The misfuelling prevention device

Interview with Lee Steadman, misfuel device inventor

Lee Steadman

Lee Steadman has a heavy work schedule, regularly crossing the globe on his business travels. Diesel Head’s webmaster managed to grab 5 minutes with him at Heathrow Airport to get an insight into Lee and his vision of all things Diesel Head and life.

What was your first invention?

My career as a commercial inventor got off the ground in a big way with the patenting of my ‘golf training device’ when I was 25.

The device allowed golfers to practice driving a real golf ball and yet required a space of no more than 15 feet! Sensors recorded and evaluated how far the ball would have flown and its direction. I sold over 50,000 units during the course of three years, primarily via adverts in golfing press and subsequently through high profile retailers such as Grattan mail order and John Lewis.

Which is your favourite invention?

Well, my first choice would be my daughter! Seriously, it has to be the Diesel Head. Like many British inventors, I kept the innovation to myself until I had worked out much of the detail, striving for perfection while it was still a concept. Then it was on to the real engineering, the technical drawings, exhaustive testing and, finally, the perfect prototype. The manufacturing facility in China was supplied with all the drawings and specifications to tool up and I handed over a case of the approved prototype. I was so proud when I received the initial production run – the finished product looked right, felt right and fitted right.

Do you consider yourself to be an inventor or engineer and why?

Easy. Engineer. I enjoy solving mechanical problems or challenges. My Dad, Bill, tells the tale that, aged 3, I would say “engineer” when people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I seem to remember that and I certainly used to take apart mechanical items to investigate how they worked.

Why are there so many inventors in your family?

You know about my father, my sister and I, but it probably began with my grandfather, who owned a sheet metal company and made/fabricated all manner of items. He laid a trail and my father, of course, followed it with his flair for inventing new products, so it’s not surprising that Annette and I have a practical eye for solutions to the challenges of modern life. After all, we were brought up in an environment where constant questioning, developing and improving were the norms not the exceptions.

Lee in Action

Have you ever misfuelled?

Yes, once and that got me thinking. I asked friends and some of them had misfuelled – confused petrol and diesel pumps at the fuel station and so pumped petrol in their diesel tanks – too. The common denominator was that misfuels occurred when they had commitments to keep or they were distracted. Motivated, I set about inventing a ‘proper’ product that a vehicle owner or operator could “fit and forget”, consigning misfuelling to the dustbin of motoring history.

What is so special about Diesel Head?

It has been designed and engineered to fit most vehicles easily and securely,without the need for a number of adaptors, spacers and so on, which may over-complicate. The Diesel Head Misfuel Prevention Device is engineered simplicity.

It’s very heavy. Why is that?

I believe that a product should be designed and engineered to perfectly fulfill its purpose and this includes using the best materials to achieve the highest quality. The cast metal construction of the collar was critical for security and durability, given that the Diesel Head will be struck by fuel-filler pump nozzles, doused by a variety of liquids and cleaning agents and subjected to extremes of weather.

Why these materials?

Durability, strength, resistance to extremes of temperature and potentially corrosive liquids. The Diesel Head’s exhaustive testing programme included the robustness and resilience of the materials, because longevity was a key objective – it is the “fit and forget” solution.

How did you come up with the effective solution to misfuelling?

Mine is an engineer’s solution, although I’m sure others have come up with variations on the theme. At the heart of the proposition is the unique diameter of the diesel filler pump nozzle which acts as a key to open the Diesel Head – a petrol nozzle will not open it – so misfuels or misfuelling are prevented.

Why manufacture it in China?

It’s the new economy. We can produce and sell a quality item at an affordable price – £39.99 represents truly great value for money. The intellectual property, marketing campaign and sales remain British, while the cost-effective production in China is managed under strict quality controls.

What controls do you have?

The components are manufactured, assembled and checked using the most current, sophisticated testing equipment. Production is monitored by an independent British company operating out of China. Thus, we can guarantee the quality production of our misfuel prevention device at a world-beating price, which we can subsequently pass on to customers.

What else is in the pipeline?

I have a number of other products at the drawing board stage but, until I have the patents in place, they must remain highly secret. Once they are patented I shall be happy to share with you, visitors to this website and, of course, the media.