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Old 12-25-2014, 12:53 PM   #1
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GAS STATION TANGO... or waltz

This is more for Newbie's pulling a trailer and leaving the highway to top off the gasoline tank.

Not all Gas Stations are created EQUAL. Saving a couple cents can cost you thousands of dollars... Not the quality of the fuel, as it usually is delivered by the same Fuel Tanker wanting to empty their tank and head back for another refill for delivery.

The Gas Station Tango is an ART and SKILL. Some stations were built on a lot not big enough to begin with. The shortage of space is taken from the width of the gas pump aisles and exits...

As you are deciding which station to pull into... consider how you are GOING TO GET OUT OF THERE first. Unless it is a truck stop with plenty of room and sometimes an area for trailer's in tow... you must be very careful which aisle of pumps you select. Otherwise you will have to back out as you cannot pull the trailer out of the aisle without knocking over some iron posts or a pump or two.

I prefer having to turn to my LEFT as my mirror is accurate compared to the passenger's side mirror and its distorted view of the real world wanting to side swipe you like a blade on a farmer's plow. I have detoured around stations that presented potential high centering while exiting (like most of those stations in Flagstaff, Arizona) or at those convenient stores where it is crowded and no room for error in clearing parked cars or pump "guards".

I also like to be on the outside left pump aisle and turn to the RIGHT. So, I am a switch hitter in that respect. But, I know in advance what I am doing. It is not "left" to chance. (I thought that funny...)

You want to WALTZ through. It takes some experience. I like the aisle of pumps that are the easiest to exit. Sometimes it is not possible as the trailer is blocking ingress and egress into the station.

When we travel, we know which gas stations or truck stops that are convenient. They are marked into our gasoline log book for the tow vehicle. Often they are outside of a town or city and less expensive. These truck stops also offer free water and grey/black water dumps. Just buy their fuel is all they ask... and they do not even monitor that.

This might seem like Common Sense to those who have driven around the World three times and made a round trip across the Pacific Ocean... but please add some paragraphs of wisdom. If you are an experienced golf player, you have to plan your shots ahead of time. Same with the seemingly simple task of refueling... but with a 16 foot or 34 foot trailer in tow... add snow, fog and fogged up sun glasses to your golf mix.

What appears simple without a trailer in tow... can give you the mistaken impression that this is "a piece of cake". It is not. Replacing ten feet of aluminum skin on an Airstream is not worth it. Also leaving your rear bumper at the Cheap Fuel Stop... is not worth it either.
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Old 12-25-2014, 02:09 PM   #2
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You think you've got it bad… I drive an Airstream Interstate and pull a toad. You can't back a toad. So I have to choreograph my fuel stops such that I don't have to back up at all.

I was so low on fuel at one stop that I couldn't risk bypassing the next service station. Even though there was hardly room for my Interstate, let alone my toad. When I saw there wasn't enough room to maneuver, I disconnected the toad and parked it off to the side, then fueled up, then reconnected the toad when I was away from the pumps. Not my favorite way to handle it, but you do what you've got to.
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Old 12-25-2014, 02:33 PM   #3
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My take is more of where to take on fuel based on a known end point for the day.

Fuel stops are few, maybe once daily. Even if twice it is easy enough to plan ahead. Use Google Street View and overhead pics to make sure ones choice is best.

I limit my choices to specific fuel brands and retailers. I then choose location based on 50% consumption or thereabouts as well as combining it with the four hour drive time safety 1-hr break. I prefer stations in same direction of travel and beyond any controlled intersections between that station and the Interstate entrance ramp.

If there is a major metro area to traverse I then choose a station on either side of that (about where the speed limit is either reduced or is increased if that can be determined) as entry/egress to the Interstate is always easier. One side or the other of that metro area depending on the time of day, anticipated traffic, etc., as well as the need for breaks.

Don't ever assume you'll make it the other side in a reasonable time. Yes, one has bath and food, but the thought of hitting E should be sobering. One may wish to fuel twice that day, for example. Or use the stop on the other side purely as a rest break.

Sounds complicated, but isn't. A few minutes of time the day before or even months ahead (and noted in a trip plan with address/phone number of station given to family so that my route can be reconstructed). I'm used to being able to predict travel times/distances with accuracy for work. Doing so for pleasure, when covering distance to a vacation spot is the goal, makes this sort of planning a skill you'll enjoy. Don't shortchange it.

This planning is no different than choosing a camping spot in advance, even if just a free overnight at a retailer. Controlling the length of the day to get the most from it, but with least stress, takes a bit of discipline. The day will have enough problems to solve without heightening blood pressure just to get fuel. Get that out of the way.

We often traveled based on a lunch choice suggested by www.roadfood.com. Even if out of route that was often a good area in which to purchase fuel. Most folks need a restroom break in well under two hours after a meal, sometimes not even an hour. Knowing this it was easy enough to accommodate all three things.

I know there are those who substitute feelings for thinking and find this "restricting". The opposite is so. A well placed rest break + fuel stop opens opportunities for heading down a different highway. So mark a few other good choices every 100 miles or so from outset. Even if they are off the main road, but meet the entry/egress requirements it leaves one with the greatest range of options.

To color this further is to do consider circadian rhythm and dawn/dusk times. GAISMA is a site I have used for years to know the latter, and respecting the former is just good practice. Do your maneuvers in daylight, and before 1400 or after 1600, in general. Others are affected as well, remember.

I also avoid the conventional lunch hour. Again, I do this for work and wish to avoid stress thus minimize risk. That I am in & out faster is a benefit. I am usually more easily able to find a parking spot as well.

These last aren't hard and fast. But on days where distance is desirable my control over the number of stops as well as duration is to my benefit. And to maintaining the idea that this is in fun.

My day is broken into legs of distance. Known points. Leave the momentary stresses of traffic the single problem of being on the road. They are enough.

.


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Old 12-25-2014, 02:57 PM   #4
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We signed up with a local fuel distributor. They belong to the CFN commercial fuel network. They have a great app for finding depots and most fuel depots are out of the center of town and set up for commercial/agricultural applications. No store, no food and professional drivers. Works well for us. We also found it great for our teenage kids. We just got additional cards with a monthly limits based on distances to school and MPG. No more arguing and fighting for gas money. We get billed bi-weekly at a low bulk price and some Chevron stations are also covered. brad


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Old 12-25-2014, 03:15 PM   #5
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If I can plan my stops ahead of time, I often use Google Street View to see if I can get in and out of a fuel station easily. It also comes in handy to determine whether the station sells diesel or not...just look for the green pump or price sign by the street.
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Old 12-25-2014, 04:37 PM   #6
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Post #1: I also like to be on the outside "RIGHT pump aisle and turn to the RIGHT". So, I am a switch hitter in that respect. But, I know in advance what I am doing. It is not "left" to chance. (I thought that funny...)
****
Had meant Right, when I had left... so there you go. Left it out.

When traveling the western interior USA... when your gasoline gauge is reading HALF TANK start looking to top off the tank.

Driving from Albuquerque, NM to Soccorro, NM and then west to Magdalena, NM the main gas station in the center of town... if you call it a center of town, had NO Regular or Premium fuel. Our regular stop. Apparently the owner was spending money on more than the station's bills. So, out here you cannot depend on a small station to be open when you are traveling.

Luckily we keep a gasoline log and distance, towing mileage to the next town and calculated we would make it... but will not make that mistake again!
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Old 12-26-2014, 08:46 AM   #7
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We had "empty diesel tank anxiety" while traveling the Trans Canada Highway last September. I was surprised by the lack of truck stops and fuel stations that did not carry diesel along that two lane road. The small stations that did were very difficult to "waltz" in and out of. Our usual internet access devices did not work in Canada as our carrier doesn't provide service there without hefty roaming charges.

Big truck stops work well for us oil burners. Except for the ones where you must "pre-pay". Find an open pump, run inside, stand in line, give someone you don't know your credit card, run back outside and fill up, pull forward to clear the pump for others, have the wife give you the beagle so she can run inside, forget to go back and get your card. Return, stand in line, pick up your card. It's a real hassle.

I see significant advantage to auxiliary fuel tanks for our diesel powered Airstream pullers. Going from 300 mile range to 700 mile range would offer less worry about the next fuel stop. With "all the comforts of home" attached to your bumper, rest stops are much easier to manage. Our Airstream is the best rest stop facility you could imagine.

Getting fuel involves a lot more thinking when you have your trailer in tow, that's for sure.

David
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:03 AM   #8
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Fueling up when towing my 25fb is one of the task I don't look forward to when traveling. With a gas tow vehicle I have to compete with normal traffic at the pumps. I try to find gas station/convenience store where the pumps are parallel to the convenience store/station building. Pumps that line up so you are facing the convenience store building usually have customers parked in front which restricts turning space. Never had issues with my little Casita 17' trailer but a 9' longer Airstream and my longer Tundra (compared to my 4Runner/Casita combo) gets me sweating when I see the gas gauge getting low. I've been in a situation where the exit was clear when I pulled in but just as I was about to leave a landscape truck with trailer would park in on the outside station perimeter and block my turn. I'd have to wait for all of them to go inside, choose their food items and return, oblivious to my situation.

I make sure my tow and trailer tires have a good distance to the pumps and when exiting my trailer tires are opposite of the last pump island obstacle before I start my turn.

I guess if I ever get caught where I have to gas up and the stations are difficult to get in and out I'll unhitch the trailer.

I'm amazed at all the giant gas powered MH and towed trailers and wonder how they all fuel up without problems.

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Old 12-26-2014, 10:20 AM   #9
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GAS STATION TANGO... or waltz

The worst problem I have filling up is when I patiently wait (patiently for all outward appearances) for a gas pump, only to have a vehicle whip in and take the pump in front of me.

I had this happen twice in one stop coming through west Texas last week...

I will admit to having a mini meltdown after the second.... Lol




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Old 12-26-2014, 10:20 AM   #10
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Pilot/Flying J stations seem to be a couple of hundred miles apart on any given Interstate and I seldom pass one up even if gas is not mission critical at the moment. Almost all of them have dedicated RV lanes with no overhead and easy in/out and usually lots of room to park if you want to stretch your legs.
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
The worst problem I have filling up is when I patiently wait (patiently for all outward appearances) for a gas pump, only to have a vehicle whip in and take the pump in front of me.
One of my pet peeves!! I have resorted to sending my wife out to stand and hold ground till I could maneuver into position.

What's worse is these guys that pull up and park in front of the pump and then go in, use the restroom, order a drink and a sandwich and THEN come out after 15 minutes to pump gas. Get your gas and move your ass!
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Old 12-26-2014, 11:02 AM   #12
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Pilot/Flying J stations seem to be a couple of hundred miles apart on any given Interstate and I seldom pass one up even if gas is not mission critical at the moment. Almost all of them have dedicated RV lanes with no overhead and easy in/out and usually lots of room to park if you want to stretch your legs.

I also like Pilot/Flying J. TX and surrounding areas are fairly well populated with them, most have easy ingress/egress and good facilities. There's a new one on the south side of New Braunfels that I'm glad I visited in the car, I'll probably avoid that one when towing but the rest have been well placed so far. They have a free RV card that gets you a small fuel discount and a discount on dump fees (in exchange for them tracking your purchases and sending you junk mail of course.)


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Old 12-26-2014, 11:22 AM   #13
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One of my pet peeves!! I have resorted to sending my wife out to stand and hold ground till I could maneuver into position.

What's worse is these guys that pull up and park in front of the pump and then go in, use the restroom, order a drink and a sandwich and THEN come out after 15 minutes to pump gas. Get your gas and move your ass!

Yep, this happened at the same stop too.

When I arrived there was a car at the pump, no owner. Ten minutes later the guy comes out and fills his tank....

THEN he goes back in for another ten minutes.... Seriously?

No exaggeration, this guy blocked the pump for thirty minutes.

Oblivious? Butt hole? Cant say. Either way, I was no fan of this guy by the time he got in his car.


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Old 12-26-2014, 11:25 AM   #14
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Yep, this happened at the same stop too.

When I arrived there was a car at the pump, no owner. Ten minutes later the guy comes out and fills his tank....

THEN he goes back in for another ten minutes.... Seriously?

No exaggeration, this guy blocked the pump for thirty minutes.

Oblivious? Butt hole? Cant say. Either way, I was no fan of this guy by the time he got in his car.
Having seen him pump his gas so you could recognize him, you should have been able to walk inside and politely ask him to move his vehicle so other people could use the pump. Sometimes people have to be reminded that they owe some courtesy.
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