british 4 gallon can

Manufacturers, production numbers, configurations, etc.
Chaz
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british 4 gallon can

Post by Chaz » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:30 am

Hi, I picked up a couple of British four gallon cans recently and thought some of might be interested in seeing them. I'd be interested in any info you have about these cans.
Size, 15 inches by 9 by 9. Both are tinned steel with soldered seams, side seam rolled and soldered. Zinc lids. Painted desert sand with black brush painted over. One dated 1939, other 1940.
Cheers,

Chaz
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Post by gerrykan » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:45 pm

Chaz,
Pictures are always welcome, especially pictures of uncommon cans.
I cannot offer much.
This type of can is usually referred to as a flimsy.
As a legacy from the days when "Carless, Capel and Leonard had invented the trade name "Petrol", for refined petroleum spirit, the flimsy tinned-iron had survived as the only petrol container issued by the QMG. Fragile in themselves, these "tins" were rendered even more vulnerable to the dangers of long distance transport by the lack of timber framing which would have prevented the upper layers of tins crushing the lower. In a ship's hold the weight of thousands of tins crushed other thousands to a flat sheet of metal. The losses were as high as 40% of a vital war material, which had to be imported through seas already taking a grievous toll of imports.
From this site: http://www.history.petop.co.uk/html/jerrican.html

The four gallon is the big brother of the two gallon petrol tin, also often times called a flimsy.
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makers name

Post by bombtech » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:11 pm

Chaz,
Great find, thanks for the pics, I would really like to get one of these for my collection some day. I would also like to add these two cans to the data base. Could you please spell out the makers name on the 1940 can?
cheers,
Rick
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Re: makers name

Post by Chaz » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:37 pm

bombtech wrote:Chaz,
Could you please spell out the makers name on the 1940 can?
The makers name is really unclear, but I think it's JF&S Ltd. I did debate sanding off some of the paint today to try and make it clearer, but decided to leave it as it is. Will have another look tomorow...
Database, what database???
Cheers,

Chaz
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Post by Chuck Lutz » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:03 pm

From the look of them, there must be a wrench specifically designed to open and close TIGHTLY the cap on them...

PS....as per Roy's post....the holds of ships with leaking flimsies needed their bilges to be pumped out to remove the sloshing gasoline from the cans. Probably scared the crew to death.....and probably more than one freighter went ballistic when something ignited all the gasoline in there and it set off the rest of the cargo....

B - O - O - M!!!!
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Post by Chaz » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:10 pm

Chuck Lutz wrote:From the look of them, there must be a wrench specifically designed to open and close TIGHTLY the cap on them...
Any screwdriver, back edge of knife, spanner handle, chunk of metal, etc. will open them. I cleaned the loose rust out of the 39 can with a few handfulls of broken windscreen and some diesel, fully expected the can to leak in every direction as it's quite badly pitted on the outside, but only found one pinhole which was easily soldered. The lid seals easily by hand, no sign of a leak despite being left upside down overnight to check for pinholes, though obviously I'd tighten it properly if I was using the can for fuel.
Cheers,

Chaz
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Post by gerrykan » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:19 pm

At the beginning of the Second World War, the British Army were equipped with simple rectangular fuel containers: a 2 Imperial gallon (9 litres) container made of pressed steel and a 4 gallon (18 litres) container made from tin plate. While the 9 litre - 2 gallon containers were relatively strong, they were expensive to produce. The 18 litre - 4 gallon containers, which were mainly manufactured in the third world, were cheap and plentiful but they were not very robust. Consequently they were colloquially known as flimsies.

While adequate for transportation by road in Europe, the flimsies proved to be extremely unsatisfactory during the North African Campaign and severely hampered the operation of the British 8th Army. The transportation of fuel over rough terrain often resulted in much of the fuel being lost as the containers were easily punctured. The resultant leakages also made the transportation vehicles liable to fuel fires.
From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerrican

The 244 squadron of Coastal Command was formed in 1943 at Sharjah in Trucial Oman and based on Masirah Island. It was engaged on night anti-submarine patrols, anti-shipping patrols and maritime reconnaissaince of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman.

Masirah itself, just rock, sand and sea, was without any natural resources. Every drop of fresh water, food,fuel and equipment came by ship.
When the first RAF detachment arrived, building was the first problem. Every item of material to erect living accomodation, stores, offices,workshops had to be brought in by ship.

However, a further problem brought a solution to the first, aviation fuel came in four gallon tins, as it took 270 tins to fuel a Wellington aircraft for its 9 hour operational flight, soon thousands of empty tins had accumulated on the island. Then someone had a bright idea and a remarkable and unique form of architecture was born. Tins were filled with sand and laid like bricks on a three inch concrete foundation, the tin roofs were covering with plastering of sand and cement.
So Masirah became Petrol Tin Island.
From here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stor ... 4778.shtml
Roy

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Re: makers name

Post by Chaz » Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:38 am

bombtech wrote:Could you please spell out the makers name on the 1940 can?
I had a better look today and I think it's FF&S Ltd. The first letter is far from clearly stamped... A quick Google and it seems FF&Sltd (F.Fisher and Sons Ltd) also made bayonets in ww2. There is a third can which belongs to a friend, will check and see what maker it is.

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Post by SteveJ » Wed Jun 25, 2008 8:23 pm

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Here are the two gallon and the one gallon cans Ive seen them marked for fuel and for water in both sizes. These ones were made by GSW General Steel Wares. The petrol in 1944 and the water one in 1941. They are also marked with the Canadian Broad Arrow C. The two gallon style was also used as a water reservoir for the Vickers .303 Machine gun. these were actually very sturdy cans and can not be compared to the tinplate flimseys.
Here is a WW2 2 gallon fuel can funnel also made by GSW and marked with the broad arrow C.

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Post by tankbarrell » Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:23 am

These cans are not flimsies. The flimsie was just that, a 4 gallon, disposable can made from very thin sheet. It had no cap and was designed to be opened by puncturing and then discarded.

I have a couple of the cans pictured in the above thread, both retrieved from my skip (dumpster), the things some people throw away!

Both are embossed W/I\D underneath, a 1941 BMB (Briggs Motor Bodies?) and an undated MMOR (?).

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MMOR ?

Post by bombtech » Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:10 am

Any chance of a photo of the MMOR markings? Do not have this one for the data base and would be glad to add it
Cheers,
Rick
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1989 Perentie for sale
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Post by Chaz » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:18 pm

tankbarrell wrote:These cans are not flimsies. The flimsie was just that, a 4 gallon, disposable can made from very thin sheet. It had no cap and was designed to be opened by puncturing and then discarded.

I have a couple of the cans pictured in the above thread, both retrieved from my skip (dumpster), the things some people throw away!

Both are embossed W/I\D underneath, a 1941 BMB (Briggs Motor Bodies?) and an undated MMOR (?).

Hi Tankbarrell, are you referring to the 4 gallon cans at the start of this thread not being flimsys? or SteveJ's 2 and 1 gallon cans??

Here's a pic I stole from somewhere a couple of years ago,
Image
photo from the North African desert collection of Prof. Vance Haynes
From left to right: the 'POL' - Petrol-Oil-Liquid - container; British Flimsy; 'Improved' British Flimsy (stronger metal); German 'Jerry' Can.


You can just about make out some kind of cap? on the non-improved flimsy. I'd be interested to see any pic of an early flimsy without a cap, looked and I haven't found one yet... :?
How would you seal petrol into a metal container without some kind of screw cap?? Unless the lid just pressed in???
Cheers,

Chaz
1942 Willys, Airborne jeep bits, Commer Q4 ,Landrover, etc.
http://www.goatpark.force9.co.uk/tempsite/home.htm

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Post by tankbarrell » Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:36 am

Chaz,

I agree with you regarding the lack of cap. I think the cap was just a simple lid, pressed in and not intended to be re-sealed. I think you had to puncture the 'cap' to remove it, though I might be wrong.

Excellent pic though, I'd never thought of them as 'improved flimsies' though that is a bit of an oxymoron! Looks like that's what they are though.
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Bombtech, this is the underside.

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Post by gerrykan » Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:27 pm

Regarding the dates on the cans of Chaz and tankbarrel.

Chaz's cans both have threaded lids.
They are dated 1939, and 1940.


tankbarrel's cans do not have threaded lids.
One is dated 1941.

Did the War Department modify the can specification?
If the cans seldom arrived unscathed for refueling, why bother to have threaded lids?
They could probably be built faster, besides freeing up important machinery(needed to add threaded lids) for other important jobs.




Image
tankbarrel,
Regarding your MMOR can:
Although there is no date embossed into the can, the photo reveals what might be a date either inked, or painted on.
In the lower right, just left of the circle, looks like 41.
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Post by Chuck Lutz » Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:04 pm

Well, here is another thought on the cans with no resealable openings....

Not knowing how the Brits or Canadians did things, I thought about this and wondered if the idea of refueling in the Brit Army would allow for "disposable" cans in the quantity it would take to fuel large vehicles. The cost of the can and the shipping costs of canned fuel vs. a tanker would be prohibitive....there must have been a RESEALABLE can for field refueling and carrying fuel on front-line vehicles....

My theory is that the British developed a resealable can (screwtop) to use for fuel. It could be returned for refilling and re-issued to units and used to refuel and to transport fuel in smaller units as needed. These are what we call "flimsies" because the construction is so flimsy that reusing them in anything but a perfect training environment will damage them. Even stacking them on pallets a few layers high seems to have been enough to damage them.

No, I wonder if those cans that were NOT resealable were for lubricants, which would not be carried on every front-line vehicle, would be consumed at a much lower rate than fuel, and could be used and discarded.

Can someone more familiar with the British Army way of transporting FUEL vs LUBRICANTS let us know what they think?
Chuck Lutz

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