Roller chain is a mechanical power transmission component that has two bearing points that must be lubricated. The first bearing point is located between the pin and bushing, which allows the chain to articulate as it runs around a sprocket. The second location is between the bushing and roller, which allows the chain links to glide smoothly over sprocket teeth. Without proper lubrication the chain will experience both metal-to-metal wear and corrosion that lead to chain failure. In fact, the most common reason chain suppliers & manufacturers see failures is due to poor lubrication. Downtime can be extremely costly, so it's important that you understand the importance of roller chain lubrication.
Integrating a routine maintenance plan will help your company avoid those disasters moments of being down. Don't have time to plan out another maintenance plan? There are companies that can be found online that offer services to help establish routine maintenance plans.
Roller Chain Bearing Points Needing Lubrication
The below diagram shows the two areas of a roller chain must stay lubricated.
Types Of Roller Chain Lubricant
There are several types of lubricant, so which is the best for roller chain? The best option is a high quality SAE non-detergent petroleum based oil. The table below is a general reference for the viscosity of oil that should be used based on chain size and ambient temperature.
|Ambient Temperature Ranges*|
|14°F To 32°F||32°F To 104°F||104°F To 122°F||122°F To 140°F||14°F To 32°F||32°F To 104°F||104°F To 122°F||122°F To 140°F|
|Type A & B Lubrication Method**||Type C Lubrication Method**|
*Temperatures lower than 14°F & higher than 140°F should use a special formulated oil. View our roller chain temperature ratings.
**Methods of lubrication shown below.
- Heavy Oil
- Oil With Particles
- Low Quality
- Used Oil
Methods Of Lubricating Roller Chain
There are 5 different methods of applying lubricant to roller chain that are broken down into types. The 'Types' are usually found in a chain companies catalog or ANSI documentation. The 'Type' will be based on 3 main factors, which is speed, horsepower and ambient temperature.
Lubrication Method & Types
|Oil Disc Slinger||B|
Details Of Each Roller Chain Lubrication Methods
Apply oil using a brush or an oiling can. Oil should be added about every 8 hours or sooner if chain joints are becoming dry
Apply oil by using a leakproof oil dispenser at a rate of of 15-30 drops per minute.
Apply oil by an oil bath by using a leakproof case. Oil should run at the pitch line of the roller chain and should be monitored to ensure the oil stays at the pitch line. Too much oil may cause the oil to overheat.
Oil Disc Slinger
Apply oil using a disc slinger from a leakproof case. The oil slinger should reach rim speeds of 600 to 8,000 ft/min. Two oil slingers (One on each side) must be used if the chain is wider than 4.92". (One slinger may on wide chains may not "sling" oil across the entire chain)
Apply oil using a pump from a leakproof case. The oil stream from the pump should cover the entire width of the chain.
Roller Chain Inspection
Yes, roller chain needs to be inspected to ensure the chain is being properly lubricated. Every application is different and one may require more frequent lubrication vs another that has a similar drive setup. Inspections and history will help determine an proper amount of lubrication. First, you'll need to clean the roller chain with a petroleum based cleaner. After the chain has be cleaned you'll want to inspect the chain for ant signs of wear or a reddish/brownish discoloring of the parts. If wear marks occur or discoloring is present, then this means the chain in not receiving an adequate amount of lubrication.