Kerosene Overalls

Handling fuel and oils is always a tricky business- it spills easily and soaks into fabrics and can be both corrosive and flammable. When most uniforms were made of wool, especially, this was a particular problem and specialist clothing for handling POL (Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants) have been issued almost from the start of internal combustion engine use through to the present day. Today we are looking at a set of specialist overalls issued in the 1950s for those handling kerosene and other petroleum products. This set of overalls is made from a heavy duty rubberised green fabric: 

The overalls are designed to be worn over other light clothing but even so wearing what is effectively a rubber suit would be tiring in any sort of warm weather, so to prevent overheating they are fitted with a set of eyelets under each armpit for ventilation: 

It would also be very difficult to go to the bathroom easily in the suit, so an opening is provided in the crotch for calls of nature without having to remove the entire set of overalls: 

The overalls themselves fasten with a series of brass Newey studs up the front: 

The same studs are used to secure both sleeve and ankle cuffs: 

A pair of flaps are fitted to each hip to allow access to a small internal pocket: 

This is formed of brown cotton drill fabric and an inspector’s stamp is marked on the pocket bag: 

To provide some fitting to what would otherwise be a very shapeless garment, a half belt and buckle are fitted to the front: 

As a small concession to comfort, a wool collar is fitted at the neck to prevent the rubbing that would otherwise occur with the rubberised fabric on the skin: 

A white cotton label is sewn into the neck and this indicates that this set of overalls dates to 1951 and is a small size: 

One comment

  1. Being oilproof would be a big help, we just wore coveralls or other work uniforms when we were fuelling aircraft and they’d just soak up the fuel if there was a spill.
    Every fuel bowser had a long curved, very sharp knife with a ball on the tip fastened to the back of the cab and if you got drenched in fuel’ the driver was supposed to slide the ball on the end of the blade under your clothes and cut them off as it pushed along your arms/legs.
    Never saw or even heard of it being done but it was always at the back of your mind

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