Hobbyist insistence on tailored products?

3 in 1 works OK for me. Never gave it much thought. I completely get what the OP is saying about “tailored products.”

Funny how Ballistol is touted by both gun shops and bike shops as the Very Best Oil for your guns / bikes.

It’s not just knowledge about their hobbies that’s important - in order to know whether specific bike, gun, sewing machine etc. oil is necessary, you have to know about something about oils.( which you may learn as part of your hobby) To give a completely non-hobby related example, I know that baby oil and mineral oil sold in a pharmacy can be swapped one-way. That is, if I want baby oil ( say for skin care) , I can use the food-grade mineral oil found in the pharmacy - but I can’t use baby oil to oil a cutting board. But can almost guarantee you my husband doesn’t know that- he certainly knows about mineral oil but I’d be shocked if he knew that baby oil is often mineral oil plus a fragrance.

How about a GMC truck?
(Link is a Doug DeMuro video) Worth it for the Harley nuttiness.

Curiously, I don’t see this a lot in game miniatures painting. There’s stuff you can buy, of course, but for every specialized painting handle I see, there’s a dozen people using pill bottles or corks with the miniature stuck on with blue tack. Instead of specialized shakers, people use nail polish bottle agitators or the bottle attached to a reciprocating saw. You can buy a wet palettes but a lot of people just use dollar store plastic trays with sponges and butcher paper. Racks of paints are kept on cheap nail polish display racks. Most people seem to gravitate to the cheaper home-made options.

The places were money is spent is usually where it does make a difference: “real” miniatures paint is heavier pigmented than Walmart craft paint, high quality brushes can make the difference over cheap synthetic ones, etc. You can work with the cheaper versions but the more expensive ones aren’t just a relabeled scam.

This thread about a “Pink Tax” mentions several examples like a Gilette-brand razor blade costing however much money, alongside the exact same razor blades with the packaging tailored sold as “women’s razors” for more money.

That is back to scammy underhanded marketing of products that are advertised as tailored for a specific application, but really aren’t. Some of the bicycle oils, baby oils, etc., surely fall into that category, whereas high-quality tailored products for certain applications do exist, proving there is no substitute for knowledge and experience.

But perhaps people are willing to pay a premium for reassurance in many cases. For example, a product labelled “baby powder” is presumably safe to use on a baby and contains no asbestos, whereas a plastic tub full of powdered talc that you picked up who knows where may not be.,

I hang out with photographers. One of them also shoots TV commercials, and he’s got a fashion accessory that we call his Tardis vest, because it clearly hold more than seems possible.

Over scotch one night, one of the guys asked him about what’s stored in which hidden pocket, and we got a tour. At the end he chuckled “This vest is $70 at B&H Photo… or $29.95 at Dick’s, where it’s a fishing vest.”

The vest example led to half an hour of bitching about how expensive any product becomes when it’s labeled “Photographic” or “Video”.

That’s a good explanation. I think a lot of people make a lot of assumptions out of ignorance, and those assumptions lead them to believe that there’s some kind of special secret sauce in gun/bike chain/sewing machine oil that makes it uniquely suited to that application.

Which may be so, but a little bit more knowledge lets you know that in general, neither bikes nor guns are particularly taxing on lubricants relative to other applications in the automotive or industrial world, and that generally speaking what’s going to wear your guns and bike chains down isn’t the lack of an effective lube, but environmental crud that gets caught by the oil and acts like a grinding paste. Put differently, if your bike or gun was being operated in a clean room, the choice of oil probably wouldn’t matter much at all, as nearly all would be more than adequate, considering the really light loads, low speeds and low temps that they typically operate at. And in the real world, frequent and effective cleaning are probably FAR more important than what you slick it up with afterward.

So by my thinking, the perfect gun or bike oil would be the one that attracts the least crud while still retaining adequate lubricating properties. Or for the more casual user, maybe one that has solvent properties to maybe dissolve and wash out old lube and crud as its applied would be a very handy property to have.

I don’t know if this happens, but an example from that world might be that if someone’s using a DSLR to shoot video, some people might get preachy about how you need some kind of specific DSLR video lens to shoot right, as if somehow, a still photo lens isn’t going to work.


As somebody who used to ride a lot and wrench a lot, I came to believe in keeping my drivetrain reasonably clean and reasonably well lubricated. Nothing more.

Which gave me great drivetrain life.

I eventually used nothing but 50/50 Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil and mineral spirits.

Which would probably have been dramatically more effective if I had decanted it into a Phil Wood Tenacious Oil bottle before applying it :wink:

My wife’s sewing machines are in the $5K-$10K price range. She is adamant about only using “sewing machine oil” in them (per manufacturer’s recommendation). A 4 oz bottle costs $5-10 and lasts a very long time. Seems silly fretting over the cost difference between that and a $3 bottle of generic household oil, especially when compared to the other costs of feeding a quilting addiction…

Sure, but at $5, why wouldn’t you use it on your guns and bike chains too? There’s nothing special about the vast majority of guns that would require different lube than a $5k sewing machine, assuming that the sewing machine doesn’t have some unusual (for sewing machines) lubrication requirements. Same for bike chains.

I mean, if there’s a good reason to use a specific product like that, great. But there’s often no reason to use specific labeled products for each use, just because they say “bike chain lube” or “gun oil” on the bottle.

That’s a situation where the price and quantity involved is minor compared to other costs involved in the activity, in which case, given the investment in the machines, erring on the side of caution makes some sense.

On the other hand, my primary sewing machine is a treadle-driven 1910 Singer - there are a LOT more bits that need oil than a more recently designed machine (in addition to the sewing machine, the treadle assembly also needs lube). With a much greater area to lubricate it’s more cost-effective for me to use a light machine oil on it. It’s also, basically, 19th Century technology and machining, which may not be as sensitive to oil make-up than a high-end 21st Century design. I don’t know enough about details of sewing machines to know for sure.

I’d be willing to bet that almost any oil you can get these days is probably higher quality than what they had when your machine was new too!

Almost certainly better than what the average owner/user had - around 1900 rendering your own oil was still fairly common in rural areas (my treadle machine came from rural Appalachia via my mother-in-law). Unless you were using commercially available whale oil, which of course you can’t get any more, but whale oil was already being superseded by 1900 so probably not in the case of my machine.

A working machinist in a job shop will probably have fifteen different kinds of oils for everything from the generic “way oil” used on the ways of the sliding parts of milling machines or lathes, to the very specific oils for tapping certain materials, to the cutting oils used for different materials.

I don’t bother with all of that (for the most part). I use generic chainsaw bar and chain lube for just about everything in my machine shop–way oil, cutting oil, tapping fluid.
The only time I use other stuff is when working with aluminum (WD-40 is a better cutting oil) or when I am using small easy-to-break taps–I use Tap Magic on those, since I want any possible advantage, no matter how slight, in my effort to avoid breaking the tap.

That’s actually a bit more extreme than I was getting at, but the point still stands.

I’m just kind of amused/frustrated/interested in the workings of the hobbyist brain. It seems like such a peculiar way of thinking. Another thing I’ve seen is when you build a high performance PC, there’s ALL sorts of voodoo and opinions and dire pronouncements about thermal compound and how you apply it. And it’s easy to fall into that rabbit hole and worry about it, when in fact, most of them will maybe if you’re lucky, amount to 1 degree C of difference in heat dissipation. Which isn’t much, except in extreme edge cases. But these folks will tell you that using the best of the bunch from 2018 instead of the new hotness will make your CPU burn up and give you athlete’s foot.

Look at all these remedies for athlete’s foot.

Though true experts say anything other than artisanal tea tree oil, cold pressed and decanted by trained otters is a waste of money.

Not sure if it fits w/ “hobbies”, but my first thought was sports attire/gear. I remember one time I realized my swim trunks were labelled as volleyball shorts. No idea why they were supposedly different. And I can’t imagine my wife or me shopping in the volleyball section, so I imagine the store saw no difference either.

Music stores sell tiny bottles of oil for use on the keys and valves of wind instruments. I have often always wondered how it’s different from ordinary household oil, or all the other specialized oils out there (like sewing machine oil). I also wonder if “key oil” is identical to “valve oil” (yes, they are separate products). Needless to say, I’ve heard horror stories about band kids gumming up their instruments with the “wrong” oil.

Fortunately, these instrument oils aren’t inordinately expensive and a bottle will typically last for many years, so there’s not much downside in sticking to the supposedly-correct oil.