Gearbox Lubrication Basics

When it comes to gearbox maintenance, one of the most important elements is proper lubrication. Not only does the lubricant help protect the gear teeth from friction damage, it also helps to draw heat out of the gears as they work. In most gearboxes, the lubricant is also key to protecting the bearings in the gears. To get the most from your gearbox, you need to use the right lubricant. Here are your three primary options.

Grease-Based Products

A grease-based lubricant is the best option for low-speed gearboxes. You can use this type of lubricant in either open or closed boxes, but you need a grease that's the right viscosity. You don't want to use a thick grease-based lubricant, because that won't distribute through the gearbox properly.

Remember that grease-based lubricants don't provide much in the way of cooling, so you don't want to use them in an environment where the gearbox runs under continuous demand or heavy workloads. In addition, don't use too much of a grease-based product, because that can lead to drag in the gears, which robs you of power.

Oil-Based Splash Products

When you're dealing with worm gears, bevel gears, or spur gears, you may want to consider a splash system. This setup has a pool of lubricating oil in the motor, and the gears pass through that oil as they turn. You'll need mid-range speed gearboxes for this type of lubrication to be effective, though. Always monitor the oil level in these types of systems, because getting low on oil can cause the motor to overheat and seize due to friction.

Spray-Based Products

When you're dealing with a gearbox that's turning at particularly high speeds, you may find that the best lubrication option is a spray system. You'll have a set of nozzles that will spray oil at a predetermined pressure level based on what the gears need. You'll just have to be sure that you know precisely where the nozzles should be placed, because the oil has to reach the teeth on the gears for it to be effective. Remember that you'll be countering centrifugal force, which can deflect the oil spray, so work carefully with a technician to be sure that the spray is reaching its intended target before you put a system like this into full production.

Understanding your gearbox lubrication options is important to minimizing damage, repair costs, and system downtime. Talk with your technician or contact a company like Hackworth Electric Motors, Inc. to see which of these would be best for your operation.