Vaseline in the lugs, bad for lugs.

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I know this guy Ron, he's a Ludwig super freak, this guy has over 100 full sets (in storage, complete w/ hardware, cymbals) of Luddies. He is considered a Ludwig "expert" in my area and has some real credibility. Anyway, he used to work at a Sam Ash in Phila, one of the places I go. One time I was there he showed me some vintage drums and on all the lugs the chrome was peeling off. Ron claimed that this was due to Vaseline being used for lube inside the lug. Now I have been using vaseline for quite a while, because it says "100% petroleum jelly" right on the jar, so I thought it was safe. I was skeptical, but what convinced me was the fact that on the floor tom leg brackets, the chrome was perfect. I know I never used it on my floor tom leg brackets, so maybe there's something to it. Ron claims that the vaseline, constantly replenished throught the years, is ultimately acidic to the lug metal. He recommended gun oil, or 3 in 1. Can anyone cooroborate this?
 

spirit

Senior Member
I cant say Vaseline is bad for drum lugs, I use 3in1 only- but I cant see it could be bad at all, I think its probable that the chrome is peeling and coming off on the older drums simply because they are old and maybe stored not very well at some point in the life of them.
Chrome can blister and peel and it dont take much- just a pinhole and some moisture to bet under.........it starts slow and you dont see it till you can feel the bump of course by then the chrome is doomed!
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I don't know if I'd fault vaseline, or just vaseline, to chrome peeling off Ludwig lugs. Storage, weather, and neglect gotta have parts in this also. I usually go to the hardware store/garage shelf myself for any oils and/or lubricants to be used on drums. Seems to me, the medicine cabinet is for ..........medicine. But in lubing the threaded insert, one shouldn't be slathering the lug with oil or grease anyways. A drop of oil in the insert, a dab of molyb. on the tension rods. That should keep you good for a year, or two.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
How is it that the chrome on the floor tom brackets was unaffected? That was the convincer for me.
 
The Funkussionist's views

These are my ideas from a scientific point of view.

First :- If your chrome plating is peeling, this is virtually always a manufacturing defect due to insufficient adhesion of the plating to the substrate.

Second:- Vaseline is impervious to water and air so it will stop substrate corrosion and also act as a lubricant.

Third:- Vaseline doesn't contain water so it can't have a pH - i.e it is not acidic and won't promote breakdown of the chrome surface unless it is contaminated with a corrosive substance.

Fourth:- I have used a small amount of vaseline on the lugs on my premier kit for over 10 years and have noticed no degredation in the chrome plating.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I have used chapstick on my lugs simply because it is handy and portable. Second, I use to do a lot of bicycle repair and was advised against 3 n 1 oil because it is vegetable based and attracts dust. Just some thoughts.
 
Another thought:-
Chromed objects subjected to contact from your drum key or your sweaty fingers might breakdown more quickly.
I've noticed that our school kits have more corrosion spots on the top hoops than the bottom ones and I think it might be due to sweaty teenagers spraying their bodily excretions over everything. Also no-one cares to clean those kits.
 

rmandelbaum

Platinum Member
I have used Vaseline on my tension rods / receivers for years. My chrome is fine. I also would contend that if you were to cover a chrome object with it it would do more to protect it then harm it.
 

drumtechdad

Gold Member
"100% Petroleum Jelly" is just marketing. Vaseline is just a form of grease, and most petroleum-based grease is just oil mixed with soap. The oil Vaseline uses may be 100% petroleum-based, but heaven only knows what is in the "jelly" part.

3-in-1 does contain vegetable oil and will gum up some machinery.

Grease does form a barrier to dirt, but only for a while. Once it dries out it admits dirt, and it attracts and holds dirt before that. It also stops lubricating effectively when it dries out.

Gun oil is good, so is sewing machine oil.

But unless you're storing drums for a long period or in damp conditions I see no reason to lube tension rods/lugs. Given how low most drummers tune their toms, you're just asking for trouble, i.e., daily tuning.

Finally, I don't see any mechanism by which Vaseline can ruin chrome, but I'm willing to learn. ;-)
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
I make sure the tension rods are lubed every time I change heads. For around 25 years I used trumpet valve grease, then I switched to bicycle bearing grease about 5 years ago for my Gretsch kit (and others), and I've never had any problems of any kind.
 

SGT_Drummer

Senior Member
um... this is the first i have ever heard of any type of lubbing on the lugs. so i have to ask...why? i've never used lub and have never had any problems. o.0
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Petroleum jelly, petrolatum or soft paraffin[1] is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons (with carbon numbers mainly higher than 25),[2] originally promoted as a topical ointment for its healing properties. Its folkloric medicinal value as a "cure-all" has since been limited by better scientific understanding of appropriate and inappropriate uses (see Uses below). However, it is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an approved over-the-counter (OTC) skin protectant and remains widely used in cosmetic skin care.

The raw material for petroleum jelly was discovered in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, United States, on some of the country's first oil rigs. Workers disliked the paraffin-like material forming on rigs because it caused them to malfunction, but they used it on cuts and burns because it hastened healing.

Petrolatum is a flammable, semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons, having a melting-point usually ranging from a little below to a few degrees above 100°F (37°C). It is colorless, or of a pale yellow color (when not highly distilled), translucent, and devoid of taste and smell when pure. It does not oxidize on exposure to the air, and is not readily acted on by chemical reagents. It is insoluble in water. It is soluble in chloroform, benzene, carbon disulfide and oil of turpentine.

There is a common misconception (resulting from the similar feel they produce when applied to human skin) that petroleum jelly and glycerol (glycerine) are physically similar. While petroleum jelly is a non-polar hydrocarbon hydrophobic (water-repelling) and insoluble in water, glycerol (not a hydrocarbon but an alcohol) is the opposite: it is so strongly hydrophilic (water-attracting) that by continuous absorption of moisture from the air, it produces the feeling of wetness on the skin, similar to the greasiness produced by petroleum jelly. The feeling is similar, but petroleum jelly repels water, and glycerine attracts it.
 

elpol

Senior Member
Another thought:-
Chromed objects subjected to contact from your drum key or your sweaty fingers might breakdown more quickly.
I've noticed that our school kits have more corrosion spots on the top hoops than the bottom ones and I think it might be due to sweaty teenagers spraying their bodily excretions over everything. Also no-one cares to clean those kits.
This seems more likely to me too! Our sweat definitely has PH, does it not? If an inert or repelling substance like Vaseline were to be put over the PH-laden sweat/fingerprints, isn't it possible that there might be a very slow degradation of the chrome beneath?
 

spirit

Senior Member
I just cant see that using a decent oil or grease is bad for lugs- I think that it helps in the prevention of rust and provided the old grease or oil is cleaned off now and then and replaced with fresh- wont lead to any issues at all.
I have a friend who uses copper ease on his lugs- it is used mainly as an anti seize measure in the automotive industry and I have used it myself in that field on my drop links on my Ford Explorer and also as an anti rattle on the back of brake pads before placing in calipers.
I dont use it myself on drums because it is copper in colour and would stain cloths badly if it came in contact- not good for appearing at gigs covered in red stains if it seeps out with heat!

Just keep the lugs clean, I use wd40 and a clean rag to remove used grease and oil from my lugs now no more than once a year or when I change my heads, then a small drop of 3 in 1 and the jobs done- lugs turn nice and smooth with uniform resistance- no binding at all.
 

T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
I don't buy that argument at all. With the tiny bit you should be using in addition to keeping the tension rods very clean you shouldn't have any negative effects. Worst case scenario for any drummer, you have to get things re-chromed in 30 years. No biggie.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
With regards to lug lubrication, why not use what Ludwig or Gretsch or any other famous snare maker uses? Find out what's on the lugs from the factory and use that. Go to the source. Of course this is easier said than done..if there's a company employee lurking about here, maybe we can get the correct answer.

PS I've used graphite (for locks) on snare lugs very sparingly with good results.
 
Last edited:

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm sorry if the title of this post implies that Vaseline is bad, I don't know for sure, and that's why I'm seeking opinions, because that's what I heard...from only one guy. I should have put a question mark in the title. The fact that the chrome on the floor tom leg brackets were fine swayed me, but all the tension lugs on the same drum had peeling chrome.
Gruntersdad, great informative post, thanks.
I like lubing the lugs. Nice and smooth. I wonder if lithium grease is safe...
 
B

Big_Philly

Guest
I have only ever applied lubricant to the moving parts of my bass & hi hat pedals, bu also see no reason why vaseline is bad. I just prefer teflon spray or WD40 on chain drives (I also use it to keep my bicycle chain and derailer system smooth. Vaseline is a bit thicker and will not take away as much friction as teflon does, that actually may be better for lubing up lugs; you want some friction left in the lug to keep your tuning for longer than a few minutes.
I would only use lubricant on lugs and tuning screws if I would feel or hear some harsh friction in them.
 
Top