Obtaining gasoline in Zombie/Alien Apocalypse TV shows

How are the Falling Skies folks going to have enough gas to get to South Carolina from Massachusetts?
How do the Walking Dead folks get gas?

There were hand cranked gas pumps to fuel aircraft in WWII, and I suppose you could use a portable generator to run gas pumps if you had any gas left.

You could use a pretty simple handpump to get the gas from the tanks at gas stations and tanker trucks (I don’t know if they have a bottom drain in the trucks). There should also be a lot tanker cars at railroad depots. From cars lying around a siphon will do.

I don’t watch those shows, so I don’t know how much time has elapsed since the end of civilization in those worlds. But the large tanks should last for a number of years in the weather before starting to leak. I think the underground ones at gas stations are pretty well sealed now. Car tanks might start taking on a lot of water or just spring leaks in a only a year or two. If the apocolypse doesn’t come real quickly, most large tanks would be empty and the fuel distributed out in people’s cars and gas cans.

In the original version of Dawn of the Dead the electricity was still on, and the pumps worked.

In The Road Warrior (apocalypse, but neither alien nor zombie) they used hand pumps.

That’ll work.
How the hell do you prime it?

For the record, are there any actual instructions available on how to do this? Either online, or likely tucked away in an average gas station’s break room?

I always just have this awful vision of myself haplessly trying to thread an aquarium hose down through the unleaded pump while zombies wander past, laughing at me.

Drop a flare down the hole and run like hell to the next gas station.

I imagine the way to do it would be to suck the stuff out of the hole the delivery driver uses to fill up the station’s tanks.

Would the fuel in a gas station’s tanks deteriorate eventually, or would it stay viable indefinitely?

I would also think most post-apocalyptic battlewagons would be equipped with 12v transfer pumps as well. When I need to drain a gas tank, I have an old external electric fuel pump off a 70’s Cadillac with a couple of hose fittings. I would imagine you’d just permanantly install something like that in the gas fill tube, and then have a retractable or removable hose for getting into whereever the go-juice is.

If you keep out water and other impurities, it will be work well enough for years. After sitting in a tank for a long time, I think the components of modern gas will seperate somewhat. It also reacts slowly with air, so full tanks will a better grade gas in them.

It was nuclear, but IRL the power wouldn’t last more than a few days. Even if the authorities had enough time to sever the local area from the grid, the plant would likely be shut down before it was abandoned (granted we’ve idea if the plant in Dawn was abandoned; given the events of Land of the dead there’s a good chance it wasn’t).

Not in the gas station I worked at. I can’t imagine a situtation (well, other than the apocalypse) when we’d ever need to. Then again it was part of a corporate chain; not a mom & pop. Anything more complicated than putting new receipt paper in or checking for a skimmer we called the hotline to have maintence sent out.

They actually encountered this problem in Stephen King’s The Stand. One of the characters looked around until they found where they vented the fuel, and siphoned from there.

The original Dawn Of The Dead was a society in the process of collapsing, the zombies were an ongoing issue that was slowly overwhelming everyone.

In 28 Days Later they explicitly show a scene where someone is using a siphon to obtain gas.

In Battlefield Earth the protagonists find and pilot jets a thousand years old, no mention of any problem with fuel or otherwise is mentioned.

Do I win?

that is a great idea. And have the intake hose in segments with quick disconnect fasteners so you can add lengths and subtract lengths to make accessing the fuel tanks to be emptied easier.

First, try to get the handle back from the vandals…

It’s my understanding that siphons require the outlet to be lower than the inlet. I don’t see how this is possible with an underground tank, unless it’s on a hill.

Maybe they were getting it out of a car or tanker truck. I can think of a gas station nearby with an adjacent slope where I guess you could form a siphon with a couple of hundred feet of hose. I think it’s going to take some serious suction to get that started though. Finding a pump wouldn’t be that hard though. I’ve got a manual air pump that could be adapted to pump fluids with some duct tape and a hose. And I’ve a couple of pumps that could be mechanically or electrically connected to a running car once you’ve got some gasoline. And there’s stores nearby that stock hand cranked fluid pumps. An old-fashioned vacuum lift lever pump for a well would work fine with gasoline. It shouldn’t be that difficult to do assuming you can keep the zombies away while you’re getting it all set up. But if an apocolypse doesn’t come on suddenly, there won’t be much gasoline left. Brief shortages in supply leave a lot of gas stations with empty tanks as everyone fills their car up in panic mode. That means the storage tanks and tanker trucks are mostly empty also. But there should be enough abandoned cars around to get plenty of gasoline to drive a few cars a long way.

I have a shallow well pump, and one must fill the pump and pipe with water before it will begin moving fluid. The hand pumps used to fill aircraft are very close to the gasoline container. I perhaps one could prime the pump with gas from the car, or use any available fluid and discard the first few gallons that were pumped out.