John Barry comes to a screeching halt.
July 25, 2009 12:12 PM   Subscribe

There's an old saying favoured by combat engineers, motorcyclists and technicians everywhere: If it moves and it shouldn't, gaffer-tape it. If it doesn't move and it should, WD-40 it. This week, John Barry, the guy who invented WD-40 on his 40th try (hence the name; Water Displacement, formula 40) met his demise.
posted by SharQ (53 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by SharQ at 12:13 PM on July 25, 2009


May he rust in peace.
posted by workerant at 12:15 PM on July 25, 2009 [16 favorites]


Hope he slid off easily in the end.
posted by Abiezer at 12:17 PM on July 25, 2009


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Aw, man.

Sprays can of WD-40 on curb. Gets ticketed. Forced to wash off curb.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:17 PM on July 25, 2009


According to WD40.com "Norm Larsen, founder of Rocket Chemical Company, is considered the original founder of WD-40," . John Barry made it popular. But still

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posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:18 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


________________________________________________ .
posted by Skygazer at 12:18 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


huffs wd-40 in his honor

Does anyone else love the smell of that stuff? I mean, reallly love it? Maybe it just brings back memories of my grandfather tinkering around his house, but damn if it isn't pleasant.

sprays wd-40 on chest a la Axe commercials.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:20 PM on July 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


WD-40 does a lot more than displace water!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:22 PM on July 25, 2009


Does anyone else love the smell of that stuff? I mean, reallly love it? Maybe it just brings back memories of my grandfather tinkering around his house, but damn if it isn't pleasant.

Yup, I am in that camp as well. I love the smell of WD-40. Also the smell of gasoline is pleasant to me. I think these things really are relative to our earliest associations. For me, it reminds me of my father.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]



posted by Smart Dalek at 12:24 PM on July 25, 2009


Does anyone else love the smell of that stuff?
Another yes here. I do associate it with good times making and destroying Frankenstein bicycles as a kid, but I think it really just smells good too. I wonder what someone who'd never smelled it before would say. (I have never huffed WD-40. Would that be, uh, a pleasant experience before the headache set in?)
Also, Yay, gaff tape! Duct/duck tape's softer, more understated and less gunk-depositing cousin.
posted by zoinks at 12:30 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


the smell of wd40 reminds me of the time I got in trouble for spraying it on the living room carpet. Also, the confusion created in my mind when I learned it isn't a lubricant has kept me from buying it since.
posted by DU at 12:31 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by dabitch at 12:33 PM on July 25, 2009


everywhere

That may be a slight overstatement - in parts of Europe, you'd 5-56 it.
posted by effbot at 12:33 PM on July 25, 2009


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(sprays can on the ground)
posted by _dario at 12:34 PM on July 25, 2009


WD-40 is part of a real culture of human innovation. I would call it American innovation if I hadn't seen a can in a mechanic's shop in Bangladesh.

Real engineers and technicians burn lean tissue staying up into the night making your life possible, and this is a small but important part of that flood of careful support.

Every well thought out product or device constitutes a message from an engineer. In this case the message is "I see your frustration and I want to help, signed a fellow engineer."

I'm sure the profit motive is present here, and a thousand other things, but people will innovate without any of that. I am deeply thankful for WD-40 and the hundred or so other wonderful bits no shop can do without.

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posted by poe at 12:37 PM on July 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


*not enamored of the smell, but grateful for its existence*
posted by Cranberry at 12:40 PM on July 25, 2009


Wired magazine recently published a short article on the chemical components of WD-40. In this day and age, analytic chemistry is so advanced that "secret chemical formulas" are a quaint reminder of a bygone era.

I gather Marvel Mystery Oil has the same kind of "secret formula" advertising gimmick.

Beyond the simple "I know a secret" value, this kind of thing can be useful for a careful shopper. I buy Trader Joe's Tongol tuna because it contains the least amount of mercury of brands quantitatively tested at the behest of this particular local TV station.
posted by Tube at 12:42 PM on July 25, 2009


Another outstanding yes on the pleasant smell of WD-40 and gasoline. I don't have any particular associations to either, but I do have a perfume allergy, so my nose is a bit off-kilter.
posted by cmyk at 12:51 PM on July 25, 2009


I love the smell of WD-40 in the mourning.
posted by Elmore at 1:12 PM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Stuff makes for a reasonably good flamethrower, ala http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2rCoOPkTTY. I used to do this when I was a ten year old idiot, though I was never dumb enough to do it indoors.
posted by aerotive at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2009


I will think of him the next time I remove gum from my shoe.
posted by elder18 at 1:32 PM on July 25, 2009


Thanks for all the unstuck outdoor padlocks and silenced door hinges. I hope that makes up for the tons and tons of landfill waste and atmospheric pollution.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:34 PM on July 25, 2009


Burhanistan: I hope that makes up for the tons and tons of landfill waste and atmospheric pollution.

I would argue that things like WD-40 reduce landfill waste and pollution by preventing things from rusting or wearing out. Less broken or ruined stuff gets thrown away and fewer new parts and devices need to be constructed.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:54 PM on July 25, 2009


I used to love the smell of gasoline, but no longer. WD-40 and pretty much any other household aerosol have always made me kinda nauseated. I also don't have any particular association with the stuff; I've probably used it more often working at a library than I ever have at home.
posted by doubleozaphod at 2:20 PM on July 25, 2009


He just slipped away.
posted by mosk at 2:22 PM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry to see you go John.
I switched from WD40 to INOX years ago whilst on a "Buy Australian" kick.
Also, one of my favorite smelling auto products...Aerostart (TINY PDF) More than 60% Gasolene, 10>30% ETHER! Deadly stuff.
posted by Duke999R at 2:35 PM on July 25, 2009


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posted by Thorzdad at 2:51 PM on July 25, 2009


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posted by drezdn at 2:56 PM on July 25, 2009


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posted by jquinby at 2:57 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Xoebe at 3:15 PM on July 25, 2009


It is the magic beans of the single woman's household. I use it for everything.
posted by mnb64 at 3:35 PM on July 25, 2009


After some years of going around lubing stuff with WD-40, I discovered that it leaves behind a residue that eventually goes all gummy and sticky. So if that's not what I want, I now use one of the silicone lubes. Tri-flow is also nice -- it penetrates and then leaves behind a nice non-gumming film. I still keep a can of WD-40 around.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 4:26 PM on July 25, 2009


So, my wife and I.... we like butchering language, and frequently misuse intentional mispronunciations and nonsense words. Among our favorites is the full spelling out of acronyms and abbreviations. I actually got started on that during high school when I heard the expression ABC (which equaled "Ace Boon Coon", racist, sure, but only the black kids used it). Ever since, CVS (the pharmacy) is "Coon Voon Sassoon", and well... probably too many more to list.

Anyways, the point: WD-40 became "Wang Dang Cuarentang" (owing to my dubiously Hispanic roots).
posted by The Giant Squid at 4:30 PM on July 25, 2009


WD-40 does turn gummy with age, which makes it a not-so-good lock lubricant. Graphite is better.

I do use WD-40 on the chute of my snowblower; it reduces clogging. It's also an excellent bug killer.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:35 PM on July 25, 2009


A little music in his honor. Or of another numbered product.
posted by dhartung at 5:38 PM on July 25, 2009


It's a big man who can take 40 tries to accomplish something, and tell everyone about it.
posted by tommasz at 5:45 PM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ironically, the hinges on his coffin got stuck.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:10 PM on July 25, 2009


There's an old saying favoured by combat engineers, motorcyclists and technicians everywhere: If it moves and it shouldn't, gaffer-tape it. If it doesn't move and it should, WD-40 it.

Since WD-40 makes duct tape useless and unsticky, I suppose this explains why combat engineers, motorcyclists , and technicians are always tinkering and reapplying the two aforementioned products.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:11 PM on July 25, 2009


Heaven just got a little slipperier.

556;
posted by MysteriousMan at 6:15 PM on July 25, 2009


Bah! Unicode fail.
posted by MysteriousMan at 6:17 PM on July 25, 2009


I'm a silicone spray man myself, but between wd-40 type lube spray, duct tape, gaffers tape, zip ties and cardboard cut up for shims my jackleg home repair efforts are masterful. Godspeed John, may you be in heaven ten minutes before the devil realizes your crankshaft just locked up.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:52 PM on July 25, 2009


I was onboard right up until the part about the meetings at Denny's.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:03 PM on July 25, 2009


Also, one of my favorite smelling auto products...Aerostart

I've always been a fan of Start Ya Bastard simply because it has an awesome name. Oh no i've been marketed!
posted by onya at 9:10 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I think he's dead. He ain't movin'."
"Put some WD-40 on 'im."

RIP John. Without you my childhood would have been devoid of homemade flame-throwers and singed eyebrows.
posted by Avelwood at 9:30 PM on July 25, 2009


Though you probably chain-smoke multiple packs of cigarettes while running through the house with scissors, just after you take a long fat draft off your PVC beer bong, I do think it's wise to keep in mind that the off-gassing vapors from petroleum products are seriously bad for you.

But, really, go ahead, thread that hose from your exhaust back through the crack in your driver's side window, sniff in that lovely gasoline aroma.

Now that's how smart some MeFi's are.
posted by mistersquid at 10:03 PM on July 25, 2009


Though you probably chain-smoke multiple packs of cigarettes while running through the house with scissors, just after you take a long fat draft off your PVC beer bong, I do think it's wise to keep in mind that the off-gassing vapors from petroleum products are seriously bad for you.

But, really, go ahead, thread that hose from your exhaust back through the crack in your driver's side window, sniff in that lovely gasoline aroma.

Now that's how smart some MeFi's are.


I think they were joking. Maybe you were too. Man, irony is hard.
posted by onya at 10:07 PM on July 25, 2009


Man, irony is hard.
I think I was better at irony before sniffing all that WD-40.
posted by jewzilla at 10:16 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oil be damned. But, if you read your first link, you'll see that John Barry didn't invent WD-40. It was invented by Norm Larsen, who died in 1970. John Barry was the CEO of the company. On preview, what The Light Fantastic said.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:56 AM on July 26, 2009


It's a big man who can take 40 tries to accomplish something, and tell everyone about it.

Worked for Thomas Edison and the light bulb.
posted by bwg at 3:42 AM on July 26, 2009


Without you my childhood would have been devoid of homemade flame-throwers and singed eyebrows.

Not if you paid attention to what your teenage forebears were doing with lighters and all manner of spray cans long before WD-40 appeared. The list of stuff you can use for flamethrowers is huge.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:13 AM on July 26, 2009


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We used to spray WD-40 on the Foosball table to make things really interesting. Although it always ended up with the other team spraying the floor of the opposite team to gain an advantage, still fun none the less.
posted by lilkeith07 at 5:28 PM on July 26, 2009


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Used to spray this on my old metal bedposts, to de-creakify. Thanks, Mr. Barry.
posted by medeine at 10:22 AM on July 27, 2009


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