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Thread: Tri Flow; Pros and Cons

  1. #1
    Senior Member Cecilia S.'s Avatar
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    Tri Flow; Pros and Cons

    Tri Flow is mentioned so often, and was just mentioned in a separate thread; I thought I would start a discussion here.

    At the risk of being unpopular, I want to say that I am not nearly as much a fan of Tri Flow as the rest of the group seems to be.

    I mentioned in a separate thread that I experienced Tri Flow removing the black finish from a 1924 Singer. Sheila chimed in with a really interesting post about banana oil, paint remover, etc. Sheila, if you want to add that here ont his thread, it might be helpful to have it in this discussion!

    I also experimented with using Tri Flow on the keys and rods of a musical instrument, where sewing machine oil is normally used. After three weeks, the Tri Flow had gone dry, gunky, and appeared to leave residue. The keys were much noisier and less free-moving than when they are simply treated with sewing machine oil.

    I generally believe in using the simplest solution for a given problem, (Occam's Razor!) and while I will say that Tri Flow was valuable in helping me free up an absolutely seized presser foot bar, I find that often, sewing machine oil alone is enough to free lightly-moderately seized parts, lightly rusted parts.

    I realize that I am a novice yet, and many here are seasoned tinkerers, so I don't mean to speak out of turn. However, blanket advice is often given to give a Tri Flow spa to any newly-acquired creaky sewing machine. I would say that I disagree with this; I would personally give a sewing machine oil spa first, and then, if there are any truly seized parts, there I would consider Tri Flow, sparingly and carefully.

    I personally do not understand what the Three (Tri) ingredients are; Teflon is one, and thusfar there seem to be differing opinions as to the other two. All discussion is welcome! Would love to hear it.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I just use the sewing machine oil that came with my machine and I purchased some Singer all purpose oil from the LQS. I've never used TRI-FLOW.

  3. #3
    Super Member SteveH's Avatar
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    First off, I will say I am a big fan of Tri-Flow.
    I am also a big fan of SM Oil.

    I use Oil to clean, TF to lubricate.

    I am curious about the "dry gunky residue" you discussed. What color? I suspect that the TF is removing/breaking down old Oil still. TF should be mostly clear or whitish when dry.

    Open to other views, love to hear dissenting opinions.

  4. #4
    Super Member SewExtremeSeams's Avatar
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    Jumping in for the discussion. I do not have an opinion... as yet... lol

    Linda

    Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.
    [John Newton (1725-1807)]

  5. #5
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Sounds like Triflow dissolved some of the old junk that was already there and you just need to clean it. Triflow is by far the most amazing stuff.

  6. #6
    Super Member oldsewnsew's Avatar
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    would be awful if years from, people are writing of how terribly gummed up sewing machines are that had TF used on them back in the "old days". I'm somewhat gullible to marketing hype on snake oils. My OSMG says back in the old days they mixed alcohol and sewing machine oil 50-50 to use on wipie downs. (alcohol will silver decals by itself so test this some place you don't care)

  7. #7
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I find it strange when folks use a good product then denigrate it when it does it's job. Tri-Flow oil has solvents it it. It also has PTFE in it. The solvents will dissolve the old oils but you have to clean the residue off then reoil the parts. The combination of dissolving the old lube and the PTFE might be the residue left behind.

    I use regular SM oil in the motors. I use Tri-Flow every where else. I have used it on 100 year old machines all the way up to machines made in the 90s and have yet to see any evidence of paint removal.

    I don't have any musical instruments to use it on, but I do have a couple of vintage mechanical and one electric typewriters I'm going to use it on. I expect the typewriters will work much better afterwards.

    The ONLY con I find with Tri-Flow is you shouldn't use their grease in Singer motors. What makes it great on gears is the same thing that makes it unsuitable in motors.

    Joe

  8. #8
    Senior Member Vridar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldsewnsew View Post
    (alcohol will silver decals by itself so test this some place you don't care)
    I'm also new to sewing machines, but not new to tinkering. Watches, cameras, guns, cars are a few of my previous interests. However, I do have many hours of college chemistry and am a fan of Bob Flexner's Understanding Wood Finishing. I have deduced Japaning of Singers is done with shellac. Shellac was and is used on antique furniture. It is the main force in French Polishing. From previous posts I have concluded shellac is used as the "clear coat" of vintage machines. Alcohol, any form, is used to dissolve shellac and will do so effectively. This means if Singers are Japaned with shellac and alcohol is used to clean them, the alcohol will dissolve the "clear coat." If the finish is thick enough decals probably would be undamaged, but once the shellac is dissolved and the decals exposed to the alcohol, they will be silvered, no two ways about it. Alcohol will not touch any of my vintage Singers for this reason.

    My process is to use the least volatile solvent for the job. The sequence would be water (on non-exposed metals)/oil/kerosene/mineral spirits/alcohol/acetone/naphtha. To date I've not had to use more volatile than the in my tinkering with sewing machines.

    Caveat: I'm using volatility as a measurement of ability to dissolve other hydrocarbons. This is not exactly accurate but a good indicator.
    Last edited by Vridar; 10-01-2013 at 09:03 AM. Reason: spelling correction and caveat
    Ron in NW MO

    "I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger, then it hit me."

  9. #9
    Senior Member cmrenno's Avatar
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    I recommend Tri Flow as a lubricant. I have a 1915 singer 15-30 treadle that sold me on the stuff. I carefully cleaned it and at first I used regular sewing machine oil. I thought I had done a great job. My husband teased me that his grandmother could go a whole lot fast. I then oiled with Tri Flow and things really broke free! what a difference!!!!!!!!!!!

    Colleen

  10. #10
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Colleen,

    That's also what sold me on it. I cleaned a machine, oiled it with regular sewing machine oil, then later tried T-F and the difference was amazing. I switched between T-F and SM oil for a while testing it and in the end, I've settled on T-F.

    Joe

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