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Shop Lubricants

Robert Roswick is a grey-haired tinkerer born, raised and living in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Lubricants for your shop

Lubricants for your shop

Lubricants For Your Shop

Here's a list of lubricants available and the uses for each. Yes, you will discover that each lubricant has a different use. If you are active in your shop, in time you will accumulate this entire spectrum of lubricants.

I will break it down by type of lubricant, starting with what will be most commonly used and ending with less common quasi-lubricants. I start with 3-IN-ONE oil akin to sewing machine oil. I follow with Teflon oils, commonly known as gun oil.

With specialty lubricants in between including some rare options, I end with penetrating oil which you will eventually find a need for if you spend much time in your shop. I try to present all the lubricants I have on hand after 50 years of working in my shop and my quest to do things just right.

It probably took that long to understand this much and I am still learning. It took me 50 years to learn what a good student could have learned in five, so let's get going.

EAGLE MODEL 66 BRASS SUPER PUMP OILER

EAGLE MODEL 66 BRASS SUPER PUMP OILER

Oil

3-IN-ONE

Talk about being around for awhile! This was originally formulated in 1894 for use on bicycle chains, and remains popular. Its name, given by inventor George W. Cole of New Jersey in 1894, reflects the product's triple ability to "clean, lubricate and protect." It does not have PTFE. It is great for small mechanisms and squeaky parts.

3-IN-ONE Oil

3-IN-ONE Oil

Teflon (PTFE) Formulations

Rem Oil

This penetrates into the smallest metal pores, then leaves a tough, long-lasting film to help reduce metal-to-metal wear. It quickly displaces even microscopic traces of water for advanced moisture resistance and rust protection. Rem displaces non-visible moisture from metal pores and does not contain CFC or paraffin.

Rem is an excellent gun oil and is produced by Remington formerly part of Remington Arms Company. For gun owners, this product is as important as ammunition.

Rem Oil

Rem Oil

Breakfree CLP

Breakfree CLP also makes an excellent gun oil and contains corrosion inhibitors to prevent the formation of rust. It penetrates and spreads along metal surfaces to undercut contamination and lift residue away where it can be removed. CLP is a long-lasting lubricating film.

It reduces the adhesion of sand, grit, or other abrasives which cause wear and failure. CLP will protect metal surfaces from moisture and other contaminants. It works well in temperatures ranging from -65F to +475F and after saltwater immersion.

Break Free CLP

Break Free CLP

Slick ONE Lube

Lubricates to stop binding, sticking, and squeaking. Extremely long-lasting and protects against metal surfaces. Penetrates to free "frozen" or corroded metal parts. Inhibits rust to clean and protect against corrosion. Displaces moisture resulting from high humidity or condensation. This makes an excellent gun oil.

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SLICK ONE LUBE

SLICK ONE LUBE

Specialty Oils

Kroil

Displaces water, provides lubrication, and prevents rust. It removes grease, grime, gunk, gum, tar, sap, sticky residue, sticker residue, and other sticky stuff from multiple surfaces. Kroil dissolves gum, dried grease, and oil without attacking the metal.

Kroil

Kroil

Mouse Milk

It will dissolve rust, relieve friction and resist oxidation. Frozen nuts and bolts can be easily loosened and removed after allowing it to creep down the threads and break up the rust and corrosion. It is an effective cutting fluid when drilling and cutting.

MOUSE MILK

MOUSE MILK

Dry PTFE

Liquid Wrench Dry Lubricant

This is a “dry” lubricant, but it actually goes on wet. But once the solvent dries, the product leaves a thin film of dry polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—the same product used to make nonstick frying pans. The big advantage of dry PTFE is that dust doesn’t stick to it.

DRY PTFE

DRY PTFE

Silicone

WD-40 Silicone Lubricant

Silicone is the slipperiest of all lubricants, so it’s a great choice for items that slide against one another. Silicone repels water, but not water vapor, so you can use it to dry out electrical connectors. But don’t rely on it as a sealant in humid conditions.

However, dust and dirt stick to silicone, so use it sparingly or use a “dry” version in dirty environments. The biggest downside to silicone spray lubricant is that once you apply it to an object, you can never paint or stain it.

SILICONE

SILICONE

Grease

Synthetic Grease

This is the best choice for gears, axles, and bearings that carry heavy loads, transmit high torque, operate at high temperatures, or are subject to shear stress. Synthetic grease has less rolling friction than petroleum-based grease. It resists thermal breakdown and shear.

SYNTHETIC GREASE

SYNTHETIC GREASE

White Lithium Grease

Grease is the lube of choice for higher-load items like bearings and axles because it cushions parts. And unlike oil, which tends to seep away, grease stays in place and lasts much longer. Safe From 0° F To 300°. Excellent for pre-storage lubrication.

WHITE LITHIUM

WHITE LITHIUM

Marine Grease

Formulated to lubricate high-load items. But it’s thicker and far more water resistant than lithium grease, so it does a fantastic job of inhibiting rust and preventing metal parts from “welding” themselves together with rust. Use marine grease to lubricate items that are directly immersed in water or constantly exposed to the elements. Like any grease, it’s a tacky magnet for dust and dirt.

MARINE GREASE

MARINE GREASE

Dielectric Grease

Silicone-based grease that is used in an electric circuit to protect components from dirt, moisture, and corrosion. It is a waterproof grease and is made by increasing the viscosity of silicone oil. It is a non-conductive material. Dielectric grease is also known as silicone grease. It serves to transfer heat away from the electrical device and eliminate air gaps.

DIELECTRIC GREASE

DIELECTRIC GREASE

What Do These Brand Names Bring to Mind?

BrandWhat it brings to mind

Liquid Wrench

Heavily marketed penetrant oil when I was young

WD-40

Water Dispersant

Sea Foam

Gas stabilizer

Lucas

Excellent line of lubricants

Marvel

If Mystery is your slogan, you got nothin'

IXL

Vodoo juice that eliminates friction

JB

Chain lube

Mopar

Love 'em or Hate 'em

CRC

Strait forward source of chemicals

Permatex

Joint compounds

JB Chain Lube

Chain lube penetrates deep into roller chain links and doesn’t fly off when the chain is in motion. Chain lube resists water, dust, and dirt better than ordinary oil. It is applied as a foam that breaks down to a viscous liquid rapidly.

CHAIN LUBE

CHAIN LUBE

Garage Lube

Formulated to penetrate deep into hinges, rollers and springs but dry to a fairly tack-free finish to resist dust and dirt buildup. Many garage door lubricant brands also contain anticorrosive additives to protect against rust.

GARAGE LUBE

GARAGE LUBE

Door Lock Lubricants

Graphite in a special "carrier" fluid that evaporates, leaving a graphited long-wearing film. After evaporation, it will not run, even in the hottest climates, and won't harden at sub-zero temps.

Lock Graphite

Lock Graphite

Other Products

Marvel Mystery Oil

The Marvel Oil Company (also known as Marvel Carburetor Company; Marvel-Schebler Carburetors since 1928) was founded by Burt Pierce in 1923. After World War I, the company produced carburetors for automobiles and aircraft. Some of these encountered problems with clogged jets, prompting Pierce to formulate a blend of chemicals and petroleum to clean and maintain them.

Marvel claims the oil creates a top ring seal producing higher compression, preventing blow-by on power strokes, resulting in more power. Supporting evidence is not provided.

When analyzed by the National Transportation and Safety Board, it was reported that Marvel Mystery Oil was composed of 74 percent mineral oil, 25 percent Stoddard solvent, and 1 percent lard. Essentially it is a solvent to keep carburetors clean mixed with plain mineral oil. It is not recommended by Ford, GM, or aircraft engine manufacturers and will void their warranties.

Its probable place in a modern shop is a fuel additive solvent to dissolve varnish in carburetors of lawn mowers and 2-stroke engines such as chain saws. I also use it to lubricate air tools.

MARVEL MYSTERY OIL

MARVEL MYSTERY OIL

IXL

This rare lubricant claims to be a friction fighter and friction fighting is its strongest suit. Its ingredients are unknown and not listed in any database. Even MedTox does not list this product, which lists everything in case of ingestion. That is a sign it is not designed for domestic use.

Although it says made in the USA, I could not locate a Product Data Safety Sheet for this product suggesting to me that it is a foreign-made product or intended for foreign markets. Product Data Safety Sheets are available for many of the other IXL products sold online but not this one.

I suspect the friction-fighting ingredient is a chlorine-based product which will reduce friction in the short term but may be caustic to metal in the long term. I’ve seen this product resurrect a frozen 2-stroke motor that had seized after being run with gas without 2-stroke oil mixed in.

Two teaspoons of IXL Friction Fighter in the sparkplug hole followed by turning the crank with an impact wrench brought the crankshaft back to rotating. Then it was started and ran at max RPM for 10 minutes and the engine behaved normally after that. So it too has this specialized use but should void engine warranties.

When desperate times call for desperate measures, IXL may be your answer.

IXL

IXL

WD-40

I don’t categorize this as a lubricant although all liquids would qualify. It acts as a lubricant, rust preventative, penetrant, and moisture displacer but the purpose of this article is to identify specialized products that perform better than WD-40 in each of these uses.

Like duct tape, WD-40's flexibility has given it fame as a jack of all trades. While REM Oil advertises no paraffin, WD 40 has paraffins. It drives out moisture and quickly dries out electrical systems to eliminate moisture-induced short circuits. It acts as a corrosion inhibitor to shield against moisture and other corrosive elements to prevent rust. It makes an excellent cutting fluid for aluminum.

WD-40 stands for Water Displacement, 40th formula, and was developed by the Rocket Chemical Company, which makes me want to use it.

WD-40

WD-40

Rust Penetrants

Liquid Wrench is the Kleenex of this lineup. All are specially formulated rust penetrants. Low surface tension lets this kind of oil seep through the tiniest cracks, getting deep into threads to free up stuck threads, corroded bushings, and other things that get frozen with rust.

Loosens virtually all rusted and corroded parts. Excellent heat valve solvent. Excellent alternatives include Free All Rust Eater Deep Penetrating Oil and CRC Knocker-er Loose, WD-40 Rust Penetrant, and Deep Creep.

PENETRATING OILS

PENETRATING OILS

In Summary

Here it is, short and sweet.

IN SUMMARY

IN SUMMARY

Does it Move? Flowchart

Does it Move? Flowchart

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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