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Subject: Gasoline, solvents and TLAs
From: (Russ Kepler) 
Date: Apr 09 1996
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking

In article <>,
Steve Herrick  <> wrote:
>I keep an article for my students about gasoline and flame safety...
>It seems these two gents were in the process of cleaning some truck parts 
>using the good old stand by - gasoline for their solvent. Unfortunatly 
>for them they were also smoking ( but it just as easily could have been 
>the pilot light in the water heater). The resulting explosion blew the 
>garage door ( the big one) across the street, and one of the fellows 
>through the opening where the door used to be... 

Let me explain one of the reasons why people use gasoline (petrol) as
a solvent, or at least why I may in the future.

I needed some degreaser, and figuring I should do it the right way,
contacted a couple of industrial suppliers asking about degreasers. 
It seems that most of the local shops were using something called
Rinsolve 360, and that it was likely ideal for my purposes.  After
getting a quote, I headed out to buy some.

On arrival I was politely greeted, asked what I wanted and we
proceeded to make the transaction.  I was asked my name, address and
phone number, and we couldn't go forward without it.  When I said that
this was going to be a cash transaction and wondered at the reason for
all the questions, they said that since they also sold chemicals on
the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) restricted list that they had to
have all purchaser's names and addresses.  I asked them if the solvent
I was buying was on the restricted list, got the admission that it
wasn't as well as the curious statement that it didn't matter, they
had to get name and address info anyway.  I figured that it wasn't
worth bitching about, and gave the info, which was duly checked
against the phone book and the transaction proceeded.

The fellow writing up the order then went to a large filing cabinet,
rummaged for some time and came back with a 10 page MSDS (Material
Safety Data Sheet?) telling me what I was buying, suggested that I
don't inhale the vapors, ignite the compound, that it could be
carcinogenic, etc. etc. etc.  I said that I was reasonably confident
that it wasn't going to kill me right away, given that it's used by
most all of the local auto shops, and that I didn't need the MSDS.  He
suggested that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
would be very angered if I didn't get one, and that I'd have to sign a 
release if I insisted on leaving it on his desk.  Figuring that the
muttering behind me from the 3-4 people waiting to pick up orders was
a larger health risk, I acquiesced and took the MSDS with me.  

At this point I figured that I should be done with the TLAs (Three Letter 
Acronyms).  I was wrong.

Since I was getting 5 gallons of a petrochemical, I figured that I had
maybe 35-40 pounds of material to get, and that I could walk the 40
feet from the front door to the loading dock, grab my can and make the
short drive home.  On arrival I found that they wouldn't give it to
me, quoting that they couldn't transfer it to me without my being in a
"spill area" in front of the loading dock.  EPA (Environmental
Protection Agency) regulations.  Never mind that this solvent has a
high enough evap rate that it'll be gone within minutes of spilling
(this is New Mexico, after all).  That didn't matter, I was buying a
*solvent* and EPA regs insist that the transfer be over a spill area. 
Fine, screw it, it's just another small problem, I'll pull the truck
over, load it up and split.

Back in the truck (note the *back* in, they couldn't have me facing *in*, 
mind you, and I *had to back in* for the transfer to be effected properly,
and the guy says that he can't load the 5 gallon can.  DOT (Department of
Transportation) regulations don't permit him to load the solvent into
the "passenger" area of a vehicle.  Not like I've got a hell of a choice,
it's a freaking Toyota Landcruiser wagon (sort of a 4WD station wagon
on steroids).  I promise to be a good boy and to drive with all the
windows down, he then says that he's got a problem with the lack of
tiedowns in the back.

I suspect that the look in my eyes (similar, I imagine, to that of a
sniper climbing a tall tower) convinced him that it might be a wee bit
healthier to load the solvent than to continue chatting with me.  He
and I loaded it (I was tempted to explain that WIFE regulations
required that I take a personal hand in loading operations) (he was
starting to say something about OSHA not allowing me to put a hand on
it before it was in my truck) and I got the heck outta there.

Next time I'll likely head to the local hardware store and buy a
gallon of mineral spirits and a gallon of kerosene, mix the damn stuff
and use it.  If I'm really feeling lazy I'll just hoof it to the gas
station and buy a gallon of the cheap stuff and use it instead, at 1/5
the cost and 1/10 the hassle.

And some people wonder why folks use gasoline as a solvent. I don't.

Russ Kepler posting from home

                      Please don't feed the Engineers

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