Lubricants to use on the moving parts of a lathe????

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Ridgerunner
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Lubricants to use on the moving parts of a lathe????

Postby Ridgerunner » Sat Mar 25, 2006 11:00 pm

I am very new at this and I have a question regarding lubricants to be used on the lathe. I have just finished refurbrishing my lathe and all is nice and clean. As I re-assemble the parts I need to lubricate them so that all moves properly, of course. However, in this new day of space-age lubricants would a good coating of, say, lithium grease or Slide-eze, or some other type of lubricant work just as well as light-weight machine oil? I realize that most of you will support the oil, however wouldn't something of a dry variety work better and not snare pieces of metal and such which would damage the fine moving surfaces of the machine? I hope that this isn't a stupid question, but I am new at this "fine madness".

PeteM

Postby PeteM » Sun Mar 26, 2006 1:23 am

You'll want to search the archives -- this is an often discussed subject. In general, buy "way oil" for the bed of your lathe and leadscrew -- pretty much all the exposed surfaces. It stays put and there's nothing better. This is available in gallon containers for about $15-$20 from McMaster, MSC, and other suppliers and will last you a long time. The lighter weight of Mobil Vactra (#2) is one good choice.

Plain machine oil, without additives, is typically used for lubrication points for sleeve bearings and the like. On slides, your light way oil is good.

If you have a gear head machine, the manual will suggest what to use -- someting like a gear or spindle oil. Some folks substitute hydraulic oil. You wont something that doesn't foam up and doesn't have additives to keep junk in suspension (e.g. not used automotive engine oil). More likely you have open gears -- there are spray gear lubricants (check McMaster etc.) that do a nice job of staying put. You can probably get started with a grease you already have.

What's needed more than some super duper additives in the lubes -- many of which can do more harm than good -- is that you clean and oil your lathe regularly. Hope that helps get you started.

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JimGlass
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Postby JimGlass » Sun Mar 26, 2006 4:06 pm

Way oil is always a good bet because it clings to surfaces.

However, straight weight oil is said to be the best lubricant. Automotive oil and outboard motor oil all have special characteristics depending on application. Multigrade oils thin when cold for starting in cold temperatures. Outboard oil needs to burn away ash free so the motor does not carbon up and make the rings stick.

This is accomplished with oil additives. These additives are not necessarily good lubricants. Viscosity savers, surfactance and the list goes on. Therefore if the additives are not needed, then why use them.
A lathe needs none of these additives so I would say a straight #30 weight
non-detergent oil would be a safe lathe lubricant.
Jim
Tool & Die Maker/Electrician, Retired 2007

So much to learn and so little time.

www.outbackmachineshop.com

WayneShaw

Postby WayneShaw » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:19 am

Keeping in mind the "stick to surface" property of way oil, wouldn't chainsaw bar oil do the same thing? The bar oil I have used is sticky, and it would seem it would have the lubrication property too. Anyone ever try it?

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willjordan
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Postby willjordan » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:30 am

WayneShaw wrote:Keeping in mind the "stick to surface" property of way oil, wouldn't chainsaw bar oil do the same thing? The bar oil I have used is sticky, and it would seem it would have the lubrication property too. Anyone ever try it?


Why use bar oil when way oil is readily available and reasonably priced?

It makes me think of the fellow who invented a massive powerful machine to pull screws out of a boat hull because he didn't know that they came out easily if you turned them with a screwdriver.

There are number of things that will work, but a lathe is a precision machine and certain lubricants have been made to preserve that precision and to deal with the specific problems. Unless you have an emergency that would require you to use something else on a temporary basis, use of products designed for other service is false economy.
grace & peace
will

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whateg0
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Postby whateg0 » Tue May 05, 2009 1:19 am

Okay, so this is an ooooooooooooooooooooold thread, but still valid for us newbs. The general consensus is to use the recommended lubricants for the job. But what if you don't have any documentation for the machine? There seem to be different viscosities of machine oil available, right? So, if you don't know which is right, which do you use?

Dave

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Bill Shields
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WILL JORDAN

Postby Bill Shields » Tue May 05, 2009 5:16 am

I see you surfacing again - from NC!

What's up?

yes, way oil is best, with straight 'machine oil' best for bearings. I a pinch, I have used chain saw 'bar / chain' lube for the ways.

Don't use oil for automotive applications - esp auto trans oil that is 95% additives, 5% oil.

awake

Postby awake » Tue May 05, 2009 9:15 am

whateg0 wrote:Okay, so this is an ooooooooooooooooooooold thread, but still valid for us newbs. The general consensus is to use the recommended lubricants for the job. But what if you don't have any documentation for the machine? There seem to be different viscosities of machine oil available, right? So, if you don't know which is right, which do you use?


Before I got a manual for my lathe, a machinist friend of mine recommended "universal tractor oil" or something like that -- basically, it was hydraulic oil of ISO32 or 48. When I got the manual, the correct oil for the headstock was no longer sold, but it turned out to be the equivalent of ISO48 hydraulic oil. You may be able to find a 5-gallon bucket at a big-box hardware store; very very likely that you will find it at an old-fashioned hardware store.

Hydraulic oil is basically straight machine oil but with some useful additives -- high-pressure, anti-foaming, that sort of thing. As noted above, DO NOT USE AUTOMOTIVE OIL. While it would be marginally better than nothing, automotive oil is designed to hold water and particles in suspension; the water gets evaporated out when the engine reaches temperature, and the particles get strained out by the filter. In a lathe headstock, you typically do not have a filter, and it doesn't reach those temperatures, so you would be circulating water and filings through your nice shiny gears. :(

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SteveHGraham
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Postby SteveHGraham » Tue May 05, 2009 9:36 am

I paid for Vactra 2, and then I got a lathe instruction video set, and the guy in the videos said he uses plain old 30W!

I guess you can worry too much about things like this.

By the way, while I was lubing my lathe, I made a mistake and shot heavy grease into several fittings intended for oil. I got all upset and emailed a friend about it, and he said the grease would run out when the lathe warmed up.
Don't trigger me, bro!

whateg0
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Postby whateg0 » Tue May 05, 2009 10:42 am

I don't mind buying oil intended for the purpose. I just wasn't sure which viscosity I should get. My lathe has open gears, so it's just going in the oilers.

Dave

mike71

Postby mike71 » Tue May 05, 2009 11:06 am

Spit on it from time to time.......... :wink:

Thanks for all the great reading and info for a newb...

awake

Postby awake » Tue May 05, 2009 4:12 pm

SteveHGraham wrote:By the way, while I was lubing my lathe, I made a mistake and shot heavy grease into several fittings intended for oil. I got all upset and emailed a friend about it, and he said the grease would run out when the lathe warmed up.


Steve, where exactly did you shoot the grease, and what kind of grease? I would not simply count on it to run out when warm; at the very least, I would pump some proper oil into the fittings to help move the grease along.


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