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#249 :: WD-40

October 14, 2004

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the kingdom was lost. For want of a nail. It’s a happy little Todd Rundgren tune about the work ethic and fate. Smooth operation is a squirt away. Use the little tiny red plastic extension straw that comes with each can to lube the really tricky bits. Imagine its history – 50 years of civilian service born of military testing:

It took them 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out. But they must have been really good, because the original secret formula for WD-40which stands for Water Displacement perfected on the 40th tryis still in use today.

Convair, an aerospace contractor, first used WD-40 to protect the outer skin of the Atlas Missile from rust and corrosion. The product actually worked so well that several employees snuck some WD-40 cans out of the plant to use at home.

A few years following WD-40’s first industrial use, Rocket Chemical Company founder Norm Larsen experimented with putting WD-40 into aerosol cans, reasoning that consumers might find a use for the product at home as some of the employees had. The product made its first appearance on store shelves in San Diego in 1958.

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