Stationary Engine List

Checking for Gas


| March/April 2003



Stationary engine

Driving along in your car or truck, it's pretty much second nature to keep an eye on the fuel gauge to make sure you don't run out of gas. Gas gauges aren't terribly accurate, but at least you have a feel for how much farther you can go, and some modern gauges leave even less to chance, sporting digital readouts that tell you exactly how many miles you can go before you're on empty. But what about old engines with no modern technology helping out?

Some engines are easy to judge, with external fuel tanks that you can agitate, listening for the presence of gas, or you can simply remove the fuel cap and peek inside to see how much fuel is left. But not all engines are so easy, as this thread shows. The thread started with the following, seemingly simple question:

Can anyone figure out an easy way to check the fuel level on a 5 HP Economy?

A straightforward question on the surface, but in the dark winter months, when cabin fever strikes, the most basic query can result in a flurry of mails to the Stationary Engine List, with suggestions ranging from the obvious to the obscure. I'll leave it to you to decide when the writers have their tongues firmly in cheek.

Here's a good tip we use out in the bush. Carry a length of small diameter rubber hose, maybe even garden hose. Poke that down into the tank (it should be flexible enough to go around any bends) then blow into it. If you hear bubbles, then there's plenty of fuel. This is not definitive, as if the fuel level is low you may not get many bubbles. In that case suck on the hose - if you don't get a mouth full of fuel, then the tank's empty. Oh, it helps to have a willing mate, plied with booze, to do these tests - that way he won't notice the after taste.

A variation on this may be to use small diameter clear plastic tube. Put it into the tank down to the bottom, cover the open end with your finger and then draw the tube out of the tank. The fuel level in the tube should be the fuel level in your tank.