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Way and spindle oil

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mickri

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#1
I am curious about why people buy gallons and gallons of way oil and spindle oil. What are they using this stuff for that gallons are needed? Is this something that machinists put in their coffee every morning? What's the difference between way and spindle oil? And why does it have to be something special? Why is 3 in 1 oil not recommended? How about Singer sewing machine oil? It keeps my older than dirt Singer sewing machine purring nicely. And then there is bar oil. Another no no. I buy a gallon or so every year for my chainsaw. My copy of the MOLO recommends 10 wt motor oil. Yet I have read this is a no no too. What's a newby to do with all of this conflicting information?

I have been reading scads of posts all over the web and all seem to be written with the underlying assumption that the reader knows all of the why's and wherefore's of this stuff.

Being a newby with absolutely no knowledge about this stuff please educate me.
 

JimDawson

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#2
For spindle oil, it depends on your spindle and bearings. But unless your spindle is special or high speed any good oil should be fine. I use AW46 hydraulic oil in my lathe headstock. It's maybe about 20 wt oil with anti wear additives.

For way oil, I use 90 wt straight mineral oil, no additives, in all my machines. Available at your local NAPA auto parts. Real way oil has a ''stickifier'' additive, like bar oil.

I normally like a nice 30 wt non-detergent in my coffee. :grin:
 

stupoty

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#3
I am curious about why people buy gallons and gallons of way oil and spindle oil. What are they using this stuff for that gallons are needed? Is this something that machinists put in their coffee every morning? What's the difference between way and spindle oil? And why does it have to be something special? Why is 3 in 1 oil not recommended? How about Singer sewing machine oil? It keeps my older than dirt Singer sewing machine purring nicely. And then there is bar oil. Another no no. I buy a gallon or so every year for my chainsaw. My copy of the MOLO recommends 10 wt motor oil. Yet I have read this is a no no too. What's a newby to do with all of this conflicting information?

I have been reading scads of posts all over the web and all seem to be written with the underlying assumption that the reader knows all of the why's and wherefore's of this stuff.

Being a newby with absolutely no knowledge about this stuff please educate me.

I use more way oil than spindle oil. I think i bought a 1 gallon bottle of each last year, the way oil has tackifiers that keep it stuck onto the ways.

If the ways are dirty i rub of the chips and dirt , clean them and re oil. Being frugle with the way oil is bad for your lath (i'm not saying squirt it everyware and waste it) :)

The spindle oil I use is sae 20 , very handy to have some random oil about for when you need to oil something. works out quite cheep for the quantity.

I use sowing machine oil on my sowing machine where it is perfectly adapted to the loads and speed involved in the sowing machine mechanism. I belive it would be an expensive way to purchase oil for use on a lathe also the oil is very light and flows easily.

I have used 3 in one oil for gears and bearings in the past when I have had no other oil, I also have used semi synthetic motor oil on the ways and bearings, main issue on the ways was it tended to run off quickly. Any oil is better than no oil (probably some caviets to that statement :) ).

Stu
 

benmychree

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#5
You do not need spindle oil for anything but PRECISION spindles, I am talking such as grinding machine spindles where clearances are very tight. For such as lathe spindles and gearboxes, a turbine or hydraulic oil is the go to lube. For ways, use an appropriate weight of WAY oil, not 90 weight from the auto parts store, it is way too high in viscosity, especially for small machines. I like the Mobil Vactra oils for ways, they have the tackiness additive and stick to the ways much better than straight oils, I use Vactra #2 oil in my surface grinder and shaper, it is a combination hydraulic and lube oil for circulating lube systems, I also use some Vactra #4 for way lube, but thin it down with turbine oil, as it is too viscous for use on small machinery as it comes from the bucket. Chainsaw bar oil is said by some to be not pure enough for machine tool use, that is there may be solids suspended in it that could injure way surfaces; there may be a reason that it is relatively cheap to buy.
 

WCraig

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#6
I am curious about why people buy gallons and gallons of way oil and spindle oil. What are they using this stuff for that gallons are needed? Is this something that machinists put in their coffee every morning? What's the difference between way and spindle oil? And why does it have to be something special? Why is 3 in 1 oil not recommended? How about Singer sewing machine oil? It keeps my older than dirt Singer sewing machine purring nicely. And then there is bar oil. Another no no. I buy a gallon or so every year for my chainsaw. My copy of the MOLO recommends 10 wt motor oil. Yet I have read this is a no no too. What's a newby to do with all of this conflicting information?

I have been reading scads of posts all over the web and all seem to be written with the underlying assumption that the reader knows all of the why's and wherefore's of this stuff.

Being a newby with absolutely no knowledge about this stuff please educate me.
I'm a newbie, too. Re MOLO, I think a LOT has changed since it was published. AIUI, modern motor oils contain detergents, etc that didn't exist back in the day and retain dirt and moisture in a lathe where we really want it flushed out. Therefore, a non-detergent oil is now recommended for machine use.

As others have said, way oil is different. In addition to the tackifier agents, it also designed to prevent 'stick and slip'. Your carriage should start move smoothly without jerking. Obviously that's better for getting a consistent cut.

I got some IOS 32 compressor oil for my Atlas 618's spindles, etc. I bought a gallon of way oil from a local supply store. I suspect it will be half full when sold for peanuts at my estate auction sale!!

Way_oil_jug.jpg

Craig
 

mickri

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#7
I can see where used motor oil with or without detergent would be dirty and not the best thing to use. But new oil is clean. There's no dirt or other contaminants in it. Where is all this harmful dirt coming from that everybody seems to mention. Surely not the minuscule amounts of dust that may land on bed. I wipe the bed of my lathe down after every couple of passes just to keep the chips off of it. What am I missing?
 

Cooter Brown

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#8
I fill my bathtub with way oil and then sit in it for a few hours to relax after work sometimes....
 

kev74

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#9
I can buy a pint of 10 weight air tool oil for $8, or a gallon of 10 weight spindle oil for $25. I go through about 2 pints a year, so it will take a while for the savings to kick in... but I'm not going anywhere (I hope!).

Most motor oils have detergents that help keep contaminants suspended in the oil until the car's oil filter can trap it. If your lathe spindles don't have oil filters, any suspended gunk has more opportunity to cause wear before its either flushed or leaks out. Non-detergent oils tend to let the gunk settle out more quickly so it can't do as much harm.

I like to follow the manual when I can. I figgure the guys who designed my stuff are (or were) smarter than me. That being said, any oil is usually better than no oil.
 

WCraig

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#10
I can see where used motor oil with or without detergent would be dirty and not the best thing to use. But new oil is clean. There's no dirt or other contaminants in it. Where is all this harmful dirt coming from that everybody seems to mention. Surely not the minuscule amounts of dust that may land on bed. I wipe the bed of my lathe down after every couple of passes just to keep the chips off of it. What am I missing?
It is the spindle oil that ought to be non-detergent. The trapped dirt and water can hang around in the bearings more than you want.

Way oil is supposed to adhere to the metal while allowing smooth movement.

But as kev74 says, no oil is far worse. Compared to no oil, anything with a bit of lubrication is giant step forward. If you want to use the cheapest motor oil you can find on both the ways and the spindle, the Oil Police are not going to come and arrest you!

Craig
(But the next owner of your machines WILL post "tsk, tsk" messages on some forum!)
 

mickri

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#11
I am missing something here. Everybody keeps mentioning trapped dirt and water in detergent oil. We are not talking about using used dirty oil out of your car. We are talking about using brand new, never been used before oil on a lathe. Where does the dirt and water come from that you are talking about? I have read this same refrain all over the web but nobody mentions where the dirt and water comes from. I am concerned because if this is such a major issue I would like to know where the dirt and water is coming from so that I can take steps to prevent it getting to my lathe in the first place. I am not trying to be stubborn here. Just trying to figure this out.
 

killswitch505

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#12
I can’t add to what’s already been stated but I’ve started using way oil on my pistols shotguns and ARs really great stuff
 

mksj

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#13
Most of the comments are out of context, oils are designed for specific applications. The manufacturer tells you what oil to use, typically they will specify an oil viscosity, there are various ways of interpreting the viscosity as to SAE motor oil, SAE gear oil, ISO viscosity etc. So as an example most gear head lathes specify ISO32, or SAE 10 motor oil. This is just the viscosity index at a specified temperature. Most smaller lathes use splash lubrication and do not have filters, so the lubrication is from splash up to the top of the lathe and then channels down to the bearings. Use too high a viscosity, this causes friction which increases the heat of the oil, it also doesn't flow as well to the bearings. Too thin an oil does not provide the film thickness to the bearings and gears. A detergent oil is designed to keep particles in suspension so they can be removed by a filter, no filter, then no detergent. The particles typically settle at the bottom of the case. These can be metallic, or dirt pulled in through the breather. This is often seen as sludge on the bottom, water is also pulled in and condenses in the cases, this will eventually cause cloudy oil and rust.

On ways, and certain gearboxes, ones use way oil which has tachifiers, which help the oil stick and provides a film between the moving parts. Use too thin an oil then you get increase wear. This results in long term wear, Use 3 in 1 oil and you basically have metal against metal because the oil has no film thickness. The oiler systems are what as known as one shot, you oil it periodically, this flushes any chips/dirt and then it falls into the pan. People keep on insisting on using oils that aren't recommended by the manufacturer, short term, any oil is better than no oil. Long term use the wrong oil and you will get increase wear over time. It is rare that one will experience a catastrophic failure, but I have read of headstocks getting very hot when people have used the wrong viscosity/motor oil in a geared headstock.

People buy gallons, because often the lathe headstock will take 1/2-1 gallon of oil when you change it, on the ways, you usually give 2 pumps when you start, and repeat at set intervals while you are working. It is very easy to go through a gallon or more a year if you use your machines. Gear head mills will usually use SAE80/90W gear oil which has the same viscosity as 30W motor oil or ISO 90. You do not use limited slip differential oil, as it is designed for clutch packs. Bottom line, use the specified oil, other oils may work but not as well.

Oil Viscosity.jpg
 

kev74

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#14
I am missing something here. Everybody keeps mentioning trapped dirt and water in detergent oil. We are not talking about using used dirty oil out of your car. We are talking about using brand new, never been used before oil on a lathe. Where does the dirt and water come from that you are talking about? I have read this same refrain all over the web but nobody mentions where the dirt and water comes from. I am concerned because if this is such a major issue I would like to know where the dirt and water is coming from so that I can take steps to prevent it getting to my lathe in the first place. I am not trying to be stubborn here. Just trying to figure this out.
The dirt and moisture come from the machine itself and from the environment. As the bearings and gears wear, microscopic debris is created. There is moisture in the air as humidity. Using the correct lube helps minimise the resulting damage. Proper maintenance and cleaning are probably more important to minimizing wear than using any specific lubricant.
 

mickri

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#15
Thank you Mksj for your detailed explanation. Looked in the owners manuals for my craftsman 12x36 lathe and QCGB. Calls for SAE 20 machine oil for lubrication and makes no reference to way oil. Cross referenced SAE 20 machine oil and found that the SAE 20 range includes AW 46 and AW 68 hydraulic oil as the modern equivalent. I can find AW 46 all over the place for under $15 per gallon and in one gallon jugs. The smallest size for AW 68 is 2 gallon jugs and larger with prices starting in the mid $30 range. My lathe gets light home use. Less than 10 hours per week and some weeks it doesn't get used at all. I am going to try the AW 46.

Thanks to everyone for your comments.
 

Bob Korves

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#16
Without a filter for circulating oil. do not use detergent oil in gear boxes. With simple closed bath oil systems, let the metal and dirt settle to the bottom of the reservoir, rather than circulate through the gears and bearings. Oil filter, detergent oil. No filter, non detergent oil.
 
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JimDawson

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#17
One other thing, I put a large strong magnet in the bottom of my lathe gearbox. Hopefully will catch most of the bits of suspended iron in the oil.
 

mickri

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#18
My Craftsman 12x36 lathe is belt driven. No gear box. Just a lot of points to lubricate whenever I use the lathe. I picked up a gallon of AW 46 today at my local auto parts store. $16. I probably have a lifetime supply. Thanks again to everyone for their comments.
 

kev74

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#19
One other thing, I put a large strong magnet in the bottom of my lathe gearbox. Hopefully will catch most of the bits of suspended iron in the oil.
I epoxied a magnet into the drainplug. When I change the oil, I can wipe the crud off the drainplug before I put it back.
 

Downunder Bob

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#20
I am missing something here. Everybody keeps mentioning trapped dirt and water in detergent oil. We are not talking about using used dirty oil out of your car. We are talking about using brand new, never been used before oil on a lathe. Where does the dirt and water come from that you are talking about? I have read this same refrain all over the web but nobody mentions where the dirt and water comes from. I am concerned because if this is such a major issue I would like to know where the dirt and water is coming from so that I can take steps to prevent it getting to my lathe in the first place. I am not trying to be stubborn here. Just trying to figure this out.

Much of the USA has a fairly humid climate, so when temperatures drop moisture will condense on many surfaces, particularly metals, such as your machine ways condensation will also occur inside gear heads and other enclosed spaces. Unlike car engines, lathes and other machines should not get hot enough to boil this moisture out, so it just accumulates until you drain it out.

The dirt, well it depends on what sort of dirt you have, but consider a typical workshop, machining cast iron produces much fine dust. the use of angler, grinders, bench and surface grinders, linishing belts, not to mention tool post grinders. All of these will produce a lot of abrasive dust, dirt call it what you will, and it is the enemy of machines. frequent and generous oiling helps to flush it away

We have a fairly dry climate where i live, however occasionally we get a few humid days so I still give my lathe a good squirt down with Inox MX3, a product similar to WD40, RP7, CRC Etc. Although far superior to all of them. I also use it as a cutting oil, it's highly recommended for difficult metals like stainless, Aluminium, titanium etc, but also very good on steel. and stops your tools, machines and machined parts from rusting.

I also use chain bar oil on the open gears outside the headstock. just a very light drizzle while lathe is running slow is all it needs every few months. It resists flinging off and dripping, it helps the gears to run quiet and smooth.
 

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#21
Oh My here we go again
Oils aint oils
Well im over it once again in my opinion i think this has gotten way outta control .i have been a mechanic and hobby enthusiest for a long time now and been around lathes before i was walking i csn say now your lathe grarbox would never endure the punishemrnt and older vehicles gearbox has been put tbrough over tbe yaers and yes plenty of older car gear boxes have brass bushings .they all survived on 75 or 90 wieght oil and even less engine oil .
From what ive seen over the years id say most older car gearboxes are mor safisticated than or lathe gearboxrs and i know myself ill run a 25w 60 in mine anyday rather than some iso20 or sae 20 in my opinion its to light for the ways 75 or 90 or 140 most of it will be wiped of but a genral minral bases oil will leave enough behind to saffice and lubricate what needs lubricatibg
 

stupoty

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Oh My here we go again
Oils aint oils
Well im over it once again in my opinion i think this has gotten way outta control .i have been a mechanic and hobby enthusiest for a long time now and been around lathes before i was walking i csn say now your lathe grarbox would never endure the punishemrnt and older vehicles gearbox has been put tbrough over tbe yaers and yes plenty of older car gear boxes have brass bushings .they all survived on 75 or 90 wieght oil and even less engine oil .
From what ive seen over the years id say most older car gearboxes are mor safisticated than or lathe gearboxrs and i know myself ill run a 25w 60 in mine anyday rather than some iso20 or sae 20 in my opinion its to light for the ways 75 or 90 or 140 most of it will be wiped of but a genral minral bases oil will leave enough behind to saffice and lubricate what needs lubricatibg

Ha ha , theirs never enough over thinking oil is their ? ;)

I have had two brands of way oil and they did actualy behave noticibly different, I thnk the mobil one I had was different at lower temperatures. When I've used regular oils on the ways it definetly tends to be wiped off quicker with the constant back and forth of the saddle.

Stu
 

middle.road

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#23
I fill my bathtub with way oil and then sit in it for a few hours to relax after work sometimes....
Anyone remember the DMSO(?) craze of the '70s & '80's? Folks were talking baths in it.
A buddy of my father bought an entire trailer of 55gal drums of the stuff.
 

Bob Korves

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#24
When the arthritis in my hands gets annoying enough (not often), I rub DMSO into them. It works, and works well. It is the only thing besides medical pain killers that helps, and medical pain killers have many problems, and work less well the longer you use them, not to mention some awful potential side effects. I could go on for hours about medication side effects, first hand experience. Make sure the area where you rub DMSO into is clean and free of contaminants, because DMSO is a solvent and will dissolve them and carry them into your bloodstream.
 

Aukai

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#25
Be careful after application also. I haven't run into it at work in awhile, but there was one casualty awhile ago. Person applied DMSO to both knees, and ankles, then went in the yard, and sprayed poison. He did not survive, and it took a bit to find out what happened. Good recommendation Bob.
 
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