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20 gallons

… and it took me only the better part of the year.

When the world’s most spectacular Christmas present — a shiny new Honda Eu200i generator — landed on my doorstep last December, I rushed right out and bought four five-gallon gas cans to feed it.

I bought those, and a cover, and some spare parts with an existing generator fund started by yet another kind friend. People are so good.

I filled two cans right away with non-ethanol gas treated with Sta-Bil*. The other two cans were to be filled with much more durable avgas on the recommendation of the generator-giver.

But … life. I had the two empty cans in the back of Old Blue on a February trip that took me near two airports (airports, you will not be surprised to learn, are where avgas lives). Then Old Blue went fatally haywire. Making it to an airport was the last thing on my mind.

So two empty cans sat for months while I was on foot. Then, after I bought the hamster car, they sat for months more while I spent all my money (and a few other people’s) on the final major structural repairs to the house. What a glorious, and sometimes terrifying, adventure that was!

The Hamster not being the best vehicle for porting volatile chemicals and the gas station with the non-ethanol fuel being alllllllll the way over in the next town, I procrastinated. (Thoughts of venturing to an airport had long left my head.) But I managed to get one can filled and treated last month.

Then this afternoon, it was summer again. Glorious, blue-sky, no-cloud, 66-degree summer (and this after two fierce wind-and-rain storms last week).

In the cause of doing anything to get away from the computer and out of the house, I packed up Ava, and the final gas can, and after dawdling around for an hour at a waterfront park, I finally — finally — took that last gas can to fulfill its destiny.

Now my winter preps are complete.

Except for building a makeshift blind for the exterior west wall of the screen porch. Because despite optimism and unicorns, screens do not keep out 40 mph winds or the wet stuff they carry with them. (But because optimism and unicorns have never been my thing, I expected that and already have materials for the blind on hand.)

So far, the bigger north wall of the screen porch (the most sheltered wall and the least windy side of the house) is keeping Mother Nature out just fine. And I am still loving to sit out there in the evenings, though these days it’s usually with the aid of an afghan and sometimes a space heater.


* Which, after seeing that low Amazon price, I will never buy at my local hardware store again, not even on their best sale.


  1. jed
    jed October 24, 2017 9:24 am

    Hamster car. Hehe!

  2. GIJeff
    GIJeff October 24, 2017 9:49 am

    Hiya Claire, do you have any marine gas available near you? Marine fuel is cheaper than aviation fuel around here and it’s more available, but I live in Pittsburgh, so three rivers and all that. It’s just as good as av-gas or so I’ve been told, no ethanol. Everyone around here uses it in all their small engines like generators and chain saws.

  3. Claire
    Claire October 24, 2017 10:34 am

    Yep. Hamster car. I didn’t know about those commercials until after I bought it. But now that I know, they do add a certain something.

    And GIJeff — Yep, the fuel in those cans is pretty much the same thing as marine fuel. It’s non-ethanol and people do buy it for boats, as well as lawn equipment and so on. I don’t know whether it’s cheaper than avgas; it’s slightly more expensive than 10% ethanol gas-station fuel, but not too bad.

  4. deLaune
    deLaune October 24, 2017 1:15 pm

    My local airport sells avgas for 4.80/gallon (full serve only). For those who don’t know, full service means that they bring a fuel truck to your plane. There’s another, 25 miles away, that charges only 3.95 (self serve). Note: avgas contains lead (its called 100LL for “low lead”).

    Ethanol free is well under $3.

    I test drove a KIA Soul a couple of years ago; I thought it was the best value of any small car I’d seen. But, until you posted the link, I’d never heard of the hamsters. I really need to buy a TV (not).

  5. Desertrat
    Desertrat October 24, 2017 1:25 pm

    Avgas weighs less than regular gasoline, so an engine will run leaner when using it. Leaner = higher combustion temperatures and that can lead to burned valves. The solution is to go to a larger sized jet in the carburetor. (Or drill the standard jet a wee skosh larger.)

  6. deLaune
    deLaune October 24, 2017 1:54 pm

    I didn’t know that, DR. Something new every day.

    But don’t worry about the valves burning. The tetra-ethyl lead will probably foul the plugs before that happens. Unless you can find 80/87 (which I haven’t seen in years).

  7. Claire
    Claire October 24, 2017 3:57 pm

    “I test drove a KIA Soul a couple of years ago; I thought it was the best value of any small car I’d seen. But, until you posted the link, I’d never heard of the hamsters. I really need to buy a TV (not).”

    Yeah. TV not. Especially when you can see the best of TV (great commercials and streaming/DVD series from Netflix or Amazon) without having TV at all.

    I agree on the Kia Soul. Mine is a few years old but in really good shape. It has a rather stiff ride, particularly over bumps (and I say this as somebody who prefers a stiff-riding vehicle), but other than that, it’s fantastic. For a low-end car it’s very well equipped and zippy.

    One of my neighbors was thinking about getting a new vehicle and asked her mechanic what he’d recommend. He said Kia Soul for reliability, great warranty, and being easy to work on. Because mine’s older I didn’t get the full whopper warranty they offer. But before somebody told me about how strongly they back their cars, I thought I’d only consider a Honda or Toyota (or Subaru, but they don’t make a low-end car).

  8. Coyote Hubbard
    Coyote Hubbard October 24, 2017 5:12 pm

    “Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.

    Jake: Hit it.”

    Had a rental Kia Soul for a week when my old rust bucket died. Not a bad vehicle at all IMHO, but getting used to the brakes… Touchy as hell but being used to old brakes that had a lot pedal to travel and a double pump to get a good stop is why that was so. Took me a few abrupt stops to learn to gently coyote-handle the pedal.

    My replacement vehicle is 10 years older than what I had before, heh.

    A 1984 Subaru GL, not the wagon as this is the “Coupe” version and actually kinda rare.

    What is awesome to me is I can fix it for pretty much anything that breaks, what isnt as awesome is finding the parts to make the fix.

    Subaru heads local swoon over this thing and i get offers to buy it for twice what i paid, but its my get to work vehicle, so my counter offer for a trade for something as reliable so i can still go to work hasnt happened.

  9. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson October 25, 2017 4:18 am

    I hate Amazon (though I sometimes buy from them) because I compete against them daily. Their Sta-Bil price on a 10 ounce bottle (if you buy 12) is $5.72 per bottle, on a limited special offer. The price in my store for one 10 ounce bottle is $4.89, everyday.

    The on-line retail business model has some serious drawbacks that can result in HIGHER prices than people realize.

  10. Cz75
    Cz75 October 25, 2017 4:45 am

    Claire: If you can get your hands on proper all metal jerrycans for a decent price, better use that.

    Years ago, I researched gas degradation for quite a while and found that most “degradation” is simply the highly volatile components passing through the plastic container – and not being present when you need them most: for starting a cold engine (that’s why plastic jerry cans get hollow cheeked over time).

    Most commercial stabilisers I checked simply contain a less volatile replacement for the stuff which went AWOL.
    Plus some biocide agents to prevent biological problems (mostly caused by ethanol).

    To test this I bought several real jerrycans i.e. *metal* cans of the Nato/WWII type, and a new Honda lawn mower.
    I then filled the jerrycans with regular gas containing 5% ethanol (in Germany, we can choose between 5% and 10% ethanol), labeled them and put them in the garden shed.
    As we don’t get extreme temperatures here, I put more gas into each can than specified, giving me less air headspace. No stabiliser whatsoever. Various can size between 1.5 and 6 US gallons.

    Since 3 years, I put this stuff into my Honda lawn mower. To stir up extra trouble 😉 I put the mower away /as is/ in late autumn, without even emptying the tank or carb.

    In spring, I top the tank off with the stored gas and push the mower around a bit to mix the gas.
    Immediately after winter break, I have to pull the starter cord exactly *twice* and the engine purrs like a kitten. During the year, one pull will do.

    (Of course I don’t recommend anyone neglect their machinery like I do for research purposes.)

    Bottom line: I used to have all kinds of problems for years on end when I used *plastic* fuel containers. My old mowers willingly started with new gas, but 6 month old fuel already caused serious trouble.

    Since using *metal* fuel containers exclusively, I have zero trouble even when I re-fuel using 3 year old unstabilised gas. Even when (see above) I there’s residual gas from last year in the mower tank and carb.
    Even with a totally neglected carb.

    For prepping purposes, I strongly recommend against plastic fuel containers. High quality heavy duty plastics of course is vastly superior to flimsy stuff. Wrapping the jerry can into aluminum foil (heavy duty contractor stuff) is equivalent to using metal fuel containers, but of course more trouble.

    (The scientific reason for this is that the metal container wall acts as “diffusion barrier”.)

    And of course ethanol free gas is great, if you can get it. Av gas and stuff …

    Just my 0.02$

  11. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2017 6:10 am

    Thank you cz75. Interesting.

    I do have one of the old metal jerry cans, but they’re hard to come by (and certainly hard to find at reasonable prices). From reading Joel’s blog, I know the newer metal cans aren’t up to snuff.

    The aluminum foil trick is interesting.

  12. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2017 6:13 am

    “The on-line retail business model has some serious drawbacks that can result in HIGHER prices than people realize.”

    Although I don’t have the kind of stake in it that you have, I’ve also seen that. Sometimes we buy on Amazon reflexively, not comparing prices, and screw ourselves over.

    That said, the 8-oz bottles of Sta-Bil are nearly $8 locally, and were about $4.50 last time I picked a couple up on sale. Amazon’s regular price beats that all to heck.

  13. Paul Joat
    Paul Joat October 25, 2017 9:10 am

    For filling small engines the Eagle safety can works well a car from one isn’t so easy. They do seal very good, I’ve filled one and left it in a car on a sunny day and not had any gas oder when I came back. You do have to remember to break the seal when it’s flat on the ground to release the pressure before picking it up to pour.
    (did I get the monetizing link correct?)

  14. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2017 11:48 am

    Thank you, Paul Joat. You got the monetizing link absolutely right. Those do indeed look like great cans. Given the price, I think personally I’ll just buy some heavy-duty aluminum foil to wrap the plastic ones. But I like those.

  15. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2017 11:51 am

    “Took me a few abrupt stops to learn to gently coyote-handle the pedal.”

    Funny what you get used to, isn’t it? For me, the hamster brakes were just right. But I can see how they’d startle you if you were used to an older vehicle.

    Didn’t even realize they made the GL coupe then. I had the wagon and while it was an old beater with its share of problems, I liked it very much (and having paid only $400 for it, delivered to my door, I liked it even better).

  16. Bigjohnson77
    Bigjohnson77 October 25, 2017 2:40 pm

    I just cannot spend my dollars in a way that benefits a man who would disarm me and leave me with no way to defend myself and my family. I would sooner cut wood with a hacksaw than support Bezos. No amazon for me, thank you very much.

  17. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2017 2:47 pm

    I can understand and even sympathize with that Bigjohnson. But without Associate income from Amazon, this blog wouldn’t have been able to continue after Backwoods Home announced that I could go on blogging as long as I understood they were no longer going to pay me. It would never have found its way here to live on.

    You have to do what your principles call for. But writing — never a bountiful trade — has gotten less and less lucrative over literal decades. I say (and a lot of people who enjoy small, independent blogs should say) thank heaven for Amazon.

    Also, as a person who lives in a small town, I say thank heaven for Amazon delivering the world to my door and doing it so well.

  18. Cz75
    Cz75 October 26, 2017 2:03 am

    Also, amazon loses money since just about forever 😛

    The more I buy at amazon, the more negative profits 😉 I generate.

    Granted, Jeff Bezos nevertheless personally profited from his money burning “business” so far. In the long run, we will see how well he does.

    Admittedly, every now and then I’m temped to give amazon the boot for similar reasons, Bigjohnson77. We’ll see…

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