Petroleum Collectibles Monthly

May 2005 - The Gas Pump Showcase by Scott Anderson


Last month The Gas Pump Showcase reviewed the Tokheim #36 series of electric computer gasoline pumps, but this month we will take a little detour from the discussion of a specific pump make and model. Instead, we will talk about the wonderful world of gasoline pump hoses. I had intended to write about gasoline pump hoses and nozzles in this issue, but unfortunately I had way too much material on the two subjects to cram into one article. Consequently, this month we will tackle hoses and next month the topic will be nozzles.

The first gasoline pump hoses were nothing more than water hose conversions that were connected to above ground storage barrels or very early pre-visible stroke pumps. No one knows for sure who first invented the gasoline pump hose, but they were first used in outdoor auto liveries and some private garages where the gasoline pump was located close to the automobile. Pumps which were located inside general stores or garages where a hose could not reach the pump, dispensed gasoline into buckets or cans that were then carried to the street to fill the auto fuel tank. In addition, portable curbside pumps equipped with hoses were used at these locations to fill the auto fuel tank directly.

The second generation of gasoline pump hose was actually manufactured for the sole purpose of dispensing gasoline. This new hose consisted of a combination of internal interlocking metal hose, a thin rubber middle layer and an exterior cloth cover. This type of hose became the standard version used on all gasoline pumps between approximately 1909 and 1939. These braided (woven) cloth gasoline pump hoses were manufactured with ¾”, 1”, and 1 ¼” nickel plated brass couplings and their overall diameter varied between one and three inches. All of these hoses were offered in any length that the customer wanted, but the typical length ranged from six to twelve feet. Various companies that manufactured metal lined cloth gasoline pump hoses included: Pennsylvania Flexible Metallic Tubing Co (PENFLEX), National Gasoline Hose Co., Metal Hose & Tubing Co. (TRIPLEXD), Renick & Mahoney, Inc. (DURAFLEX), Continental Rubber Works (VITALIC), The International Metal Hose Co., Inc. (VULCAN), B.F. Goodrich Rubber Co., and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

The following are a few quotes from various petroleum equipment trade publications touting the benefits of using their various cloth-covered hoses:

“The metal-rubber-fabric combination not only insures dependable
service, but long life and highest efficiency. Penflex is the
economical hose to use – it will not rot or leak. The rubber is
protected from the gasoline by the durable metal body, it cannot
deteriorate or smudge the liquid. Your gasoline passes through the
Penflex clearly and rapidly, - not a drop is lost! Note the special
fabric covering; it prevents scratching of the car and protects the
hose. The name “PENFLEX” is your assurance of a dependable,
durable and economic hose. No further guarantee is necessary.
Try a length, it will soon pay for itself and bring a second order.”
Pennsylvania Flexible Metallic Tubing Co., Circa 1919

“TRIPLEXD” is short for triple construction, the universal 3-element
gasoline hose. “X” stands for flexible metal lining, subjected to a
breakdown pressure test far beyond anything it will receive in actual
service. “XX” stands for rubber compounded in our own mills, laid
over the metal so as to maintain an equal thickness throughout, and
without a seam. “XXX” stands for completed TRIPLEXD HOSE,
with its tough oversize cotton cords woven over the rubber, and the
whole vulcanized into a leakless, lasting, inseparable unit.”
Metal Hose & Tubing Co., Circa 1925

“The vastly longer service life of TRIPLEXD Gasoline Hose is
achieved largely through the skill of the TRIPLEXD Chemical and
Physical Laboratories, there the flexible metal lining, the rubber and
compounding materials, and the cotton yarn are continually tested; and
everything that fails to come up to our own rigid specifications is
rejected.” Metal Hose & Tubing Co., Circa 1926

“Now is it not better economy to use a length of TRIPLEXD hose that
will serve you for two years or more (most of them run three to five),
than to pay a little less for a cheaper hose that must be replaced at your
expense every few months?” Metal Hose & Tubing Co., Circa 1927

“In the manufacture of Duraflex hose only the highest quality raw
materials are used. For instance, the inner metal lining is made of heavy-
gauge electro-galvanized steel wire, tightly packed with a cotton cord.
This lining in turn is covered with a tube of the best plantation rubber
obtainable, made as nearly gasoline resisting as rubber can be made.
Over the metal and rubber is woven a jacket made of long, staple cotton
cord. The cord is bitten firmly into the rubber to produce a tight and
evenly woven jacket.” Renick & Mahoney, Inc., Circa 1927

“Goodrich is built to stand the every-day abuse of filling station service
for a long, long time. The cords of the woven jacket are extremely
durable, hard-twisted yarn, woven tightly to prevent absorption of water
and oil. A pre-shrinking process prevents loosening of the jacket, and at
the same time makes the hose extremely flexible. Under the jacket is the
sealing layer of “Celinol”, the special gasoline-resistant rubber compound
especially developed for Goodrich Gasoline Hose. The flexible metal tube
has interlocking seams packed with an improved yarn which resists
disintegration.” The B.F. Goodrich Rubber Co., Circa 1929

Woven cloth, metal (and rubber) lined gasoline pump hoses were used with great success during the 1920’s and 1930’s on all visible and clockface pumps. With the development of sythentic rubber compounds in the 1930’s, gasoline pump hoses soon entered a new phase in their evolution. With the natural rubber shortages that preceded and continued through World War II, many gasoline pump hose manufacturers began producing a new generation of synthetic rubber hose that soon replaced the older and non-obsolete woven cloth pump hoses. With such inventions as Dupont’s Neoprene rubber, most manufacturers were soon discontinuing cloth-covered hoses in favor of the cheaper, more durable, all rubber gasoline pump hoses.

These early rubber hoses still relied on the same re-usable brass and nickel-plated hose couplings as their woven cloth predecessors. These re-usable couplings were available in all shapes, sizes and finishes including male and female swivel capabilities. By the mid 1940’s permanent hose couplings were developed by such companies as the Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut. These new hose couplings were less expensive than their re-usable counterparts and when combined with the newer, less expensive rubber gasoline pump hose, they provided greater economy and durability to the major oil companies as well as the average independent service station operator.

The following quotes will serve to emphasize the positive qualities of the new generation of rubber gasoline pump hoses and permanently attached hose couplings:

“Once you’ve used smooth-bore Neoprene hose you will see how much
better it is than the old-type (cloth) hose. The Neoprene hose is far
stronger, lighter, and more flexible and it doesn’t mar the finish of cars.
Curb pump hose made with cover and tube of Du Pont Neoprene is setting
new service records. For a Neoprene cover resists abrasion, oils, grease,
weather and aging. There is no substitute for Neoprene”
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Circa 1939

“Notice the broader grip of that Scovill permanently-attached coupling.
That’s why the hose lasts longer. There is no harmful cramping. It really
pays to ask for gasoline hose equipped with Scovill permanently-attached
couplings, particularly with today’s longer-lasting hose. Scovill
permanently-attached couplings insure a positive static connection and
a gas-tight joint.” Scovill Manufacturing Co., Circa 1945

As a practical matter for today’s gasoline pump collectors and restorers, the following information might serve as a general guideline to follow when attaching a particular hose to a particular pump. When you are restoring a pre-visible, visible, or clockface meter pump (from the teens to early 1930’s), you should always use a cloth covered hose. When restoring a mid 1930’s electric computer pump such as a Wayne #60 or Tokheim #36B, you may safely use a cloth hose or rubber hose. When restoring a late 1930’s through 1960’s pump you should always use a rubber hose. As a general guideline, older pumps tend to use hoses with 1” threaded couplings and later pumps usually use hoses with ¾” threaded couplings. Additionally, the average visible pump can usually accommodate hoses lengths from 10’ to 11’. Clockface meter pumps, and tall electric computer pumps typically use hoses that range from 9’ to 10’ in length. Lastly, short electric computer pumps often use as little as a 6’ long hose or up to a 16’ hose if a hose retractor system is being used.

The styles, diameters, lengths and colors of gasoline pump hoses are almost as diverse as the number of gasoline pumps that exist today. Cloth, rubber, long, short, fat, thin, chrome, brass, black, white, or multi-colored – the choice is yours. I hope everyone out there in gas pump land gives a lot of thought as to which type of hose they plan to use on their next restoration. Next month we will examine the exciting subject of gasoline pump nozzles! Thanks for reading The Gas Pump Showcase and Petroleum Collectibles Monthly.

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