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HOW WE MADE GASOLINE
Page 2

The Explosion

by Norris Chambers

Page 1 ... The barrel kept getting hotter, and the gasoline was shooting out of the pipe in a gushing stream. The fire down the side of the barrel was getting larger.

My dad said, "You better run to the house and tell your mother that we are all right. It's going to blow. I'll stay here and catch all the gas I can." I took off in a fast run, jumping the fence into the calf pasture, hurried across it and jumped it on the other side. I was just below the hog pen, which was on the top of the hill. It was at this point that it exploded.

The ground trembled, and there was a blast that sounded like thunder. I looked back, and there was a large, black ring about two or three hundred feet in the air flaming in the center. Soon the flame burned out, and there was a tremendous black doughnut high in sky. It was a beautiful sight, in an awesome sort of way.

At the same moment the shock wave struck, the chickens got excited and ran squawking in all directions and, believe it or not, one of the pigs jumped out of the pen. It is unusual for a pig to jump. One might root his way under, but never jump. I will always remember that lost pig "oinking" and trying to find his way back into the pen. I continued my journey to the house and informed my mother that we had anticipated the blast, and all was well. She insisted on accompanying me back to the scene. When we arrived, everything was quiet. My dad was pouring his gasoline into the storage barrel and was grinning from ear to ear.

"You should have seen how fast it came out before it blew," he told us. "The explosion went straight up, and didn't do anything except blow the top out of the drum." He was right. The barrel still stood there on the rocks, its top missing. The pipe that ran into the tank was curled up for about fifteen feet. The top was missing. We found the top several weeks later, a few hundred yards from the scene, well hidden in some brush. The barrel was burned so nice and clean that we used it for years for hauling water.

We had some old clothes hanging on the bushes that we used to wipe our hands. About thirty minutes after the explosion, one of our few neighbors came hurriedly through the brush toward our site. He saw the old rags on the bushes, and he thought that was all that was left of us after the explosion. People as far as ten miles away heard the explosion and saw the ring in the sky. There were all kinds of guesses as to what happened. One theory was that a balloon had exploded at a picnic in the next county.

It never occurred to us that our process was dangerous. If the drum had burst on a side, or on the bottom, all of that fire and smoke could have been directed toward my dad, and the gasoline he was catching could have ignited. We got another barrel and continued to make gasoline for several seasons without further mishap.

This is not a project that I would recommend. Besides being very dangerous, it is no doubt illegal. (It might have been then).

So stick to your profitable knitting - and above all, HAVE FUN!


Norris Chambers
March 1, 2004

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