Someone told me that any machine oil will do as long as there is no
Can't use motor oil.
Can't use way oil.
Something about anti foaming.
What are the requirements on that oil?
I have a new PM1236 lathe, and I will need to change the oil after 10
or 20 hours.
A turbine oil like Mobil DTE "named series" is a safe bet and a good
general purpose non-detergent oil. McMaster carries gallon jugs.
Hydraulic oil is probably OK as well as long as you can get the
viscosity you need, and may be easier to find locally.
Note that Mobil uses the same first name for different products, for
example, DTE for turbine oils and hydraulic oils, and Vactra for both
way oil and gear oil, so don't assume all DTE is the same stuff.
A pretty good rule is to use a machine oil of 150 saybolt or 10w for
spindles and 250 to 350 saybolt or 30w for ways and gear boxes. Automotive
oils are NOT suitable because of additives to keep particulate in suspension
for removal by the oil filter. Machine oils allow particulates to settle in
Ask the manufacturer. On my Clausing lathe, the manufacturer said use
DTE 24 hydraulic oil. It visually looks and flows like canola oil.
Since that oil will last you essentially forever, cost does not
matter. You can buy it at McMaster-Carr.
If you are close to Lisle, IL, I have two buckets of unknown hydraulic
oil, and I want to get rid of at least one, so stop by and help
yuorself if you are nearby.
What does the manual for your new PM 1236 say under the section about
I have a similar lathe, but not the same make, the manual calls for the
equivalent of Shell Tellus 32, which translates to an ISO viscosity
grade 32 antiwear (32AW) machine/hydraulic oil. I buy mine at the local
Tellus 32 is a (if not THE) standard for use in hydraulic elevators as
the power transmitter. I doubt it is available retail in smaller
quantities, but is readily available in 20 litre (about 5 US gallon)
at anyplace from a Shell Distributor to a tractor supply or a good
hardware store. For a quart or two, ask any elevator company.
I got 68 and 30 from my local Gas and oil supply company.
The one that takes tankers to gas stations and oil to the airport and....
Lots of oil there - they had over a 100 grades for so many uses.
I have followed this thread for its educational value and potential
relevance to me in the future. I have also found a few discussions on the
topic on several different fora. I was kind of surprised that the whole
issue is akin to black magic.
I had a look at a manual of one of the potential acquisitions (a gear-head
lathe) made in China. The instructions were to fill the gear box with "10#
or 20# machine oil". A Google search reveals no such beast. I took it to
mean SAE 10 or 20. From the various discussions it became clear that this
1) Not have detergent
2) Not foam
3) Not have additives that attack copper/brass/bronze
A trip around town quickly established that such oil is apparently hard to
find in auto shops or tool shops. An enquiry about presence of detergent
leads to the shop staff's eyes glazing over. An internet search revealed
some helpful comparison charts like the one in this thread:
Further searches for *Canadian* sources of such industry standards as Mobil
Vactra suggested that this stuff is simply not available here (if you wish
further information from Mobil you can either read and accept a yard-long
disclaimer before e-mailing them or phone the 1-800 number which has a modem
on the other end!) The high end tool supplier (KBC Tools) sells EEZ way oil
but nothing specifically for gears. I did find a Shell dealer in town with
extremely helpful staff but the minimum quantities of their Tellus
(hydraulic) and Tonna (way oil) they sell were 20 litres.
I was wondering:
1) What are the usual quantities of oil needed to fill a gear box in a
2) How often do you need to change the oil?
3) What is wrong with just grabbing a bottle of 75W-90 or higher gear oil
off the automotive shelf? Do any of those have detergents? I could find no
evidence that this is the case. Most product informations sheet contain
results of the copper strip test.
4) What is the downside of using a single type of oil for both ways and the
There is some anecdotal evidence that some of the Chinese machinery that
actually comes pre-filled with oil contains inferior product that needs to
be got rid of more or less right away. Thus it would seem to me that
provided the above principles are adhered to one should get a good result
with almost anything commonly available.
BTW I noticed one of the manuals recommending calcium-based grease (for
greasing, not in the gear box). Does anyone use that anymore?
Not quite that bad.
If you look for a SAE 10 or SAE 20 single-weight motor oil which
is marked "ND" it *will* be non-detergent, will not have additives to
worry about, and should not foam.
The worries come with multi-grade motor oils, which *will* have
detergents, and will be made to pass through a filter (which is not
present in the oil circulation path in a lathe headstock, even assuming
that you got a gearhead lathe -- a much more serious one than the ones
with belt drive to the spindle such as mine.
Again -- look for the letters "ND" on a single-weight motor oil.
Ask them who their customers are, and ask a customer whether you
can buy a couple of liters from them. Come supplied with a box of
donuts or something similar and they are more likely to be helpful. :-)
I don't have a lathe which has a gearbox, so I don't know, but I
would suggest probably four or five litres.
Very seldom, once you change it once to replace the stuff the
If the gear assembly does not have a filter in the oil path
(unlikely in a differential or a manual transmission -- not sure in an
automatic transmission), then the oil should be non-detergent. But I
don't know how thick the oil might be. What is proper for the
differential on a car (much slower rotational speeds, and the oil is
designed for the sliding friction of the hypoid gears common in the
differential) is too thick for the higher speeds in a lathe headstock
gearbox. The oil used in the apron of my belt-drive Clausing is much
thicker and would be a very poor choice in a geared headstock.
So -- you need to learn how to interpret the information
provided. (No -- I've never seen the information sheets so I don't
Waylube is *way* too thick for the headstock gearbox.
The lube for the gearbox is *way* too thin to hold its place on
the ways. And you want to frequently clean and re-lube the ways --
after each use, ideally. Among other things, this keeps water from
condensing on them.
Something of the right weight which is non-detergent, yes.
Calcium-based? Not lithium based like Lubriplate (which you can
get from MSC among other places.) For that matter, you can get Vactra
and other oils in relatively small containers. However, I have gone
most of the way through a 20-gallon drum of Vacra No. 2 -- used on
several lathes, the milling machines, and the shaper.
"Michael Koblic" wrote in
ISO 32, 46, 68 hydraulic oil can be purchased in gallon quantities at the
local Wally World and Can Tire, IIRC.
My lathe calls for an obsolete Esso oil. The factory support engineer
cross referenced it to their current turbine oil product for me. $50 for a
20 liter pail seemed reasonable for a lifetime supply given what a pack of
carbide inserts goes for. The bulk oil place had it for me in a couple
About a gallon or two for an average home sized machine.
New machine, home use, change it after a few hours use in every speed
range. After that once a decade or so, sooner if the oil in the sight glass
Don't go higher, ISO 68 or SAE 80 is about as viscous as you should ever
need for a larger lathe. Probably lower if it's a smaller machine capable
of higher RPM.
I use ISO 32 in my 14" lathe.
Way oil has additives to give it tacky properties, it clings to the ways
instead of sliding off. Dirt clings to the oil between and during use so
any old machine oil applied at the start of work would be better than
runnning the machine over old way oil. Plain oil on ways is great for home
use, just apply a little nore frequently.
Probably wise to ditch the Chinese oil to wash out the remaining casting
sand and leftover swarf.....
Calcium-based greases (calcium-sulfonate greases) are a bit more expensive
and have a higher "dropping" point (the temperature at which the oil
separates from the metallic soap). It's a good extreme-pressure grease. If
you have a machine that specifies its use, it would be a good idea to use it
because pressure may be an issue. But there aren't a lot of such
applications outside of food machinery or machines exposed to salt water.
Detergent oils don't foam; at least, if they foam, it's not because they're
detergent oils. It's probably because the oil has water or acid in it. The
detergent is nothing like detergents used with water. The main function of a
detergent oil is to suspend contaminants. In a total-loss oiling system (the
headstock of a South Bend plain-bearing lathe, for example), it actually
makes no difference if it's detergent or not. In a recirculating system
without filtration, it could be a problem. Some big old motors and such that
have ring-type oilers running in a bath would at least need to have their
oil changed more frequently. If you have an old motor (or an old lathe with
a plain-bearing headstock, for that matter) using detergent oil in it could
loosen up some old crud and cause problems. But it's really unlikely to do
I haven't seen motor oil that was non-detergent for at least 40 years. Maybe
for farm machinery or something similar. All of the non-detergent oil I've
seen is sold as machine oil and I've seen it mostly in mill supply stores.
The quantities of oil we use for lathe headstocks, if the subject line is
still relevant (I didn't read the whole thread) is so small that it's worth
getting the right stuff. Jim Rozen, if you remember him, has convinced me
that an old South Bend runs better with synthetic oil. I haven't changed
mine over yet, but five or six years ago I had a talk with a VP at Mobil Oil
and it was clear that their synthetic machine oil would be great, if you
could buy a small enough quantity. She (a tribology engineer) said that
using Mobil 1 automotive engine oil, as Jim is doing, is just as good in a
total-loss system. I think he's using 0W-10W in his South Bend.
You just have not been looking. Walmart sells ND motor oil. Not sure
why other people buy it, but it is generally recommended for use in
lawn mowers and similar gas engines that have no oil filter.
BIG BIG SNIP
About this point 3) only..... Some smaller or entry level geared-head
lathes that have no pressure oiler component are "lubed" by the
lighter weight oil "slinging" (like the big end of an auto engine
splashing in the pan). They won't have designed slingers per se, but
merely by running some gear component in the bath throws oil
EVERYWHERE (that's why they leak so bad). That won't happen with the
hypoid gear lube products.
ps...Don't forget my suggestion to ask any elevator guy for a gallon
of Tellus 32 (or Rando, or Harmony, or or or). Another posters idea
about donuts sounds good!! Park at any downtown Timmy's about 9:30
and look for a van with a company logo.
On Wed, 8 Jul 2009 00:36:38 -0400, the infamous "Ed Huntress"
scrawled the following:
Wouldn't one of the newer moly (or other high-tech) greases work even
I've been using detergent 30wt oil (Castrol GTX) in my mowers for that
long with no ill effects.
After silence, that which comes nearest
to expressing the inexpressible is music.
-- Aldous Huxley
I don't know. Besides the pressure, there is the dropping point, and
contaminant issues for several environments and applications. Unless you
study the subject a bit, it's a good idea to go with the manufacturer's
recommendations. If you don't know what they are, then it's worth studying
the subject a bit.
Mine gets mostly 10W-30...or whatever else is laying around. I figure the
old Honda will outlast me.
It is still around, but you have to LOOK for it. NAPA sells
SAE 30 I believe (too lazy to go read the bottle).
Some other substitutes you might be able to find; Chainsaw
bar oil is sticky and could be used on the ways. Air
compressor oil (used in the compressor case) is usually
non-detergent and around SAE 20 weight. Hydraulic oil is
normally around SAE 10 weight, non-detergent and can be used
for general purpose lube.
Some files/reference you may find of interest:
This has some specs for different weight designations among
lots of other info: