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55 gal steel drum - over 100 yrs old

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Grandpas-Grandson's items2 of 2Barrel bung caps Barrel bung caps
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    Posted 4 years ago

    (2 items)

    This barrel was my Grandpa’s fuel tank. It had a brass valve (now missing) for filling cans to fill tractor. It sat on a “rolling/tilling “ frame that allowed you to tilt it as can got low on fuel.
    I thought it was unusual and is in good shape for its age. If I understand the #’s correctly it was built in June of 1908

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    1. drumguy, 4 years ago
      Hey GG, Your galvanized steel barrel is not quite 100 yrs old, but very close so hold on to your party hat. Here is what I know. Starting around 1920, the US, the Interstate Commerce Commission required an ICC code (e.g. ICC-5) as well as a trinomial code that states Gauge-Volume Capacity-Year (e.g. 18-55-42) on all metal drums containing hazardous materials like fuel. ICC-5 means that your drum met the regulatory standards for shipment of petroleum products. ICC regulatory functions were replaced by the Department of Transportation (DOT) beginning in 1969. Your drum head mark “16-55-23” identifies the drum as 16-gauge steel, 55-gallon capacity and manufactured in 1923. The ICC also required a drum manufacturer name or initials (e.g. W&B, PMC Co., USS), or logo (like a trademark “anchor”). Your drum has an “anchor” logo that was the trademark of the Meurer Steel Barrel Co., Inc. formerly of New York. In the 1910s-1920s, they were one of the largest (quantity-wise) manufacturer of steel barrels in the US (A 1920 magazine ad for Meurer boasts that they could produce 2000 barrels a day). Meurer produced barrels to order for various refining companies, and your barrel was made for the Gulf Refining Company. This petroleum company ordered thousands of 55-gallon capacity barrels with their name on it. Unlike the lightweight 18 and 20-gauge drums that are made today, these early heavier gauge drums (13, 14, 16 gauge) were expensive to make and so they were meant to be used over and over again, that is they were returned to the petroleum company to be refilled and sent back out. Remember, in the teens and 1920s, gasoline stations were not found on every corner. The last number 282844 is an inventory number so that Gulf Refining could kept track of their drum as it went out full and came back empty. The Patent (Pat) date of June 30, 1908 is what is throwing you off. The patent date is for US patent no. 891,895 for the “Steel Barrel” that was owned by the Meurer Steel Barrel Co. for their drum manufacturing. You will find this same patent date on drums made by different manufacturers that paid Meurer for permission to use that patented design for their drum manufacturing well into the 1920s. Your barrel is also interesting because your grandpa (or somebody) modified the barrel for easy handling by first moving the two steel barrel hoops to the ends of the barrel, and then welding handles onto the applied heavy steel rims that cover the barrel end seams to protect them during shipping. Neat barrel, thanks for sharing.
    2. drumguy, 3 years ago
      Hey GG,
      I tried zooming in on your six-sided steel bung cap. It looks like the rim of the cap is embossed with letters, and maybe says even says "Meurer Steel Barrel, USA", but the zoom in gets too pixelated on my end. I would be interested in knowing what it says because I have not see one like that before - that is, one that has the manufacturers name actually spelled out on it. There are lots of variations of six-sided steel bung caps from the 1920s.

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