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Thread: Why Tri-flow?

  1. #1
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Why Tri-flow?

    Hey everyone,

    Being in Canada sometimes is like being in a third world. I am having an unreal amount of trouble finding tri-flow products.

    5 out of 6 bicycle shops I've been into carry "Finish Line" products instead of tri-flow, and claim they're better.

    Each time, I've told them I'm looking for tri-flow specifically and didn't know if the FL products are SM friendly.

    I finally found one shop that carries the oil, 2oz bottle only, but not the grease. And at their prices, I don't think I want to use them as a regular supplier!

    I called one of the industrial suppliers in Edmonton, and they said that they carry only the aerosol cans of tri-flow oil. OHHHH the mess could make with a spray can!!

    When I told him what the tri-flow grease was - Synthetic grease with PTFE (teflon), he said "Oh! We have this other product called super lube. It's exactly the same thing".

    Hmm... just like the bike shops are saying.

    I watched a video at sewingpartsonline on how to change the feed dog gears, and he says he uses "the best grease money can buy" and pulls out a tub of walmart brand wheel bearing grease. uhm... ok.
    Of course the slathering job he did of the gears with said grease, doesn't make him an authority in my mind...

    So here's the question: Is Tri-flow "kleenex" now (i.e. hand me a kleenex, not hand me a tissue...) or is there something that really is different about this grease / oil?

    If it really is better, I guess I'll have to smuggle a case of it back over the border then next time we go to the states.
    Last edited by ArchaicArcane; 10-25-2012 at 11:50 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    No, TriFlow isn't Kleenex - accept no substitutes. Defnitely not FinishLine or any other chain lube. Most bicycle chain lubes leave behind a waxy residue - good for chains, not for sewing machines.

    For a grease I might use the real thing - Teflon grease that I keep around for lubing the S&S couplers on our tandems. Pure PTFE and seriously expensive but the maker of the couplers is adamant that it's the thing to use for high pressure metal to metal contact.

  3. #3
    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    BTW, I see that REI lists Tri-Flow for sale on their website. I don't know if they ship to Canada, though. Maybe MEC?

  4. #4
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    You've probably read this before, but just in case you haven't here's Sew-Classic's page on lubes.
    http://www.shop.sew-classic.com/4-Oi...e-Tools_c6.htm
    Unfortunately they can't (or won't) ship to Canada.

    Also here is Tri-Flows web site. You might be able to contact them and get the name of a Canadian supplier.
    http://www.triflowlubricants.com/index.html


    To answer your question of why all I can do is relate my experiences.
    I've used gobs of different oils and greases in my life. Many different ones on firearms, tools, fans, and other equipment. Some worked good, some worked great and some didn't work worth a hoot.
    Then we come to sewing machines. Sewing machines do not have bearings, they have shafts in bores and all that stands between them and wear or seizing up is the oil.
    In recent months I have rejuvenated a bunch of old decrepit machines. I've used normal sewing machine oil (Singer, Alpha Sew and who knows), Marvel Mystery Oil, Pennzoil light machinery oil, and something amber my wife bought as sewing machine oil.
    All the oils worked, but the Tri-Flow was noticeably better. I can feel and hear the difference in how the machine runs with it.
    Tri-Flow grease doesn't fling off the gears as Singer grease does, and it's not sticky and rotation inhibiting like the white lithium grease I've tried.

    I consider it better than anything I've tried to date on sewing machines.

    In lieu of the Tri-Flow products, stick with Singer oil and lube if you can find it. It's not as good as Tri-Flow, but it's a proven sewing machine compatible product.

    Joe

  5. #5
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Hey Thanks!! I was pretty sure that the Finish Line stuff wasn't going to be what I wanted.

    I didn't realize MEC was well known in the states.
    They do carry it, but it's always out of stock. No wonder too, they sell it for 1/2 what the bike shops do.

    As for the grease, you figure I'm OK with the Super Lube? It says "Sewing Machines" in some of the writeups, but then I read somewhere that 3in1 oil says the same thing, and we all know not to use that on a sewing machine. Ever.

    The thing is, Sew-Classic can ship to Canada, just not that product. I suspect it's some sort of shipping rule or border guard thing.

  6. #6
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Hey Joe,

    Yes, I've read Jenny's site, it's part of why I wanted it, and it's raved about here there and everywhere.
    I sent off an email to triflow previously, no response yet

    I'm definitely sold on the TriFlow oil. The biggest problem seems to be the grease. The Singer Grease is getting hard to find here. The Singer store closed down 2 weeks ago, I've actually been taking up a little bit of the slack among the people I know for servicing the machines, but I'm down to my last 1/16th of a tube. I can order it from the supplier I recently set up with, but it's the "in a pinch" moments where I'd like to have an option.

    They used to carry tri-flow, but stopped. I hear that it was partly because the bottles were leaking on the shelves. They said they'd look at bringing it back. All they carry currently is the aerosol. I don't want to do that to a sewing machine.

    Would you say that Tri-Flow is about the same viscosity as the Singer Lube? Heavier? Lighter? I'm thinking of picking up a tube of the Super Lube to see what it's like. If I hate it, I know DH can use it in the garage, but I'd love to know how it compares thickness wise to the Tri-Flow. They claim it stays put. I guess I'll be the judge of that.

  7. #7
    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    Hey Thanks!! I was pretty sure that the Finish Line stuff wasn't going to be what I wanted.

    I didn't realize MEC was well known in the states.
    They do carry it, but it's always out of stock. No wonder too, they sell it for 1/2 what the bike shops do.
    I was going through the other bicycle chain lubes I'm aware of and realized that Tri-Flow was the only non-waxy one. Wow! I use ProLink myself but not for sewing machines.

    I don't know if MEC is all that well known down here but if you spend time in the bicycle business in the nothern states you'll hear about it. I'm pretty sure REI keeps Tri-Flow in stock so you might check to see if they can ship to our northern neighbors. If Sew-Classic can't I wouldn't be surprised if REI can't either, though.

  8. #8
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Viscosity? To me they are so close I can't tell the difference.

    Here is an idea. I have a shooting forum friend that lives in Canada. His sister lives in NY state. If I want to mail him something I send it to his sister's NY address and the next time he visits her he pics it up.
    Do you have any friends or relatives in the US? If so perhaps they could get you the Tri-Flow and get it to you. Like I said, just an idea.

    My Tri-Flow oil bottles don't leak. I keep them capped tightly and they are fine.

    Singer grease or lube is the old standard. There is nothing wrong with it other than it tends to fling off of gears. It's what you need for Singer motors though.

    Have you contacted Singer for a source of their products in Canada?

    Joe

  9. #9
    Senior Member Skyangel's Avatar
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    I found a supplier of Tri-Flow in Canada - they even have free shipping:

    http://www.triboutique.ca/SearchResu...20&Search.y=14

    Other than motor grease tubes, I don't use anything else.

  10. #10
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkCastleDH View Post
    I was going through the other bicycle chain lubes I'm aware of and realized that Tri-Flow was the only non-waxy one. Wow! I use ProLink myself but not for sewing machines.
    I guess that makes sense. A lot of the chain "lubes" we use on the motorcycles are waxy as well. Not the nicest to clean off when doing chain maintenance.

    I don't know if MEC is all that well known down here but if you spend time in the bicycle business in the nothern states you'll hear about it. I'm pretty sure REI keeps Tri-Flow in stock so you might check to see if they can ship to our northern neighbors. If Sew-Classic can't I wouldn't be surprised if REI can't either, though.
    I will try to drop them an email this evening! Thanks! MEC does have the 2oz bottles of the oil in stock here. I picked up a couple tonight to tide me over until I can find a good source. They -thought- there was supposed to be 12 bottles of the 6oz in stock, but there was no sign of it when we got there.

    I did notice that MEC ships to the US, and I wondered about that, because it's not often we have better prices here than the US. It doesn't seem like it would make sense for most people to ship from Canada.

    Quote Originally Posted by J Miller View Post
    Viscosity? To me they are so close I can't tell the difference.

    Here is an idea. I have a shooting forum friend that lives in Canada. His sister lives in NY state. If I want to mail him something I send it to his sister's NY address and the next time he visits her he pics it up.
    Do you have any friends or relatives in the US? If so perhaps they could get you the Tri-Flow and get it to you. Like I said, just an idea.
    Good idea. We have friends who would do that for us in the states, but they're Texas and Oregon. We don't often get that far when we vacation. I get a little caught up riding on the good roads,... over and over again, so we don't get a lot of linear distance. It would be just as easy probably for us to pick up as much as I could carry in a top case comfortably when we got there.

    My Tri-Flow oil bottles don't leak. I keep them capped tightly and they are fine.
    I sort of thought that should be the case. I wonder if one fell over and the product got painted with a bad brush as a result.

    Singer grease or lube is the old standard. There is nothing wrong with it other than it tends to fling off of gears. It's what you need for Singer motors though.

    Have you contacted Singer for a source of their products in Canada?
    Yeah, I know I won't be able to completely replace the Singer Lube, but most of the machines I've been servicing lately have been post 60s... no motors to lube, just gears. DH keeps saying gears will be fine with the Super Lube. Eh.. I'll try the 411 and see what happens. It will probably be the one I use the most for the next little while. It's supposed to be non-drying, synthetic, non-flinging, teflon infused grease. It can't be worse than SuperTech wheel bearing grease or Vaseline, can it?

    Singer Canada will tell me to use SMS Canada. They're my current supplier. I think I might just have to make sure I don't ever forget to order before I run out. My current order is 1 -2 weeks away, and I'm lower than I'd planned on the lube, which is what brought this tread up to begin with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyangel View Post
    I found a supplier of Tri-Flow in Canada - they even have free shipping:

    http://www.triboutique.ca/SearchResu...20&Search.y=14

    Other than motor grease tubes, I don't use anything else.
    Thanks SkyAngel! I just checked them out. Minimum $100 order for free shipping. That will take some fore-planning. I can probably do it though if I can't come up with anywhere in Edmonton to get it. (It's not worth paying shipping on a smaller order anyway, so I'd find some stuff to get.)

    DH and I were talking today. If one Industrial shop carries one product line, there's a chance one of the others will carry the Tri-flow to be different. I will be making some more calls in the morning to see what I can find.

  11. #11
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I just had an idea. I'll have to do the searching tomorrow but ... ever since I started using Tri-Flow grease it's reminded me of something. It just dawned on me what. Years ago Ford produced a synthetic grease for use on radio antennas and other things. My memory says it looks and feels like Tri-Flow grease. Somewhere I have two tubes of that stuff. I'll find them and compare them. If they are similar I'll post the Ford part #. It might still be available.

    Joe

  12. #12
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Hey that would be great! We have a family member who works for Ford so that would be a really easy fix.
    Thanks Joe!

  13. #13
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    Hey that would be great! We have a family member who works for Ford so that would be a really easy fix.
    Thanks Joe!
    Well, here is the Ford Silicone Lubricant, COAZ-19553-A.

    It's consistency is very similar to Tri-Flow grease, but I don't know just how similar it really is.
    The box doesn't say anything about gears or mechanical uses, it just says:
    "Ford Silicone Lubricant lubricates and helps prolong the life of rubber parts.

    Helps to eliminate squeaks and helps prevent freezine and sticking of rubber weatherstripping on hoods, trunk lids, doors and windows.

    Helps keep battery terminals and case clean-minimizes corrosion, prolongs battery life.

    Effective from - 40 to 400 F."

    Joe

  14. #14
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Hah! I wonder if they still make it, because it sounds like what they should have used on my windows when I told them I couldn't get into the car in the winter!

    Short drop glass and freeze and thaw (or more accurately thaw then freeze.) is actually not a good combination. I just got blank looks.

    I will ask the BIL next time I see him.

    Thanks Joe!

  15. #15
    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchaicArcane View Post
    Hah! I wonder if they still make it, because it sounds like what they should have used on my windows when I told them I couldn't get into the car in the winter!
    They'd probably just remind you that it's only good to 40 below (which is handy as that's the same temp up there as down here!) so it wouldn't have helped

  16. #16
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    LOL! Good Point!

    Uhm,... I mean... HEY!! That's not true like 350 days of the year!

  17. #17
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Last winder the weather stripping on my Pathfinder froze to the body. What a pain. I had forgot I had this stuff. Before it gets really cold and wet I need to clean the vehicle and put a coat of this stuff on it. Might as well use it.

    Joe
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 12-01-2014 at 03:18 AM. Reason: language

  18. #18
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Good idea! On the mustang, it has the short drop glass I mentioned. It's actually the best winter car I've ever had, believe it or not. The only problem I have with it in the winter is the 1/3" the glass needs to drop in order to get the door open. If it was parked in the sun, or the interior was warm when I parked it, and snow landed on it and melted. If I was gone a couple of hours or so, it will have frozen by the time I get back that seam where the glass rolls down. Then it's like one solid piece. Ugh.

  19. #19
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I miss the drip rails the old cars and trucks used to have. These new aerodynamic things are more trouble than they're worth.

    Joe

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    Helpful thread indeed, all the above participants perform well...

  21. #21
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    If I use the triflow on a newer machine am I gonna run into problems? I just got a copy of the manual to my original sewing machine and I CAN open it up... I didn't think I could. So I'd like to baby it a bit to see if I can solve the issues it's been giving me. But I imagine it's mostly plastic inside. So I know I can't use it on the motors anything else I should know.
    Proud owner of: Eleanor, a 1896 Willcox & Gibbs Chain Stitch Treadle; Tucci, a 1952 Singer Featherweight; my mothers Singer Touch & Sew 758; Brother XR 6060
    1910 Singer 66; Singer 99K Shadow, 1929 Singer 128 (currently w/hand crank)

  22. #22
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kittywolf13 View Post
    If I use the triflow on a newer machine am I gonna run into problems? I just got a copy of the manual to my original sewing machine and I CAN open it up... I didn't think I could. So I'd like to baby it a bit to see if I can solve the issues it's been giving me. But I imagine it's mostly plastic inside. So I know I can't use it on the motors anything else I should know.
    No you won't run into problems on newer machines. I've used it all of our newer plasticized machines and they run as good and sometimes better with the Tri-Flow as with regular sewing machine oil. I just use the oil on the metal to metal parts. If the T-F oil gets on the plastic I haven't seen any damage, but I don't think it helps either.

    You can use the Tri-Flow on oilable motors, but I don't, and here's why. The Tri-Flow oil label says it's fortified with P.T.F.E. or Teflon. Sewing machine and small motors usually have bronze bushings for bearings. The bronze bushings are porous and most times have a felt wick surrounding them. I'm not sure how that P.T.F.E would work with the porous bushings. Will it pass through or will it plug the microscopic holes? So that's why I don't use it on motors.

    Joe

  23. #23
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kittywolf13 View Post
    If I use the triflow on a newer machine am I gonna run into problems? I just got a copy of the manual to my original sewing machine and I CAN open it up... I didn't think I could. So I'd like to baby it a bit to see if I can solve the issues it's been giving me. But I imagine it's mostly plastic inside. So I know I can't use it on the motors anything else I should know.
    I really can't see how you'd hurt it. Just don't put oil on any of the rubber parts. I also go pretty light on the plastic / nylon parts as well.

    As a follow-up to my comment about contacting Tri-Flow.... I submitted a question via their contact form, it too the 2 weeks to get back to me with a link to Krylon's site, saying use the dealer locator form there. Well. The people in the city who carry Krylon paint are not necessarily the ones that carry a bearing grease. I spent almost 2 hours looking at sites and calling shops. There's -1- place in Edmonton that can order it for me. They're making me work pretty hard to give them money. This is about par with what I read on the bicycle sites too when I researched the stuff.

  24. #24
    Super Member ArchaicArcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Miller View Post
    You can use the Tri-Flow on oilable motors, but I don't, and here's why. The Tri-Flow oil label says it's fortified with P.T.F.E. or Teflon. Sewing machine and small motors usually have bronze bushings for bearings. The bronze bushings are porous and most times have a felt wick surrounding them. I'm not sure how that P.T.F.E would work with the porous bushings. Will it pass through or will it plug the microscopic holes? So that's why I don't use it on motors.

    Joe

    Wow Joe,... thanks for this bit of information! With Singer Lube being so difficult to find here, (my huge order from SMS is arriving today, but they found their inventory to be wrong with the Lube, so it's back-ordered, so it's another month away) I was thinking of taking a SM motor to an electrical motor shop and seeing what they recommended (after they stopped giggling at the size of the motor). I didn't know about the porous bronze...

    BTW, I asked the supplier for the Singer Lube in Canada where I could buy a tube or two while I'm waiting for their stock to come in. They looked in their database and said there's 1 account in all of Alberta that -used- to buy it, but the account closed 3 months ago. Something stinks here... what are the shops using when they get a machine in? I know not a LOT of vintage machines hit the service places, but there will be a couple, no?

  25. #25
    Junior Member Kittywolf13's Avatar
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    Thanks Joe! As usual you are a wealth of information.

    I was haveing trouble finding singer lube too. I found it odd that Walmart and Joanne's carried the oil but not the lube. Weirdness. I ordered mine from see classic, but would love a local source for when im in a pinch.
    Proud owner of: Eleanor, a 1896 Willcox & Gibbs Chain Stitch Treadle; Tucci, a 1952 Singer Featherweight; my mothers Singer Touch & Sew 758; Brother XR 6060
    1910 Singer 66; Singer 99K Shadow, 1929 Singer 128 (currently w/hand crank)

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