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Mark Phelan: I wasted $40 on a couple of nearly unusable gas cans: How to find a good one

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

My friend Greg Lewis used to say in high school: "He's so dumb, he couldn't pour pee out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel."

Courtesy of a recent five-day DTE power outage, I think I know what that apocryphal numbskull does for a living: He designs gasoline cans.

During the blackout, I spilled gasoline on myself and a running generator — neither's a good idea, kids — wasted time and money shopping, and cursed a blue streak, all because some industrial designers apparently never saw anybody pour a cup of coffee.

Seriously. How do you screw up letting gravity move a fluid from a high place to a lower one?

More important, how do you pick a can that won't turn you into a walking wick? And how did a simple tool like a gas can morph into a Rube Goldberg machine requiring three arms and double-jointed thumbs?

Bonus: Did you know there's a black market for easy-pour spouts? I can hook you up.


A good idea. Bad solutions

Here's my story:

I've had a 2-gallon plastic gas can for years. It's all I need to refuel my lawn mower and snow blower, but it was insufficient when I had to fill my generator's 7.5-gallon tank a couple of times a day to keep my house cool on 90-degree days and preserve frozen food for myself and my neighbors.

I needed 1-2 more cans. That's when the frustration began.


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