Treating the barn with diesel and transmission fluid?

55 gallon drumOne of the great mysteries of our new home was why the previous owners would leave behind several fifty gallon barrels of chemicals behind. It was alarming. We wanted to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way but weren’t quite sure where to start. The previous owners didn’t have a tractor so why did they have giant barrels of what seemed like thick oil or grease? We mentioned this to several people in the area and it was only last month that someone gave us the clue we needed to solve this mystery. Our barn is wood sided and apparently it’s common in this area to mix some concoction of diesel fuel, used transmission fluid and whatever this oil/grease is in the barrels to treat the wood on the barn. It’s supposed to protect the wood from the weather and insects, such as carpenter bees. I have never heard of such a thing. I guess it kind of makes sense. I know wood needs to be chemically treated to last but it seems odd to me that we should be using something that is…I don’t know…HIGHLY FLAMMABLE!

Have you ever heard of this? What do you guys use for your wooden barns/out-buildings?

About Bill

Long-winded horse newbie, aspiring amateur barrel racer and cowboy mounted shooter. Bill has a "horse problem" and regularly wears a t-shirt that reminds him "I don't need another horse." A favorite quote is from John Wayne: "Courage is being scared but saddling up anyway," which pretty much describes how he feels every time he gets on a horse.
This entry was posted in The Barn and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Treating the barn with diesel and transmission fluid?

  1. Lynda says:

    I don’t believe that diesel fuel is all that flammable.

  2. Julian Ross says:

    We use a mixture of diesel oil and tar on the shingled barn roof. It is usually applied hot, having been heated in a vat over a fire in the yard. (So I guess that it can’t be too flammable.) It’s safe, so long as care is taken that sparks from a chimney don’t land on it. I believe that creosote-like chemicals may be carcinogenic though (I stand to be corrected on this if wrong), so do wear protective clothing when working with the stuff.

  3. We had a barrel of similar stuff on this place when we moved here. I wonder if this is why? Now you have me thinking. Interesting post….

  4. Suzanne says:

    They have taken the creosote products off the market. I couldn’t stand the smell anyway…

    But this stuff doesn’t sound like it would smell any better. There are products on the market for these kinds of things. I think I would try them first.

  5. Heather says:

    I saw a show on tv where they used something similar in a part of Africa to treat the wood houses in order to keep pests (like ants and termites) off the wood. It didn’t seem to work that well, and if it contains used motor oil, it is definately carinogenic.

  6. diana says:

    My dad would spray diesel fuel on our barn. The smell would fade away after a while. He never painted. This lasted forever.

  7. john says:

    the diesel and tranny fluid mix you came across was most likely a commonly known mix that is used in diesel engines to save fuel costs – similar to biodiesel except instaed of used cooking oil it combines used ranny fluid. by the way – do i really have to explain why it is completly stupid to apply a flamable (yes it is flamable lynda) and expensive not to mention hazardous and carcinogenic substance to any structure unless you want to get cancer or die in a house fire. [admin - remainder of this post was removed]

  8. debbie says:

    I have a had a horrible problem with HUGE rat, bull and God only know what kind of snakes. 6-7′ snakes. I know they are not poisonous BUT they scare the crap out me and I feel like a prisoner in my own home. A friend recommeded spraying the outside parameter of my yard in and my retaining wall (made of railroad ties, where they nest) with diesel. So I did, My question is how long is diesel flammable for. The smell goes away after a couple of days. But Buthow long is it flammable. PLEASE get back with e ASAP

  9. Bill says:

    Debbie, that sounds horrible. I was actually thinking of using railroad ties for a retaining wall and now I’m reconsidering. Few things in this world I hate more than snakes. Maybe you could light those ties on fire and then build a new retaining wall? Kidding! I’m not really sure about the flammability of diesel. I know that it doesn’t ignite as quickly or explosively as gasoline. I was told a story recently about a WWII general who freaked out his troops by dropping a lit cigarette into the fuel tank of a battle tank to prove a point. I wouldn’t try that, but I understand the point. Diesel has a higher flash point (the temperature it can turn into flammable vapor) than gasoline, though it contains more heat energy. I know that doesn’t really answer your question, though. I did a little Google searching and didn’t find anything.

  10. mark says:

    the fuel is for the treatment against weather and insects the transmission fluid is for the red color left behind on some woods its beutiful. im from eastern kentucky and a lot of people use this mix for barns and cabins

  11. Mike says:

    I bought and older yellow pine log home a while back and the former owner sprayed it with transmission fluid. I don’t think it was used but it was cheaper back then. He said he liked the color but I’m surprised how well it lasted and no termites. Now it needs to be done again with something and I’m wondering why not use the same. Just new transmission fluid. Or does it need to be mixed with something. And can I just apply it or do I need to pressure wash off the old stuff. Or is there something better that last longer than 5 years? thanks Mike

  12. Michael says:

    Straight diesel works for a long time- I… I mean people I know;);) use the used motor oil to get rid of it, for coloring(like transmission fluid only free), and allegedly the metals help to preserve the wood. It renders an antiqued look. New oil looks more like a honey shade, but it’s comparativley expensive and wasteful when the used works as well. At any rate- any of the them or any combination works better than any store bought product ‘in my friends humble opinion’. Why ‘my friend’ really uses diesel instead of just straight oil is because the easiest way to apply it over a large area is with a garden sprayer- one of these pump and point the wand deals. The oil alone is too thick and clogs up the tip- diesel thins it out. I see people ask often about a ratio- evidently they aren’t rednecked enough to be handling this and should maybe call out a professional. This isn’t science. Make it a mixture that can spray evenly from the nozzle, spray it, let it soak in, do it again, let it soak in, then do it again. Drink three beers between each application and you should be spot on. As far as being flammable… well listen. News Flash. Wood’s flammable. A cigarette won’t light it, a blow torch will- but then again a blow torch is gonna light wood whether it’s soaked in fuel or not. It works good on outdoor applications. Trailers especially;)

Leave a Reply