Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


              Growing up it seemed that every home had a can of 3-in-One Oil to take care of all those little tasks that needed just a squirt of lubrication – the noisy hinge on a bedroom door, or the rusted bicycle chain for instance.

In more recent times, the lubrication of choice is the ubiquitous spray can of WD-40. For years while I was serving in the military I always traveled with a small can of this wonder-oil. I was forever staying in hotels or the BOQ (Bachelor Officers’ Quarters). Invariably, there would be some hinge, fan or other device in the room that squeaked or screeched when opened or started. I would grab my trusty little can of WD-40, insert the plastic tube into the nozzle for more accurate aim, and fire away at the intrusive and irritating noise. One little spritz of the oil and, presto-chango! the problem was gone.

So what exactly is WD-40 and where did the name come from? I did a little research and would like to share with you the benefit of my findings.

         WD-40 is the trademark name, having been developed in 1953 by Norm Larsen. Mr. Larsen claims the name comes from “Water Displacement, 40th formula.” In his attempt to create a lubricant that would primarily remove water from a metal surface and thereby prevent rust and corrosion, he started a new industry. The product became commercially available in 1958, quickly becoming the standard household lubricant.

“In recent years the WD-40 company has acquired several household-products companies, adding such brand names as 3-In-One Oil, Lava, Spot Shot, X-14, Carpet Fresh, and 2000 Flushes to its roster.”

My wife, Isaura, sent me an interesting e-mail which she received from a friend in Minnesota. The message was entirely about WD-40 and its many uses. Space does not allow me to offer the 43 uses listed, plus I’m sure there are a great many more uses should you ask your friends and neighbors. On my Roots in Ripon website, I have provided the entire list: But here is a sampling from that list: *Protects silver from tarnishing, *Removes road tar and grime from cars, *Gives floors that 'just-waxed' sheen without making them slippery, *Keeps flies off cows (Huh?), *Restores and cleans chalkboards, *Removes lipstick stains, *Loosens stubborn zippers, *Untangles jewelry chains, *Removes tomato stains from clothing, *Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots, *Keeps scissors working smoothly.

A few more uses for WD-40: *Removes splattered grease on stoves, *Keeps bathroom mirrors from fogging, and *Lubricates prosthetic limbs (Bet you wanted to know that!), *Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain, *The favorite use in the state of New York: WD-40 protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements (Who knew?), *WD-40 attracts fish! Spray a little on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time (My son-in-law will be all over this!).

This got me to thinking. Have you ever watched the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? Isaura and I went with friends to see it shortly after it was released and thoroughly enjoyed it, mostly because it was so very descriptive of our relationship. If you saw the movie you’ll recall that the girl’s father was thoroughly convinced that Windex could cure anything. It was hilarious! They’d be in the middle of a conversation when someone would complain of an ache or pain, and out would come the spray bottle of Windex, and the offending body part would be immediately sprayed much to the chagrin and embarrassment of the rest of the family.

It’s in this same vain that I see the many uses of WD-40. Just the other night Isaura was frantically scratching her feet. Apparently some bug found her to be tasty while she was padding around in the back yard. She had red spots and what appeared to be a couple of areas that looked blistered. She had applied some ointment I had from my time in Iraq ten years ago. However, the intervening years had caused it to lose its potency, so about 2 o’clock in the morning I awoke to find Isaura frantically scratching at her feet. I glanced over and said, “What’s going on?” Isaura apologized for awakening me, but her feet were driving her nuts. So what’s a husband to do?

I got up, fumbled my way downstairs and into the garage where I retrieved my trusty can of WD-40. I then grabbed an old wash cloth from the rag drawer and headed back upstairs. Isaura waited anxiously, desperate for any relief from the incessant itching. I sprayed both of her feet liberally with the blessed ointment. I then slipped a pair of my white athletic socks on her feet. To mask the odor of the WD-40, I sprayed the room with our bathroom deodorizer. After washing my hands I crawled back into bed. Isaura was out cold! No more itch. And she slept the rest of the night without further trouble.

         WD-40 . . . the Wonder Cure! Wish I’d bought some of their stock 40 years ago!

WD-40 uses:

1. Protects silver from tarnishing.                 
2. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
3. Cleans and lubricates guitar strings.
4. Gives floors that 'just-waxed' sheen without making them slippery.
5. Keeps flies off cows.
6. Restores and cleans chalkboards.
7. Removes lipstick stains.
8. Loosens stubborn zippers.
9. Untangles jewelry chains. 
                                                                           10. Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
11. Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
12. Keeps ceramic/terracotta garden pots from oxidizing.
13. Removes tomato stains from clothing.
14. Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.
15. Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.
16. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
17. Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and doors in homes.
18. It removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor! Use WD-40 for those nasty tar and scuff marks on flooring. It doesn't seem to harm the finish and you won't have to scrub nearly as hard to get them off. Just remember to open some windows if you have a lot of marks.
19. Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly! Use WD-40!
20. Gives a children's playground gym slide a shine for a super-fast slide.
21. Lubricates gear shift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers.
22. Rids kids’ rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises.
23. Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.
24. Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
25. Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers.
26. Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
27. Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
28. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easier handling.
29. Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly.
30. Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
31. Removes splattered grease on stove.
32. Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging.
33. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34. Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35. Removes all traces of duct tape.
36. Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain.
37. Florida’s favorite use is: Cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers.
38. The favorite use in the state of New York: WD-40 protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.
39. WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a little on live bait or lures and
you will be catching the big one in no time. Also, it's a lot cheaper than the chemical attractants that are made for just that purpose. Keep in mind though, using some chemical laced baits or lures for fishing are not allowed in some states.
40. Use it for a fire-ant bite. . . It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch.
41. WD-40 is great for removing crayon from walls. Spray on the mark and wipe with a clean rag.
42. Also, if you've discovered that your teenage daughter has washed and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry, saturate the lipstick spots with WD-40 and rewash. Presto! The lipstick is gone!
43. If you sprayed WD-40 on the distributor cap of your car, it would displace the moisture and allow the car to start.

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