Prototype Motor Oil Can with Flexible Hose

Prototype Motor Oil Can with Flexible Hose

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This one-quart oil can and attached flexible metal hose is a prototype for measuring and dispensing motor oil. Charles Bernard Doolin, the inventor, repaired engines and sold vehicle tires at his garage in San Antonio, Texas. Doolin was issued patent #1,696,079 in December 1928.
The purpose of Doolin’s invention was to provide a controlled pour of lubrication into hard-to-reach crankcase reservoirs of automobiles. The metal hook on the can’s rim holds the hose in place while oil is dispensed. The can has a handle and a trigger-like lever (marked with the instructions “to lock open pull down and back”) that controls the flow of oil. Doolin’s model was made using a can produced by the Dover Stamping and Manufacturing Company of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the leading American manufacturers and distributors of houseware goods and tinner’s tools and machines in the late 19th and early 20th century. Markings on the side of this can read “Pat. April 2, 1918,” a patent that relates to the 1910 sink-pail design developed for Dover by Horace B. Whitney. Doolin’s addition to the Dover patent was an adaptation of the can’s sink-pail plug to measure and release motor oil in a controlled manner.
Doolin and his sons were tinkerers who received numerous patents. Probably the most famous was the 1935 patent by his younger son, Charles Elmer (C.E.), for a machine used to produce the small fried corn chips known as Fritos. This oil can and hose are part of a collection of objects and archival materials on the Doolin family and the Frito Company donated by Kaleta Doolin, the daughter of C.E. Doolin. See Frito Company Records, 1924-1961, #1263, NMAH Archives Center.
Currently not on view
Object Name
oil can with flexible metal hose, food
oil can
oil can with flexible metal hose
date made
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
can with handle: 7 in x 12 in x 6 in; 17.78 cm x 30.48 cm x 15.24 cm
spout: 13 in x 4 in x 1 in; 33.02 cm x 10.16 cm x 2.54 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Kaleta A. Doolin
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Work and Industry: Food Technology
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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