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Bel-Ray Specialty Lubricants: Tech Notes, Vol 3, Issue 10

October, 2012


Bel-Ray Engine Oil & Bel-Ray Gear Oil - Differences Explained

While we all know the benefits of a good engine oil, the advantages of a gear oil are often overlooked because people don’t know the different requirements of lubricating an engine compared to a gearbox. Gear oil is specifically formulated to protect gearboxes and clutches. High quality gear oils must lubricate, cool and protect gears as well as keep contaminates from harming the surfaces inside your gearbox. The gear oil protects against scoring, scuffing and pitting, reduces noise and helps improve shifting, all of which means your gearbox will run smoother, quieter, and cleaner for longer.

While Bel-Ray 4t oils are all extremely good at protecting your gearbox and engine, there is a real advantage in using gear oils where possible. Motor oils have additives designed to protect the top end of a 4-stroke motor They are designed to help metal surfaces slide past each other, and are formulated using additives designed to clean and remove pollutants that are created during the burning of fuel. Some of the additives found in JASO MA and lower classified oils limit the performance of wet clutches. For that reason, for best clutch performance and life you should be using a JASO MA2 product or a gear oil where possible.

So what are the applications for Bel-Ray Gear Saver Transmission Oil? Bel-Ray Gear Saver Transmission Oil 75W and 80W, as well as Bel-Ray Thumper Gear Saver Transmission Oil 80W-85, can be used in all separate motorcycle gear boxes where it does not lubricate the top end of an engine. The most common example of separate transmission and wet clutch oil is found in 2-stroke motors. You can also use it for some 4-stroke engines that have separate gear oil and engine oil compartments such as the Honda CRF 250 and 450s. The viscosity of the gear oil also must be considered. Most commonly, engines up to 125cc use a 75W; anything bigger usually calls for the 80W or Bel-Ray Thumper Gear Saver Transmission Oil 80W-85.

A common misconception about gear oils relates to the SAE rating of the product, what most people don’t realize is that the SAE classification for gear oil and engine oils are different! The most common mistake is the belief that the viscosity of SAE 80W gear oil is much thicker than the viscosity of SAE 10W-40 motor oil. This is absolutely incorrect! A 10W-40 motor oil’s viscosity is actually similar to the viscosity of 80W gear oil, and the viscosity of SAE 10W-30 is similar to 75W gear oil.

So, if you have a 2-stroke or you have a 4-stroke engine with separate gear box oil and engine oil you will be better off using a specific gear oil designed to protect your gears rather than an engine oil that has to protect both engine and gearbox.

In addition to Bel-Ray Gear Saver Transmission Oil 75W, 80W and Bel-Ray Thumper Gear Saver Transmission Oil 80W-85, we also produce Bel-Ray Gear Saver Hypoid Gear Oil. Transmissions without wet clutches and final drives require different oil that provides the lubrication needed for the sliding motion of the hypoid gears. Bel-Ray Gear Saver Hypoid Gear Oil is GL-5 rated meaning it contains the proper additives to provide the lubrication needed for the sliding motion of the gears. Hypoid gears are used to transmit power from the driveline to the axle shafts and don’t have a wet clutch, therefore we are able to add special Extreme Pressure additives that would normally not be available in other gear oils. Most common applications require GL-5 80W-90, however for very heavily loaded transmissions and final drives we also produce Gl-5 85W-140. Both of these products can be used in automotive applications as they are API service rated GL-5. Bel-Ray Gear Saver Hypoid Gear Oil is not to be used in a wet clutch application because the additives can cause clutch slippage.

As you can see, there are many reasons why gear oil will work better in the right application. With the proper gear oil you will get better clutch performance, longer clutch life, smoother shifting, longer life of your gearbox, less gear noise, less slip and fewer deposits left behind in your engine. If you are unfamiliar with the requirements of a specific application, you can consult the Bel-Ray Lubricant Advisor on the Bel-Ray web site at, where you can enter your make and model and get the right products for your motorcycle. You may find the following information helpful, as well.


• Bel-Ray Gear Saver Hypoid Gear Oil 80W-90 (99230)

• Bel-Ray Gear Saver Hypoid Gear Oil 85W-140 (99234)

Decrease Operating Expense & Increase Equipment Life with Bel-Ray Performance Lubricants

Loading equipment (shovels, draglines, etc.) is one of the highest cost-per-hour types of equipment to maintain at an open pit mine site. It is estimated that a new P&H 4100 series rope shovel will cost between $325 and $400 per hour of operation depending on the length of component lives over a 150,000-hour life cycle interval. The cost per hour is calculated using several aspects of operation including rebuilds, wear items, and lubricants. These pieces of equipment are usually the most demanding applications for lubricants at a mine. The gears of the enclosed gear cases experience shock loading as the shovel changes directions. The starting and stopping of the bearings cause the bearing elements to experience lubrication conditions ranging from hydrodynamic to boundary when they are stopping. The change in lubrication condition happens hundreds of times per hour. A very good Extreme Pressure lubricant like

Bel-Ray 100 Gear Oil is needed in these enclosed gearboxes. The open gears require a lubricant such as Bel-Ray Molylube SF 100 Semi Synthetic Open Gear Lubricant that can handle temperature swings and environmental conditions such as dust, water, snow, and ice while still protecting the gears under some of the highest load conditions that equipment manufacturers have designed the equipment to withstand.

The cost of an unplanned rebuild after a failure is often double or triple the cost of a planned rebuild. There is not much room for negotiating a price of a rebuild component since the number of companies that can perform quality repairs are limited in any given market. There are also relatively few high quality manufacturers of the replacement parts that go into a rebuild. Most mines spend considerable resources on oil analysis and other reliability centered maintenance programs to ensure that they have as few unplanned rebuilds as possible. To maximize profit, the goal is to have all of your rebuilds occur prior to component failure with enough usable life left on cores, gearing, etc. so that minimal replacements are required.

The consumable items for operations often get managed on a cost per unit basis at a mine. For example, groundengaging tools (GET / bucket teeth) wear over use and are often replaced. The cost per hour or ton per hour for ground engaging tools is a straightforward calculation based upon how many tons of material you dig before the teeth wear out. Ground engaging tool replacement is an example of a standalone cost that will not impact the major portion of your equipment’s life cycle cost, which is component rebuild.

Lubricants are often purchased on a cost per pound or cost per gallon basis. Often times a manufacturer’s minimum standard for performance is the only requirement for a lubricant to meet the criteria in a purchasing decision. However lubricants are one of the few purchasing decisions that will have a direct result in maximizing component lives. Interestingly enough, choosing the proper lubricant and managing the lubricants so that we can maximize the major component life is what we should concern ourselves with when making our lubricant decision, but the cost per gallon or pound of lubricant is all too often the deciding factor.

As you can see in the chart below that shows a few select components, with proper lubrication and lubrication management you can reduce your cost per hour from between $10.17 over the life of the machine (going from a poor component life to average component life) and $6.92/hour (going from average component life to an extended component life). Over the life a machine at 150,000 hours, that is a net impact of between $1,038,000 ~ $1,525,500.

Lubricant Cost per Year ................................................................... $90,000
Lubricant Cost per Hour @ 5,500 hours per year............................... $16.37

Bel-Ray Performance Lubricants may cost some more on the front end on a cost per liter or per pound basis, however we often find that we can upgrade the quality of a lubricant without increasing cost to the customer by reducing over lubing conditions and extending drain intervals. The big savings occurs when we take components from poor to average life or from average to extended life of components.

Figure 1 - Example of an over lube condition
with a poorlymaintained lubrication system
that is wasting lubricant ANDnot protecting the
gear. Notice the dry spots and signs of
premature wear on the right side of the gear.
Figure 2 - Example of a properly lubricated
gear set consuming25% less lubricant after
adjustment. Notice the evencoverage across
the gear and no excess accumulation in/on
the gear.

Ask your local distributor or Bel-Ray customer service for a lubrication audit to see where we can apply proven maintenance best practices to your operation. In this article we’ve highlighted only a few key components; every mine is different. We can help you identify how using Bel-Ray lubricants can improve equipment operation, equipment life and ultimately your bottom dollar. If you have components that haven’t given you manufacturer expected life, we can help determine the cause and recommend possible solutions. We can help identify components that are wearing prematurely, again determining cause and proposing possible solutions. Perhaps the culprit is operating conditions in your mine; maybe it is less-than-ideal lubrication and maintenance practices. Either way, Bel-Ray wants to work with you to decrease your operating costs and improve the bottom line and ultimate success of your mining operation.

Bearing Failure Due to Over Lubrication

At many industrial facilities, the task of equipment lubrication is often assigned to a newly hired maintenance technician or mechanic with little or no lubrication training who is just learning the ins and outs of the plant. Often times these mechanics are handed a grease gun and told to lubricate the points on a particular line or maybe the entire plant. To the maintenance supervisor, this seems like a good way to familiarize the new mechanic with the plant’s equipment. To the new mechanic, he is performing an important task that is helping to increase bearing life. Both the maintenance supervisor and mechanic are right but they are also wrong.

Certainly, assigning a new mechanic the task of equipment lubrication will help familiarize him with the plant’s equipment, but at what cost? The new mechanic is correct in believing that he is performing an important task, but is the way he performs the task actually increasing bearing life? The answer depends upon how well the new mechanic has been trained. More than 35% of bearing failures can be attributed to improper lubrication. An enthusiastic but untrained lube tech with a grease gun is more than likely to cause premature bearing failures due to over greasing than he is due to under greasing.

Over greasing a bearing will cause the rollers or balls to slide along the race instead of turning, and the grease willactuallychurn. This churning action will eventually bleed the base oil from the grease and all that will be left to lubricate the bearing is a thickener system with little or no lubricating properties. The heat generated from the churning and insufficient lubricating oil will begin to harden the grease (see Fig. 1). This will prevent any new grease added to the bearing from reaching the rolling elements. The end result is bearing failure and equipment downtime. Ironically, an attempt to sufficiently lubricate a bearing by giving it several extra pumps from a grease gun will eventually result in its failure due to under lubrication.

Over lubricating the bearings in an electric motor causes an additional problem that will negatively effect the efficiency of the motor resulting in higher operating costs. The excess grease pumped into the bearing will eventually work its way into the stator body and the rotor assembly will distribute the grease throughout the windings (see Fig. 2). This will not only cause the motor to operate inefficiently because the grease will be insulating the windings, but it could also effect the operation of the fan and cause excessive heat within the motor.

The key to preventing the over lubrication of bearings is to ensure that all maintenance personnel are trained on proper lubrication techniques including how to determine the correct amount of grease to pump into a bearing (see Fig. 3). Establishing a sound overall maintenance program that includes lubrication intervals for each asset in your facility or even condition monitoring using ultrasonic technology will not only decrease maintenance costs; it will decrease downtime as well. Contact your Bel-Ray representative for suggestions.