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non-petroleum machine oil?

 
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I have an antique sewing machine that I have become the steward of, and It is going to need an oiling soon. I know what happens when the wrong oil is used, but is there such a thing as a natural non-petroleum machine oil??? Have people used anything in the past that I am not finding in internet searches?
 
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Hmmm. Come to think of it, my great aunt's old one is going to need some love, when I get to it, too. Watching...
 
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I'm conflicted on this subject. I think the highest and best use of petroleum is this very thing: High quality machine lubricants. We should quit burning the stuff and value it for this purpose instead. Are there some lube brands from sources that aren't tapped for fuel, like the Pennzoil of days gone by?

I'm particularly interested in making sure that owners of old Hammond tonewheel organs can always get their mitts on the right grade of oil to keep these beasts functioning. Old sewing machines are right up there, too.
 
Michael Holtman
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Phil Stevens wrote:I'm conflicted on this subject. I think the highest and best use of petroleum is this very thing: High quality machine lubricants.



A very good point. There is one manufacturer that makes what they market as a "purified" product for cleaning and maintenance of firearms. They say all toxins have been removed and it is totally inert. I am always skeptical about these things, but then it may well be true. I certainly don't trust the supply train to be stable through the years across all continents and regions. It is hard enough to find any kind of sewing machine oil around here as it is.
 
Carla Burke
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We do use Ballistol, for our firearms, because it's nontoxic, safe if it spills, and has no toxic fumes. In fact, it smells kinda nice - And it's been GREAT in the guns, so if all else fails...
 
Michael Holtman
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I didn't realize that ballistol was that different from rem-oil. Wow, It's very different!
 
Carla Burke
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The funny thing is, even after responding to this thread, last night, I didn't even think of the stuff that I carry in little packs, in my edc, lol
 
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Lanoline was traditionally used, and is all natural. If you have some sheep, you can even make it yourself.
 
Carla Burke
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I guess even tallow makes sense...
 
Michael Holtman
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Travis Johnson wrote:Lanoline was traditionally used



Ok. I was thinking We'd have to find something with similar characteristics to machine oil. If lanolin will work, then we can just make that switch right now. I suppose there is the possible issue that some earlier machines were maybe designed to use lanolin, in which case the lubricants would possibly damage the other machines. I could see where tolerances might require one or the other if they are loser or tighter. I'd hate to destroy an antique. Maybe a good experiment would be to buy a modern plastic machine second-hand and try to maintain it with lanolin. Would the lanolin have to be warmed in an oil can to be applied? I could probably manage getting into a cast-iron body with some sort of applicator-stick-tool-thingy, but I always dread taking apart flimsy plastic appliances.
 
Michael Holtman
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I haven't found anything on the internet saying lanolin was ever used. Did you read this in a book? Is this oral tradition? I'm really intrigued now!
 
Travis Johnson
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Michael Holtman wrote:I haven't found anything on the internet saying lanolin was ever used. Did you read this in a book? Is this oral tradition? I'm really intrigued now!




It came from my Great Uncle, and interesting man to say the least. He invented petroleum jelly when him and my other great uncle had a refinery in the early days of the petroleum industry in PA. He found out that if you boil grease in a vacuum, it becomes tasteless, odorless, and inert making it excellent for medical usage. Another man marketed it better, but he is not actually credited with inventing it.

Still, as the salesman of his fledgling oil refinery, he was the salesman that was sent out to sell petroleum products that in his words replaced tallow, lanoline, and whale blubber. It sounds funny now, but he had a tall order to convince people in factories to change to a petroleum product because it was better.

Lanoline for sewing machines makes sense though. As hard as it was to convince factories to switch from lanoline, tallow and whale blubber for lubrication, imagine how hard it would be to convince a farm wife to order a bottle of oil for her sewing machine, especially considering her daughter just got done stirring up a boiling batch of lanoline off the stove.

Have you ever used the stuff? Just a dab will do you.

And do not be afraid of using it on your sewing machine. When I inherited my Grandmother's stuff, there were three treadle sewing machines in the house. I thought they had value too, but they are a dime a dozen, and everyone has them so their value is only $150-$200. Lanoline will not ruin the value of the sewing machine, because it repels rust to start with, and a treadle sewing machine is not really valuable as an antique.


DSCN5237.JPG
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My Wife in a 1930's dress in front of one of our treadle sewwing machines
 
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I used sunflower oil for the sewing machine, but that turns gummy after a few months. Right now chainsaw oil (the stuff that goes into the fuel). Amazing stuff and doesn't even smell bad.
Given how little oil is used, I don't think it will have a big impact.
 
Phil Stevens
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Sebastian, do you know if your chainsaw oil (we call it two-stroke oil in many places) is a petroleum product or castor oil? Castor oil was the additive of choice when I was growing up and I still have nostalgia for that smell.
 
Sebastian Köln
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Phil Stevens wrote:Sebastian, do you know if your chainsaw oil (we call it two-stroke oil in many places) is a petroleum product or castor oil? Castor oil was the additive of choice when I was growing up and I still have nostalgia for that smell.



Phil, I do not know. I found it in the stash of the previous owner (90). It doesn't smell like anything I know the name of. Will try to acquire some castor oil and see if it is that.
 
Michael Holtman
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Phil Stevens wrote:Sebastian, do you know if your chainsaw oil (we call it two-stroke oil in many places) is a petroleum product or castor oil? Castor oil was the additive of choice when I was growing up and I still have nostalgia for that smell.



Are you saying that I can run a two stroke engine on homemade ethanol mixed with home pressed castor oil??? I use non-ethanol gasoline(petrol) now, but i could be converted if I figured out how to make my own fuel!
 
Travis Johnson
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Yes you can. Any oil is better than no oil. You just have to use more of it so that it does not score your pistons while operating.

A lot of people think you need 2 stroke oil to make 2 stroke gas for chainsaws and such. Nope. I have dumped in 10W-40 for years and my Stihl Chainsaw lived 22 years. When it died it was because I ran it over with my bulldozer.

And goodness, do not even get me started on bar and chain oil. I have not bought that in years. It costs $10 a gallon!! A Bar for my chainsaw costs $30. Since my bar wears out no matter what I use, then I am not going to get some magical life out of my bar using bar and chain oil, so I use the cheapest oil I can buy, typically hydraulic oil, but I have also used spent motor oil, old fry oil, etc. Since I get 150 cords of wood cut per $30 bar, I am WAY ahead money wise instead of spending money on bar and chain oil.

A guy told me professional loggers do that, "they buy bar and chain oil", but as I told him, then they are not very good with math, and probably have not done the math.
 
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