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How to measure fuel level in an oil drum?

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  • How to measure fuel level in an oil drum?

    I'm a big fan of our public use cabins. One issue I run into with most of ones that use oil fuel is figuring out how much fuel is in the oil drum. Seems that it is popular to put a 90 degree elbow on the bung which does not allow putting a stick in to dip. I have tried putting a sinker on a string, but that did not work either. And as for the thump down the drum method, I have about as much luck with that as I do locating studs by the same method. Which is no luck at all. Being half deaf doesn't help.

    Does anyone have a good method that doesn't involve a permanent change to the tank?

  • #2
    At home when I had fuel oil in a drum I used a yard stick and dipped the tank. Held it to the outside end, could tell right where the level was.


    • #3
      If you have sensitive fingertips the temperature difference will give you an idea, on a cold wet morning you might be able to see the condensation on the side of the tank, pouring hot water on the side of the tank might also show a line, an IR camera on your smartphone would be the new school equivalent to the above options. Depending upon the size of tank and how accurate you need to be picking the tank up, or trying to, will give you a ball park diesel weighs about 7 pounds per gallon so a 55 gallon drum should be pretty easy to lift when empty and not so much when full.
      I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned. Physicist ― Richard Feynman


      • #4
        Pour warm water on it and look for the condensation. Works with propane tanks too.
        Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.


        • #5
          Thanks all,

          These are remote public cabins so big technology or disconnecting the tank is not an option. Also as I said dipping is impossible. Going with SmokeRoss' suggestion, would one of those cheap propane tank tape measures you pour hot water over possibly work?


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