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Thread: What oil for Babbitt bearings?
04-30-2008, 07:14 PM #1
What oil for Babbitt bearings?
Thought this would be the group to ask. Have been bringing back to service an old Oliver #17 bandsaw (1909) that has babbitt bearings. The bearings appeared to be freshly poured before they retired it . My question is, what oil should I use? Shaft speeds will be around 150 rpm. Been working in it off and on now for a few years.
Thanks in advance for any input.
04-30-2008, 08:50 PM #2
The ting to do is always make sure they have oil. The type is not nearly as importain. I would go with plain old SAC 30 wt oil I have been running it for years in my lathes with plain bearings with no problems. I accidently switched to 10W30 and that seems to work fine also. Gary P. Hansen
04-30-2008, 09:00 PM #3
With babbitt bearings, and probably full loss lubrication, I would go with something medium viscosity such as 30Wt or even 50Wt. The heavier body may stay in the bearing longer and perhaps you will start creating a fluid film sooner after initial start up.
A non-detergent machinery oil is a must if this bearing has a sump with a wick or ring oiler.
If its just running out of the bearing ( full loss system) then non-detergent is less important, and something is definitely better than nothing.
04-30-2008, 11:05 PM #4
If you have machine tool way oil, I suspect you'll like the way it works in journal bearings.
05-01-2008, 12:56 AM #5
Chain saw bar oil works (use the winter bar oil = thinner grade) if you can't find a better non detergent oil. It has a better chance of staying in the bearing if it slings oil. If the bearing is really tight it might be too thick to flow/lubricate well. Compressor oil is also usually non detergent. More critical on lathes with old bearings as the oil usually ends up on you face/clothes.
I guess ideally start with 20 to 30 wt non detergent oil as already suggested, run the bandsaw for a short time and check to see if the bearing is getting too hot/ and still has oil frequently. If as you suspect it was freshly poured there is likely going to be a run in time with the bearing running hotter for the first while. Nice Oliver by the way. Good luck, Dave.
05-01-2008, 01:23 AM #6
That is a beautiful old Oliver...nice work restoring it! I like those neat wooden electrical enclosures too....That'll make the electrical inspectors' head explode, but who cares?
05-01-2008, 01:54 AM #7
Thats a really nice looking old Oliver.........
If the Babbit bearings are relatively freshly poured, at least in terms of working hours, and still tight, a best quality light spindle oil or "DTE" oil would be the best for them.
As others have said, the most important thing is that they are continually oiled, and never allowed to run dry.....which is a bit of a challenge with woodworking machinery, as the fine sawdust tries to wick out the oil from the bearings.
Find a set of "Lunkenheimer" or equivalent glass reservoir drip oilers, and adjust them to do one drop every, say, ten to twenty seconds or so. That may cost a bit in oil, to be sure, but will preserve the Babbitt.
You may have oil troughs which originally had cotton wicking to filter the oil, and need to drill/tap the bearing caps 1/8 or 1/4 NPT for the oilers......sure, thats technically not "original" but many of the older machines were converted to drip oilers this way during their service life.
The only 'catch' is remembering to turn on the oilers before starting the machine, and turning them off after use.
05-01-2008, 01:57 AM #8
anything you have on hand
At 150 rpm and with the load you have any oil from 20 wt thru 50 wt will work. Just oil it with a drip type oiler so you dont forget.,,,Phil in Mt
05-01-2008, 06:26 AM #9
Not to be your mother, but you should get a guard back on the backside of her before you get too far in all of this.....bandsaws can be nasty!....especially with a 1" (?) blade that's flapping in the breeze......ask me how I know this.....
PS.....Your doing a great restoration job by the way. That is a great looking machine!
Last edited by Mcandrew1894; 05-01-2008 at 06:36 AM. Reason: deserved compliment!
05-01-2008, 08:24 AM #10
As was noted, babbitted bearings of the type on the Oliver Bandsaw are total loss. The traditional oil for this type of bearing was a "DTE" (Dynamo, Turbine, Engine") oil. DTE is still a valid designation, and it is a straight weight, non-detergent mineral oil. Nowadays, the DTE oils contain anti-foam and anit-corrosion additives. DTE Heavy or Heavy-Medium would be a good choice of oil for those bearings. A really good choice would be "Green Velvet"- a specially made DTE oil for old machinery with plain bearings. Green Velvet contains a "tackifier" to keep it in the bearings, and is made from Paraffin-based Pennsylvania crude oils. I have seen it in use at Hanford Mills on all of the plain bearings on a mess of old woodworking machinery as well as lineshaft hangers and the steam engine bearings. I have had it put into use here at the powerplant on some old bridge cranes and intake gate operators using ring-oil motor b earings and plain babbitted bearings. The advantage to the Green Velvet is it does a better job of staying in the bearing, and is simply an oil formulated specifically for old machinery bearings. I am not associated with Green Velvet oils, and after seeing the oil in use at Hanford Mills, came to believe it is a good oil for the old plain bearings. FWIW: At home, in our hills, supply houses are far between. I used "Tractor Hydraulic Oil"- which is nothng more than DTE Medium- in the plain babbitted bearings on my old machinery and in the bronze spindle bearings of my Southbend heavy 10" lathe. Have used this oil for years and run with no problem. With all respect, I take exception to the suggestion of way lube or chainsaw bar oil in the bearings. I believe this oil to be too viscous to easily flow in drip oilers or for wick or ring type lubrication. With the higher surface speed of the journal and closer clearacnes in the babbitted bearings on the saw, I think the way oil or bar lube might not be entirely right for the application. DTE Heavy Medium is a thinner oil, likely around a 20 weight, and should be fine for the bearings on the saw. Other than that, I would avoid using detergent oils.
05-01-2008, 10:18 AM #11
Thanks guys for all of the replies and complements. Since the photos I've had the saw running and used a very light oil to start with. It has cups cast in the bearing housings with a 1/4" hole in the bottom.
A trimmed cigarette butt without paper works well in the hole as a filter and felt inserted in the cups. No real way to mount a drip oiler.
I would like an oil that won't "sling" oil as much though. The saw is kind of rare in the fact that it has the solid lower wheel. I've been told it was their version of a soft start and would allow the use of narrower blades.
As far as gaurds go...originally it had just steel straps mounted just to to keep the blade from 'slapping around' I guess. Before I started it I crafted some 1 1/2" brass angle that encloses the blade a bit more. I will insert some type of steel wear plates insde of the brass angle to try an give the blade something to knaw on other than the brass in the event of a problem. Trust me I have a great respect for this saw! When I first started her up I spent quite a few minutes spinning her free hand to insure proper tracking...then used the breaker from a distance as a start switch!
I've crack checked the wheels....BIG difference from RPM and FPM!
Always thought it was running a little fast! About three times max recomended! Duh.
Oliver was formed in Grand Rapids MI. in 1906. Oliver sold it's machinery division and is now known as Eagle machinery I believe. Oliver is still in buisness but are manufacturing car racing parts. Eagle had the tires for my saw and copied some of the original catalog of the 17A for me! But that's about all they had for it. Went to pick up my tires and toured the old plant, some of the old patterns are upstairs and some of the old machinery is still around. Kind of strange to see CNC machinery working in that old building!
Wish I had this saw running when I was doing the timber work in the shop. The poor Delta 14" didn't like cutting arcs in some of that timber! Sorry about the rambling but I do love the old machinery.
05-01-2008, 01:10 PM #12
Mr Michaels is quite right regarding oil that is much too viscous or has what I believe is called "tackifiers" in them " ingredients that makes it stick to things that are moving like chain saw chains"
That's the best use of a cigarette butt I've ever heard of
Regarding the gaurd. I think a straight nice piece of OAK with a slot on the back side would look great, function properly and not tear up a blade if it rubs a little.
It's factory original for my 1940's Delta.....
But For the Love of god man...get a gaurd on her.....makes me wince just looking at it!...ERRRRAH!
05-03-2008, 01:40 PM #13
Thanks for the input makes sense to me, will have to do a search for the Green Velvet oil.
Thanks for the suggestions on the oak guard but there isn't enough room between the guard supports and the wheels for that option. BTW I do have guards on it now...just need to modify with some steel "wear plates" if you will. Not too worried about ruining a blade if things go south...blades are cheap considering the alternative!
Would love to mount some Lunkenheimer type oilers on it but I don't think I have enough depth to run a pipe tap in the existing oil holes.
The lower shaft is held captive in the bearing housing so I won't be able to remove for drilling or tapping. Maybe able to use a bottoming machine tap though. Might have to get creative and make an adapter from machine thread to say 1/8" or 1/4" npt. Sounds like a fun project for the 10K!
Thanks again for all of the input from everyone! Will post some shots of the guards and my shop.
05-04-2008, 11:48 AM #14
You can still run lunkenheimer type oilers on it even if you don't tap the
bearing housings for pipe threads.
My seneca falls lathe had simple bits of copper tubing pressed into the bearing
caps, as oilers. I machined up replacement wick-feed oilers and made them
with bottoms that were the same size as the copper tubing, and pressed them
into place. Forms a reasonbly leak-tight seal.
You could easily get some cool period lunkenheimer oilers and 1) turn the
pipe threads off the OD of the mount, 2) bore the ID of the bottom to
accept a 1/4 or 5/16 bit of tubing, 3) solder that into place in the oiler
(disamantle first of course!) and then ream the bearing cap to open up the
oil hole for a press fit of the tubing.
05-04-2008, 12:40 PM #15
You could also mount the lubricatores remote in an easy to get at spot and run copper tubing to the bearings. You could even put them in a "box" so they don't get encrusted with oil/sawdust too and be less likely to get clogged.
Just a thought....
05-04-2008, 03:06 PM #16
You want something that's going to stick to the surfaces as they rotate, not just fly off into space.
I would suggest a medium way oil such as Mobil Vactra 2.
It's designed to stay where you put it. Should work fine on something running this slow.
05-04-2008, 04:00 PM #17
Lets go back into history for a moment....
The oiling situation you have was an everyday normalcy for the folks who ran those machines back when they were new.......and were grateful to have them.....or have the pay-cheque for the job of running them, whichever.
Drip oilers are the obvious way to keep a Babbitt bearing alive, if kept filled and set correctly.
Yes, there may not be enough thickness of cast iron to drill/tap, so do as the old-timers did.
You can carve out a block of a good hardwood, such as hard maple, rosewood, cocobolo wood, etc, to the shape of your bearing cap, over the oil hole. Fit the hardwood block to the contour of the bearing cap closely, then cut a felt gasket from an old felt hat, and clamp the wooden block down snugly, using wraps of soft iron wire, or any other suitable method.
After the adapter block is fitted-up, but before you clamp it to the bearing cap, drill/tap the wooden block for 1/8 or 1/4 NPT, the hardwood will hold those threads nicely, and carry the oiler securely.
Placing the oilers in a central location, and running copper tubing to the bearings is even better, albeit a bit more work. As was suggested, enclosing the oilers in a neat, dust-proof hardwood box or housing would be an excellently nice detail, but make it glass-fronted so that you can observe the oil level in the reservoirs at a glance.
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05-04-2008, 04:41 PM #18
Home-made wick feed oilers:
Not nearly as purty as the lunkenheimer ones, but they work. As mentioned they
are simply press fit into the holes in teh bearing caps.
05-06-2008, 01:15 AM #19
Nice looking lathe Jim!
05-06-2008, 12:07 PM #20
Thanks for the ideas! Got my wheels/wheel turning. I do have some oilers I've picked up here and there. I think I'll try and mount them up with brass or copper tube with a little machining. Nice oilers Jim.
I've added some pics of my shop and some more of the oliver with the guards. Though the shop or the Oliver are'nt finished. (Like myself...a work in progress!) Got some other shots of some of my tools if any one is interested.