Hobbyist insistence on tailored products?

I asked my friend about this as he inherited some things from his father. Is the debate you’re talking about the “WD-40” debate? Some people say it’s just fine and others make it sound like you a splashing sub-terps on The Mona Lisa.

He also laughed and said, "Well, you may as well clean it, oil the hell out of it… and then wrap it up in oily rags and put it away anyway because none of the shops have ammo in stock anymore. Evidently in some calibers, bullets bought even by mail order and in bulk are between $1 and $2 a bullet with a 500 minimum. In other news, he’s taking up darts.

(If there is any sort of afterlife, I just know that Christopher Lee is having a very hearty laugh)

That’s not the same thing though; if there’s a specification or performance standards or something along those lines- like if a new trumpet had something in the manual that said “Only use ISO 5-7 valve oil”, then absolutely people should use products that meet that spec. Not doing so is dumb and potentially damaging.

What I’m talking about is where there is no spec, and hobbyist types try to, in effect, claim that because there are products marketed for that specific purpose, that it constitutes a de-facto spec. Gun and bike oil are the two most obvious ones to me, but there are plenty of others, and lots of similar advice (I’m reminded of the dire warnings against cleaning my moka pot. Tastes fine to me either way… :wink:)

That’s what I don’t/didn’t quite get- the dire pronouncements that not using a bike-specific product would cause serious consequences, despite common sense and literally more than a century of evidence to the contrary.

There’s a lot of other variables there that may or may not have anything to do with the choice of lubricant.

I mean, he could have got it REALLY muddy, washed it incompletely, and had a combination of mud and water cause the chain to rust where it wasn’t oiled sufficiently. Or he could have washed it out fine, but not managed to dry it well, and had it rust. Or last, and IMO least likely, the sewing machine oil didn’t actually prevent corrosion.

To me, the huge variety of bike chain products is indirect proof that there’s a really wide amount of latitude in how bike chain lube can perform, and by extension, proof that there’s not much in the way of necessary performance.

In other words, if melted and solidified wax, silicone products that attract less dirt, whiz-bang microceramic compounds, Boeing aerospace lubes, tailored petroleum oils, waxes in evaporating carriers, all work according to their own lights, there must not be much in the way of actual lubricant performance that’s needed, or else the field would be narrower because fewer products would be able to handle it.

My question isn’t about cost, but rather the idea that some internet hobbyists feel like they have to tell others that they MUST use these specific products or else all sorts of grave issues will ensue, without any actual proof that they actually work as advertised, or work any differently than any number of other similar products not specifically marketed as gun/bike/trumpet/whatever products.

To a degree, yes. Usually the WD-40 debate is a little more nuanced, in that there’s some debate about whether or not WD-40 actually has lubricating/anti-corrosion properties, or if it’s merely a penetrating oil and/or water displacement product. Same sort of dire pronouncements of flaming chain/gun death, but with better reasoning and more testing, at least in the matter of corrosion prevention (I’ve seen a few online tests where people got squares of steel, cleaned them with acetone or something, and then sprayed them with the various oils and anti-corrosion products, and left them all in the elements for weeks/months, and logged the results. )

And I rode the same bike for almost 25 years, until the axle broke, and it was cheaper to get a new bike, which was heart-breaking, because the bike had been a bat mitzvah gift. But it was a Schwinn middle-of-the-line model, and you couldn’t get the part new-- you’d have to find the same model and scrap it for the axle.

It had an awful lot of miles on it by then. I can’t even begin to imagine, because I was a huge bike enthusiast, who probably put 100 miles a week on it when I had the time. I rode it out of town all the time-- 25 mile rides were nothing to me, and riding it out of town to state parks I did every weekend until I got a dog, and started driving out to the parks, and hiking with my dog instead.

I broke a couple of chains.

But, I never ruined a gear. Apparently, lubing the chain is important for keeping it moving smoothly, but it’s also important because it keeps it from wearing down the gears as much. Less wear, smoother shifting, and that bike shifted perfectly to the end, as long as the cables were in good shape-- those had to be changed every spring. A lot of big hills where I biked, so the shifters got a workout.

And I’m betting you just used motor oil, or 3-in-1 oil, or whatever was handy at your house, not cycling-specific products.

I don’t know… there’s just a sort of hobbyist mentality that I don’t quite get. I’m a member of a automotive board that has motor oils, fluids and what-not as a main focus, and the people that obsess over that stuff perplex me- they get into the tiny details and make pronouncements about how THIS oil is much better than THAT oil, and how they’d NEVER use that OTHER oil in their cars because of the low performance, etc… And none are racers/autocross/rock climbers; it’s just dorks driving to and from work.

All that, and we have ample evidence that even indifferently maintained cars can make it well over 200k without synthetic oils, whiz-bang filters, and short oil change intervals.

It’s very much medieval monks arguing about angels on the head of a pin, and it’s a very perplexing way of thinking to me.

I like the point you’re making.

I’ve often thought that many/most/all of these things could rather simply (if not cheaply) be subjected to the kind of independent/third-party laboratory testing that would resolve the questions pretty decisively.

But I think that’s anathema to the economic interests of the purveyors whose marketroids can run amok with impunity absent hard data that they were pressed to disclose.

On the demand side, this endless mystique and arguing ad nauseum allows the hobbyist to truly immerse themselves in their hobby/passion and feel very committed to what they enjoy.

At some level, it’s probably harmless and possibly a bit charming. Once they get preachy (or worse) about it … the glitter rubs off.

And some self-professed ‘aficionados’ definitely do get a bit hostile about it, don’t they ?

In the case of shmoes who argue things like motor oils to death, when all they do is putter their Honda to work and back, it’s about the illusion of control.

So much of whether you car does something like blow a head gasket is random-- yes, it matters that you pay attention to the warning lights, shut the engine off if it overheats, things like that, but there’s still a lot of randomness in whose car goes sideways in the first place.

All the motor oil etc. is essentially superstition. Using a particular brand, or changing oil every 3,000 miles even though the manufacturer says 5,000, are like carrying a lucky penny, or using you “A+” pen on all your exams in college. Or always eating the food the internet article said prevents cancer. It lets people feel like they have control over events when they can’t really have control. And since the things they are trying to control aren’t terribly common, they seem to work. I mean, the kinds of things that can happen to your car if you never change the oil at all don’t even happen to everyone who never changes the oil.

To a certain extent, what you’re talking about is the de-commoditization of these products, either in objective reality or in perceived reality. For many products, there is really no difference between brands or similar other products. So the manufacturers try to find one to justify a higher price, or to get you to buy their product over the competition. Is there really that much difference between the name brand bread flour and the store brand? Probably not, at least for most people, but General Mills has been selling Gold Medal flour for over a century based on an award they won at some expo or another. And for some goods, like table salt, the two products are literally the same chemical.

My mother used to make a certain dessert for which she insisted on a particular brand of milk. I have no idea if there really was an objective difference but the resulting dessert was excellent.

I see that at Walmart. If you buy a gallon jug of distilled water in the grocery department, it costs eighty-eight cents. If you buy a gallon jug of distilled water in the baby department of the same store, it costs over a dollar.

That’s a really interesting point.

The older I get, the more I see life as a big ol’ Rorschach Test, and there’ve been no end of behaviors that (from my uneducated perch) make me think of exactly that: control.

I agree with you about how random life can be. I further think the Just World Hypothesis is a bit of a tool for helping us to believe that there’s reason, rhyme, logic, and order to it all.

If you figure out how random it all is … it does get a skosh harder to get out of bed in the morning :wink:

I hate the Just World Hypothesis, and I want to punch anyone who tells me that “everything happens for a reason.”

I have a personal philosophy of not playing “what if” thought games, where I second-guess the real world. It makes me crazy. But that isn’t the same thing as believing that what is has an inevitability, or function.

On a positive note …

It seems like there should be no problem in arguing that the throat-punch that you were duty bound to deliver … axiomatically happened for a reason :slight_smile:

Well, axiomatic, and inevitable aren’t exactly the same thing, are they?

And just because I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, I know that some things definitely happen for a reason. We may not have control over everything, but we can control some things. It’s why I am fully vaccinated, and brush my teeth regularly.

The problem is that a lot of people have trouble figuring out what we really can control, what we can control to an extent, and what is just dumb luck. Some people respond with a host of superstitions, and some people respond by believing that no one has control over anything.

Actually, on that motor oil forum I mentioned, someone actually spent the 20 bucks to get an oil analysis of trumpet valve oil. Apparently it’s nothing more than a VERY (ISO 5-7) light, highly distilled mineral oil.

That’s interesting… I’d have chalked it down to a “gaming the system” kind of mentality, whereby if they pore over the product data sheets and MSDSes, they can find that “best” oil, and thereby ensure their car will last longest. But that’s ultimately a way to exert control I think, and what you’re talking about.

I mean, there ARE differences between oils, but they’re all within whatever the allowed variation is for their spec. So some are thin or thick for their grade, but because we know that it’s an API SN 5w-20 oil, we know that it HAS to fall within certain cold and hot viscosities, pass certain tests for detergency, etc… Basically knowing that it falls between 9.3 and 12.5 centistokes at 100 C is more important than whether or not a particular oil is closer to 9.3 or 12.5.

I’m liking this control hypothesis; that would explain why some are so adamant on using branded/labeled products; it lets them have that comfort that they’re doing the best thing for their bike/gun/car and thereby exerting a tiny bit more control over how it does.

Ever been on a parenting/child rearing forum ? :wink:

There’s also the fact that because of the placebo response, brand name pharmaceutical products actually do “work” better, in the sense of producing a better response, for some people. Some people really do get better pain relief from Tylenol than store brand acetaminophen. It’s a conditioned response, but it’s real.

Anyone who has experienced this is probably going to be ripe for thinking that their car will respond better to Valvoline than a store brand oil.

But I still think it’s mostly superstition.

Oh yeah.

People are very superstitious about their particular brand of parenting.

I try to stay away… the amount of woo, ignorance and flat-out superstition is overwhelming.

Oh, boy. The company Army Painter produces a line of quickshade, you basically dunk your miniature into it to shade it quickly and save some time, that retails for $30 but you can go to Home Depot and pick up the same amount of Minwax polyshade for wood for about $13. And many hobby paint companies including Citadel, Army Painter, and Vallejo, make it difficult for customers to know anything about their paint or to match colors. If I go to Michael’s and purchase some acrylic paint, the labels will usually tell me exactly what pigment they’re using. But the hobby companies don’t provide you with that information and they give their paints cutesy names like Flash Gitz Yellow or Mournfang Brown in order to make it more difficult to match colors up with paint from another company.

I don’t run into many people who are insistent that you paint Warhammer models with Citadel paints. But there are a few people who are quite insistent that only this brand or that one is good for painting your models.