DTE Numbered and DTE Named Oils - The differences explained
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    Default DTE Numbered and DTE Named Oils - The differences explained

    In my quest to find the right oil for my old horizontal mill, I got hung up on which ISO 68 oil I should use for the machine: Mobil DTE 26 or Mobile DTE Heavy/Medium. Internet research brought up a number of opinions about the subject regarding why to use one oil over another. Finally, I contacted Mobil's industrial lubricants department where a representative took the time to speak with me about the oils in a little more detail. I will attempt to remit the information given to me, as well as dispel false information I gathered during my research. Know that I spoke with the representative specifically about DTE 26 and DTE H/M, but he confirmed that differences stay overwhelmingly consistent throughout the DTE line of oils.

    DTE 26 is marketed as a hydraulic oil while DTE H/M is marketed as a circulating oil. This makes it sound like they are significantly different, however, with relation to the use in an old machine tool, these differences will likely have a minimal, and likely negligible, affect.

    Both DTE 26 and DTE Heavy/Medium (DTE H/M) have what are called "Anti-Wear" additives. It was explained that this additive "sticks" to the metal surface. Upon two metal surfaces coming into contact, the anti-wear "coating" is sacrificial, and is scraped off of the surface instead of the metal. In case it is not obvious, this helps reduce wear on all the components lubricated by the product (including clutches). DTE 26 does contains more of this anti-wear additive than DTE H/M. It was discussed as to whether or not this anti-wear additive is bad for clutches. The rep noted that only for extremely sensitive clutches, (like say, where two parts need to engage extremely fast in an indexed fashion) often only found on late model machines, would it make any practical difference. He worded it where its not going to make an old clutch simply slip and stop working, nor will it make it have a 1 second delay in actuation. It is more like the clutch may get an additional 2 milliseconds of time before it engages as opposed to an oil that did not have this additive. For old machines like mine, this was not a concern.

    Note that the anti-wear additive described above is NOT EP (extreme pressure) additive. EP additives operate differently than anti-wear additives and can have some non-trivial negative effects on certain clutches. Neither DTE26, nor DTE H/M contains EP additives.

    Additionally, both DTE 26 and DTE H/M are non-detergent oils. This means that both will allow suspended sediment to settle to the bottom of a sump in an equal manner.

    So with so much the same, why would you use one over the other? Again, with respect to old machine tools, there is very little practical difference, however, there are some situations where this could play a factor. It was described to me that almost all of these situations would occur on machine tools manufactured post mid-eightees.

    First, if your machine happens to have a high wear items (generally a hydraulic pump, and more specifically, a vane pump), it may greatly benefit from the additional anti-wear additives of DTE26. Newer machine tools have components that are built to tighter tolerances with the expectation it will have these larger doses of anti-wear additives.

    Alternatively, if your machine has close tolerance valves or tight passages that see high temperatures, the additional anti-wear additives of DTE 26 can actually burn and leave ash residue in these areas, causing problems.

    DTE H/M does have additional defoamants, which may make it more suitable for environments prone to foaming (for instance, an 8000RPM gearbox with an oil bath).

    Finally, DTE H/M does a better job of water separation. I believe it is technically a "turbine oil" even though the rep mentioned it is unlikely they would recommend this specific oil for that application.

    The cliff notes:

    Both oils have anti-wear additives, no EP additives, and no detergents. For an old machine tool (pre mid-eightees), the performance between the two oils is negligible. Even the additional anti-wear additives of DTE 26 is hardly a factor. It was suggested that first, pick which oil is cheaper in your area. If they are the same price, then base your decision on if you already have a different machine running one or the other. Finally, if all else was equal, the rep suggested DTE H/M simply because it had less additives that an old machine tool was not engineered to necessarily utilize.

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    Ignore all that. Use what the maker specified,

    Poor lad was simply misinformed is all.

    XOM is having trouble getting and keeping good help.

    Why are we not surprised?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    Ignore all that. Use what the maker specified,

    Poor lad was simply misinformed is all.

    XOM is having trouble getting and keeping good help.

    Why are we not surprised?
    That's completely useless advice for 95% of older machinery, where either A. the maker specified an oil that hasn't been produced for 50 years or B. the maker didn't specify a type of oil at all.

    But then, why are we not surprised?

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    As I have posted a few times previously: "DTE" = Dynamo, Turbine, Engine. This designation was applied to lubricating oils before automobiles were in any kind of widespread use. DTE oils predated the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) designations by "weights" (30 weight, 10W30, etc).

    DTE oil designations have been dovetailed into ISO (International Standards Organization) viscosity ("weight") classification, such as IDO 46 and ISO 68.

    Not to take exception to either Thermite or Andy FitzGibbon, but in cases where a manufacturer spec'd an oil that no longer exists, or simply gave a vague spec such as: "use any good motor oil", it is my opinion that using a DTE oil for MOST old machinery applications can't be too wrong. Obviously, for certain more specialized applications such as worm gear drives, or sealed gear boxes, a more specialized oil might be required.

    Having spent 47 years in the powerplant industry, and working with all sorts of babbitted, bronze, and antifriction bearings, I got a little familiar with lubricating oils. In the hydroelectric plants, we had babbitted bearings on the turbines and generators. 800 tons of rotating mass in each unit, riding on babbitted thrust shoes and babbitted guide bearings. All of this ran in DTE 68 oil. We had Woodward governors using very sensitive hydraulic control valves, and ran DTE 46 in them.

    I started using ISO 46 Tractor Hydraulic Oil in all my machine tools over 25 years ago, and have never had a problem. I use it in the headstock of my old LeBlond roundhead regal lathe, in the bearings on my Southbend lathes, in my older machine tools at all bearings and oiling points, and more.

    Plainly, if a piece of machinery is so old the maker either spec'd an oil that no longer exists, or spec'd no oil, the user has to make a determination as to what currently available oil to use. DTE series oils for plain bearing machinery are a fairly safe bet. If you were to read the LeBlond "Running a Regal" manual, it calls for using a "good 30 weight motor oil" in the headstock. This was fine 60 or more years ago, before auto engine oils had all kinds of additives. Over time, LeBlond also realized the 30 weight oil was getting slung out the ends of the spindles of the lathes. This was due to the oil being a bit too heavy to make it back down the return drillings in the labyrinth plates at each end of the spindle. LeBlond revised their spec to 20 weight oil at some point. ISO 46 is equivalent, approximately, to a 20 weight oil.

    Where I think a person could get into trouble is using modern gear lubricants with certain anti wear and extreme pressure additives. In machinery with "yellow metals" such as bronze worm gears or bronze bushings, some of the additives in some of the modern gear oils will attack those parts. For this reason, even in this day and age, some worm gear reducers will have a spec calling for cylinder oil. Cylinder oils are around 600 weight, and are "compounded" from mineral (petroleum) stocks with vegetable oils (canola), and nowadays, a synthetic stock. Older cylinder oils were compounded with animal fats (tallow stocks).

    My own advice is to stick with the DTE series oils for older machine tools. The Mobil Oil tech support representative gave good advice. It is rare in today's world to get a human being willing to talk to a person about old machine tool applications. Usually, tech support representatives are only knowledgable about current applications for the oils, or are used to talking to large users such as fleet operators (both ashore and afloat), power generation companies, OEM's, and similar.

    The science of lubrication has the fancy name of "Tribology". It is a specialty which some mechanical engineers make a career out of. I commend the Mobil tech rep for taking the time to speak at length with OP, and I commend the OP for posting the detailed writeup. I wholly concur with it as a mechanical engineer as well as someone who has worked hands-on with a wide variety of powerplant equipment, machinery, engines, and machine tools. I've been to an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) course on lubricating oils and lubrication of powerplant machinery ages ago, and was used to seeing the lab analysis reports come back to my office as to the condition of the lube oils used in the powerplant. I would reiterate that if a "one size fits all" lube oil for old machine tools had to be chosen, I'd say to go with DTE 46.

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    I have three K&T machines from ww2, a 2hl universal, a 2h plain, and a 2d tool and die mill....I have run EXXON NUTO 68 in them for decades with no problems what so ever..The reason I chose this oil? At my work we had barrels of it ...It looks much as it did when I put it in the machines initially...Probably not that critical which oil you use as long as you choose a name brand of circulating, turbine, or hydraulic oil of the proper viscosity for the older machines.. Stay away from ep additives or detergent motor oils....Cheers; Ramsay 1

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    I was looking to convert an old oil designation for a pretty recent vintage G&E shaper. The manual gave some Saybolt numbers, that I did a search on................looks like a ISO 100 oil might be a good fit.

    What was in it, looked to be thicker than ISO 46, but can't assume that what is in it, is correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rj1939 View Post
    I was looking to convert an old oil designation for a pretty recent vintage G&E shaper. The manual gave some Saybolt numbers, that I did a search on................looks like a ISO 100 oil might be a good fit.

    What was in it, looked to be thicker than ISO 46, but can't assume that what is in it, is correct.
    No telling what was in it... Any time you buy a used machine you can't be sure...My 2d tool and die mill had what looked like sae 30 in it but it smelled really old...I just drained it and replaced with Exxon Nuto 68 some 20+ years ago and it is still happy...Saybolt Seconds was once used to determine viscosity of oil at two temperatures but now it is ISO and there is a conversion chart ...Cheers; Ramsay 1

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    Gundraw,
    Thanks to you and the other posters for sharing .
    This thread has some links to Old Texaco publications .
    Lubrication by Texas Co. and Texaco & Texaco Star Magazine
    It has been a while since I last looked at them and I haven’t studied them in great detail.
    There is one link there about the lubrication of machine tools.
    There may be some comparison charts between similar products made by other companies some where in there or else where on line.
    There may well be publications by some of the other oil companies on the Hathi Trust or Archive.org but I havent looked for them.
    I think for the amount of use that most antique machinery gets as long as enough oil is getting to the right places and it isn’t very much too thick or extremely thin getting the exact spec. isn’t something I would worry about too much.
    I’ve used motor oil and EP 90 gear oil where I probably shouldn’t have but don’t recall either causing any spectacular failures either.
    Not getting at least some oil where was needed though is another matter.
    Some extensive archives of Imperial Oil can be found on this site but I can’t save the search link so you may have to type in Imperial Oil to search.
    The Glenbow Museum > Archives Main Catalogue
    Regards,
    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy FitzGibbon View Post
    That's completely useless advice for 95% of older machinery, where either A. the maker specified an oil that hasn't been produced for 50 years or B. the maker didn't specify a type of oil at all.

    But then, why are we not surprised?
    Guess it depends on what you call "old"?

    DTE named and DTE numbered were cross-ref from Socony-Vacuum "Gargoyle" long time ago, ELSE spec'ed ever since new, 80+ years ago, 10EE's but one example.

    Exxon-Mobil still make them as separate products, still explain the difference, it still makes sense to use the appropriate one. FWIW-not-much I even stock BOTH. There is no significant difference in cost.

    WHEN they cease making them AS two separate lines AND/OR tout a new product for BOTH uses? That information will show up on their website and in their published data.

    Meanwhile? Casual phone calls that contradict an employee's own company's published product line data are just that.

    Casual private chats between two guys that only covered the small part of the situation they were interested in at that moment. Extrapolate that edge-case to all OTHER situations on yer own recognizance.

    It is USUALLY harmless. That is not the same as "correct"

    Not that it much matters. Nothing at all any one 'ere runs in his machines will have SQRT-FA to do with what any other Pilgrim runs in HIS machine, nor the reverse.

    "Run what you got. Lube what you run."


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    Just my comments on machine oils....
    A heavier oil with stick to the gears and "climb" throughout
    the gearbox of the machine and spray everywhere.
    A thinner oil will stick to the gears and splash around some,
    but not to the degree that a thicker oil will.
    The deal is, sometimes a heavy oil "climbs" too much,
    and can leak out labyrinth seals, the common type of oil
    sealing design used on many spindles.
    This seems to be the case with one of my machines,
    a 17" round-head Colchester lathe. I have a newer series
    of that round-head lathe, but the older version of the owner's
    manual. It seems Colchester started specifying a thicker oil,
    then later changed it to a thinner oil. I believe the reason
    was that the spindle flung a lot of oil out when it was running. The thinner oil helped mitigate this to some extent.
    So, sometimes you have to experiment a bit when finding a suitable replacement oil. Pumped oil systems you can generally go thinner without much issue. Splash systems you have to pay close attention to what is going on, to avoid starving points
    within the machine that need oil is farther away locations.

    --Doozer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doozer View Post
    Just my comments on machine oils....
    A heavier oil with stick to the gears and "climb" throughout
    the gearbox of the machine and spray everywhere.
    A thinner oil will stick to the gears and splash around some,
    but not to the degree that a thicker oil will.
    The deal is, sometimes a heavy oil "climbs" too much,
    and can leak out labyrinth seals, the common type of oil
    sealing design used on many spindles.
    This seems to be the case with one of my machines,
    a 17" round-head Colchester lathe. I have a newer series
    of that round-head lathe, but the older version of the owner's
    manual. It seems Colchester started specifying a thicker oil,
    then later changed it to a thinner oil. I believe the reason
    was that the spindle flung a lot of oil out when it was running. The thinner oil helped mitigate this to some extent.
    So, sometimes you have to experiment a bit when finding a suitable replacement oil. Pumped oil systems you can generally go thinner without much issue. Splash systems you have to pay close attention to what is going on, to avoid starving points
    within the machine that need oil is farther away locations.

    --Doozer
    We - all of us, myself included- tend to get ANAL 'bout such things when we could, actually, try it and see what seems to work. The lube. Not the anal-is-cysts.

    Mind, kinda short of personal experience, and frankly - others can do whomever, whatever, and HOWEVER they choose - but count meself the better FOR (lack of) it..

    .. but HAVE "read it in the funny papers" that those literally "into" anal for-real, not as a figure of squeach, claim "too much lube is almost enough!"

    Bringing us back to machine-tools..

    ...too LITTLE lube, even none at all, be the "missing" lube the rightestmost kind or not-so-much seems to be far the more damaging than any given blend being ever-so SLIGHTLY off-the "perfect" mix.

    Reality is that to the industrial organizations as put 3 shifts, 24 X 6 + of load onto their, now "our" Old Iron considered every machine under-roof to have a sensible and FINITE service life.

    The "resources of production" were MEANT to be "used up". Expected to have earned the coin to replace themselves. Not once, but always, with better, faster, more accurate, cheaper to operate - or even fit for a NEW set of goals next-generation.

    No one HERE is at much risk of living long enough to wear-out a machine-tool before it reaches that reasonable time to be replaced with an upgrade.

    Unless we OVER lube it to the point of blowing-out seals and/or UNDER lube it to the point of catastrophic wear to point of failure.

    What sits in between is broad, and not terribly unforgiving.

    That said, what a petro-major of massive and pervasive stature publishes is what they choose to bind themselves by.

    Individual phone calls? Not so much.

    2 gallons worth, One-each DTE Light, DTE 24.

    And noooo they aren't for my arse!

    Yah gots to "turn the other cheek".

    Whilst applying airport-grade hasty blacktop patch to take care of the mudholes as get virtually kicked into the FIRST cheek now and then!

    "All part of life's bitch travesty", yah?

    Lube what yah run, meat or metal, either one.....


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    It is against my better judgment to engage in a conversation due to the nature of some of these posts, but I can see that information is being convoluted with rhetoric and straw-man arguments.

    First, there seems to an (ambiguous) claim of contradictions between the information provided in the first post and those based on published data. I have viewed the series datasheets for both of the these oils. They are broadly written (hence my call to Mobil in the first place) and I would expect that if there is a contradiction, one would specify exactly what that is. (DTE Numbered Series Datasheet, DTE Named Datsheet 1, DTE Named Datasheet 2 ) Also, if additional published data is available, please provide.

    Second, there is a backhanded mention that alludes to a claim that both of these oils are the same and can be used interchangeably. If you read the original post, this is never claimed, and is in fact refuted by example scenarios.

    Finally, nowhere does this thread imply or suggest using oil contradictory to a manufacturer's recommendation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundraw View Post
    Finally, nowhere does this thread imply or suggest using oil contradictory to a manufacturer's recommendation.
    It may have only SEEMED to do, but if we can agree this part, we don't really have a conflict.

    nowhere does this thread imply or suggest using oil contradictory to a manufacturer's recommendation.
    Ciao

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    If I run 46 weight oil my machines are louder than if I run 68.

    I run the lowest cost 68 weight hydraulic oil I can get my hands on. No issues whatsoever.

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    I got a late 60s 14 1/2" Southbend lathe with bronze bearings that didn't have the "new" worn off yet and ran it 40 years in commercial service, letting most employees run it. The nameplate gives oil weights and DTE 24 was a good match, so that is what I used. When I got it, the dial indicator on the spindle and 2X4 prying up test showed about .002". When I finally sold it, the reading was about .0025". DTE 24 is good stuff.

    A friend had trouble with his restored 1930 four cylinder Henderson. The clutch is a simple metal to metal one and it slipped badly. The engine oil flows through the clutch housing and he was using super additive ultra premium motor oil. Changing to garden variety single weight oil cured it. All those anti friction additives can have unintended consequences.

    My ex US Army '41 Indian has a multiplate wet clutch with a roller chain drive to a gearbox, all using a common oil. The clutch had the opposite problem. On a cold morning the plates were glued together. I finally changed to aircraft red hydraulic oil, which pretty well cured the problem. After round trips to Schenectady NY via Canada, Nook's Hill Ct, Jacksonville FL, Brownsville TX to Pranhachel Guatemala and multiple ones to Davenport IA, I had to tear it down due to Indian's lousy wrist pin retention system. There was no discernible wear on the gears or chain.

    Bill


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