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3 in 1 Oil

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Ron Laden13/06/2018 07:58:50
1859 forum posts
342 photos


Something I,ve been meaning to ask....does 3 in 1 oil have its uses in the workshop..?

I have heard good and bad things about it and just wondered, I have also heard that it is a mix of vegetable oils but dont know if thats true..?


Edited By Ron Laden on 13/06/2018 08:05:26

Nige13/06/2018 08:13:42
370 forum posts
65 photos

Morning Ron

Somebody with more knowledge and experience will be along shortly I'm sure but I have realised that for any 'particular' lube application there will be a 'particular' type or class of oil best suited to it BUT if you haven't got any then 3 in 1 will probably get you through until the box arrives in the post. Had exactly this situation when my new machines arrived recently; cleaned off the preservative and wanted something to oil the surfaces and 3 in 1 was there Took the advice in JasonB' on lube (in the milling for beginners article in the last MEW) and now have a particular lube for a particular use.

Neil Wyatt13/06/2018 09:00:10
17703 forum posts
697 photos
77 articles

3 in 1 contains castor oil, so it has a tendency to go gummy in the long term.

It's best for things like squeaky door hinges but not precision mechanisms - mineral-based sewing machine oil is better for these sort of things.

Adam Mara13/06/2018 09:05:09
100 forum posts
4 photos

My ancient gallon can of 3 in 1 (priced £3.80) just list ' a blend of refined light oils' and ' a polar rust additive' . Kept in company with my jerrycan of 'Pink Paraffin' and a Buck and Hickman tools catalogue all from my ironmongery days!

Monoman13/06/2018 09:31:05
51 forum posts
7 photos

Neil, How do you know 3 in 1 contains castor oil?

Rik Shaw13/06/2018 09:38:34
1313 forum posts
352 photos

I use anything oily as long as its less than three quid a gallon from the beneficent boot.


Brian G13/06/2018 09:49:08
671 forum posts
26 photos

Paul Sellers uses it on woodworking tools **LINK**

Edit:  Forgot to say, it is a quick and easy way to get grease and muck off chrome - I used to use it on motorcycle wheels (probably quite exciting if used on bicycles with rim brakes).

Edited By Brian G on 13/06/2018 09:52:30

Michael Gilligan13/06/2018 09:49:17
15442 forum posts
666 photos
Posted by Monoman on 13/06/2018 09:31:05:

Neil, How do you know 3 in 1 contains castor oil?


Good question ^^^

Here's one version of the MSDS : **LINK**

Unfortunately "Pale Spindle Oil" doesn't mean much to me.



... and this site doesn't exactly narrow things down:

Multiple products, all called 3-IN-ONE

[shades of the Loctite nonsense]


Edited By Michael Gilligan on 13/06/2018 09:56:27

Ron Laden13/06/2018 09:53:49
1859 forum posts
342 photos

Thanks guys, I am not suggesting I am using it but I noticed I have an old can on the shelf and wondered if it had any merits.


Jim Nic13/06/2018 09:55:29
238 forum posts
148 photos

I used 3 in 1 oil in my first couple of models and found that it does indeed go gummy after a fairly short time. I ended up stripping a couple of engines that were only a year or so old to get rid of all the residue. I only run my engines on compressed air.

I have no idea what is in the oil to make it gum up, I only know I don't use it now.


XD 35113/06/2018 11:14:30
1417 forum posts
1 photos

Isn't the 3in 1 brand an offshoot of the WD company (WD40 ) if so it is probably only good for cutting fluid on aluminium 😉

J Hancock13/06/2018 12:41:40
387 forum posts

Somewhere, I still have the ME article on the best rust prevention 'oil' available.

In the trial , 3 in one was far better at keeping rust at bay, for longer, than any other similar product.

No idea how good it is as an lubricating oil though.

Bazyle13/06/2018 13:26:28
5130 forum posts
199 photos

I imagine the residue from the caster oil going off left a sort of rust preventing varnish.

The thing about WS40 and 3in1 is the packaging makes it super convenient to use so it does get used. Once in the habit it gains a reputation with the used as the go-to product so even when they buy it by the gallon in a non convenient container it still carries its reputation.

Richard S213/06/2018 13:46:16
177 forum posts
107 photos

It's lubricated Many thousands of Mowers, Sturmey Archer 3 speed cycle hubs etc and kept them running smoothly for many decades. I still use it around the workshop, albeit the old original maker's (E.R Howard of Hull) Thick Grade of 3 in 1 .

Never had any issues with gumming. Spindle Oil was specified for use in Textile Mills. Pale version reduced risk of staining. Being light grade, it drains, so requires regular replenishment, especially where the textile fluff tended to 'Wick' the oil away from the important bits.

And an example of the TV commercial in the 70s- Silence is Golden


Edited By Richard S2 on 13/06/2018 13:47:58

Michael Gilligan13/06/2018 14:20:22
15442 forum posts
666 photos

Thanks for that Richard S2 yes



... I'm still struggling to find any reference to Castor Oil in the product descriptions.

MichaelR13/06/2018 14:45:15
368 forum posts
75 photos

Wikipedia description.The formula consists of pale spindle oil with a small amount of corrosion inhibitor[which?] and citronella oil (which gives the product its distinctive sharp odor). Mike.

Michael Gilligan13/06/2018 15:16:06
15442 forum posts
666 photos
Posted by MichaelR on 13/06/2018 14:45:15:

Wikipedia description. ...


Reassuringly similar to the MSDS


Keith Long13/06/2018 15:30:32
825 forum posts
11 photos

Here's a link to a more up-to-date (2014) version of the MSDS, I'm not sure that "Severely hydrotreated heavy naphthenic oil" is castor oil - sounds rather like a distillation product from crude mineral oil.


Monoman13/06/2018 15:35:53
51 forum posts
7 photos

I would point out thet the document linked to is an SDS - Safety Data Sheet, as required under EU Regulation. MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet, the similar document used in the US and other countries such as Japan.

An MSDS does not necessarily comply with EU Regulation and does not contain much of the specified data to fulfil the SDS Regulation. In the US it is common to hide from the user the detail of a formulation behind a State issued number, the contents of which are only disclosed when an accident or other defined cause permits the authorities to reveal the name of the relevant substance.

Thus the MSDS can avoid the disclosure of ingredeints, and for the user this provides no protection uder the prior informed consent whichforms an element of EU chemical regulatioon.

For those of an inquisitive nature I suggest reading the relevant EU Regulations can be enlightening. See for a start **LINK**

Neil Wyatt13/06/2018 15:52:55
17703 forum posts
697 photos
77 articles

Interesting, apparently 'spindle oil' doesn't go gummy, yet going gummy (a characteristic of vegetable oils) is something I have associated with 3in1 since I was a teenager.

I was once told it had castor oil in it, although it doesn't smell of it.


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