The cog in the wheel of every fuel dispensing operation, yet often overlooked, is the service station nozzle or fuel nozzle.
They are of course, the most used gas station service equipment. Without them, you simply can’t imagine a gas station to exist.
Naturally, for any gas station owner, knowing about these fascinating contraptions — how they function, what essential features every service station nozzle must have, how to take care of them — should be a common exercise.
But because we use them so extensively (and because they’re significantly cheaper than other equipment at our gas stations), we tend to take them for granted and hardly make an effort to learn anything about them.
Today, guilty as charged—admitting, we ought to have known our fuel nozzles better—we set out on an educational journey, where we’ll rectify our mistake and learn:
- How service station nozzles work?
- What are the features you should look for in particular, when shopping for a fuel nozzle?
- How to keep your service station nozzles in top notch condition?
So without any further delays, let’s get started…
How service station nozzles work?
It’s pure mechanics.
You press on the lever on the nozzle…
Yes, this one here!
…and that lever pushes the main valve upwards, and at the same time presses the fuel shutoff valve downwards.
What’s the function of these valves and where are they present?
Both these valves are present inside the fuel nozzle. The main valve covers a small orifice, while the fuel shutoff valve has a vacuum operated diaphragm on top of it. When in their original positions, they block the flow of gasoline.
So when they move from their positions, it gives the gasoline an open path to flow from the dispenser and into the car’s tank.
However, this flow only lasts for a short period of time.
To draw more gasoline from the dispenser, there needs to be an additional acting force that could support the flow of gasoline.
This is where air comes in.
At the tip of your fuel nozzle is a small hole. Through this hole, air enters and travels all the way to the fuel shutoff valve, where it pushes gasoline to flow as a continuous stream of fluid.
As the tank fills up, the gasoline inside the car’s tank covers the hole present at the nozzle’s tip, stopping the flow of air. When air stops flowing through, a vacuum is created above the fuel shut-off valve. This vacuum exerts a suction force on the diaphragm present at the top of the shut-off valve, pushing the valve upwards. The upward movement of the shutoff valve causes the lever to snap back into its original position. When the lever snaps back, the main valve follows and falls into its original position.
Gasoline no longer has an open path to flow and the dispensing stops.
What are the features you should look for in particular, when shopping for a fuel nozzle?
Although there’re many things to consider when buying a fuel nozzle, every gas station owner should ensure that their purchase has these three important features:
- The nozzle should have an automatic shut-off feature
- It should have a no pressure – no flow shut off feature
- It should have a full hand insulator to protect vehicles from scratches and cuts.
How to Keep Your Service Station Nozzles in Top Notch Condition?
The key to keeping your service station nozzle in top notch condition is ensuring that they’re not mishandled.
Quite often, your staff or customer (in case of self-service station pumps) would handle the nozzle too recklessly, either exerting excessive pull force or not stationing them properly on the dispenser after a refuel.
Excessive pull force can damage your service station nozzle, while improper stationing of the nozzle can cause it to drop, and receive cuts and dents from subsequent falls.
Since incidents like these are common in fuel dispensing settings, it’s important that you perform periodic checks on the nozzle to ensure that it isn’t leaking. If your nozzle shows any visible signs of leakage, get it replaced.
And well, that’s it; that’s all you need to know about gas station nozzles.
A BONUS read: Making a gas station safe – The inspection checklist.