Hobbyist insistence on tailored products?

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were using commercially available whale oil, which of course you can’t get any more, but whale oil was already being superseded by 1900 so probably not in the case of my machine.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.

A bit of googling gives a perfect example of why I posted my OP:


Do not use sewing machine oil, it will render your valves inoperative. Remove your sticky valves, wipe them off with a soft cloth, spit on them and reinstall. It isn’t as good as valve oil, but it will work in a pinch. There really isn’t a good substitute for valve oil. Light oils like sewing machine oil, WD40, Marvel Mystery Oil, gun oil, kerosene, etc., just aren’t light enough. Moreover, they interact with your saliva and congeal into a sticky goo.

And is followed up by someone saying they’ve used Singer sewing machine oil for a decade without issues…

Kerosene not light enough? I think the next step is mineral spirits.

Ha! That’s a great example! It sounds exactly like discussions I heard in college 40 years ago.

Ah, my spouse was a music teacher and brass musician as well as a bagpiper. According to him, yes, there was a difference. The stuff for instruments is a very, very low viscosity oil, it won’t corrode the metals the instruments are made out of, and it won’t interact badly with saliva and its components. It may not matter as much for beginners and those who seldom play, but for those who practice often, and especially as you climb into the rank of professional, yes that is a case where it makes a difference.

IF you know a lot about oils you might be able to substitute successfully, but given the cost of a good instrument and the fact that you don’t need much and a bottle of the proper stuff won’t break the bank that is a case where you should use the specifically formulated stuff.

I have a bottle of key oil in my instrument case that’s been there for twenty years. IIRC, it cost only a couple of bucks, and I rarely use it. If it was ten dollars a bottle and I was using it constantly, I’d definitely be motivated to do some research and find a substitute. It wouldn’t bother me to use something not specifically labeled for woodwind instruments. (BTW, I’m not a brass player so I have no knowledge of what they do.)

On woodwind boards the oil recommendations are all over the map. Sewing machine oil is mentioned quite a bit. I’ve even seen people recommend motor oil. These recommendations always include statements like “I’ve been using this for 30 years with no problems.” Then somebody will tell a secondhand horror story about a ruined instrument and admonish everyone to stick to “real” key oil sold by music stores. Or, better yet, buy this expensive high-end oil sold by a famous musician who makes it in his basement.

In any case, at the rate I use it, my children will be tossing out that nearly-full bottle of key oil after I’m gone.

On the other hand… recently, during a regular service, some helpful technicial topped up the transmission on my car with “regular” transmission fluid instead of “CVT” transmission fluid. Result, I’ve been told, is that my transmission is gradually eating itself and there’s not a lot I can do.

Isn’t the shop buying you a new transmission plus free installation and a rental car?

That would be nice. It would be even nicer if I could prove that they did it.

All I’ve got is my local service station tech telling me that, yup, that whining noise is the transmission, and the fluid very much looks and smells like “regular” to him. (Actually having it tested is kind of expensive and, without proof of guilt, wouldn’t accomplish much.)

It was getting about time for a new car anyway, so my plan is to run the current one into the ground and then let a wrecker take it.

It’s nice that you have a workable resolution but it still sucks.

As a matter of fact, very specifically, sewing machine oil is new good for bicycle chains. I know someone who tried using his mother’s in a pinch, when he got mud all over his bike chain, washed it off, then needed to grease it, and grabbed the sewing machine oil. The chain locked up.

I have no idea what the mechanics of that were-- I was a kid at the time. It could have had something to do with the sewing machine oil and whatever residue of old bike oil just didn’t mix, but I suspect that sewing machine oil isn’t viscous enough. Sewing machine oil has to penetrate very small spaces, and chain lube is really grease.

That said, there are expensive bike chain greases on the market that are supposed to be resistant to dirt and grit. I don’t know how that would work exactly, but the idea is that the life of the chain is greatly increased, and you don’t have to use as much of the lube, which justifies its price. It is pricey, but bike lube isn’t that expensive to begin with, so the expensive lube still isn’t terribly expensive.

People I know who 1) have expensive bikes that they 2) put more than 50 miles a week on buy it.

I’ve never looked at their chains to see if they look especially clean.

See also: Products labeled “Wedding” as opposed to “Party”.

I’m a bit baffled - I’ve been using the same, original bike chain for 41 years and it still works fine.

They’re wax based, not grease. Paraffin wax (and usually other ingredients like Teflon) are dissolved in a carrier fluid. Since the wax is non-sticky, the drivetrain stays clean plus wax is quite slippery. Dipping the chain in melted wax is making a comeback.