Lubrication. Does chain really need it?

Although often overlooked, lubrication should be considered as a major factor in the chain’s construction as well as its performance. In addition to being an important aspect in prolonging chain life by reducing the wear rate between the pins and bushings in the chain joints, it also helps to flush out wear debris and other loose foreign materials and to smooth engagement with the sprocket.   By its very nature Lubrication is an excellent inhibitor to rust and corrosion plus it also cushions impact and diffuses heat.

What makes a good lubricant?

The key word is viscosity. It’s crucial that it’s able to penetrate the internal surfaces and have a viscosity capable to maintain an effective film at the required temperature and operating conditions. Nondetergent based petroleum oil usually is commonplace with antifoaming, antioxidizing and extreme pressure agents often used.

Chain manufacturers often use grease or petroleum jelly as a protective initial lubricant but greases should not be applied to chains in service because their thick viscosity stops them penetrating the chain’s internal bearing surfaces.

We’re invariably asked what the best lubricants are. We always recommend talking to a tribologist (someone qualified in the study of how surfaces behave in relative motion) at a reputable lubricant company.

A longer service life of the chain impacts greatly on the safe operation of a machine and its total operating cost. Correct choice of lubrication and its application will add considerably to safety, performance and help to reduce operating costs.