled the bottle out of the valve cover, to my surprise, the lower half/plastic ring was gone! Where did it go? It had slipped off and fell into the valve cover. I sheepishly informed the customer that I could not see the plastic ring and would have to take off the valve cover to remove it. He was nice about it and gave me the go ahead so I pulled the car into the shop and proceeded to remove the cover. There were five of those rings in there! Apparently others had the same problem with the ring slipping off the bottle and either did not notice or did not say anything. The customer went away happy though.

Shortly after that, motor oil manufacturers seemed to revise their bottles so the ring stayed with the cap. I wondered why no one had thought of it sooner.

 

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I was a gas-pump jockey at a Sunoco Station a friend's Dad owned, but it was well before oil came in plastic bottles. He allowed me to pump gas, take payments, and clean the windshields. I could check the oil and air, but not add oil or fill tires, which required one of The Guys from the service bays to do. After a while, they convinced the owner I was smart enough to do these things properly, which he allowed, about two weeks before the summer ended, and I went back to school. My "primary" summer job was at a little electronics place, but my friend asked me if I could help, and I said sure.

15 comments:

  1. LOL, I'm not surprised people didn't tell the customers... I did it to myself ONCE, just once... sigh

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    Replies
    1. I always took the ring off the neck if it wasn't the kind that stayed on the bottle. I've dropped too many things in engines over my life, and I hate doing work like that to fix something *I* screwed up!

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  2. I worked since I was 11, first doing the obvious jobs, from mowing lawns, to babysitting. Yes, it was a simpler time, and parents were not so afraid back then. As I got older, I did hauling hay, planting strawberries, etc. Then at 16, I got a job at a canning factory. I hated that job, so I got a job at a gas station, what they called mini serve. We pumped gas, and if asked, would check the oil and wash the windshield. Or if it was summer and a couple of hot girls were driving to the beach, we would make sure to wash the windshield, just to stare at them.
    I spent 2 years at that job, 22 hours per week, plus school and sports. It was the best job I ever had, even when it rained or snowed. Of course, my parents owned a restaurant, so I did my fair share of working for them as well.
    There are still some kids who are willing to work, but it seems like many of them want things just handed to them. To bad, they will find out some day that it isn't that easy.

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    1. I *wanted* to work, because that's how you earned the money you didn't have, to buy things you probably didn't need, in high-school. Before that, I was always the neighborhood "Fix It Kid", and made some nice pocket change fixing appliances, radios, and TV sets until I hit 16, and was allowed to work.

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    2. See my reply to LL, Ed....

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  3. There was a time when service stations offered service, not just an Indian or Middle Easterner behind the counter of the junk food & booze store.

    Long gone, DRJIM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep....The Past Is A Foreign Country. It's one of the reasons the only thing I'd like to see again from my hometown are my friends. They tell me things have changed so much I wouldn't recognize it.

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  4. The story of the oil bottle ring(s) is in the Repair Mistakes & Blunders section of the July Rock Auto newsletter (https://www.rockauto.com/Newsletter/). That section of the newsletter is always a good read.

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    Replies
    1. Yup. Sent to me from my friends at Rock Auto.

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  5. Good stories. And they were good times.

    I miss the old A&W draft root beer at the drive up or sit down counter.

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    1. My favorite drive-in where I grew up had A&W. Excellent stuff to make a Black Cow (Root Beer Float) with. And the ice cream was made by Weber's Dairy, a local place.

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  6. That same ring from the milk jug ends up in my glass about 50% of the time !!
    I remember the old days with the oil cans and my dad having to drain EVERY last drop out of it.

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    Replies
    1. Hah! Never had that happen. After I empty the oil into the engine, I keep the bottles upside-down for a few days and drain them into my squirt oiler.

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  7. I started working at service stations when I was 12 (1967). I had an uncle who was part owner of a service station. I remember all too well having the same issue with the rings when the change to plastic bottles was made. Lost a few myself. Now if they could only standardize the cap sizes on the bottles. I like to use a screw-on spout for the oil I put in my small engines so I don't have to chase down a funnel.

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