Lubricants News and Updates

Why Use Calcium Sulfonate Greases? - Doug's Tip of the Month

Calcium Sulphonate Complex (CaS) greases do not function like other greases. In most greases, the thickener releases the base oil to provide elastohydrodynamic lubrication in a bearing load zone. A Calcium Sulphonate (CaS) thickener is more like a gel. The base oil and gelled CaS thickener form a permanent emulsion.

A well formulated CaS grease maintains the emulsified state, and the entire combination of thickener and base oil pass through the bearing load zone. If the emulsion should break and the base oil bleed from the thickener, the CaS thickener left behind would still lubricate.

The use of higher base oil viscosities to enhance wear protection is applicable to other thickeners, not CaS. Increasing base oil viscosity can actually reduce the natural wear protection from a CaS thickener and may create the necessity to add molybdenum di-sulfide (Moly) additives to compensate for the reduction in wear protection. Base oil viscosity does have an impact on the NLGI grade of grease and will affect temperature range.

CaS thickeners are surface active (have a polarity) and provide primary corrosion protection, water washout resistance, and oxidation stability. Water Washout resistance is achieved from the CaS thickener’s ability to hold water in a tight emulsion and thus keep the water away from metal components. In turn, this will help to prevent corrosion due to the presence of water in the grease. CaS greases are often used in long term or for life service applications due to its inherent oxidation stability.

Where the base oils in other grease thickeners do the work, in a Calcium Sulphonate (CaS), it is the thickener that does the work.

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Hydraulic Systems & Equipment  - Doug's Tip of the Month

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Quality hydraulic fluids have advanced formulations, high VI and the most advance additive packages to provide operating and maintenance benefits for increased productivity and less downtime. T

wo rules of thumb for hydraulic fluid are to keep it - “Clean and Dry”, because research and testing has proven that over 80% of hydraulic pumps wear and system failures are due to particulates and water contamination. Production downtime and labor costs for repairs often outweigh the cost of replacement of hydraulic components or systems. 

A hydraulic system can be complex with very high pressures. Most hydraulic system components have very tight tolerances ranging from 0.1 to 40 microns. Particles larger then allow tolerances can weaken the lubricant film and cause premature wear. Ingression of particulates (contaminates) usually enters the hydraulic system reservoirs or tanks through the breather cap. This is because a hydraulic reservoir will “breathe” every time the fluid is pumped in and out of an actuator or cylinder. Most particulate starts off as just airborne dust or dirt, then it finds its way into hydraulic reservoirs. From the reservoirs the particulates can find their way to the hydraulic pump and out to valves, bushings, seals, bearings, and other components. It is here that premature wear begins.

Filtration and quality breather elements are key to minimizing airborne contamination. Filtration and filter elements should be specific to the hydraulic system and its tolerances. This also holds true for a reservoir/tank breather element. Like a quality filter, a quality desiccant breather is one that: achieves the target level for “cleanliness and dryness”, has the capacity to hold and filter contaminants between fluid change-outs, but also should be easily visible for routine inspection during preventive maintenance.

Preventing the ingression of contaminants and water with quality filters, breather and hydraulic fluid is easier and costs much less then downtime or labor to replace a hydraulic system or components.

To summarize: Keeping hydraulic fluid “Clean and Dry” will extend the life of the fluid and the equipment.

 

 

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Doug's Tip of the Month - Oil Analysis Flagging Limits

An oil analysis report contains results on as many as 40 different parameters that each have acceptable ranges identified. The type of oil, its formulation, how it should be maintained, and the operating conditions all are considered when evaluating an oil sample and setting acceptable ranges. Also considering the type of equipment and the operating environment is just as important.

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An acceptable oil analysis program should consist of these basic components; standard processes for the establishment of normal ranges, along with the identification of limits and a reliable system for recognizing failure modes. Most labs offer comments and recommendations in the form of flags that are patterned after green, yellow and red traffic lights. Yellow and red flagged parameters indicate that a threshold has been passed and further action is required on the part of the end user; green flagged information indicates an item is within range, and is archived for trending. Some parameters, such as particle counts, only have upper limits. Other parameters, such as oxidative stability, only have lower limits. Parameters such as viscosity, that measure stability, have both upper and lower limits. There is not a universal approach for setting alarm limits. Also, some parameters and stats on the lab report are not critical to that specific piece of equipment, so not every oil analysis parameter needs an alarm limit.

Because oil analysis is as much expertise as formulae and there are so many considerations involved, most labs do not publish limit information. The issue for end-users is who sets the range and who to believe—formulator, OEM, lab, industry, association such as ASTM—and why.

There are four traditional absolute methods for determining oil analysis ranges and flagging limits.

 

These methods are:

  1. Industry standards. These are generic limits placed on machines that are grouped according to working pressure or type (e.g., gearboxes or hydraulic systems). These standards are generally considered baseline. Limits set by industries and associations often involve equipment with strict safety and reliability requirements. These limit values should be carefully considered.
  2. Statistical alarms. These are based on common distribution functions that are usually built into software.
  3. Trend-based or rate-of-change limits. These define an unacceptable departure from a usual level. There are three ways of developing trend or rate of-change alarms:
    1. Relative magnitudes. This identifies a significant change in magnitude.
    2. Rolling average. This compares the current value to the average of several historical measurements.
    3. Weighted delta settings. This uses a weighting method that requires a very large change to occur before an alarm is tripped for a small measured value. As the measured value increases, the required percentage change decreases.
  4. No predefined limits. These are judgment-based and rely on the availability of experienced analysts familiar with the type of machinery being monitored. A qualified technical data analyst will have relevant industry experience and bring value to the recommendations by considering a multitude of factors rather than focusing on a single test result and evaluating it without consideration of other key data. In addition to statistical anomalies, a data analyst reviews rates of change and the amount of time on both the equipment and fluid.

 

Consider working with your Technical Advisor and a Lab to help determine any changes to flagging limits for the end-user.

 

 

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Final Drive Train Oil - Doug's Tip of the Month

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Final Drive Train Oil

Final drives play a crucial role within a machine’s drive train by transferring power to the tires or tracks while providing speed reduction and torque increase. Since final drives are closed components and thus hidden from view, it is easy to overlook their maintenance.

Proper Oil Use

The three main functions of oil are to provide: cleaning, cooling and lubrication. Modern drive train systems feature new metals, elastomers and paper disc materials which may have advanced lubrication needs, requiring you to change oil at the correct intervals, properly, and use the right drive train oil to achieve top performance.

Use the Right Drive Train Oil

Final drives, axles and differentials experience high gear and bearing loads and temperatures. In these conditions, it is important gears and bearings are protected.                            

Depending on the configuration of the final drive and the equipment, 1 of 2 very different fluids may be recommended, Tractor Hydraulic fluid or TDTO/CAT TO-4.  

Tractor Hydraulic Fluids – also most commonly known as – THF or UTF – which can carry all of the required additives to meet or exceed OEM specifications.

  1. This fluid is typically used to lubricate transmissions, wet brakes, clutches, hydraulic systems, and of course final drive.
  2. To meet the specific requirement for this fluid must have: Friction Modifiers – which help to prevent wet brake squeal and offer smoother clutch operation
  3. Tractor Fluids meet or exceed API GL-4 spec.

TDTO (Transmission Drive Train Oil)/CAT TO-4 – also known as Powershift Transmissions and Drivetrain Fluid.

  1. Primarily used in CAT equipment or other equipment that requires fluids without friction modifiers
  2. This type of fluid is used to lubricate transmissions, brakes, clutches, hydraulic systems and of course final drive.
  3. To meet the specific OEM requirements for this fluid: TDTO fluids do not contain (Friction Modifiers). TDTO fluids are available in SAE Grades of 10W, 30, 50 and 60 for specific application and temperature requirements.
  4. TDTO fluids – only meet API GL-3 spec

Larger and more advanced equipment may require a heavier viscosity, synthetic fluid, which will meet the new CAT FDAO spec for Final Drive Axles. This fluid is commonly used in Differentials, Front Wheels and Final Drives for Off-Highway Trucks.

 

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Racing Season Kickoff - Renegade Race Fuels Available

Renegade Race Fuel

Renegade race fuels are premixed and factory sealed so no more guessing at mixing or additizing, and no more spending time and money to hit the gas station and juggle multiple containers. 

 

Renegade Ratman Bushwacker Juice 50/1 & 40/1 premix drums and pails are ready to use immediately.   From Renegade: "RENEGADE RATMAN BUSHWHACKER JUICE premix fuel is a specialty fuel developed with the lawn care industry in mind. This premixed product is not only an affordable premix fuel, but also offers quality that can’t be found at the pump.  Use of this product will reduce maintenance cost and increase time in service of all of the 2 stroke power equipment it is used in. RATMAN BUSHWHACKER JUICE utilizes race fuel technology along with premium HP synthetic 2 stroke oil to give your power equipment a performance edge"

 

Ethanol free options mean reduced repair costs and equipment replacement due to ethanol issues. Fewer repairs and equipment downtime combined with less downtime at the shop which makes it a no brainer.  

Renegade also carries P97 which is just your pure ethanol free gas too in a factory sealed drum or pail.  From Renegade," Renegade HR P97 is an ethanol-free unleaded race, small engine, and storage fuel that won’t gum up carbs or cause issues like today’s average pump fuels. Renegade HR P97 can be used as a storage fuel or in an exotic application that requires ethanol- free fuel."

 

Renegade products are available by special order monthly through John Presti, cell is 857.241.9678 or john.presti@burkeoil.com 

 

Next special stock order will be placed first thing Monday June 6th. . .So please order accordingly.

 

For more information on Renegade products, check out their website here:  Renegade Race Fuels or feel free to reach out directly by email.

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Fluid Management: Hydraulic Oils - Doug's Tip of the Month

A common question amongst maintenance personnel is around the life expectancy of our Hydraulic Oils in their machines. For the most part, many maintenance personnel say that they expect a very short time because of the aggressive environment surrounding the manufacturing equipment.

And this is true if we recognize that the oil will suffer just two adverse effects in the equipment: Contamination & Degradation.

Premium hydraulic oils are capable of maintaining their initial characteristics and protect the equipment for a very long time…..even several years in a properly designed hydraulic system and with a proactive maintenance program.

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6 areas to help extend the life of Hydraulic fluid while protecting equipment:

1.-Choose the Right Product:

A few Premium Hydraulic fluids characteristics:

  1. Advanced Technologies in Base Oils and Additives:
    1. Keep the oil and system clean
    2. Have Outstanding contamination control
    3. Have Exceptional protection against wear
    4. Control demulsibility

2.-Prevent Contamination:

  1. Keep strict housekeeping control.shutterstock_2056850768
  2. Change from metal screen breathers to a desiccant breather.
  3. Use proper Filtration and filters with an Absolute Ratio β according to your needs.
  4. Segregate type of lubricants to prevent compatibility concerns.
  5. Consolidate Inventory of Lubricants.
  6. Fix leaks and the air intrusion in the equipment.
  7. Do not use after-market additives or mix products.
  8. Identify and ‘Lube Tag’ the equipment and the oil being used.

3.-Avoid Waste

  1. Repair leaks
  2. Use the golden rule: The right product in the right place with the right amount.

4.-Protect against deterioration:

  1. Maintain proper storage and handling of hydraulic fluids.
  2. In outside storage, stack drums horizontally or upside down to prevent water contamination
  3. Monitor equipment operation to avoid: high temperatures, excessive air exposure, static or electric discharges.

5.-Extend Useful Life

  1. Purchase Premium products to meet your equipment’s needs.
  2. Determine the optimum practical drain interval.
  3. Establish a system of simple checks in the field to assure the integrity of the oil and its operations – Send in routine used oil samples to a laboratory.

6.-Personnel Training on Lubricants

  1. Training generates experience and this is the base of an optimum use and preservation of the lubricants and the benefits that can be achieved.
  2. Do not let unauthorized/inexperienced people handle lubricants.
  3. Hydraulic lube oils are the heart and soul of your equipment and maintaining a staff that can take proper oil samples and interpret the laboratory testing results will pay huge dividends back to any operation.

 

 

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Maintaining Proper Oil Levels - Doug's Tip of the Month

Maintaining Proper Oil Levels in Reservoirs, Sumps, Gearboxes and Crank case

Whether the case is Automotive – (engines, transmission, differentials), Gearboxes, Circulating Systems or Pumps; maintaining proper oil levels in reservoirs and sumps is imperative for both the equipment and oil life.

When oil levels are too low, machine wear and damage can occur very rapidly. There may be an increase in friction due to the lack of lubricating boundary film and/or viscosity changes from increased fluid temperatures. The lack of oil can lead to metal-to-metal contact which can in turn cause wear. This wear mechanism, known as spalling, pitting, smearing and seizing, all of which are forms of Adhesive Wear, are most common from metal to metal contact.

When oil levels are too high, it mainly can affect the lubricant and its properties, but can also cause damage to equipment. Oil levels that are too high for long periods of time can result in the machine or equipment aerating or churning the oil. Oil that has been aerated can change viscosity, speed up oxidation, and use up additives. When equipment or machines are run in these conditions, the lubricating film strength weakens, boundary conditions form and damage to the equipment can occur.

Implementing proper programs and procedures to continually monitor and maintain oil levels will result in longer fluid life and equipment life. Properly training personnel on how to “Monitor and Maintain Fluid Levels” through dip sticks, sight glasses or other methods determined by the OEM can produce higher productivity and less down time. Checking the oil for proper levels at regular intervals will help to ensure long life for both the equipment and the oil.

 

 

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Lubricant Storage & Handling - Doug's Tip of the Month

DEF trailer

One of the most important but overlooked aspects of proper lubricants and lubrication,  is storage, handling and transport of the lubricants.

Storage of lubricants should be in proper containers, which are clearly labeled, to aid in preventing cross contamination.

  • All openings on bulk storage or drum containers should always be kept closed with proper venting, preferably with desiccant breathers. Desiccant breathers help prevent the ingression of contaminants, both in the air such as dust or dirt as well as water content from humidity or a moist environment.
  • Containers should be kept in an area with adequate lighting and ventilation.
  • Lubricants should always be stored with proper containment in case of a spill.
  • Storage areas should always be clean and free of clutter.

Handling and Transport of lubricants should always be in airtight, sealed, color-coded, and clearly labeled container. As part of handling of the lubricants, filtration should be considered.

  • Proper filtration should be used to move lubricants to bulk storage and then again from bulk storage to the transport container.  
  • Optimally, the lubricant should be filtered again before going into the equipment.
  • Filtering systems and carts should have designated pumps and hoses to aid in preventing cross contamination.
  • Filtering lubricants and maintaining clean oil can extend the life of the lubricant as well as extend the life of the equipment being lubricated. An acceptable level of cleanliness is established via the ISO Cleanliness code which is determined by the OEM of the equipment being lubricated.

Improper handling and/or storage of lubricants can easily result in cross-contamination or cross-mixing of oils, which can be very detrimental not only to the lubricant, but also the equipment that it is lubricating. Improper mixing of lubricants can cause oxidation, additive loss, and changes to viscosity.   

If you were to cross contaminate a Gear Oil and an R&O Hydraulic fluid, for example, where only a hydraulic fluid was required it could result in the gear oil attacking (chemically corroding) yellow metals that are found in bearing materials. This is due to the EP – (Extreme Pressure additives) found in Gear Oils. On the other hand, diluting the EP additives in gear oil with an R&O Hydraulic fluid could result in inadequate lubrication for a heavily loaded gear set where Gear Oil is required.

With any lubricant, proper storage and handling should always be the best practice. Keep in mind, that it is easier and less expensive to keep contaminants from entering a lubricant and/or prevent cross contamination, than it is to remove the contaminants or solve the cross contamination issue after the fact.


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Lubes are the new Fuel. What's up with all the price changes?

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Since December of 2020, we have seen an unprecedented SIX price increases roll out on base oil, additive & finished lubricant products. Now we are additionally seeing essentially all major suppliers move to allocations on products because of increasing difficulty on supply/sourcing.

So what is going on? 

Like most things in 2021, a lot of the issue started with the Pandemic & its after effects. When shutdowns went into effect in March 2020, demand for finished products crashed and that led to cuts in production volumes by producers, and the simultaneous drop in fuel demand led to a drop in refining, which caused a drop in the ability to source products for lube production that derive from fuel refining... and so on, like dominos. 

Once things came back online, the freak ice storms in Texas that derailed refineries once again slowed the access to lube production products. 

As soon as that was sorted,  demand  in the US roared back much faster than anticipated on both fuel & lubricant products as the world began to open back up.  This essentially created a situation where production was not able to come back online fast enough to meet suddenly skyrocketing demand. 

This has led to unofficial allocation levels for nearly all distributors across the country, as companies from major suppliers to independent blenders struggle to access the supply required to service their customers properly. 

To add another layer of frustration, the labor shortage in the transportation industry (read about that here: All Eyes on the Growing Driver Shortage )  means that even in the event that product CAN be sourced adequately, it is increasingly difficult to secure delivery, even at higher than standard freight rates. 

Long story short, the Pandemic, Economic Rebound, and Labor Shortages have essentially created a "perfect storm" where the fundamentals of supply and demand are pushing lubricant, additive, and base oils skyward. Optimists in the field hope supply issues will be remedied by the end of the summer, but with talk on the horizon of yet another increase in September, it seems doubtful that will be the case. 

We will keep you apprised of any major changes in the supply and pricing picture going forward. Hang in there, everybody.  

 

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Check out our Taunton Facility, where Product Integrity is Everything

In 2015 we moved out of our longtime corporate headquarters in Chelsea MA into our new facility in Taunton MA. In 2020 we also added another state-of-the art lubricant plant in Saco, Maine.

While current COVID protocols limit our ability to show our facilities to our customers, we thought a photo "walk through" and explanation might be helpful while we wait for things to open up in Massachusetts so we can return to the real thing (which thankfully should be soon!!) 

Below is a quick run through some of the key parts of our main facility in Taunton, Mass. 

One of the things we are most proud of about the Taunton facility, is starting again in the warehouse let us have the ability to put the same level of extra care into planning out product segregation in our facility as we have always done in our trucks. 

We have a substantial tank farm, and our Lubricant Operations team really went the extra mile in installing a segregated piping system, including separate pumps for hydraulic, motor oil, and DEF. This essentially provides extra steps to ensure product integrity, and eliminates the chances of any cross contamination by removing even the chance of slight residual product in hoses after pumping. 

tanksshiny segregated piping

 

Within our customized lube delivery trucks, the same principal applies, as you can see here:

segregated piping in lube trucksloading lube truck

 

For DEF, our DEF trailers are equipped with 1 micron filters, which ensures the cleanest possible product and guarantees no contamination. We run closed systems on all DEF packaging & equipment to ensure quality throughout the life of the product. 

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Additionally, we added a customized tote wall setup. This setup allows us to store multiple totes in an efficient space, as well as designate each one by product and manufacturer, so each tote only carries its designated item which we can track by barcode from fill through delivery to a customers site, meaning in the event of any issues, we have full visibility into the full journey of the product and know exactly where it is and where it came from. 

Tote Wall - rotatedloading tote wall

 

The barcoded, segregated totes tie into our broader inventory tracking & product delivery platform we use to integrate product management within the warehouse with precise delivery to customers, and route optimization for our drivers, but that's a subject we will cover in another update. 

Saco to follow!

 

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