Open theme for Sepia Saturday this week had me more indecisive than usual. I think I prefer a theme photo. The family albums hold quite a few intriguing photos so I've selected one from my father-in-law's album that I scanned just a few weeks ago.
Neil understands fuel. When he was growing up in Mitiamo his father had a country store that included fuel pumps and supplied oils and fuel to the local farming community. After his war service, in the 1950s, Neil took over the management of the Vacuum Oil fuel depot in Kerang (and later the Amoco depot). He stayed in the business until he retired.
In the fifties the fuel was delivered from Melbourne to Kerang by train, the steam train shunting the tanker-laden carriages back onto a siding at the depot. The fuel then had to be decanted into tanks at the depot. The fuel and oils were then further decanted into 44-gallon drums so they could be loaded onto a truck for delivery around Kerang and the farms. In later years the fuel was delivered to Kerang by road tanker. This is one of the three trucks Neil and Tom had. It was used to deliver heating fuel. (It still exists - we have it in one of our sheds. It's never been restored but Phil gives the motor a run every now and again.)
|N K Phelan and T Henderson, Kerang. The 1948 Morris Commercial
truck that was used to deliver Amoco heating oil around the town.
We don't appear to have any photos of the depots and I checked online to see if there are any other photos of small-town fuel depots, and failed, so this photo probably has historical merit. Neil is the tall bloke in the centre and he is preparing to load avgas into the helicopter. He had a storage shed at the airport where he kept the hose reel and trolley, several drums of avgas, signs and other equipment. The trolley had four wheels, the front ones on a swivel and the back ones fixed, and had a hand pump attached. The handle that you can see on the ground was used to pull the trolley.
|Neil Phelan refuelling a helicopter at Kerang Airport c1960
We have this metal sign (below) from those days - we mounted it on the wood. It was on the wall of the shed at the airport to remind Neil and others of the correct safety procedures when they were fuelling the aircraft. They probably didn't need to read it as they knew the procedures backwards, but...
...I notice that the sign doesn't mention other OHS (Occupation Heath and Safety) issues such as refuelling when there is a whole class of children clustered around! There are children in the helicopter (who knows what switches they're touching), the trolley handle is in a dangerous position and they are in an extremely volatile work environment.
|Aircraft Fuelling Drill. Vacuum Oil metal sign
Now it is all much easier. The roads are in much better condition and the big fuel tankers deliver directly to the farm storage tanks. But Neil is 90 years old and in good health so the physical work doesn't appear to have been damaging.
Click on any image to view larger. You can see other significant photos over at Sepia Saturday.