Lubrication is quite literally a temperamental problem when it comes to application with bearings. Consistent heat on all surfaces is necessary for bearings, but too much heat will often cause the lubricant to change chemically, which in turn reduces the life expectancy of your bearings. On the flip side, too little heat will cause a lubricant to thicken, thus losing the ability to lubricate the surface of the bearings. Oil meant for lubrication is special because it is not only for separation and lubrication of a bearing’s surface, but also meant to absorb the heat created from the bearing’s surfaces. Lubrication’s primary function is to create a protective film between surfaces in order to reduce friction. When the film between different metal surfaces is insufficient, the metal will overheat and expand which can result in surfaces that are fused together. In order to prevent this from happening, it is important to choose a lubricant that works with your equipment. Because not every machine is made equally, different lubricants must be chosen for the specific operating conditions of your equipment. Lubricant Choice When it comes to choice of lubricant, it is important to select a lubricant with the proper viscosity and additives suited to the needs of your equipment Viscosity Viscosity is the measurement of a lubricant’s resistance to flow. Highly viscous lubrication resists flow with its thickness whereas a low-viscosity lubrication is thin, promoting easy flow. Viscosity is not independent of temperature, however, which is why temperature must be carefully considered as well. For example, if a bearing’s surface must carry a heavy load, high temperatures of a low-viscosity lubricant can create non-ideal conditions. In order to avoid lubrication problems, it is crucial to consider a lubricant’s viscosity index (VI), which measures a lubricant’s rate of viscosity change due to temperature. Higher quality lubricants will maintain consistency of viscosity over a wider temperature range. Aiming for a high VI will generally result in a stable lubricant. Cold-Temperature Conditions If your equipment must withstand cold temperatures, it is important to find a lubricant with oils that are hydro-treated and synthetic-based. These tend to be more expensive, but will be able to avoid the thick, waxy conditions that occur when hydrocarbon-based oils thicken. Even if hydro-treated, synthetic-based oils thicken, they can be re-heated to a temperature that once again allows flow. Temperature-Related Failure Prevention No matter what lubricant you choose, it is essential that maintenance is carried out to ensure that the lubrication can increase the equipment’s life expectancy. Clean Lubrication Systems When transferring lubrication from container to the equipment, it is important to have maintain immaculately clean conditions. Having a system in place that ensures clean transfer prevents contamination due to sludge, avoids raising the lubricant’s viscosity and the prevents the chance of oxidation acceleration. Tuning It is important to know exactly how much lubrication your equipment needs in order to avoid over-lubrication or under-lubrication. Both situations will reduce the life of the bearings and cause your equipment to fail. Lubrication Levels The level of lubrication must be maintained somewhere between the minimum and maximum levels in order to prevent air bubbles which accelerate the oxidation process. The reservoirs that pump the oil lubrication must also be kept clean of dirt and debris. Debris trapped in the reservoir can result in temperature raising which will decrease the life of your bearings. Shaft Seals Shafts must be sealed well to avoid lubricant leakage. Weather conditions In cold-weather conditions you’ll need to implement additional systems to help the lubricants maintain heat. As mentioned earlier, cold weather conditions require hydro-treated, synthetic-based oils, but you’ll want to also use timed block heaters in the reservoir to help lubricants maintain their VI. For help finding the perfect lubricant for your equipment, be sure to ask a sales member at BK Power Systems.