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Five Roller Chain Lubrication Methods

Roller chain coiled

Why selecting the best lubrication method can help maximize both the efficiency and life of the chain.

Proper lubrication is essential to prolong chain life. The type of lubrication used is a critical factor in determining the lifespan of a chain drive. Correct lubrication stalls roller chain wear caused by bearing pressure, angle-sliding movements of the pins and rotation of the rollers. It also slows rust and corrosion, lubricates bushing joints, dissipates heat and cushions impact loads.

There are five main roller chain lubrication methods and should be chosen bearing in mind operating temperatures, chain speed, working environment, cost and preferences determined by the use.

1 – Manual Lubrication

Using an oil can, aerosol spray or brush, this method requires the lubricant to be manually added once a day or every eight running hours into the gap between the inner and outer link plate of the loose side of the chain

2 – Oil Bath Lubrication

Here the chain is placed in an enclosure with the bottom of the chain fully immersed in a pool of oil. The correct immersion depth is important as if it’s too deep or too shallow may cause the oil to heat up resulting in oxidation of the oil.

3 – Drip Lubrication

Oil from the oil cup is fed via wick oilers, needle oilers or drip oilers, and supplied by drip feeding. This method is only suitable for low bearing pressure drives. With quantity dependent on speed, the standard procedure is to apply 5-20 drops of oil per minute for every strand of chain.

4 – Oil-Ring Lubrication

This method has the chain running above the oil level, with a rotating disc submerged into the lower oil level which spreads oil against the casing walls from where it runs down onto the chain via drip rails. The disc needs be mounted on both sides of the sprocket in a sealed enclosure. It should be noted that this method of chain lubrication is only effective at speeds in excess of 300 RPM.

5 – Force-Fed Lubrication

In force-fed lubrication, an oil pump and oil feeding pipe supplies a continuous spray of oil to the inside of the lower span of chain to ensure the circulating cooling of the chains. The spray nozzles should be situated near the gearing places of the chain and sprocket, and the number of nozzles need to be more than the amount of chain strands to make them aim at the gap of each row’s link plate.