Animal Fats Superior To Petroleum Products ???

I've been reading a little book THE PRACTICAL COMPOUNDING OF OILS, TALLOW AND GREASE FOR LUBRICATION, ETC. (Scott, Greenwood & Son, 1907 reprint of 1898 edition),
and on page 22 it says:
"In spite of the large percentage of mineral oils now used for machinery, there is still a wide field wherein animal and fish oils cannot be dispensed with, especially for leather, and also in the textile trades, where only saponifiable oil can be satisfactorily used."
"There are also still many firms who use them extensively, and will continue to do so if a thoroughly good oil is supplied, as there is no doubt they are vastly superior to hydrocarbon oils for lubrication (cylinders excepted), as their high flash-point, viscousness and tenacity cause them to work with greater uniformity and with considerably less friction, thereby keeping the machinery cooler."
On page 25:
"When mineral oils were first introduced, it was presaged that animal and vegetable oils would become a thing of the past for lubrication."
"This has not by any means been fulfilled, nor likely to be, as experience shows that, by their judicious blending with hydrocarbon oils, a greater uniformity of lubrication is attained, and that less quantity is required than by the use of a pure mineral oil alone."
On page 36:
"Pure hydrocarbons are most unsuitable for this purpose [dynamos and other electrical machines] unless in conjunction with some fatty oil, of which the minimum of 15 per cent. and 20 per cent. maximum have been proved to be the requisite percentages necessary to effectually stop carbonisation, which action, when mineral oils alone are used, speedily takes place."
I'm wondering if this is still true? If I want the best oil for a race car, robot, or other high-performance, high-technology machine, will it have lard oil in it?
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Yup. It took a long, long, time to remove light whale oils from all formulations. The other triglyceride fish oils mainly provided anticorrosion properties, rather than lubricity properties. Fisholene products may still be available, and were very popular here for coating any metals that might corrode.

The petroleum refineries moved to vacuum-distilled lubricant base grades, along with various treatments that prolonged their life ( including treatment at the refinery to remove reactive compounds and additional antioxidant in the formulations ) - spindle oils replaced most triglyceride and whale oils in the 1940s.

Castor oil derivatives are still in racing lubricants, Castrol R is still produced and still used in racing - it's legendary. http://www.castrol.com/products/cars_castrolr.html
Other oils, such as whale oils and fish oils have been replaced by other petroleum and synthetic components. There are still triglyceride-derived additives used in lubricants.
Virtually all modern engine and gearbox lubricants have around 10 - 20 % of special purpose additives ( extreme pressure, stabilisers, detergent/dispersant, acid-base etc. ) added to a mixture of two or three lubricant base grades to get the desired properties. Different lubricant base grades can have properties that range from being like water to a viscous semi-solid syrup.
There are also all the various synthetic and semi-synthetic substitutes for the petroleum base grades in lubricants, as used in modern race lubricants and high-end retail lubricants, eg Mobil 1 etc. In reality, it's the quality of the additives that determine the quality of lubricants in most applicants. If you follow the manufacturer's recommendations, you will get optimum life of equipment. Bruce Hamilton
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Two-stroke racing engines in particular used castor oil based lubes almost exclusively. This lent a very distinctive aroma to the exhaust.
Steve Turner
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That would be the 1898 edition, not the 1998 edition. Times do change after all. Science marches forward and all that.
An interesting factiod I came across is that animal fat/tallow type stuff has a small but devoted following in the black powder/muzzelloading community. Apparently, processes and procedures were highly optimized over the course of centuries using what people had. Nowdays, the old smokepoles still perform best when handled in the old traditional ways. The claim is that tallow keeps the powder fouling under control much better than the modern synthetics do, among other things. As long as there is a need for Model of 1774 Brown Bess muskets and Kentucky Rifles, there will be a need for tallow.
Cheers, Tony
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