12 Vintage Gas Pumps & Gas Station Accessories
During the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, gas stations had real character. Colorful gas pumps emblazoned with great logos and light-up globes were the norm. Manufacturers of these machines competed heavily to get their models used by oil companies. Producers like Gilbarco, Wayne and Erie made pumps for well-known brands,including Texaco, Mobil, Dino and Shell. Accessories were designed and painted in similar fashion
Part of the Retro Museum, some of the vintage gas station pumps and accessories shown here were restored by us, though we are no longer in the restoration business. Sorry, these items are not for sale.
The 1932 Wayne Model 861 clock meter gas pump (right) has what collectors have termed a “clock face” as opposed to the later computer dials. On this clock-like dial face with 2 hands, only the total gallons are displayed. The small hand measures gallons and the large hand measures fractions of a gallon. The attendant would have to rely on price-per-gallon signs to calculate the total price.
The Model 861 pump is electric motor-operated. The one shown here is topped off with a globe featuring Richfield Hi-Octane gasoline and is painted a vivid blue and yellow.
In 1933, one of the oldest and most successful original pump makers, Wayne Company, revolutionized the service station industry when it introduced the first computing pump. It was named Model 40. The 1935 Model 60 gas pump answered the need for a more modern and attractive computing pump. It featured a more streamlined deco design and was a tremendous hit.
The Wayne Model 50 Displaymeter has the elegant art deco stepped sides typical in the ’30s Wayne design, with the addition of the 4 glass sides and shelves to display merchandise. This pump was restored with the Texaco gas company logo and illuminated globe. The sight meter is outside of and above the clock face as was the design in the early 30’s. Not only are these pumps very striking, but also they are extremely rare.
Swing-arm gas pumps (like the 1941 Wayne 100) provided more flexibility to the station attendant. These were designed with one hose placed on the side of the pump, which was accessible from both sides of the island, making it easy to serve customers moving in either direction. The sight gauge was on the side of the pump, so it could be viewed from either side.
This gas pump was in pretty bad shape when we acquired it, but we were able to fully restore it.
Pumps began to get more streamlined in the mid-50s, but the design of a pump was still very much an important part of marketing and branding. Sleek paints and rounded edges were still norm, as were top-mounted globes emblazoned with the brand’s logo.
The Tokheim 350-P Texaco Gas Pump was a single unit – called the twin – that served up two brands. There is a glass-covered face on each side, making it possible to pump gas from both sides of the pump. The one we showcase here was produced by The Tokheim Corporation (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) from 1956 to 1960. We fully restored this pump, which features two of the Texaco gasoline brands: Sky Chief and Fire-Chief, as well as the striking Texaco company colors.
Equipment and Accessories
While it’s not so easy today to find full-serve stations (save for in New Jersey, where it’s the law!), it’s also difficult to find air pumps, spark plugs and even oil. Most convenient stores have gone the way of leaving you to call for help when even the smallest things happen. But in the ’50s and ’60s, all these services and supplies were common. You had little need to hit a repair shop unless it was something serious.
Gas station attendants would check your oil and the pressure in the tires. They’d wash windshields and “pull-test” on a belt if asked. These stations also were equipped with many additional offerings, all designed to keep you on the go.
Among standard equipment at your neighborhood gas station was an automobile battery charger. Of course, you still always kept a set of jumper cables in the trunk (who does that anymore?).
You would also expect to find a good stock of oil and spark plugs and, of course, an air pump for inflating tires.
The most widely produced air pump meters were by the Service Station Equipment Company: The Bennett Pump Division, out of Muskegon, Michigan.
Circa 1950, the Model 90 Eco Air Meter (right) is the one everyone remembers. To operate this air meter, you set the pressure by turning the handle and then you’d put the chuck on the tire stem; the bell started ringing and the tire filled.
This pedestal air meter was not run on electricity, but by air pressure. When the hose was lifted from the hook, the mechanism opened, allowing the air to flow. When the chuck was placed on the valve stem of the tire, the air was sent into the tire. It stopped and read the pressure of the tire to monitor the amount of air in the tire. If it was not the same as the pressure that had been set, it would continue to pump in air. Each time it did this, a bell rang.
Thousands of these meters were sold, many of them branded. Most of these meters are long gone, making one a good collectible.
The Eco Model 93 featured a base that housed a reel which auto rewound the hose when tire inflation was complete. Like the Model 90, the 93 operated through air pressure that was circulated through the pump after the hose was removed from the hook. Production of the Model 93 began in 1947, and lasted for several years. Both units shown below have been restored.
The Wayne 501 Island Display was introduced in 1955 to be used beside the Wayne 500 series gas pumps. The 501 was not a pump; it was designed and used specifically for displaying small automotive products. The top has a revolving display platform where products, like headlights, would be placed. Below the display window is an oil rack. These units were created to generate sales right at the pumping island, even if the driver did not get out of the car.
The Auto-Lite spark plug counter display for point-of-purchase was used in automotive stores from the early 1950s. It was made by the Electric Auto-Lite Co. of Toledo, Ohio. This countertop display case was restored by Vintage Vending and was acquired with all the original spark plugs intact.
Gas station signage itself was a work of art. Whether displayed on pumps and accessories, or rotating atop a pole that could be seen for miles, design was key to projecting the right message.
This 1941 Shell Oil “clamshell” style sign was made by ArtKraft. This is one-half of a 3-dimensional sign that was rimmed with neon lights. It would have been displayed atop a pole on location at a Shell Oil filling station. The company that made this sign is called ArtkraftStrauss today. They are still making signs and are most notably the designers and manufacturers of many of the signs in Times Square.
We hope you enjoyed these vintage finds. Have you any gas station pumps, equipment or accessories to share with us? Please use the comments section below, where you can also upload images!