Whether you’re dealing with motorized machinery that is mobile – such as tractors or other heavy-duty vehicles that require serious lubrication as part of their transmission/engine systems – or you’re maintaining machinery in industrial settings – such as conveyor belt systems or large devices with many moving parts like moving arms or engines for generating heat or mechanical power – lubrication for gear boxes is very important for operational efficiencies and ongoing performance.
There are several questions one should ask that will help you determine the type of lubrication as well as the grade of lubrication that is needed. Gear speed, gear load, and the type of gears are just a few of the considerations that, when addressed, will allow you to select the right lubrication for your specific industrial or mechanical needs. The following set of questions can serve as guidelines to help you select the proper lubrication for gears and gear boxes.
- What type of gear(s) are in the gear box? The first questions to ask are some very basic ones. Are the gears open or closed? Is it an automotive or industrial application? Does the gear lubricant have to be synthetic or mineral oil based? These are just a few of the questions to determine the correct product to use. It is important to drill down as much as possible.
- What type of load does the gear box operate under? Getting as much information as possible about the load will determine which gear oil to use. There are very basic rust and oxidation gear oils, gear oils with extreme pressure additives to help coat and protect the metal, and compounded gear oils which work with heavier loads such as with helical and bevel gears.
- What is the gear speed? The gear speed will determine which viscosity a lubricant should have. Generally, low speed gears will use high-viscosity lubricants and high-speed gears will use low-viscosity lubricants.
- What is the operating environment? This is probably one of the most important questions in any lubrication evaluation. Is the environment dusty, hot, wet or cold? Particle contamination is a major factor in keeping a gear lubricant clean and running at an optimal level. If the gear lubricant comes in contact with water, the lubricant may require water separation properties. Temperature is always a factor; low temperatures may determine the best base oil to use. High temperatures may require extreme pressure additives to assist with friction.
- What does the manufacturer recommend? The best way to begin evaluating gear lubricants is to see whether there is a manufacturer’s recommendation. Often the information will be in a manual or a tag on the gear box with an “AGMA” specification.