Lathe and Milling machine lubricants
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  1. #1
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    I'd like to start a topic listing the various recommended lubricants for things like headstock bearings, way oils, and the like. Other things like good spray oils for rust prevention would be great as well (in my experience, WD/40 is horrible for long-term rust prevention, it just evaporates).

    I have a Rockwell metal lathe and have been using lightweight turbine oil for the ways. Seems to work okay, but have heard it's not recommended. What do you guys use?

    Include info about the size of machinery you use as well, as some things may apply to a big 36" lathe, but not a small 6" unit.

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    Jeremy,

    I'm not a professional machinist but have been a home and semi-pro for many years.

    In the past few years I have been equiping my shop with full size tools (lathe, mill-drill). I saw many discussions on this topic and heard many different ideas. I have purchased two oils for the lathe and mill from McMaster-Carr. They sell a spindle oil and a way oil. I bought a gallon of each. They were packaged by a company called Motor Oil, Inc.

    The spindle oil is labeled Spindle Oil 22, 95-115 SUS. The label states it is for up to 3600 RPM. I believe they have another one for faster speeds.

    The way oil is heavier and is labeled Way Lube 68, 300-350 SUS. In addition to the ways, I also use this on the lead screws, change gears, and on one countershaft bearing that leaks a lot.

    Both are non detergent.

    If you have ball or roller bearings, you will need a good ball bearing grease. I purchased a 1 pound tin of Lubriko Grease that was recommended by the local BB company. I have used this on the ball bearings in the spindle of my Unimat for over 30 years and it works very well. They still looked new the last time I disassembled.

    As for spray on oil, I rarely use the spray cans. They are just too expensive. I'm sorry to admit it, but I do use WD-40. I'm in the middle of Iowa and rust does not seem to be much of a problem. When I was in South Florida it was horrendous - Salt Spray! I bought a couple of the WD-40 hand operated spray bottles. They adjust for either stream or wide pattern. I don't see any reason why any light oil could not be sprayed from these sprayers or similar sprayers.

    PS: The WD is great for cutting aluminum.

    Paul A.

  3. #3
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    Jeremy: Is your machine a sleeve bearing machine? If so we used a non detergent oil in the 20 to 30 weight class. This usually required a drip type oiler & or a wick. As far as a rust preventive lube I suggest that WD-40 is a water displacement product. I find that LPS-2 is a much better rust inhibiter. Hope this helps

  4. #4
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    During the 1970's I graduated from a machinist trade school. Our senior instructor insisted that we wipe all machine ways, oil lead screws, and other exposed machine parts with DTE Heavy Medium lube oil. This is a fairly clear, non-detergent oil of about 40W with a rust inhibitor component. I still use it today in my hobby shop with great success in our humid climate.

    For medium to high speed enclosed gear boxes and drives, we were taught to use turbine oil when the machine manufacturer's spec was either unknown or so old that it could not be matched with today's lubricants. WD-40 provides only short-term corrosion protection in humid climates. If left on too long it can actually attract condensing moisture. As another post here recommends, LPS-2 or LPS-3 is excellent as long-term corrosion inhibitor, but it tends to gum into a cosmolene-like compound that is not a very good lubricant, so it should be used as storage preservative.

  5. #5
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    For penetrating oil look no further than PB Blaster.

    http://www.pbblaster.com/store/morei...m?Product_ID=1

    Available at your local Autozone for less than $4 a can. Available on the web site in a gallon size with a spray bottle.

  6. #6
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    Lately I've been using synthetic ATF for spindle and apron oil. I like it because it's bright red and it help me keep track of what is oiled and what isn't. Any opinions as to whether that could be harmful or OK?

    I tend to accumulate samples of automotive lubricants, usually a quart at a time.
    I also would up with several bottles of Lucas Gun Oil, which ought to be excellent for machine tools.

  7. #7
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    I'm not proposing that ATF leaves residue- but do take care. My lathe was lubricated with a wax-bearing oil some long time ago. When I got it <every> wick in the headstock & apron was packed off solid with coagulated oil. The wicks literally felt like a candle-wick- stiff enough to break if you bent them. That was certainly responsible for one of the headstock countershaft bushings being horribly wallowed out. No oil at all would pass to the bearing. I had to pull all the wicks (sometimes having to cut them out piece by piece), fill the passages with lacquer thinner, then blow with compressed air and finally replace with new material.

    So make sure whatever lubricant you use won't gum things up after a few years. I use spindle oil for the spindle and shaft bearings & other misc oilers, heavy/medium gear oil in the headstock and way oil for the ways. I imagine a decent synthetic motor oil would work fine too- many South Bends seem to prefer 0W or 10W Mobil 1 in the spindle.

    Generally most any lubricant is much better than none, but the right lubes offer beneficial secondary effects- rust inhibitors, way oil is extra sticky so it doesn't drain off, anti-foaming additives for high speed gearboxes, etc.. which the ATF may not have.

    So I'd say leave the ATF in the car and get the right stuff. Its not all that expensive and the 1 gallon cans are a convenient size.

    Regards,

    Greg

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    When you want to leave a protective gloss on the ways or exposed metal parts of a machine the best I've ever seen for penetrating, long-lasting protection and rust prevention (it reduces to a waxy film when the solvent evaporates), and staying power (it's good for 3 months or so in the harsh Oregon high humid climate from September to June when there is a constant mist every single day, and you just can't help get it into your shop) is T-9 Boeshield. It was developed by Boeing Aircraft Company in Oregon. You can just imagine what happens when they open their big hangar doors during one of those days of misting, drizzling dreariness.

    Please click here::::::::::

    http://www.boeshield.com/

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    I bought new Asian machines from Jet - a GH1340W1 lathe, and a JTM-2 vertical mill - over the past year, and have used pretty much what Jet recommends - Mobil DTE heavy medium in the lathe's gearboxes, Mobil Vactra #2 way oil on the lathe ways & in the one-shot pump on the mill, and Mobil Velocite #10 in the spindle on the mill. We use a turbine oil in the dripper oilers on the shafts of our irrigation wells that would probably have worked about as well as the Velocite; even though I have 30 gal. barrels of the stuff, I thought it better to use the Mobil product at least until the 2yr. warranty expires.

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    i pretty much use spindle oil on everything..ways..cross slide.. tailstock ways..
    i use it in the for carrage lube..use it in every oil cup..on the gears..everything..

    we do lots of newspaper rollers..cooling drums..big stuff all from new..
    the coating from the steel mills that they use on tubing makes a muddy mess on the ways etc..

    so after each pass before i run the carrage back to start another pass i wipe the ways down and re lube with the spindle oil..keeps 'em clean and lubed pretty well...

    its just what i do

    ...zap!

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    I have the lube diagrams for a Bridgeport Series I and a Clausing Metosa C1340S, which will be fine for other lathes. Cross-referencing of plenty of product lines too. I can e-mail them to someone else to post. I sell this stuff for a living so any questions just ask.

  13. #12
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    When you want to leave a protective gloss on the ways or exposed metal parts of a machine the best I've ever seen for penetrating, long-lasting protection and rust prevention (it reduces to a waxy film when the solvent evaporates), and staying power (it's good for 3 months or so in the harsh Oregon high humid climate from September to June when there is a constant mist every single day, and you just can't help get it into your shop) is T-9 Boeshield. It was developed by Boeing Aircraft Company in Oregon.
    I like Boeshield for certain situations, but it actually scored near the bottom of the list in extensive comparison tests done by Practical Sailor magazine a few years ago. Boeshield is good for parts to be stored inside, but for outside situations LPS-3 and various other more comsomoline like concontions will prevent rust for way longer time periods and in harsher conditions than Boeshield.

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    I like Break Free if I want something with similar consistency to WD-40 but much greater rust proofing. In fact, if I finish a new piece of tooling, I wipe it down with some Break Free. I tend to go over my machine ways and so forth every other month with some. I live in a coastal town on the Pacific Ocean and have no rust problems.

    Best,

    BW

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    I live on the edge of a freshwater marsh, about one-quarter mile from the ocean, on a narrow peninsula that juts out into the ocean. Relative humidity runs 70-99 percent all year. I've tried all of the above-mentioned rust-preventative products. Most work fine for things you take out, use, and re-lubricate at least three times a year. Haven't found anything for things stored/not used for more than 6 months. But I keep searching.

    It's my Holy Grail. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  17. #15
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    FWIW, I like the LPS-2&3 lubricants for short and long term storage respectfully. Lps-3 is a great product for something that goes through freeze thaw cycles. I live in Michigan where the extremes are a way of life. They have protected my equipment for years. I have tried the breakfree, Boeshield and many others. I have yet to find one as good as the LPS line of coatings.

    cdw

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    For preserving new equipment in storage and machine work stored outside with no protection. I use Locktite Maxi-Coat. It is comsomoline in a spray can. Left to dry it sets up as a wax coat, so if used on machinery, it must be dissolved with a lighter oil before the machine is used. It is thicker than the usual comsomoline supplied on a new machine, and will 'freeze' ways and such. The enviroment that I am using this in is a fertilizer/salt transfer terminal, we handle 30Kton salt/1.5Mton fertilizer annually.

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    Not sure if I read it here or another sight but someone recommended using chain saw bar oil. I use this on my lathe and it works great. I use it in the spindle as well as the ways.

    It's thick and leaves a nice even film on the ways. It even tightens them up a bit.

  20. #18
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    I had a machinist buddy tell me to use chainsaw or motorcycle chain lube for way lube as it is formulated to stick on and not run easily. Not sure about its other properties.

  21. #19
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    Excellent PDF here listing oil and grease brand interchanges, types, viscosity, etc.

    http://www.perkinsproducts.com/PDFs/...Lubricants.pdf

  22. #20
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    I tried to follow the link above to the perkinsproducts.com site.
    But I got an error that it was not found. I searched the root path and got a message that said Perkins is now part of DuBois Chemical. So, I went there and tried to find the original linked PDF.

    First I found this: Metal working fluids:
    Metalworking Fluids

    And link at the bottom of the above page: Lubes Cross Reference:
    http://www.duboischemicals.com/metal...es%20Guide.pdf

    But, a fine print note at the bottom of the first page says:
    "Note that this guide covers only mineral oil-based products. A similar triennial guide is published for synthetic lubricants (PE, July 2003, p30, File 8010). The guide is available on our web site at plantengineering.com. Enter the archives, and then select the July 2003 issue.

    I went to that web site, and found an archive area, but it only goes back
    to 2011, so not able to find the 2003 article. No matter.

    In poking around the plantengineering.com site, I found this nice resource:

    http://www.plantengineering.com/maga...rication-guide
    Where there is a summary reference for different types of lubricants for several recent years.

    Hope this helps and saves people the trouble of dogging this info down.

    Bentley


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