Fuel Fail and Recovery

We had a stretch of glorious weather going there for a while – sunny, warm, breezy. Perfect spring weather, and perfect for long-deferred outdoor work. Rainy and cold now – it was nice while it lasted.

While it was nice, I decided to finish harvesting a tree I felled back before the snow flew. On Saturday I fired up the tractor and started loading the bucket with the tools of the woodsman’s trade. I broke out my chainsaw and as I went to fill it with gas-oil mix, I realized that the can was empty. I had emptied it into my truck tank as part of my monthly fuel-swap program, and hadn’t yet gone to the gas station to refill the jug for the saw. Worse yet, I had empty 5- and 2.5-gallon cans rattling around in the back of my truck too. Bad prepper!

That’s clearly not acceptable – I have a diabetic kid, and being caught shy of a full load of gas does not bode well for keeping the generator turning and the fridge cold. It also stood to put a crimp in my woodlot plans. I could have easily fixed the problem with a trip to the gas station, but it was already late in the afternoon and wasting another half hour didn’t sound great. And I suppose I could have tapped into the rest of my gas and pulled a gallon out to make some mix, but I remembered a purchase I made a while ago that saved my day the easy way, and gave me a chance to test a product.

IMG_20140412_173521_911A couple of years ago, I bought a eight-quart case of VP Small Engine Fuel from Bailey’s Logging Products. I was intrigued by the thought of having a shelf-stable, premixed, ethanol-free two-cycle engine fuel ready to go on the shelf, in case I couldn’t get a fresh supply of fuel. Apocalypse chainsaw fuel – because you never know when you’re going to need to fell a tree. Or a zombie.

I forget what I paid for the stuff, but it was a hell of a lot more than I’d have paid for two gallons of gas at the time, even though I’m pretty sure I bought it on sale. I recall Brother Harold and Uncle Buck being skeptical of my purchase at the time, and understandably so – pricey stuff. Just maintaining and rotating a stock of fuel is definitely more cost effective, but I bought the stuff anyway.

I pulled out a can on Saturday and threw it in the Stihl. I was a little hesitant at first – it smells more like toluene or xylene – the stuff in plastic model cement – than gasoline. I was pleased when the saw fired right up, and seemed to have a little more pep than usual. It was actually a joy to be cutting – nice fat long chips from a brand-new chain are a thing of beauty.

I just took a look at the shipping label on the box, and I bought the stuff back in October 2012. Not too shabby – sitting on the shelf for a year and a half, and no issues. I’d consider adding another case to my stocks if it weren’t so dang expensive. Amazon doesn’t seem to carry it, and although there are some local dealers, I’d expect about the same $25 a gallon price point as buying from Bailey’s. Still, four gallons of shelf-stable fuel can probably run my saw long enough to fell and buck a season’s worth of wood, and spending a hundred bucks on that seems like cheap insurance.

Something to consider. And yes, I did fill up those fuel jugs on Sunday. Just after gas prices spiked eight cents a gallon. Naturally.

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