When can Kluber grease be considered a lifetime lube for bearings?
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    Default When can Kluber grease be considered a lifetime lube for bearings?

    I read through the "greasing bearings" section on the Kluber site and my take away is they are not going to step in front of the recommendations of the machine builder but "lifetime" bearing grease application is possible.

    So what to do.
    On my lathe I replaced the spindle bearings and at the time gathered the Kluber grease was essentially lifetime so the ZERK fittings just sit and while I run a grease gun over the rest of the machine I never add to the spindle.

    I just rebuilt a spindle on a mill and I am a bit more concerned that I get it right due to the higher speeds.
    What is done?

    This is for the old pattern mill which has four double race ball bearings on the spindle.
    I will check what the manufacturer states as service interval when I get out to the shop.

    This is the spindle:

    screen-shot-2021-09-08-5.35.30-pm.jpg

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    every bearing is greased for life, or do you reuse the grease when the bearings fail?

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    I bought one tube of some particular Kluber grease that for the price better last the life of the bearings

    Then the tech who came to retro the central lube system grabbed the gun and shot the whole thing in the trash barrel, I about fell over.

    I recall it was over a hundred bucks for the tube

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    If you use the zerks to pump the same grease then no problem. Not optimum to pump in a known grease into a unknown greased bearing. Avoid mixing greases.

    The new grease is fine and I don't think it's bad to add new grease to a mix that is say 50% stale. Then without a full flush you might get the old grease
    mostly pumped out but not all of it. If there is a path for old grease to exit then you could measure what comes out and call that your indicator for amount.

    On the other hand, too much grease in a bearing will cause the balls to slide and not roll.

    There is the idea that you pump whatever over-amount into that bearing and when it spins up the excess will fling out. I am not convinced this is correct.

    I do know that the totally sealed bearings are injected with a precise quantity of grease. Can't do that with a zerk and a passage that might air pockets
    due to previous loads of grease falling down due to temperature, vibration, etc.

    The worst could be atmosphere contamination. Shield bearings in a open frame motor is probably the worst. I use totally sealed in almost everything except
    for something like your situation.
    Last edited by rons; 09-15-2021 at 11:52 AM.

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    Ron’s-

    Thanks.
    I completely tore down the spindle and renewed the bearing grease into spotless bearings with the Kluber NBU 15.

    Everything is in perfect order with all old grease and debris stripped out of the bearings/housings and grease fittings/galleries.
    I’m confident I could pump in additional Kluber on the maintenance schedule as per the machines manual but I am just not sure if that is needed with the modern Kluber grease.

    The manual calls for a shot of grease into each spindle bearing every 1-2 months.

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    I don't know about lifetime, but I pull my lathe spindle apart every decade or so to clean and regrease the bearings. OTOH, the HLV-H at work has probably never had the bearings touched in its entire life. Not sure how old it is, but no spring chicken.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    I recall it was over a hundred bucks for the tube
    Bought the cheap stuff, eh? I remember the Kluber Isoflex they called out for our Bridgeport mill was over $600 a tube, and I'm sure they trashed close to a quarter of each tube fighting with the garbage chinesium grease gun that came with the machine.

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    The amount of grease in the bearing is very specific. It has to be measured. You cannot add grease to it, you can only remove all the old grease and install a new measured amount.

    Atleast that's how most grease pack spindles are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winterfalke View Post
    Bought the cheap stuff, eh? I remember the Kluber Isoflex they called out for our Bridgeport mill was over $600 a tube, and I'm sure they trashed close to a quarter of each tube fighting with the garbage chinesium grease gun that came with the machine.
    It was whatever was spec'ed for the machine, jsut to lubricate the wipers IIRC
    They wanted my to use a SHC63? or something that was commonly only available in 55 gallon drums at the time, thus the central lube retro

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    The amount of grease in the bearing is very specific. It has to be measured. You cannot add grease to it, you can only remove all the old grease and install a new measured amount.

    Atleast that's how most grease pack spindles are.
    Yes, that is how it was explained to me by a knowledgeable person at Motion Industries. The lube is injected at the factory by a machine with know amount.
    The last time I looked at one of those amount numbers it appeared to be lower than I expected.

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    Define lifetime. 5, 10 or 50?
    The fillers matter but do dry out if not helped with more oil added.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rons View Post
    The last time I looked at one of those amount numbers it appeared to be lower than I expected.
    Some bearing documents list the volume in CCs needed for a specific bearing, I found the numbers for ballscrew support bearings from SKF. It's usually about 30-35% of the volume of the empty space in the assembled bearing, and yes that seems low.

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    Old machine tools often have grease fittings to renew charge of grease into even precision bearings.
    The bearing is not removed, cleaned and a precise amount (and no more..) applied to return to service.

    My Hendey is typical (note the grease fitting):

    screen-shot-2021-09-15-7.17.59-pm.jpg

    Kluber describes these two approaches succinctly re- "lifetime" vs "loss" lube:

    "a) Lifetime lubrication of rolling bearings
    Depending on the bearing type, size and its intended application, the initial lubrication at the bearing manu- facturer can be quite a costly affair, especially for low- noise bearings, high-precision bearings or high-speed spindle bearings. Rolling bearing manufacturers have developed their own initial lubrication techniques for application of grease to newly manufactured rolling bearings. The chosen technique normally involves a central lubricating system conveying the grease from its original container to the filling station, from where it is applied to the bearing via nozzles.
    Certain special greases from Klüber Lubrication may be applied to the bearing in minimum quantities during initial lubrication. Minimum grease quantities reduce the need for lengthy running-in times. In certain cases it may be possible to eliminate the need for running-in altogether.
    b) Loss lubrication
    Loss lubrication means that the rolling bearing has to be relubricated with a precise quantity of lubricant from time to time in order to attain the specified bearing life. This lubrication frequency may vary tremendously, from once every few years to almost continuous application.
    By the use of optimum relubrication quantities and in- tervals, machine users can attain considerable savings. Klüber Lubrication provides high-performance greases of the highest quality that help to minimise costs through attainment of the longest possible relubrication interval. Lubricating greases can be applied to the bearing by means of hand-operated or automatic grease guns, centralised lubricating systems etc."


    In the case of the Hendey when I replaced the spindle bearings and with the addition of the new Kluber greases I transitioned from "loss" to "lifetime".

    My question is simple:

    Is this practice viable for the spindle in question as detailed in OP.
    A quite a bit higher rpm spindle.


    I don't know and in an abundance of caution I suppose I could just follow the OEM guidance.
    The small ram type grease gun as provided by the maker discharges about half a gram of crease at a go and the manual is calling for a hit or two to each of the four bearings every month or so.
    But is that needed...
    I don't know.
    I suppose I will call Kluber and give them the bearing type and service and see what they advise.

    Thanks all

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    Considering that the first pump might or more likely might not give a "hit", I'd be dubious about "2 pumps every x time" _except_ that Kluber makes exceptional stuff and the bearings will live, probably more so with old grease than too much grease at high rpm.

    I have a small spindle that runs around 11k rpm usually several hours per day. I tried a "Kluber bath" similar to what Schaublin recommends: dissolve x amount grease in y amount solvent, soak the bearings, let dry, and yer good for 5+ years. In the end we jet a jolt of ISO 10 oil in it every few hundred hours, kluber treatment was worthless. Works great on bb spindles that see sub 5k rpm though, lifetime? Not sure. 5-10 years, yes ok.

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    TR, there comes a time in life when we don't have to worry about that stuff anymore. I know, it's scant compensation for the things we've lost but still. Lifetime guarantees now mean what they say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trboatworks View Post
    Ron’s-

    Thanks.
    I completely tore down the spindle and renewed the bearing grease into spotless bearings with the Kluber NBU 15.

    Everything is in perfect order with all old grease and debris stripped out of the bearings/housings and grease fittings/galleries.
    I’m confident I could pump in additional Kluber on the maintenance schedule as per the machines manual but I am just not sure if that is needed with the modern Kluber grease.

    The manual calls for a shot of grease into each spindle bearing every 1-2 months.
    Greases degrade with age, (polymerizing, oxidation..), effects of any contaminants (coolant?.. probably not.. "fretting corrosion" particulates, always), and biological critters than find them a viable place to live.

    Kluber's PRIMARY claim to fame is that their greases degrade far more slowly than ordinary grease.

    About nine years, and you should pull them and do the same full-Magilla you did in the beginning. "Ordinary" grease, about half that span of years.

    Kluber's higher cost is cheaper on uber-serious machinery off the savings of less frequent scheduled downtime and labour cost. Reduced risk of outright fail. So they get their price. Reliably so.

    "Should". Not necessarily "must". You running 3 shifts a day by six days a week? Or even eight hours in an ENTIRE week or MONTH?

    Hendey's era- when new, and the lube specs were first published, they would not have expected Kluber's longevity advantage to even exist. "Ordinary" grease service lives are also easily double what they were "back in the day", too. Chemistry, lessons-learned, serious money spent on R&D, experienced Tribologists, aerospace research, other demanding needs, serious competition as to maintenance budgets...etc.

    Presuming this is for your Hendey T&G spindle bearings?

    A point for Hendey is they can ACTUALLY run for years with s**t-lousy - or even NO - spindle-bearing lube attention. Greases fail slowly, not all at once.

    Point to a "neat" OIL lubed 10EE is that their similar bearings can DIE if left without oil.
    But run 80 years-plus if they ARE kept oiled. The circulating oil drops the particulates well away from the rolling elements and their races.

    Swings and round-abouts.

    Monarch's approach is the rule - moved-on to pumped/pressurized systems with filters.

    Hendey's greased spindle bearings are the exception.. at least in high-precision. TINY die & toolpost grinders are similar, but a "Precise" jig grinder asks for a 15 to 20 minute slow-ramp "warm up" to keep its greased bearings happy.

    NB: "Grease" is just a clever mechanism to distribute an oil and recover it to do it again, anyway.

    Both cases, the actual working zone is lubricated by an OIL, not the metallic Alkaline "soap" carrying and recovering that oil.

    One cannot easily "filter" a grease to separate fretting corrosion nano-particulates. Must periodically purge it instead.

    Low use, low loadings, low wear? Not as often.

    That's where the Kluber "age longevity" advantage matters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 52 Ford View Post
    Thanks.
    a couple of minutes in and I realized I tore into and rebuilt this spindle having forgotten everything I had learned from the last time I tore down a spindle.

    Preload in duplex bearings..
    I was cleaning up these sets wondering why the hell the races were so loose...

    Well I believe I got it done ok in any case.
    I have some time on the machine now and the spindle is running quiet and cool.

    Edit-

    Looking at the manual and remembering the assembly there is a column stack through the inner race so I don’t see preload as adjustable.

    I tossed an indicator on the spindle and I can push it over .001” by firm hand pressure.
    Maybe time for a new bearing set?
    Last edited by Trboatworks; 09-17-2021 at 06:48 AM.

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    Kluber grease is a very long-lasting grease..but may still get hard or full of what I call dead cats a furry-like substance that likely comes from the air inside a spindle. That is, why I always, say to hand spin any long setting spindle. Grease getting hard can be softened up with hand turning and a few jog-starts.
    Starting fast can just push the hard grease glob and leave the bearing dry in places and so do damage it at first start.

    Used to be able to get Kluber and other great greases in small quantities. That can be better because some guy with dirty hands is likely to put fingers in the can and so make the whole can scrap, plus grease might take on some water or particles from the air

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trboatworks View Post
    Thanks.
    a couple of minutes in and I realized I tore into and rebuilt this spindle having forgotten everything I had learned from the last time I tore down a spindle.

    Preload in duplex bearings..
    I was cleaning up these sets wondering why the hell the races were so loose...

    Well I believe I got it done ok in any case.
    I have some time on the machine now and the spindle is running quiet and cool.

    Edit-

    Looking at the manual and remembering the assembly there is a column stack through the inner race so I don’t see preload as adjustable.

    I tossed an indicator on the spindle and I can push it over .001” by firm hand pressure.
    Maybe time for a new bearing set?
    The spindle should run quiet, but not cool, which implies that the preload is too weak. It should heat up in operation, stabilizing at 100 to 120 F, not running away with continued operation.

    There must be a way to adjust preload. It may be the spindle nut away from the chuck. Or bespoke spacer washers.

    Nor will Kluber grease help here. I don't know when your Hendey was made, but even today's ordinary synthetic automotive wheel bearing grease (like Mobil 1) is way better than anything that existed when that Hendey was made.


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