Monday, March 1, 2010

The five-gallon can surprises me because

it has stayed pretty much standard for the past umpteen years.

Now, it's true that I have seen 20 litter cans for sale, and even a few 25 liter cans, but the standard stays roughly an a nominal five US gallons or so.

This makes sense, as it is holds a pretty good volume and when filled it is generally not too heavy and unwieldy for a person to use.

The can, as we know it, started with the German Army in North Africa during the Second World War. Presumably, the Brits were using 55 gallon drums, which require a pump to get the fuel into the various vehicles. I'm sure that a broken or missing pump meant improvising with siphon hoses and/or manhandling the bulky drums.

The Germans were using smaller cans, which were either 20 or 25 liters and were a whole lot handier.

The Brits captured a bunch of them and started calling them 'Jerry cans', which is what they are often called to this day.

The size, running between 5 US gallons and a little over 6 gallons has pretty much stayed the same size, give or take a little.

Twenty five liters, or a little over 6 gallons is about the right size, not too little volume nor too much weight. I guess the reason the size has stayed in that ball park is just for that reason.

Contractors and home owners use 5 gallon cans all the time for the same reeason. Enough volume and not too much weight.

I guess the military has somehow managed to keep congress from sticking their stupid little nose into things because I see the cans with the troops in the news every so often.

Watching congress decide to change something like that would be a hoot to watch, but I sure wouldn't want to be one of the troops having to fill up vehicles whit the new cans congress would design.

First of all, they would look at a 55 gallon drum and decide that 11 five gallon cans equal 55 gallons, so to make it an even ten trips to empty a drum they would decide that 5.5 gallons is the way to go intil someone else would decide to make them 11 gallons, as it would reduce the number of trips from the 55 gallon drum by 50 percent.

An 11 gallon can would be a rough go for smaller GIs, but they could probably handle it, although it would be a real push for, say some of the smaller ones and many of the women serving.

Next some idiot would think that a 27.5 gallon can is the way to go because they could empty a 55 gallon drum in 2 trips. Of course, when the fact that the 27.5 is too heavy to carry, the same idiot in his infinite wisdom, would suggest designing a pump for the 22.5 gallon drums.

This, of course, would make things worse that they were in North Africa for the Brits who were dealing with pumps and 55 gallon drums to begin with. You would have twice the containers and still need pumps. A broken or missing pump and the GIs are back to square one, improvising with scrounged hose to siphon the drums.

Of course, the GIs would do a number of things. They would either dig up old stocks of 5 gallon cans or start stealing them from our allies and or start capturing them from the enemy.

Then the hue and cry would go out to the military supply system for 5 gallon cans and the cycle would start over again.

I guess that maybe the 5 gallon can is such a perfect size that even the idiots in congress are smart enough to leave it alone, but I dare not bet on for how long.

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Posted 1 Mar, but given a 2 March dateline because my IP provider is no longer and it will be catch is as catch can for a while.

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