Different Styles of Desitin

DIY Gear Marking Compound

This simple project is a nice way to soothe your rough rear end gears... Ok it's out of the way, now lets get to business end of things. This simple project is an alternative to finding gear marking compound.

I had lost the capsule of gear marking compound that came with a rebuild kit for the Ford 9" I was working on. I had always though that Desitin butt cream would make a good substitute as I had a little boy and had to apply it many times.

I had some stock of old Desitin and found that 2 types existed, regular and MAXIMUM strength. In experimenting with it I found the regular strength was a bit too thin. It would work, but the MAXIMUM strength stuff was way better.

I ended up picking up some new Desitin Maximum Strength from Amazon with another order and in small tubes it's pretty cheap, much less then the equivalent real gear marking compound. I ended up getting the tub sized version so I could do some magic and have some left over in case my experiment with coloring went bad.

The last part of the puzzle was I though it might be nice to add some coloring, so I found some powered food coloring to mix in.  I would not recommend the water based food coloring, don't think it would be good for the gear.

Read on... OR watch the video at the end of the page!

Desitin Butt Cream

I had a couple of tubes, and later bought a jar of Desitin. The BLUE tube is the thinner version. The Purple tube in the background and small jar is the Maximum Strength Desitin and is what I would recommend.

The Main Ingredient - Desitin Maximum Strength

I picked up the 16oz jar for about 13 bucks shipped. The local drug store carried it but it was closer to $17 so figured I could wait a few days to get all my stuff collected. Again, MAXIMUM strength. If you have kids, you might already have this in some form or another. The stuff is mainly fish oil and zinc with some smelly perfume. Be careful if you had parents that used this on you as a kid, it can case a retroactive flash back.
Scoop of Desitin

Get ready to mix it up

If you are not going to need color, you are all done, get to marking those gears!
Tub of Maximum Strength Desitin

Food Coloring

I got a couple of tiny jars of powdered food coloring. I would NOT recommend any water based food coloring for a couple of reasons, one it might not mix well with the Desitin, and two, it will likely cause rust on your gears. I tossed these in to the shopping cart when I picked up the Desitin. Here is what I had picked up - Powered Food Coloring. This is totally optional, but does make it a bit easier to read. You will need a bunch of coloring to make it darker, but I used both tiny jars and you will see that it's still not too dark. Again, better, but not perfect. I might try some RIT dye next time but that could get messy.
Powdered Food Coloring
Scoop of Desitin Ready to Mix

Added and Mixing Food Coloring

Added a little powered food coloring, but it didn't do much with the amount of Desitin I used, so I ended up just dumping in a bunch more. Still could have gone darker but this is a test batch.
Finished Mixing

Finished Mixing

All done mixing, still could go darker, but overall looks OK. At this point you can get you brush out and do some work. I mixed this in a small plastic container with a lid that I can save for later use.
Desitin Gear Marking Pinion

Testing Gear Marking Compound

I didn't have a set of gears in a drop out that I could test on, so this is just using a small brush and each of the compounds. The first one (closest) is regular strength Desitin, the middle one is MAXIMUM strength, and the last one is one with some coloring.
Desitin Gear Marking Pinion - Regular Strength

Testing Gear Marking Compound

This is the regular strength hand rolled across the pinion. Useable but a bit schmeared.
Desitin Gear Marking Pinion - Maximum Strength

Testing Gear Marking Compound - Maximum Strength

A bit thicker looking pattern (middle tooth). Note these were just rolled by had so patterns are just a test. This is with the Maximum strength Desitin, looks more like the real gear marking compound
Desitin Gear Marking Pinion - Maximum Strength Orange

Testing Gear Marking Compound - Orange

Now with some color. The color (IMO) makes the gear stand out a bit more. Note on gears that are not polished (REM, etc) the white does a nice job against the black background.


If you lose your gear marking compound or need a lot more then what's in the typically installation kit here is a low cost DIY way to make some more. The costs for the 'real' stuff is anywhere from 6-14 bucks an ounce! Here you can make a ton of it for much less then that. The real stuff is available here at Amazon as well as Summit, etc. If you are already buying some stuff it's not bad you can find add on  for a few bucks. Also you might need to pick up the small Acid brushes that are useful for pasting it on. If your a fan of color pick up some powered food coloring, just remember that this will drive up the price of you home brew a bit. I still want to try some RIT powdered dye as an alternative but how much experimenting with Desitin butt cream can you really do.

Happy Motoring and get your projects done!

Enjoy the live action video below...
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