Roller chain lubrication is critical in maximizing the overall performance and lifespan. Roller chain is a mechanical power transmission part that has two bearing points that need to stay lubricated to prevent metal to metal wear. The two bearing points in a roller chain, which is the between the pin & bushing and roller & bushing area.
The below diagram shows where a roller chain must stay lubricated.
There are several types of lubricant, so which is the best for roller chain? The best 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 the chain size and ambient temperature.
*Temperatures lower than 14°F & higher than 140°F should use a special formulated oil. View roller chain temperature ratings.
**Methods of lubrication shown below.
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.
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.
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.
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 similar drive due different factors. 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 or discoloring is present, then this means the chain in not receiving an adequate amount of lubrication.