I know what you’ll be doing this weekend. Or at least I know what you THINK you’ll be doing this weekend. As the warm weather finally breaks, you THINK you will be heading out into the great outdoors to catch up on all the yardwork that’s been accumulating since late fall (and that includes finally taking in the plastic pumpkins that the neighbors have been ridiculing since New Year’s Day). You’ll drag out the rake and give a quick pass over all the detritus that somehow has nested on your lawn over the winter (including that missing copy of The Rockaway Times from March 23). You will be ambitious and decide that after all the spring rain, the flora has gotten a little out of hand and you’re going to break out the ol’ weed whacker and have a whack at those annoying sprouts from hell. You’re actually looking forward to it a little. You’ll grab the intrepid Toro out of the shed and be initially impressed with yourself that there’s fresh cutting cord on the spool. You will flash a tiny self-satisfied grin as you see that there’s even a half tank of gas in the reservoir (ominous music plays in the background). You’ll enthusiastically tug at the ripcord in joyful anticipation of the angry buzzing of the motor that will soon spell doom for your dandelions. Then you will tug again. And again. Nothing. The whacker is totally out of whack.
Anyone who’s watched at least three episodes of This Old House knows what the problem will be (louder ominous music): bad gas. You left the tank half full five months ago and gas goes bad after about 90 days. Especially ethanol-laced gas. And the gas has the added unpleasant effect of corroding the rubber supply lines from the fuel tank, so they will likely be gummy trash. Bottom line: you won’t be whackin’ anyone’s weeds this weekend.
As you head to Home Depot for a replacement (once you discover that the repairman will charge you about the same amount to fix the old one) you’ll be thinking, “There must be a better way.” And there is…or will be if my idea is implemented.
We need detachable fuel tanks. Currently, most homeowners have a two or five-gallon red gas container shoved into some godforsaken corner of their garage, for who knows how long, waiting to refill the snow blower, the leaf blower, the pressure washer, and of course, the weed whacker. The problem is these machines all have fuel tanks of no more than half a gallon, and they’re used in different seasons. And no one wants to lug the whole machine down to Exxon. So we fill that five-gallon container at our local station and save it for all the devices. The gas sits in that container, as well as each machine’s fuel reservoir, for multiple months and seasons. If every fuel tank was easily detachable they could be emptied after each use. Keep an extra five-gallon gas container around for the waste fuel, which could be returned to a NYC SAFE Disposal event annually. Or the detachable tank could even be brought to the gas station and filled there.
Alternate solution: if each gas cap had movable dials that could be set to the exact date in which fresh gas had been added, you would at least know when it’s time to empty the tank and add fresh fuel. The only problem is that after all that yardwork, it’ll be your back that’s out of whack!