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Bel-Ray Specialty Lubricants: Tech Notes, Vol 2, Issue 4

April, 2011


Where Would We Be Without Waterproof Grease?

One of the most well known Bel-Ray products in the current Powersports line is the tub of Bel-Ray Waterproof Grease. This aluminum complex grease is a high performance general use grease suitable for applications in the Powersports, automotive and marine fields.

This staple product of the Powersports line is widely considered as the best in the industry and can be found on workbenches around the world. The same grease has been used by the backyard mechanic tinkering on his latest project, all the way up to the professionally trained working on high dollar racing machines.  Bel-Ray Waterproof Grease has been used by National and World Championship racers over the years and is currently the choice of Supercross winner Chad Reed and the Two Two Motorsports team. The team’s mechanic, Lars Lindstrom, uses the grease for several applications including all suspension linkage bearings, steering stem bearings, front and rear axles and swing arm pivots. The grease is an essential part of the team’s pre-race regime.

One other use that many people don’t think of comes from Dodge Motorsports / Hart and Huntington team mechanic Tony Berluti. In addition to the typical uses, Tony spreads a thin layer on the threads of bolts to ensure correct torque specs and even “paints” a thin layer on the flange of the associated nut. This allows for an accurate feeling when the nut is tight and doesn’t offer a false sense of security.

New motorcycles today are expensive and one way of extending their longevity is by doing the proper initial set-up. While you may want to ride that new machine as soon as you roll it off the showroom floor, it would be better for the long term health of your vehicle to spend the first weekend in the garage doing some pre-ride maintenance. Due to production line time constraints and costs, most new vehicles are severely lacking the proper lubrication necessary for long vehicle life. A simple tub of Bel-Ray Waterproof Grease will save you from failure down the road. Working with the owner’s manual provided, a complete suspension disassembly, greasing and re-assembly will give you peace of mind and better performance. You should repeat these steps for any location where grease would be required as per the owner’s manual.

But the grease can be used for much more than your typical Powersports applications.  In the high stress environment of a marine trailer wheel bearing, Bel-Ray Waterproof Grease is an excellent choice. The 100% salt waterproof properties of this grease and the high temperature stability mean this grease will not wash away at the boat ramp or melt off on the highway.

These are just some of the great uses for Bel-Ray Waterproof Grease. What other applications have you found?

Bel-Ray Waterproof Grease is available in a 16 oz. tub, a new 14 oz. cartridge suitable for use in most grease guns and a pail.


Importance of Proper Lubricant Storage

Contamination is one of the things that compromise the performance of the lubricant, and must be avoided. The importance of proper storage to prevent contamination includes the precautions taken in the storage of lubricants, and packaging designed to ensure the consumers receive the highest quality products. These precautions include strict quality control throughout the manufacturing process of the lubricant, clean work areas for the bottling and packaging in order to avoid contamination and other damage that would compromise the quality of the product.

Contamination by water

Sometimes it happens that the container is damaged so that it becomes easy for water to enter. Contamination by water affects any type of lubricant. Oils that contain additives are also sensitive to the presence of water, which may cause precipitation or deterioration of the additives.

Moisture can enter tight-head containers through the bungs.  The oil volume increases when exposed to the heat of the day forcing the headspace air out of the drum and decreases in volume when it cools. As a result, the drums are subjected to a cycle of expansion and contraction. These pressure differences can produce the same effect as a pump, an effect known as “breathing of the drums”, by which air is expelled during the day and drawn into the drum at night even if the plugs are tightened. If the drum is exposed to the weather, the top can be filled with rain water, so water, not air, is sucked into the drum.

Contamination by other impurities

The presence of dirt in the lubricant, such as sand, dust or other foreign material, always causes serious damages to the equipment. It is easy to understand the disadvantages of the presence of abrasive material, or any other contaminant that can clog the plumbing systems. Almost all kinds of impurities can cause deterioration of the lubricant and, therefore, the machinery, which is being lubricated.  In some cases, extremely small amounts of contamination are sufficient to cause problems. We observe this fact, for example, in the contamination of oils whose main feature is the anti-foam or water separation during the service.

Accidental oil mixtures

Another form of contamination is the mixing of two different types of lubricant. Example: Motor Oil contaminated with compounded gear oil, in a machine that requires only motor oil, as is the case of certain engines.  Serious problems can arise caused by accidental mixing of oils.

Another point worth noting is the importance of identifying drums and containers clearly to prevent unintended consequences of adding the wrong oil to a machine.

Extremes of temperature

In addition to contamination, oils and greases can decompose when exposed to temperature extremes. Heat can also cause oil separation in grease when stored under conditions of excessive heat.

Best practice is to keep your lubricants clean, dry and cool and they will provide excellent performance.


Proper Seal Provides Protection Against Contamination

Contamination is one of most common causes of bearing failures but it is easily preventable. More facilities than ever are implementing lubrication “best practices” such as organizing a clean room for lubricant storage, using a filter cart to filter bulk oils and installing Des-Case desiccant breathers on bulk storage containers and on gearboxes. These are highly effective and efficient measures to keep oil contaminant-free in bulk storage containers and within gearboxes.

The next step to ensuring clean oil within your equipment is to take a good, close look at your oil seals. An oil seal’s primary function is to keep oil contained within the equipment, and its secondary function is to keep contaminants out of the oil. While they typically do a good job of keeping oil contained, dirt and moisture usually make their way around the lip of the seal and contaminate the lubricant, which could result in premature failure of your equipment.  There are several reasons that a lip seal could be allowing contaminants into your equipment.

Double lip radial seal. Dirt can
build up between the lips.

Are you using a double lip seal? This may seem like a good idea but in many instances a double lip seal can actually allow more contaminants into your oil than a single lip seal. In high speed applications, the outer lip will wear faster than the inner lip causing dust, dirt and moisture to accumulate between the two lips. When the inner lip eventually fails, the contaminants will make their way into the clean oil.

Is the seal being damaged during installation? If the seal has to pass over grooves on the shaft during installation, it is important to cover those grooves with heavy tape to prevent damage to the seal’s lip.  Whenever possible, install an oil seal with a seal installation tool. This will ensure the seal goes into the bore evenly and without damaging the seal. If you must use a mallet, place a piece of soft wood on top of the seal and strike the wood with the mallet instead of striking the seal. The blows must be soft or the inner spring of the oil seal could dislodge without you knowing, and cause contaminants to enter under the lip.

A radial lip seal can only function well on a shaft surface that is in good condition. Over time, lip seals wear a groove into the shaft on which it seals. This eventually creates a gap between the lip and the shaft and allows dirt and water to contaminate the oil inside the equipment. If you detect a groove on the shaft where the lip of the seal contacts it, you should install a wear sleeve so the lip seal will have a proper surface to seal against. Smaller wear sleeves can usually slip right over the shaft and require no machining, and in most cases you don’t need to change the size of the lip seal you are using.

If your equipment is in a highly contaminated environment, installing a V-ring in addition to an oil seal will be an effective way of

Wear Sleeves provide an
excellent sealing surface.

keeping dirt and water from contaminating the oil in your equipment.

V-rings slip easily over the shaft
and create a barrier to keep
contaminants out of your oil

V-rings are axial shaft seals and, unlike a radial lip seal which is installed into the bore while the lip contacts the shaft, the V-ring is stretch-fitted around the shaft while the lip seals against a counter face on the equipment.

The combination of a radial lip oil seal, wear sleeve and a V-ring is the most highly effective and inexpensive sealing method of keeping contaminants out of the oil in your equipment.

Because every application is different, you should discuss these sealing methods with your oil seal supplier and your Bel-Ray representative.