(OT) How did those old gas station bells work?

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olds...@tubes.com

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Sep 21, 2017, 1:46:43 PM9/21/17
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Back in the 60s, when I was a kid, I remember that most gas stations had
a rubber hose (about the same size as an air compressor hose), that laid
across the driveway, by the gas pumps.

When a car pulled up to the pump, and drove over that hose, a bell would
ring inside the station. This was back when the station attendant would
come outside and fill your tank. Also when many stations were also auto
repair shops. Thus, if the attendant was working on a car, he needed
that bell to alert him that there was a customer.

What I remember, is that those hoses were plugged on the end, (where it
laid on the driveway). I also recall seeing that bell inside at least a
few gas stations.

What I dont know, is how it worked.

I recently was in a small rural town, and saw an old gas station, which
appeared to have been closed for years. In that lot, laid that old
rubber hose. That brought back memories as well as leaving me with a
question.... How did they work?

I considered googling them, but I dont know what they were called, so I
decided to post this question here. I'm assuming the bell was powered by
electric, unless it ran off compressed air.

I can only guess that driving over the hose in the lot would cause the
air inside the hose to trigger some sort of switch, maybe by a some sort
of sensitive diaphram.

Does anyone have more information about these? As a kid, I thought they
were fascinating, and now I'd like to know how they worked. It's a thing
no longer used, but the memory lives on.... As well as the memory of gas
station attendants who not only filled your tank, but would check your
oil, wash your windows, and even handed you some S&H Greenstamps based
on the amount of gas you bought.


Rob

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Sep 21, 2017, 2:07:40 PM9/21/17
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olds...@tubes.com <olds...@tubes.com> wrote:
> I can only guess that driving over the hose in the lot would cause the
> air inside the hose to trigger some sort of switch, maybe by a some sort
> of sensitive diaphram.

It is just a firm hose (that will go back to its original shape after
a car has driven over it) closed at one end and with a pressure activated
switch on the other end. When a car drives over the hose, the air in the
hose is compressed and the switch activates.
The switch closes a circuit wired to the bell and a power supply.

Such pressure sensitive switches are used for other purposes as well,
e.g. to control the inlet of water in a washing machine. They are
commonly available.

John Larkin

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Sep 21, 2017, 2:11:03 PM9/21/17
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On Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:45:31 -0400, olds...@tubes.com wrote:

>Back in the 60s, when I was a kid, I remember that most gas stations had
>a rubber hose (about the same size as an air compressor hose), that laid
>across the driveway, by the gas pumps.
>
>When a car pulled up to the pump, and drove over that hose, a bell would
>ring inside the station. This was back when the station attendant would
>come outside and fill your tank. Also when many stations were also auto
>repair shops. Thus, if the attendant was working on a car, he needed
>that bell to alert him that there was a customer.
>
>What I remember, is that those hoses were plugged on the end, (where it
>laid on the driveway). I also recall seeing that bell inside at least a
>few gas stations.
>
>What I dont know, is how it worked.
>
>I recently was in a small rural town, and saw an old gas station, which
>appeared to have been closed for years. In that lot, laid that old
>rubber hose. That brought back memories as well as leaving me with a
>question.... How did they work?
>
>I considered googling them, but I dont know what they were called, so I
>decided to post this question here. I'm assuming the bell was powered by
>electric, unless it ran off compressed air.
>
>I can only guess that driving over the hose in the lot would cause the
>air inside the hose to trigger some sort of switch, maybe by a some sort
>of sensitive diaphram.

The air pressure spike probably rang the bell directly, no electricity
required. It was no doubt mechanically clever.

Traffic monitors are similar, but they are electronic.


--

John Larkin Highland Technology, Inc
picosecond timing precision measurement

jlarkin att highlandtechnology dott com
http://www.highlandtechnology.com

Peter Wieck

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Sep 21, 2017, 2:44:39 PM9/21/17
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None of the above. They (the actual bells) are electric, the hose does send an air impulse to an electric-fired bell. And they are still being made.

https://www.miltonsbells.com/

Consider the implications of an air-operated bell - pressure would have to be considerable, and it would have to be maintained. So, either it is on some kind of Pressure-Controlled fill-valve hooked to the compressed air system, or the 'hermetic seal' would have to be truly remarkable.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-GIERSBERG-CO-12314-SIGNAL-BELL-GAS-STATION-DRIVEWAY-SIGNAL-SYSTEM-/263207938169 Here is an old system - the air-fitting connection is clearly visible as is the bell transformer and switch mechanism.

Took me 45 seconds and a single search to get both references.

Peter Wieck
Melrose Park, PA

C.Copperpot

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Sep 21, 2017, 3:54:21 PM9/21/17
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On Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:44:37 -0700 (PDT), Peter Wieck <pf...@aol.com>
wrote:
I remember some stations had those bells dampered in some way. They
probably stuffed an oil rag into the bell.

Foxs Mercantile

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Sep 21, 2017, 5:24:18 PM9/21/17
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On 9/21/2017 1:44 PM, Peter Wieck wrote:
> Took me 45 seconds and a single search to get both references.

Ya-but, you're dealing with Mr. Shoelace.


--
Jeff-1.0
wa6fwi
http://www.foxsmercantile.com

Terry S

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Sep 21, 2017, 6:23:47 PM9/21/17
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:-)


Tom Biasi

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Sep 21, 2017, 9:21:26 PM9/21/17
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I examined them when I was a kid and the ones I saw had no electricity,
just a plunger that struck the bell when a vehicle squashed the hose.
That's not to say that some did not use electricity but the ones I saw
did not. What got me looking at it was when the power was off in the
whole town and the bell still rang.

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Sep 21, 2017, 9:29:12 PM9/21/17
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On Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:45:31 -0400, olds...@tubes.com wrote:

>Back in the 60s, when I was a kid, I remember that most gas stations had
>a rubber hose (about the same size as an air compressor hose), that laid
>across the driveway, by the gas pumps.
>
>When a car pulled up to the pump, and drove over that hose, a bell would
>ring inside the station. This was back when the station attendant would
>come outside and fill your tank. Also when many stations were also auto
>repair shops. Thus, if the attendant was working on a car, he needed
>that bell to alert him that there was a customer.
>
>What I remember, is that those hoses were plugged on the end, (where it
>laid on the driveway). I also recall seeing that bell inside at least a
>few gas stations.
>
>What I dont know, is how it worked.

A simple air pressure switch. stem on the hose, or drive over it, and
the volume of the hose is reduced, so the pressure increases, closing
the switch that powered the "clapper" on the bell. Dirt simple.
>
>I recently was in a small rural town, and saw an old gas station, which
>appeared to have been closed for years. In that lot, laid that old
>rubber hose. That brought back memories as well as leaving me with a
>question.... How did they work?
>
>I considered googling them, but I dont know what they were called, so I
>decided to post this question here. I'm assuming the bell was powered by
>electric, unless it ran off compressed air.
>
>I can only guess that driving over the hose in the lot would cause the
>air inside the hose to trigger some sort of switch, maybe by a some sort
>of sensitive diaphram.
>
>Does anyone have more information about these? As a kid, I thought they
>were fascinating, and now I'd like to know how they worked. It's a thing
>no longer used, but the memory lives on.... As well as the memory of gas
>station attendants who not only filled your tank, but would check your
>oil, wash your windows, and even handed you some S&H Greenstamps based
>on the amount of gas you bought.
>
You got it right

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Sep 21, 2017, 9:52:33 PM9/21/17
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Every service bell I've run into, at every shop I've worked at, was
an electric bell switched by the "air pulse" from the squeazed hose.
Most were "miltons" -a few "tru-flates",.
Every one of them had to be plugged in to the electrical supply - we
unplugged them at night to prevent them from triggering the alarm
system if someone drove over them after hours.

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Sep 21, 2017, 9:54:46 PM9/21/17
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Or the pump jockey hung his hat on it, or it was so covered in greasy
fith that it couldn't ring properly. Seen both.

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Sep 21, 2017, 9:55:41 PM9/21/17
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On Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:21:20 -0400, Tom Biasi <tomb...@optonline.net>
wrote:
Had to have a fat hose.

Tom Biasi

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Sep 21, 2017, 10:43:34 PM9/21/17
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I think mot of them probably used electricity but the one I looked at
did not.

Tom Biasi

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Sep 22, 2017, 12:56:55 AM9/22/17
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Not really.

rickman

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Sep 22, 2017, 3:16:30 AM9/22/17
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Might have run off the air compressor which remains pressurized for some
time after a power failure. It's hard to imagine such a small change in
volume producing enough work to ring a bell.

--

Rick C

Viewed the eclipse at Wintercrest Farms,
on the centerline of totality since 1998

Foxs Mercantile

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Sep 22, 2017, 8:13:38 AM9/22/17
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On 9/22/2017 2:16 AM, rickman wrote:
> Might have run off the air compressor which remains pressurized for
> some time after a power failure.  It's hard to imagine such a small
> change in volume producing enough work to ring a bell.

In the 4 stations I worked at as a gopher in the late '60s, NONE of
them had electric bells.

And NO, the hose wasn't full of air. It was full of oil.

The striker would hit the bell going up when someone rolled over the
hose, and again on the way down when they rolled off the hose.

Hence the da-ding every time.

Peter Wieck

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Sep 22, 2017, 4:58:52 PM9/22/17
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On Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 10:43:34 PM UTC-4, Tom Biasi wrote:

> I think mot of them probably used electricity but the one I looked at
> did not.

Those that did not ran from a car (or other 6V/12V) battery) If it were air-only, it would have to be connected to the compressor and run at a considerable pressure. Think about why. Carefully. Then, trust your memory when you come up with a system that would run effectively without electric power. Noting that even the gas pumps required power to work once the tanks went underground.

Tom Biasi

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Sep 22, 2017, 5:02:52 PM9/22/17
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Sorry Peter. It did not use electricity.

Peter Wieck

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Sep 23, 2017, 8:11:22 AM9/23/17
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On Friday, September 22, 2017 at 5:02:52 PM UTC-4, Tom Biasi wrote:

> Sorry Peter. It did not use electricity.

I am OK with that. But, it would have had to have been quite a complex system, likely with a spare reserve air-tank attached (or perhaps directly attached to the central compressed-air system. It would have required at least two pressure valves and (likely) a fatter hose than the electric system.

I am just wondering why an owner would purchase such a system if he had to have power for his compressor, pumps and more.

Tom Biasi

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Sep 23, 2017, 8:52:48 AM9/23/17
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The displacement from the squashed hose (let say a 15 cm tire squashing
1.5 cm ID hose) would displace enough for a plunger. Very simple device,
no compressor needed.

Peter Wieck

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Sep 23, 2017, 9:51:54 PM9/23/17
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On Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 8:52:48 AM UTC-4, Tom Biasi wrote:

> The displacement from the squashed hose (let say a 15 cm tire squashing
> 1.5 cm ID hose) would displace enough for a plunger. Very simple device,
> no compressor needed.

Only if the hose is well sealed, remains so, an never develops a leak. Again, this is part of the considerations in what would allow a non-reinforced (no electricity) system to remain operational and reliable over time. It would be simpler to postulate a connection to a reliable source of air to maintain a constant pressure.

Per William of Occam - eschew needless complexity. Air-only systems are perfectly feasible - but potentially unreliable, or potentially complex. I have no problem in principle with an air-only system. But I have found no historical references to same. Perhaps a pointer from you would solve that, although I well understand the fallacy of attempting to prove the negative.

It would seem, however, that if such as system were either common or standard, there would be a reference out there.

Dan

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Sep 24, 2017, 1:31:36 PM9/24/17
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Here is a you tube explanation for the old bells.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjVz-72r44g


<olds...@tubes.com> wrote in message
news:j4r7sc95jk4be9pni...@4ax.com...

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Sep 24, 2017, 7:17:55 PM9/24/17
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On Fri, 22 Sep 2017 07:13:29 -0500, Foxs Mercantile <jda...@att.net>
wrote:
Hydraulic bells may have been common somewhere, and I can see how
they would work - but they were unheared of here. As often as we
replaced the air hoses, the oilw ould have been all over the apron.

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Sep 24, 2017, 7:28:37 PM9/24/17
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On Sat, 23 Sep 2017 08:52:44 -0400, Tom Biasi <tomb...@optonline.net>
wrote:
Most of the hoses were a lot closer to 10mm inside diameter - perhaps
13mm. and a kid stepping on the hose or driving over it with a bike
would ring the bell. a 15cm hose is a FAT hose. and what if you drive
over it slowly? The piston slides up and moves the clapper OH SO
SLOWLY to the gong and it goes "tick". There may have been a few non
electric ones, but there are VERY many reasons they never became
popular.

If you can provide a link to an actual non-electric version of a
service bell I'll believe one actually existed commercially.

C.Copperpot

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Sep 24, 2017, 8:51:23 PM9/24/17
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Good 'ol tubes and valves

Tom Biasi

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Sep 25, 2017, 4:22:14 PM9/25/17
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On 9/24/2017 1:31 PM, Dan wrote:
> Here is a you tube explanation for the old bells.
>
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjVz-72r44g
>
That's how the electric ones worked.

Tom Biasi

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Sep 25, 2017, 4:25:25 PM9/25/17
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All that I did was relate what I saw as a kid. I wasn't looking for a
research project nor was I looking for someone else to do it.
If you don't believe they existed I really don't care.
Nowhere did I say they were common or standard.

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Sep 25, 2017, 9:06:29 PM9/25/17
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On Mon, 25 Sep 2017 16:25:20 -0400, Tom Biasi <tomb...@optonline.net>
wrote:
I still have no reference other than your assertion that they exist.
Not convinced they WOULD work - unless they had a fat trigger hose.

An air pulse triggered compressed air operted bell would be possible -
but needlessly complex and again no concrete reference that they ever
existed.

Someone

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Sep 25, 2017, 10:32:46 PM9/25/17
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Good Lord. This thread has been beaten to death. By a hose no less.

"Tom Biasi" wrote in message news:oqbonj$6i9$1...@dont-email.me...

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Sep 25, 2017, 11:36:38 PM9/25/17
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On Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:33:08 -0700, "Someone" <som...@example.com>
wrote:
I strongly suspect you "saw" something that did not exist. Your
understanding of how it worked was wrong/incomplete.

Tom Biasi

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Sep 26, 2017, 6:14:23 AM9/26/17
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Yes doctor.
Message has been deleted

herrman...@gmail.com

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Oct 15, 2017, 8:44:34 PM10/15/17
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On Sunday, September 24, 2017 at 4:28:37 PM UTC-7, cl...@snyder.on.ca wrote:

(snip on gas station hose bells)

> >The displacement from the squashed hose (let say a 15 cm tire squashing
> >1.5 cm ID hose) would displace enough for a plunger. Very simple device,
> >no compressor needed.

> Most of the hoses were a lot closer to 10mm inside diameter - perhaps
> 13mm. and a kid stepping on the hose or driving over it with a bike
> would ring the bell. a 15cm hose is a FAT hose. and what if you drive
> over it slowly? The piston slides up and moves the clapper OH SO
> SLOWLY to the gong and it goes "tick". There may have been a few non
> electric ones, but there are VERY many reasons they never became
> popular.

> If you can provide a link to an actual non-electric version of a
> service bell I'll believe one actually existed commercially.

The ones I remember would probably not ring if you drove slowly.

I do remember ringing them by foot, and that you had to really
jump hard. Just standing on the hose, or a slow step, would not
do it.

cl...@snyder.on.ca

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Oct 15, 2017, 10:58:35 PM10/15/17
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On Sun, 15 Oct 2017 17:44:33 -0700 (PDT), herrman...@gmail.com
wrote:
That happened with the electric ones too if there was ANY leak in the
system (and there usually was)

Ron in Radio Heaven

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Nov 15, 2017, 12:05:58 AM11/15/17
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I've got one across my driveway, we live on a heavily
wooded lot with a long driveway, I don't like having
someone unknown drive up to our front door.
Probably 40 years ago I found a pressure switch in
a box of junk where I worked, the boss had told me to
throw it all out. I took the switch home.
I went to the auto parts store and bought about 12 feet
of automotive heater hose. I cut 2 piece of alum round
stock, I drilled a hole through one and tapped it to fit
a small brass hose barb which I connected a piece of 1/4"
rubber tube to, this ran to a water proof box which held
to pressure switch, I ran a piece of army field phone wire
to the house and connected it to a doorbell.
It works great, even with someoen just stepping on the
hose will ring to bell. In about 30 years I've only had to
replace the hose once when it cracked...

73, Ron W4RON

John Doe

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May 24, 2022, 3:27:40 AMMay 24
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Kathy Kehoe <kathy...@gmail.com> wrote:

I'm guessing you might need to adjust your Google Groups settings so that it
does not remove crossposted groups, or so that it does not post only to the
group you are subscribed, or something like that.

pf...@aol.com

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May 24, 2022, 8:04:30 AMMay 24
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This would be a nearly five (5) year old thread. Really?
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