Too much oil, too much money:
When oil doesn’t stick where you put it, you have to keep
adding more and more. A gallon of way lube will go much
further lubricating a slideway than a gallon of regular hydraulic
oil. Regular hydraulic oils cost about three dollars less than way
lube. That initial cost saving is destroyed when you have to buy
extra gallons. Don’t be surprised if your annual purchases are
more expensive when you use the wrong lubricating oil.
More tramp oil:
Any oil used in a machine will eventually end up in the
coolant as tramp oil. Tramp oil is a contaminant. This unwanted oil can enter your metalworking fluid from a variety
of sources such as leaks from way, gear, spindle and hydraulic oils or oil on parts from previous operations.
Tramp oil can shorten the life of your coolant, sicken your
employees, ruin your machines, cost you money and leave
a residue on machine parts. The more oil you use, the more
tramp oil you have to dispose of.
More machine part wear:
When friction isn’t reduced properly, slideways and other
machine parts wear out faster, causing machine downtime
and additional maintenance costs.
The Old Bar and Chain
Go to any machinist forum online and someone will inevitably say you can save money by using the same bar and
chain oil for your chainsaw in your industrial machine. My
advice: Don’t. Yes, bar and chain oil and way lube are very
similar. However, bar and chain oil is used to cut down a tree
in a $100 to $500 chainsaw. It’s not manufactured to work
inside a quarter-of-a-million-dollar milling machine with
delicate electronics required to handle precision work.
Unknown additives may be added to bar and chain oil that
could hurt the inside of your machine. Plus, batches of bar
and chain oil may vary. Chainsaws don’t require tight tolerances, so there’s no need to be very precise in manufacturing
batches of its lubricating oil.
The Secret to Identifying the Best Way Lube
The secret to finding the best way lube for your machine
application is to start with a high-quality base oil and the
correct amount of tackifier.
How you use the machine can also affect the type of lubricating oil you need. For example, slideways moving four feet
require a higher quality lubricating oil than one moving two
Unfortunately, while the machine manual should tell you
the thickness of the oil you need, it usually won’t tell you the
type or quality of oil it needs.
This is where you either educate yourself on the different
oil brands or ask a specialist. Most of the major suppliers
of oil will have a person trained to evaluate your machine
Oil is not just oil anymore. With the right research and
knowledge, you can select the best oil type and brand for
your specific machine and its use — saving you money and
maintenance headaches for the long haul.
Mark Copeland is a key account manager at Acculube, a
Dayton-Ohio based fluids supplier to American manufacturers and service providers. For more information, visit www.
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